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The state of Texas is special. And GOP Texas Governor Rick Perry wants everyone to know it.
What's special about Texas? It's a state which actually touts it's similarities with China as a justification for businesses to move out of the state they're in now, and relocate to the Lone Star state. Well.....no in so many words...but the message is clear.
Governor Perry was asked whether better regulations in Texas could have prevented the huge explosion recently at a West Texas fertilizer plant which killed 20 and injured over 200. According to the NY Times, this was his response...
....Mr. Perry responded that more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented what has become one of the nation’s worst industrial accidents in decades.
That answer reminds me of the response by many on the right to universal background checks for purchasing guns. Lawbreakers won't obey laws.....therefore any new laws only punish, or inconvenience law-abiders. Conclusion: the existent of laws in a society are evidence of a society which is not free.
Regulations, safety inspections or more costly oversight won't prevent any disasters.....instead, new or revised regulations and/or safety inspections will only punish law-abiding businesses and cost more money.
When you think about it.....Gov. Perry's view is the same as the view of China's leaders. Texas tries to attract new businesses to its' state by telling those businesses about few-and-far between regulatory controls on businesses in Texas. U.S. corporations offshore their entire operations to China for the same reason. Less regulatory controls, more profits.
Further, from 2007-2010, the number of Texans earning minimum wage or less rose 150%. Total hourly earners in Texas earn less than the national median average. $12.50 per hour average nationally, $11.20 per hour average in Texas.
Texas offers lower wages to workers than the national average and those lower on-average wage numbers are used to attract new businesses to the state. U.S. multinationals outsource their labor to China and other foreign countries for the same reason. Lower labor costs equal higher profits.
But here are a few things I didn't know about Texas.....
It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage.
Worker safety in Texas is not a high priority. And the statistics prove that out....
Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012.
Houston, a city I've visited and never want to return to,.....the largest city in Texas....has no zoning laws. Think about that a moment. No zoning laws. In Houston, strip clubs are adjacent to residences. What's worse, Texas....
....does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.
This is the libertarian paradise often praised by the rugged Atlas Shrugged crowd of Paulistas, Palinistas and Tea Patriots. A paradise made up of low wage earners, no workers compensation program, few regulatory controls and the most threadbare safety net in the nation. A libertarian paradise where laws which contribute to the common good are regarded as threats to freedom.
Another way to put it would be that Texas is vying to become America's China, or perhaps Bangladesh. Lower wages, deregulation, fewer safety checks on businesses are the advantages that China offers American multi-nationals, like Wal-Mart and Target. Texas touts the same advantages in their state with their leaders aggressively marketing a form of interstate cannibalization of businesses....sometimes referred to as a "race to the bottom."
Often, the "global economy" is mentioned as the reason why American workers should work for less and have fewer safety measures in the workplace....you know....like China does. Outsourcing and offshoring are justified because of this so-called new paradigm of the global economy. Global competition means that U.S. workers are paid too much in comparison to citizens in poorer nations who will work for virtually nothing. Global competition also means that businesses can no longer afford safety precautions for workers, compensation funds when workers are injured on the job, or costly regulations to protect against businesses exploding with the force of a 2.1-magnitude earthquake.
Texas is proud to inform you that they are leading the way in all of the 50 states in conducting the measures which are necessary for the United States to more closely resemble the "growth" country of China.
Quite an accomplishment to be proud of.