“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rick Perry's Texas Economy

I've been thinking recently about the comments would-be detractors have made concerning Governor Rick Perry's state's economy.

We know from various reports that Texas has created more jobs than any other single state in the past several years. Perhaps even the decade- I forget. And, more than any one state, I believe over a period of years, Texas has created more jobs than all other states combined.

It sounds like a really good story.

Then Democrats and Mitt Romney weighed in to say that those are low-wage jobs. Wonderboy's education secretary said he pities Texas kids for having to settle for such poor schooling.

Romney, in a recent debate, reminded Perry and viewers that Texas is blessed with gas and oil. Assets for which Rick Perry can take no credit.

Separately, a Texas university economist, while a guest on Tom Keene's noontime Bloomberg program, described the state's social safety net as 'thin.' Jobless benefits are low and of short duration. State spending on social benefits are, on the whole, low by national standards. And, yes, he said the jobs were, on average, low-paying by national standards, as well.

So we are left with the image of a large state which has coped with an enormous net inflow of residents, made the most of its energy resources, kept taxes and spending low, allowing for job creation which has absorbed the bulk of those new residents.

My question is, regardless of what credit Rick Perry does, or does not take for the Texas economy and employment situation, can and does the US, as a nation, want the Texan solution?

If Rick Perry replaced Wonderboy in the Oval Office tomorrow, what would he do to ignite job growth? Cut unemployment benefits? Social Security? Other entitlement spending?

Mind you, personally, I'm all for that. But I'm not sure that's what voters in Massachusetts, Illinois, California and other solidly blue states are expecting.

It's not clear to me that Rick Perry's Texas is a role model for employment strategies that we want to implement nationwide. In fact, regardless of Texas' spending on social programs, we really can't afford Texas-style employment nationwide.

It's not Rick Perry's fault that Texas is not home to more high-value-added, high-paying jobs. Financial service firms aren't chock-a-block in Austin, Dallas or Houston. Nor are many other large, white-collar sector employers which pay high compensation for high-value work.

Which, I think, means that Rick Perry's policies for facilitating job growth in Texas may not really matter much to the rest of the US, unless we are ready to implement, almost immediately, the drastic reduction of federal entitlement programs of which many speak, but none, save Paul Ryan, have really dared describe in detail.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't vote for Rick Perry. But it does mean I'd be cautious about believing he can transfer much of what has worked economically for Texas to the federal level very soon.

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