Governor High Gas Prices

Writing on redstate.com, Erik Erikson says “[Rick] Perry is rapidly becoming the front running and consolidating the lead.” Just speculating, I assume this has to do with his leaderly Texas macho swagger (“He’s a good lookin’ rascal,” said Bill Clinton, with what I detect is just a bit of mischief in his choice of words), as well as a strong record of job creation in Texas. I guess the theory is that if he can created jobs in Texas, he will be able to create jobs in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and so on.

This idea will never last. As Annie Lowrey pointed out in Slate, Perry benefited enormously from a decade-long rise in oil and gas prices that coincided with his tenure as governor. (An analysis by Goldman Sachs supports this position. As Lowrey writes, “in December 2000, when he took office, the price of a barrel of oil was about $30, adjusted for inflation. Today, it is about $82. At its height, it was nearly $150. High oil prices mean high revenues for Texan oil companies. . . .Oil and gas currently contributes about $325 billion a year to Texas’ economy.” According to The Economist, the oil and gas industries have accounted for about 13 percent of the state’s job growth.

Don’t you think that sooner or later one of Perry’s opponents is going to point out that Texas’s enrichment has been at the expense of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and so on?

Folks in those states are paying somewhere between $3.50 and $4 a gallon for gasoline, much of which is flowing into the Texas economy. And this isn’t just a lone example of taking advantage of a beggar-thy-neighbor opportunity; this is Perry’s economic policy. According to The Economist, “in 2003 the legislature established the Texas Enterprise Fund, a “deal-closing fund” that gives the governor subsidies and incentives to use in his efforts to woo, or if you’d prefer, poach businesses from elsewhere. This seems to deviate from free-market orthodoxy and it has exposed him to charges of crony capitalism, but it has also helped his administration create jobs.” He will be Governor High Gas Prices; you can write him off today.

The oil and gas industries are going to be chained around Rick Perry’s neck, and he will humble Houdini if he can escape that embrace. The coup de grace may come in mid-2012, when TNT rejuvenates the TV series Dallas with a ten episode run. Although the show will be an update of the 1980s-era hit, and will feature new characters, Larry Hagman will reprise J.R. Ewing. The embodiment of a scheming Texas oil man will be on display in all his mendacity just in time, I believe, for the California primary.

[Cross-posted at JamieMalanowski.com]

Jamie Malanowski

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.