Take The Texas Job-Poaching Test

Dave Johnson

Texas Governor Rick Perry is trying to poach jobs from yet another state, offering businesses low taxes and wages. At the same time budget cuts are forcing Texas to convert paved roads to gravel and deep cuts to education continue. What does Texas’ job-poaching do to other states, our country and our economy?

Poaching Jobs

Texas’ Governor Perry is running ads in Missouri, claiming Missouri businesses should move to Texas to avoid paying taxes and take advantage of other “pro-business” policies. These include “right to work” and other anti-union policies that keep wages low, “tort reform” laws that keep consumers and others from suing businesses that cause them harm, and “sensible regulations” that let businesses escape environmental, worker-safety and other rules.

The ads are part of an ongoing campaign that has targeted states including New York and California.

Even as Perry appeals to businesses with the promise of low taxes, low taxes are taking their toll on Texas. Budget cuts are forcing Texas to convert paved roads to gravel. And Texas cut $5.3 billion from schools in 2011, only restoring $1.4 billion this year, never mind inflation and an increased number of students.

Texas ranks 49th in the nation in per-pupil spending. Test: how many states are there?

Take The Test

Meanwhile Texas’ state board of education is telling textbook publishers to present “the other side” of evolution, rename slavery as “Atlantic triangular trade,” requiring that capitalism only be called the “free enterprise system” and teaching the role of “biblical law” in the founding of our country.

In light of these moves to dis-educate Texas perhaps this is a good time to see how well our own schooling is holding up. Here are some tests you can take:

Math test: If a good-paying job moves to low-wage Texas, what is the net effect on wages in our country and economy? (Bonus question: Someone making $50,000 in Missouri is laid off and someone is hired for $25,000 in Texas, what is the net effect on wages nationally? And what is the effect on Missouri communities?)

Conservative propaganda test: If Texas “creates” jobs by poaching businesses, and the states it poaches from lose the same number of jobs, is Texas really “creating” any jobs at all?

Inequality awareness test: If 99 employees make $50,000 in one state, but the company lays them off, moves to a low-wage state and hires 99 people for $25,000, doesn’t that mean that net wages paid to American workers is 99 times $25,000 less but the owner of the business has 99 times $25,000 more for each job moved? (Did you see how I got that whole “99% vs 1%” thing into that test?)

Death-spiral test: If lots of jobs move from good-wage states that support their schools and infrastructure to low-wage states that don’t, is the country better off or worse off? What happens if this continues? What happens to those new Texas jobs if Alabama offers even lower taxes and wages?

Detrimental effect of low wages test: If the overall wage rate in an economy drops due to jobs moving away from good-paying states that collect taxes to support good schools and infrastructure, what is the net effect on jobs and economic competitiveness in that country’s economy?

Ripping off taxpayers test: If workers in Texas make so little that they are on federal government assistance, who pays for that government assistance that goes to people in Texas, while the company owner gets all that extra $$ because of low wages?

Deregulation test: If a fertilizer plant blows up and takes half of a town with it, was it a good idea to deregulate fertilizer plants and cut safety inspections?

So, did you pass the test? Texas didn’t, and drags the country down with it.

Note: You can apply the same sort of tests to countries as we applied here to states. If a company can just close a plant here, move it to China, pay people a dollar a day, then bring the same goods back here to sell in the same stores, is that really “trade?” What is the effect on jobs and communities here? What is the effect on the wages of everyone else in our country when employers can threaten to move people’s jobs to China if they ask for raises, and then are allowed to import the same goods back here that they used to make here?

Here is a way to cheat and get the answers to the “countries” test: look around and see what has happened to our jobs and communities and the middle class.

Comments