Monday, June 27, 2011

Perry for Prez?

Hey! How's stuff? My weekend was good. Did a bit of shopping with Ryan, had a nice dinner with Amy and her mother and grandmother, went to Barton Springs, got a chance to do some reading, listened to some music, and so forth and so on.
Very nice. All very nice. Not to be overly weird, but it was one of those weekends that just sort of makes you... I don't know... grateful. Grateful to have a nice life in a nice place with really good people in it.

I'm not sure that I have a whole lot to report on.

One thing that's been catching more and more attention in the national media lately has been the possibility that Rick Perry might make a run for president.
To be honest, I have sort of mixed feeling about that possibility.
I think Perry would have to step down from his interminable reign as governor in order to run for president, so if he lost the governorship and then lost the presidential race as well I guess I'd be pretty happy.
I guess it's clear that I'm not a big Rick Perry fan. On a personal level, I find him obnoxious and possessing a prodigious ability to make our state look ridiculous (remember the comments that he made that about the possibility of Texas secession and his very manly story about supposedly having no choice but to shoot an attacking coyote with a laser sighted pistol?).
On a more important level, I think Perry is touting supposedly huge growth and success for Texas under his leadership, while, in truth, many of the alleged gains that have been made during his governorship have actually proven to be little more than elitist insider cronyism and exploitation. Perry has dished out taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks, and deregulation for Texas businesses (especially to friendly campaign donors), so he's managed to lure some prominent employers to Texas (thereby keeping some of the employment figures up), but Perry has done this at the cost of a reduced standard of living for many middle class and working class Texans. Texas has the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs in the country, and the nation's lowest median wage. The tax breaks, tort reform, and deregulation used to lure companies here have resulted in a state where the richest individuals and businesses continue to make tremendous amounts of money, but the wealth is often built upon an economy with an underpaid workforce, an environment where citizens face pollution and other dangers that are brought on by deregulation and tort reform, and a diminished tax base where the middle class suffers from things like underfunded schools, lack of basic health care services, crumbling bridges, etc.. Big businesses aren't being asked to shoulder the burden of paying taxes to support the people that they are drawing into the state. In fact, Perry has dished out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to corporations in exchange for promises of job creation, but then he's failed to recoup those dollars when jobs weren't created or when they were outsourced overseas (and some of the businesses benefitting fom these deals have been shown to have political connections to Perry).
On top of this there are large numbers of Texas businesses that profit from an extremely cheap labor pool comprised of our illegal immigrant population. Many, many Texas businesses significantly extend their profit margins by employing undocumented workers (who can be paid substandard wages without any benefits). This almost certainly improves our state's overall economic standing. What bugs me is that at the same time, Perry rarely misses a chance to play to his conservative base by complaining about border control and illegal immigration issue. The hypocrisy is just kind of shameless. Perry claims to want to curb illegal immigration, but not if its going to hurt business in any way. There's never really a word spoken by the governor about stemming the tide of immigration by way of punishing employers who employ undocumented workers.
In short, I think Perry is almost all attitude with very little substance. He pays lip service to a conservative, middle and working class Texas base while practicing leadership that sacrifices the standard of living for that base to the benefit of the very wealthy. I look at Perry's policies while trying to imagine their eventual conclusion, and I see some future Texas that basically looks like a third world country with a wealthy upper class, a fairly poor working class, and ultimately, very little middle class in between. In the end, this sort of model is short sighted and unsustainable. Without a healthy middle class of consumers who have decent salaries and money to spend, the economic engine ultimately sputters. The middle class consumer is what drives the American economy. Frankly, I don't think it's a huge benefit to Texas to have a bunch of companies rush into the state if they're not willing to pay taxes or living wages. Texas could eventually turn into the sort of place that has a fair number of profitable companies (and a relatively small, but very successful upper class), but Texas businesses may end up almost entirely selling their products to people in other places that have more money and a better standard of living.

Anyway, I'm not sure exactly why I felt the need to get in my two cents on Perry at this point (he hasn't even announced that he's running), but it felt good to get some of my concerns off my chest.
On the other hand, Perry has been preaching to converted conservatives here in Texas for far too long. It would be kind of nice to see his ideas and his leadership record actually subjected to a little scrutiny from people from beyond our fair state.

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