Jim Hightower, Truthout
Wednesday 7 September 2011
Presidential wannabe Rick Perry is flitting all around the country -- hither, thither and yon -- spreading little "Perry Tales" about himself and the many wonders he has worked as governor of Texas.
His top Perry Tale is a creationist story about what he has modestly branded "The Texas Miracle." While the rest of the country is mired in joblessness, says the miracle worker, his state has added 1.2 million jobs during his 10-year tenure.
I've built "a job-creating machine," the governor gushed during one of his recent flits across Iowa, and a Perry PR aide smugly added, "The governor's job creation record speaks for itself."
Actually, it doesn't. Far from having the best unemployment rate in the nation, the Lone Star State ranks a middling 26th, behind New York, Massachusetts and other states whose "liberal" governments he routinely mocks.
Even more damning, Perry's Texas is not creating nearly enough jobs to keep up with its fast-growing population. Those 1.2 million new positions are 629,000 short of the jobs needed just to bring the state's employment level back up to where it was in 2007. Some miracle.
Worse, probe even a millimeter into the million-jobs number that he is sprinkling around like fairy dust, and you'll learn that Perry's jobs are mostly "jobettes" that can't sustain a family. They come with very low pay, no health care or pension, and no employment security, labor rights or upward mobility -- many are only part-time and/or temporary positions.
Here's a particularly revealing stat that the Perry pixies don't want us to see: On his watch as governor, Texas added more minimum wage jobs than all the other 49 states combined. More than half a million Texans now work for $7.25 an hour or less. He can brag that he's brought Texans down into a tie with Mississippi for the highest percentage of workers reduced to poverty pay.
Spreading even more fairy dust, Perry claims that his Texas Miracle is the result of him keeping the government out of the private sector's way. But peek behind that ideological curtain, and you'll find this startling fact: During Perry's decade, the greatest job growth by far has come from the public sector, which has more than doubled the number of new jobs created by the private sector.
One out of six employed Texans are now teachers, police officers, highway engineers, military personnel or other government workers -- and many of these jobs were created with the federal money that Perry-the-candidate now loudly denounces. Indeed, he's running around ranting about President Obama's stimulus program, but he gladly accepted the third highest amount of stimulus funds taken by the 50 states. There's his miracle.
Interestingly, even his tea-partyish hatred -- nay, loathing! -- of big government's intrusion into the lives of ordinary citizens turns out to be just another Perry Tale. In fact, there would be no Rick Perry without the steady "intrusion" of government into his life.
Local taxpayers in Haskell County put him through their public school system -- for free. He and his family were dry-land cotton farmers, and federal taxpayers helped support them with thousands of dollars in crop subsidies -- Perry personally took $80,000 in farm payments.
State and federal taxpayers financed his college education at Texas A&M, even giving him the extracurricular opportunity to be a cheerleader. Upon graduation, he spent four years on the federal payroll as an Air Force transport pilot who never did any combat duty.
Then, in 1984, Perry hit the mother lode of government pay by moving into elected office -- squatting there for 27 years and counting. In addition to getting regular paychecks from taxpayers for nearly three decades as a state representative, agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor, he also receives platinum-level health care coverage and a generous pension from the state, plus $10,000 a month for renting a luxury suburban home, a covey of political and personal aides and even a publicly paid subscription to Food & Wine magazine.
So when this taxpayer-supported lifer flits into your town to declare that he will slash public benefits and make government "as inconsequential as possible," he means in your life, not his.
Perry literally puts the "hype" in hypocrisy. Forget his tall tales and political B.S. -- look at what he actually does.
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.