As Rick Perry basks in his front-runner status, the national conversation is turning to the topic of Texas. Assuming Perry does indeed secure the Republican nomination, here is the discussion you can expect to hear up until election day:
REPUBLICAN: The Texas economy is great.
DEMOCRAT: No, it isn—
R: The Texas economy is great, and by implication, Rick Perry is a good executive.
D: Texas’ economy is not great. The state’s unemployment rate is only one point below the national average; at any given point, somewhere between 20 and 30 states are doing better
R: True, but misleading. The unemployment rate is only high because people have come far and wide to get their piece of Texas’s prosperity. During Rick Perry’s tenure, Texas has created more jobs than the other 49 states combined. It isn’t even close — in the past 10 years, Texas added 850,000 jobs, while the rest of the nation lost nearly 3.2 million.
D: They’re not good jobs though — a lot of them are minimum wage.
R: Maybe a sixth of the jobs created were minimum wage, but why do we even care? Go tell a refugee from California or Michigan that no job is better than $7.25 per hour.
D: And a lot of the jobs are government jobs, created by the stimulus. If anything, Obama should be taking credit for the Texas economy.
R: Around a third of the jobs created were government jobs, and maybe half of those were created in the past couple years, but 1) Texas didn’t get any special treatment from Obama’s stimulus, 2) even if you stripped out the government jobs entirely, Texas would still be beating the pants off of the other 49, and 3) federal taxes have destroyed more jobs in Texas than government spending has created — just because Rick Perry wasn’t boneheaded enough to reject the stimulus that his citizens had already footed the bill for doesn’t make him a hypocrite.
D: Even so, the Texas economy is only doing well because it’s an oil-producing state.
R: Sounds like someone’s bitter that their “green jobs” experiment failed.
D: What I’m saying is, Texas isn’t laying down any of the framework to create jobs; ipso facto, the job growth is luck. For example, their educational system is terrible.
R: It isn’t terrible; it’s at the national average. And it’s only average because states with high immigrant populations tend to do poorly on standardized reading exams.
D: It’s not just education — the crime trends there are worse than those in the rest of the nation too.
R: Texas took in a lot of Katrina victims. It wasn’t the only state to experience a rise in crime as a result.
D: So you’re blaming Texas’ education record on immigrants, and their crime on displaced African-Americans. At any point do you stop and ask yourself, “Am I racist?”
R: It’s not racism, it’s statistics.
D: Moving on. Even if Texas were great, there’s nothing to prove that Rick Perry is the cause.
R: So what?
D: What do you mean, “So what?” If Texas succeeds because it’s Texas, then Rick Perry isn’t some brilliant policy maker, he’s just a bible-thumping, gun-toting, crony-capitalist with a lust for power and a—
R: Running against a smooth-talking political light-weight who came of age in the dirty machine politics of Chicago? We can name-call with the best of them, if that’s your idea of politics. No, what I’m saying is this: perhaps the Texas Miracle is due to Texas’s naturally conservative system of government, maybe it’s due to Rick Perry’s exemplary leadership. Who cares? Whether it’s the right ideology or the right management, Perry’s got it and Obama hasn’t.
D: First off, the “Texas Miracle” isn’t a miracle. Secondly, even if it were, it’s due to neither the state’s system of government nor its leadership; it’s because the state has oil and the price of oil is through the roof. And finally, even if the state’s success were due to ideology or leadership, there’s still no guarantee that it would scale up to the national level.
R: Maybe it’s as you say, and government has nothing to do with it. Maybe it’s all just the price of oil. But then how do you explain Arizona and Utah, the runners-up in the category of most jobs created? They don’t have oil. What they do have are right-to-work laws that prevent labor cartels from strangling job creators, low taxes that encourage a man to work by letting him keep what he has earned, and a light regulatory touch that does the necessary tasks of government without stifling entrepreneurship. These are all policies that scale to a national level.
D: I think I’ve heard this schtick before. I recall another Texas governor who, in a shorter time than Perry, created over a million jobs for his state. Then, he went to Washington full of ideas about low taxes and deregulation, and got eight years to make his nation as prosperous as his home state. I forget — how did he do?
R: Is this the only campaign strategy you know? Pretend your opponent is George W. Bush and live out your political revenge fantasies? Your obsession with the man is sick.
D: Our obsession? You’ve nominated a yall’n, drawl’n, C+ student cum military pilot cum Texas governor after he told you he didn’t believe in evolution or global warming. Somewhere out there, Jeb Bush is pistol-whipping the political advisor that told him the nation wasn’t ready for a third Bush, and who can blame him? As it turns out, the Republican party isn’t just ready for a third Bush — it’s the only candidate they’ll accept.
R: Even a third Bush would be better than Obama.
D: I guess we’ll find out on election day, won’t we?