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Is life better in Governor Perry's Texas?

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    Reference: Jason Cherkis, Huffington Post, August 3, 2011, Rick Perry's 'Texas Miracle' Includes Crowded Homeless Shelters, Low-Wage Jobs, Worker Deaths

    Governor Rick Perry has boasted: "Our economic strength is no accident. It's a testimony to our people, our entrepreneurs, and, yes, to the decisions made in this building. Employers from across the country and around the world understand that the opportunity they crave can be found in Texas, and they're headed our way, with jobs in tow."

    The Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal piles on with: "Capital—both human and investment—is highly mobile, and it migrates all the time to the places where the opportunities are larger and the burdens are lower. Texas has no state income tax. Its regulatory conditions are contained and flexible. It is fiscally responsible and government is small. Its right-to-work law doesn't impose unions on businesses or employees."

    However, James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas, scoffs at the whole narrative saying, “Texas has been a low-tax, low-service state since the time of the Republic,” and noting that it's “therefore impossible that this fact suddenly accounts for its better job performance over the past few years.”

    “Texas is an energy state benefiting from high oil prices and the incipient boom in natural gas,” explained Galbraith. “That's an accident of nature.” He added that the state “went through the S&L crisis, had major criminal prosecutions and more restrictive housing finance regulations this time around; hence it was not an epicenter of the subprime housing disaster. That's called a learning experience.”

    Others in the mainstream media are also drinking the Perry Kool-Aid, referring to it as the "Texas Miracle." However, they are too lazy  to delve into details or just choose to ignore them. Here is a synopsis of the "Texas Miracle" and what it's like to live and work in Texas if you are a low wage worker.

    Of all the jobs created last year, 37 percent paid at or below mimimum wage. Texas leads the nation in total minimum wage workers.

    Texas also leads the nation in the number of residents who don't have health insurance. It's low wage jobs without any benefits.

    Emily Timm, a policy analyst with the Workers Defense Project, said that roughly 45 percent of the more than 300 workers surveyed reported being paid wages below the federal poverty line. And one in five workers complained that their employers had paid them less than what they were owed.

    Texas ranks as" the most dangerous state for worker safety. An April study [PDF] produced by the University of Texas and the Workers Defense Project stated that one in five construction workers were injured on the job, while only 45 percent had workers' compensation."

    The University of Texas study also noted that "a worker dies every 2.5 days and the state sees 16,900 job-related accidents annually."

    According to Texas State Sen. Judith Zaffirini "her state ranks 48th in teen birth rates, 50th in prenatal care and 46th in income disparity -- and 50th in the number of persons who receive a high school diploma by age 25."

    Texas like other states has had to contend with budget shortfalls -- in Texas's case "a projected budget shortfall totaling as much as $27 billion, and also $4.3 billion deficit in it's current budget."

    To help with the budget shortfall, Texas made massive across-the-board cuts to state agencies -- including $4 billion in public school cuts over two years. Perry and the state legislature also ended up closing out funding for pre-kindergarten programs for roughly 100,000 low-income children. Mass layoffs of public sector workers is expected.

    Thousands of teachers are feeling the impact of nearly $5 billion in cuts to Education.

    "If you want a bad job, go to Texas," said Texas Rep. Garnet Coleman (D), "If you want to work at Carl's Jr., our doors are open, and if you want to go to a crumbling school in a failing school system, this is the place to come."

    Now this thread is not a criticism of the many good people in Texas. I lived there for 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s and my children are a product of the great Texas school system and universities. But Perry's Texas is not the Texas that I knew.
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    Obama needs to go after Rick Perry now!
    1) His first campaign add was a LIE!   The credit rating dropped because of Brinksmanship! That is what S&P said- The tea-Party did not want to even pay our bills at all!
    2) At Perrys prayer meeting he had no less than 5 crazy preachers that should be exposed-much much worse than Wright who was connected to Obama-The diference here was that Rick Perry invited these idiots
    3) Jobs in Texas? Yes he got jobs if you want to work at Carls JR for minimum wage!
    4) The Schools Budget were cut 25%
    5) Oil companies paid NO TAX to work in Texas!
    6) And what about his connection to Rush Limbaugh-self proclaimed - leader of the GOP- Rush says that the GOP should totally ignore the Mexican voter!
    Give me Time  I will come up with more and Im sure Rick Perry will give us all many many reasons to show why we as a Nation should not move backwards! We are in the 21st century-Not the 19th century!-Perry is an easy target--Obama needs to go after him now!
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    Obama will definitely go after Perry, but now right now. That would only give Perry additional (and unintentional) media attention and it would start the always annoying media conversation of "Is Rick Perry a threat to Obama and his re-election?" Best to let the GOP pick a dog for the race, then attack. Its a sickening game, playing politics. But, there is a certain art to it. I'm sure every political figure head has at least one member on their staff that's versed in The Art of War.
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    Schmidt's post was a depressing reality check. 

    Modern Texan GOP leadership is an Empire of Mud.  

