March 20, 2014

#TexasMiracle? Oil and gas, illegals, and smoke and mirrors

The lights of oil and gas show the one true driver of the Texas economy.
Photo via Washington Monthly.
Most of us who live in Texas and don't have our heads buried up Rick Perry's tuchis already knew the truth about Tricky Ricky's "Texas Miracle," but a good long-form piece from Washington Monthly spells out the details as a friendly reminder.

That photo is a good starting point, noting all the gas flares from the Eagle Ford. But, it's not just the Eagle Ford. If you've been in Texas a while, you can quickly spot, as I did, even more flaring light coming from the Permian Basin. (And, let's not forget all the climate change being induced in those spots.)

Here's a few other takeaways of note:

Perry's franchise tax isn't helping businesses get the best bang for education bucks:
For example, under the assumption that spending on education benefits only households and not businesses, California businesses pay $2.30 in taxes for every dollar they get in benefits, while Texas businesses pay $5. By this measure, Texas is the ninth-worst state in the country in the cost/benefit ratio it offers businesses on their taxes. 
Not even close.

As for the "Texas exceptionalism" of "I wasn't born here but I moved here as quickly as I could," espoused by too many Democrats in the Pointy Abandoned Object State, like Wendy Davis, as well as Tricky Ricky? Wrong:
For example, according to Census Bureau data, 441,682 native-born Americans moved to Texas from other states between 2010 and 2011. Sounds like a lot. But moving (fleeing?) in the opposite direction were 358,048 other native-born Americans leaving Texas behind. That means that the net domestic migration of native-born Americans to Texas came to just 83,634, which in a nation of 315 million isn’t even background noise. It’s the demographic equivalent of, say, the town of Lawrence, Kansas, or Germantown, Maryland, “voting with its feet” and moving to Texas while the rest of America stays put.
Yep. As I blogged already a few years ago. the real "demographic miracle" in Texas, or Tejas, which neither Tricky Ricky nor all-around nutter Kinky Friedman nor hardcore wingnut Ted Cruz nor Greg "Hey, I Have a Mexican Wife" (But Didn't Know I Had for 25 Years) Abbott want to admit, is that Texas' population growth is due to Mezcans. Not Mexican-Americans, not nearly as much as Mezcans, fleeing the homeland for the onion-picking that Americans won't do, and also the roofing and framing at housing projects of Friend of Ricky's, Bob Perry, because in this case, they're used to deliberately drive down labor costs.

But, the folks that move here, or were "lucky" enough to be born here, are all going to be entrepreneurs, right?

Wrong. Not even the slush of Tricky Ricky's Texas Enterprise Fund can change this:
In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, children who grew up in families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution had only a 12.2 percent chance of rising to the top fifth as adults. Those who grew up in or near San Diego or Los Angeles had even lesser odds—only 10.4 and 9.6 percent, respectively. It’s depressing that for so many Californian children, the chances of realizing the American Dream are so slim. But California looks like the land of opportunity compared to Texas.

In the greater Austin area, children who grew up in families of modest means had only a 6.9 percent chance of joining the top fifth of earners when they became adults; in Dallas, only 7.1 percent; in San Antonio, just 6.4 percent. Yes, Texas offers more chances for upward mobility than places like Detroit and some Deep South cities like Atlanta. Yet the claim that Texas triumphs over the rest of America as the land of opportunity is all hat and no cattle. 
Period and end of story.

You want real embarassing? Look left. Vermonters make more money than Texans. Gee, Rick, why aren't you asking Vermont businesses to move here?

And, note to Wendy Davis. Don't pretend we do so much right in Texas. That "behind Vermont" is nearly 30 years old now, except for the brief late-90s bump. And, the decline started while, yes, while Reagan was president, but while Democrats had control of most of the levers of power in Austin, sometimes all of them.

Until we get more Democrats in Texas being more honest about just how much the state has slipped, and for how long, Democratic economic campaign proposals will likely come off sounding like Band-Aids.

Don't hold your breath.

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