It’s the best state (Texas) in the nation not to have a job in.
-Texas Gov. Rick Perry (When he appeared on Inside Texas Politics September 26,2010)
(The complete videos of both Democrat Bill White and GOP incumbent Rick Perry can be seen here, Perry and White’s Uncut Interviews with WFAA-TV. They will be referred to again in this post.)
It’s an interesting statement made by Perry. In context, what it seems he was trying to say, is that because of Texas’ job creation in the past, it’s easier to find a job in Texas than anywhere else in the nation. While that may be true, it’s unlikely that job will pay very much, or at least, not as much as the job that was previously held. As most of us in the Williamson County/Round Rock area can attest, most of the high-paying Dell jobs are gone for good. And they’ve been replaced with retail and other lower-paying jobs. In other words for our economy and our citizens lives to get better, we need an economy that is producing jobs that pay enough to support a family, which includes a living wage and benefits, (which includes health care, sick and vacation time).
It certainly can’t be the best state in the nation, as far as unemployment benefits are concerned. And the rest of the social safety net isn’t much better. We are, after all, a low service state as far as the citizenry is concerned. So yes, one can find a job “better” in Texas than in other state’s but it’s unlikely it will pay as well, or have the benefit level, as one’s previous job.
In other words we don’t just need jobs, we need good paying jobs with benefits, in Texas. Of course this all has long deep ties to the pain that has come down on working and middle class Texans over the last 30 or so years. Here’s what Perry said regarding if he will balance the budget on the backs of the poor as he did in 2003:
Gromer Jeffers [GM]: Of course, in 2003 one to the big criticisms was that the cuts impacted the poor too much. The budget was balanced on the cuts, shortfall was dealt with on the backs of the poor..
Rick Perry [RP]: Do you know the worst thing you do for people that are in that category you refer to as poor?
GM: or needy.
RP: Keep a climate where they can get a job….When you put taxes on the back of the job creators and families out there, they’re less likely to expand their business and make a job available for those who come from the disadvantaged…uh..financially disadvantaged part of our society. So…my point is don’t get confused about what the most important thing is. If you put downward pressure, taxes, more cost to do business on those that are out there..uh..putting their capital to work, they’re the ones that create the tax returns that make the programs…
Perry talks about the how much the wealthy will suffer from taxation, and leaves out all the proposed cuts mentioned recently – child abuse prevention, college financial aid, state hospitals, child immunizations, etc.. It’s much easier to cut from those who don’t have high paid lobbyists. Another problem with what Perry said is that high taxes are not the reason for job loss and stagnation. The main reason businesses are not hiring is because there is not enough demand for their products. The complete folly of the GOP tax schemes, and arguments, of the Bush years has now been completely debunked, So How Did the Bush Tax Cuts Work Out for the Economy?
The hard, empirical facts:
The tax cuts did not spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Nixon and Ford did better than Bush on jobs. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high last year of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Food banks are swamped. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. And at the nexus of tax and healthcare, Republican ideas perpetuate a cruel and immoral system that rations healthcare — while consuming every sixth dollar in the economy and making businesses, especially small businesses, less efficient and less profitable.
This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.
So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the “lamestream media,” who treat these policies as worthy ideas?
The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.
Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.
How much more evidence do we need that we made terrible and costly mistakes in 2001 and 2003?
It’s not so much about having a job, but more like what we used to call “making a living”. It’s not a boast to say we have jobs in Texas, but both spouses have to work to keep the family from going to a food bank. And the latest poverty statistics for Texas are immoral. Over 4 million Texans, 17.2% living in poverty [PDF]. Here’s Bill White’s response to the same line of questioning:
GJ: And now as you know in 2003 some of the cuts impacted the very poor in the state.
Bill White: Sure.
GJ: Can you promise that what you, whatever you guys do, at the state level, it won’t impact the poor like it did in 2003?
Bill White: Well I know, I’ll tell you this, I can’t promise that there will be no impact on anybody or that you can really target one category of Texans, but I’ll tell you this. That we’re not going to see a situation in which we pull the ladder up behind us on tuitions in higher education. Higher education is now priced out of the price range of middle class families since 2003. Four-year state university the tuitions have gone up over 90%. In 2003 the budget problem was less serious that it is now. If this happens again then our public schools will become, in effect, private schools and that’s unacceptable.
That’s an answer that says, everyone will have to sacrifice equally, but the best way to help people up is to make sure they get a good education. Which is in stark contrast to Perry’s which basically says, what we’re doing in working and we are just going to keep giving you more of the same.
What’s clear is that as a state, and as a nation, we are heading in the wrong direction. Our standard of living is decreasing, not increasing. It’s an unassailable fact that since that over the last 30 or so years we began taxing the wealthy less, and essentially stopped investing in infrastructure and research and development – which was the basis of our economy – and since then things have been on a steady decline. We were told we could stop paying taxes and still have it all – let corporations and the free market handle everything through privatization. Too many believed it and unfortunately here we are. Trying to make a living in the best state not to have a job in.