    "Castles Made of Sand fall in the Sea.  Eventually." -Jimmy Hendrix
  • Are you sure you want to delete this post?
    I don't know too many folks who are true moderates. My fiancé says I sit on the fence but in reality I am just very skeptical of both sides. When I read this post it appears to only tell part of the story, but I guess that’s why you post it here, its an outlet for conversation amongst like minded people, right?
    My point in this reply is I live in Texas, aside from the heat; it’s not a bad place to live, and in fact it is really a nice place to live. My fiancé is a recruiter for professional services and jobs have not slowed down for her to fill at all. I read a CNN article that agreed with your statement that Texas (along with Mississippi) lead the nation in percent of minimum wage earners, but the article went on to state that was heavily influenced by legal and illegal immigrants crossing the border who drive down what jobs are paying.
    I have a decent job with benefits. That wasn’t always the case but especially considering I have had sole custody of my three children for the last three years I would have to say I’d rather have a job with no benefits than no job with no benefits. I’m not saying we settle for the absolute least needed to just get by but when compared to other states, Texas doesn’t look to bad.
    One last thing to consider - API and NOIA released a study in July that shows that over 190,000 jobs can be created in 2013 in the Gulf of Mexico also projects a 71 percent increase in Gulf development spending to $41.4 billion and a 70 percent increase in economic activity related to Gulf development to $44.5 billion if offshore development returned to levels before the Obama administration's moratorium. 
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    Thanks InTheMiddle for your response to my posting.  I'll make a few additional comments to clarify.  My view of Texas is the Texas under the Governorship of Ann Richards, in my opinion one of the best governors Texas ever had.  For many Texans, and for me and my family, life in Texas was very good under her tenure. Her list of accomplishments is commendable, especially compared to Bush and Perry.

    My intent of the posting, however, was not to contrast Perry's governorship with the past, but rather to present an alternative from the rosy Texas jobs picture that Perry and the WSJ was promoting and portraying to be a direct result of Perry's policies as governor.  I disagree with that portrayal. For one thing, much of the job growth was in the oil and gas sector.  But was this due to Perry's initiatives or high oil and gas prices?  I spent my entire working career in the oil and gas industry, and the industry is cyclical...prices go up and prices go down.  Much of Perry's tenure as governor was coincident with the upwards spiral in oil prices from $23/bbl in 2000 when he took office to $88/bbl today, with peaks in 2008 and 2011 over $100/bbl.  The recession in 2008 saw a temporary drop, but prices rebounded and in 2011 oil prices have ranged between $80/bbl and $100/bbl. So yes, there is no denying that this segment of the Texas economy has done well, and that it has had a knock on effect to other parts of economy. Texas is the Number 1 state in terms of energy production, and the state's economy has benefited from that.  The question is, without the Texas oil and gas resources, would other states do as well economically if they implemented the Perry "Texas Miracle" policies?

    Additionally, many of the jobs created are indeed low wage jobs...mimimum wage jobs at $7.25 per hour, or even lower.  They help with the job statistics that Perry likes to throw around, but many are taken by the immigrant labor from Latin America that are very appreciative to be working at any job. I won't knock those jobs...capitalism is at work.  However, again I wonder how well those low wage jobs would be received in New York, for example.

    There are additional points to consider and these are listed in the Houston Chronicle article, Ten Reasons why the Texas economy is growing that have nothing to do with Rick Perry. One example that the Chronicle identifies is government jobs. Citing a WSJ article, "employment in Texas’ public sector has grown more rapidly than the private sector recently, with a 19 percent growth in government jobs compared to 9 percent growth in private jobs since 2000. Texas has added more than one in five of the public-sector jobs nationwide at local, state and federal levels." So the Anti-Big Government Perry had no trouble in growing the size of the Texas state government while he advocates massive cuts of programs at the federal level. I'm sure the government jobs were probably necessary just to keep up with the population's the hypocrisy that I am knocking.

    Finally, as the Chronicle notes, Texas did not suffer as badly from the home foreclosure crisis. When I bought my home in Texas in the 1980s, we needed a 20 percent down payment.  As far as I know that rule still applies, not only to buying, but also cashing in on the house equity.  The Washington Post addresses that very point in this article, How Texas escaped the real estate crisis. How much was this due to Perry's governorship?  NOTHING. But he again reaps the rewards. By contrast, much of the rest of the nation is suffering from subprime mortgage defaults that allowed zero down payment. This is something that all Texans should be proud of.

    Finally I should make a comment on the API/Quest study about the projections in job growth if offshore development returned to the levels before the Obama administration moratorium.  Yes it is taking a long time, and it will take much longer.  The MMS's cozy relationship with the industry ran very deep...a good ole boy network that didn't meet it's responsibility for oversight.  That culture cannot be changed overnight, or even over months or a few years.  Even now the drilling permits being granted will be using the same blow-out preventer that has been fingered as one of the primary causes of the TransOcean disaster. I wonder how the families of those 11 workers killed in that disaster feel about it. The risk/reward analysis might indeed suggest that we should move faster. However, what price tag do we put on those lives lost or the massive environmental and economic disaster it caused to the Gulf coast? It could happen again.