Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to run on jobs, presumably the same jobs conservative economic policies demolished, but we all know facts and direct inference hold no sway on what was once the Grand Old Party. It turns out that the job picture in Texas is not quite as rosy as Perry would like to spin:
But there is a wider set of categories in which no one presumes to see Texas miracles. Those have to do with social issues such as Texas’ high rate of people without health insurance, high levels of poverty and lagging education levels. For example, of the five most populous states, Texas had the highest poverty rate in the 2009 census update, with 15.5 percent of residents below the income threshold.
Texas is doing slightly better than other states for two reasons: they’ve been swiping jobs from other states by dangling subsidies and tax breaks for wealthy business owners while offering terrible conditions for wage earners, and ballooning the roster of low level state employees (Neither one would work as a national job strategy, especially for a politician hell-bent on cutting government spending). The end result is an employment rate that’s a little better than the national average and a giant population of workers with no other option except near starvation wages.
I’m one of them. I’m living the “Texas miracle”. I work for one of the best software companies in America, I came with a college degree and 20 years of experience as an entry-level employee, mid level manager, and successful senior executive in the field I currently work in. I make about $24,000 a year and there are virtually no chances, at least where I work now, for a meaningful promotion any time soon.
Multiply me by millions of other Texans and you get the picture. There’s a lady with a master’s degree in electrical engineering who did her thesis on NASA solar panels working with me for the same hobby job wage. And we’re lucky, she and I are among a handful of temps, about a dozen out of 300, who worked a graveyard shift with no benefits — no health insurance or vacation time, not even one sick day allowed — and earned a full-time job with the client company that hired us on.
What’s it like to try and live on $1400 month take home at age 50? Millions of people do it, but I can’t. I end up drawing on savings built up over three and a half decades of hard work or depending on projects like this blog for a few extra bucks. Even then every month is a struggle. Minor car or computer repairs, a trip to the dentist, that’s all it takes and I’ll have zero disposable income for weeks, barely able to cover rent on my tiny studio apartment without dipping into a retirement account. It’s survival, and without expensive luxuries like kids, I’m able to survive better off than most. But on that kind of pay there’s no way to take on new car payments or cover a mortgage, much less contribute to retirement. All the things people need to be able to do to create sorely needed demand and knock the country out of this deep hole Bush Republicans dug.
The Texas miracle. Miraculous, why it sounds almost heavenly! Trust me, if this is heaven you don’t wanna see hell. This miracle feels a lot more like a curse.