political convention

political convention

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Texas No Taxes

Going to Texas to find out how to run a state is like visiting certain Middle Eastern countries to learn about religious temperance.   You’ll find a dominant ideological faction in charge that doesn’t want to hear about alternative ways of doing things. 

In the case of Texas, this faction includes the governor, Tea Party members and far-right Republicans, all of whom believe, to put it in Texas lingo, that government should be as shrunken and shriveled as the discarded testicles of a Texas steer and taxes should be as low as the water in a dried up Texas lake.

Enticed by this vision, a group of Republican legislators from California, accompanied by the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, is planning a trip to Texas.  They want to know more about how Texas-style government attracts business and investment.  The Republicans claim that businesses are leaving California for Texas and that Texas added more than 160,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010, while California lost more than a million jobs.  Democrats are skeptical about the significance of these numbers.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, a former San Francisco Mayor and business-friendly liberal, said there are myths and realities about what’s happening in Texas and one should  go there with an open mind.  The state treasurer, a Democrat, was less circumspect, saying that any suggestion that the Texas model would be right for California was a “crock.” 

Whatever the mythology, a business that resettles in Texas is, well, in Texas.  It’s a land quickly becoming a third-world oligarchy where middle and working class people face a grim future of diminished educational opportunities and rotten public services.  Highways, state parks, scholarships for college students, teacher incentive pay, and medical and nursing home care for the poor and elderly are all in line to be guillotined under proposed budget cuts. According to the New York Times, these cuts, amounting to $23 billion, come on top of years in which government funds have been successfully targeted by right wing ideologues. Texas has an opportunity to ameliorate some of its current problems by using a rainy day fund.  But, the Times reports that this step is out of the question because the money was raised from taxes on oil production and using it for ordinary governmental purposes would weaken anti-tax resolve.  In Texas, no taxes.

California has its own problems.  And California Republicans are just about as intransigent as those in Texas.  But in California the Democrats are in the majority so new taxes are on the table and some thought is devoted to the consequences of drastic cuts for ordinary people. As for the business climate, the Chronicle reports that Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has reminded Republicans that California leads in creativity and receives 50 percent of all venture capital money.

In addition, Texas weather is hell compared to California’s. 

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