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Is America Turning Into Texas?

Society & Culture  (tags: abuse, americans, culture, dishonesty, government, police, politics, society, Texas, violence )

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Republican conservatives have a simple economic precept: what's good for business is good for America.

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday July 2, 2013, 8:01 pm
Photo Credit: AlterNet

Is America Turning into Texas?

What's happened Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America.

On April 17 there was a horrific explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 15 people, injured more than 200, destroyed or damaged 150 homes and caused at least $100 million in losses. Five days later, Texas Governor Rick Perry was in Illinois trying to lure business to Texas, praising his state's limited regulations. Is Texas America's future?

Republican conservatives have a simple economic precept: what's good for business is good for America. Conservatives believe states should provide a "business friendly" environment with low taxes and few regulations. They argue this inevitably creates jobs and builds community through the "trickle-down" theory of Reaganomics: "a rising tide lifts all boats."

Texas is the foremost practitioner of the conservative theory. This year Chief Executive Magazine voted Texas "the best state to do business in" for the ninth consecutive year, citing factors such as low taxes and sparse regulations. Texas' 6.5 percent unemployment rate is below the national average.

But the Texas economy has negative aspects that contributed to the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant. There is no state fire code and McLennan, the county that housed the plant, also has no fire code. According to the New York Times

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.

In much of Texas zoning laws are non-existent. In 1962, when the West Chemical and Fertilizer plant originally opened, the facility was far from downtown; in recent years, a school, nursing home, and apartment complex were built nearby.

A consequence of Texas' "anything goes" attitude is not only the nation's highest number of workplace fatalities but also America's dirtiest environment. According to the Houston Chronicle Texas leads the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas' coal-fired power plants and oil refineries generated 294 million tons of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in 2010, more than the next two states -- Pennsylvania and Florida -- combined.

Regrettably, many Texans lack adequate health care. The Texas Observer reports that the state ranks first in the nation for adults without health insurance.

Over the last decade, Texas added thousands of jobs in construction and energy. Unfortunately, Texas leads the nation in construction fatalities.

The Texas construction industry is characterized by dangerous working conditions, low wages, and legal violations that hurt working families and undercut honest businesses.

Furthermore, an average of 39 energy industry workers die each year.

Oil and gas field services and drilling workers were killed on the job in Texas more than those in any other profession, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of five years of fatal accidents investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

And when Texans are injured on the job, they often have great difficulty getting their medical claims reimbursed. Texas is the only state where employers have a choice about paying worker's compensation. If the worker's employer doesn't provide coverage, the worker has to file a civil claim. But even when there is worker's compensation, the system is notoriously difficult.

Texas Governor Rick Perry roams the U.S. luring workers to Texas with the promise of good jobs, but the reality is unimpressive. Writing in the American IndependentPatrick Brendel observed the new Texas jobs are primarily low-wage jobs:

Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010) compared to any state, according to a [Bureau of Labor Statistics] report. In 2010, about 550,000 Texans were working at or below minimum wage, or about 9.5 percent of all workers paid by the hour in the state.

On June 14, Governor Perry vetoed an equal pay bill.

Meanwhile, the ruined city of West, Texas, is struggling to recover. Total losses will be more than $100 million and FEMA likely will reimburse only 10 percent. The City of West has sued the owner and supplier of the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant.

On April 22 Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked about the explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant and contended that "more government intervention and increased spending on safety inspections would not have prevented" the West catastrophe.

What's happened in West and Texas graphically illustrates the choice facing America. We can adopt an extreme pro-business strategy and subordinate worker pay and safety; we can, in effect, tell the 99 percent, "You're on your own." Or we can adopt a strategy that puts people first; we can decide that capitalism has to be subordinate to democracy and protect the rights of all Americans.

By: Bob Burnett | Smirking Chimp | Alternet |

Sue Matheson (79)
Tuesday July 2, 2013, 8:46 pm

JL A (281)
Tuesday July 2, 2013, 8:55 pm
The old adage of "if it sounds too simple it probably is" probably applies all too well only no one in power can deal with accurate complexities that better fit reality. Last century it would have been the snake oil salesman model I guess.

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 2, 2013, 10:45 pm
I cant get over the wages Kit

Robert B (60)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:36 am
I would rather choose "Trickle UP" economics. A rising tide may float boats, but a rising stench of robber barons merely make life miserable for the majority.

Gene J (290)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 9:17 am
"Texas has by far the largest number of employees working at or below the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2010) compared to any state, according to a [Bureau of Labor Statistics] report. In 2010, about 550,000 Texans were working at or below minimum wage, or about 9.5 percent of all workers paid by the hour in the state. "

I don't think even Texas is turning into Texas. Texas is, in very short order, going to be well more than half Hispanic, whites will be a minority - no doubt a loud, mouthy and uncouth one - but no longer running things. Shortly after that, Arizona will follow suit and hopefully chase both Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe out of the state.

pam w (139)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 9:43 am

. (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 11:06 am

Ladies and gentlemen, attention please
Come in close so everyone can see
I got a tale to tell
A listen don't cost a dime
And if you believe that we're gonna get along just fine

Now I've been travelin' all around
I heard trouble's come to your town
Well I've got a little somethin'
Guaranteed to ease your mind
It's call Snake Oil y'all
It's been around for a long, long time
More lyrics:

David C (131)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 11:35 am
OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul Girardin (126)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 11:47 am
(N+S) Noted & shared!

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:39 pm

It's really not that bizarre, think about what is happening in other states and Texas is just one that stands out.

Nancy M (197)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:43 pm
Oh NO! Not that! Anything but that!

Nancy M (197)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:44 pm
Well, yeah, I can think of a few other states to put on that list.

Candace H (4)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:51 pm
Rick Perry is a joke that needs to be voted out of office but I'm terrified that his "supporters" are never going to let that happen. And yes, I have the great misfortune to live in Rick Perry's domain.

Joanne Dixon (38)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 12:53 pm
Oooooh Gene! Oooh oooh ooh! Wouldn't it be great if Arizona chased Sheriff Joe out of Arizona and INTO MEXICO? The possibilities are overwhelming.

. (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 1:21 pm
Kit- come to NJ, we have an overwieight governor who has all the answers.

Sheryl G (363)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 3:22 pm
I'd like to say no but unfortunately the trend seems to be yes.

Sheri Schongold (7)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 3:22 pm
God help us if the country becomes a replica of Texas in any way. Business at any cost, make sure women have no rights over anything including their bodies. This sounds dire to me. The governor in NJ, may be overweight, but at least he listens to people and doesn't tell them they are stupid and that men know better about women. Unfortunately, Perry is liked/loved by enough people in TX that he will remain in office and become a role model. Hopefully all other people (other than his friends) see him for what he is and don't follow in his diapers.

Rose Becke (141)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 3:40 pm
O dear

Theodore Shayne (56)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 3:51 pm

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 4:32 pm
I guess if I had a business and I didn't give a patooty about my employees, the environment or much of anything except power and money, I would think Texas was a great place. As it is, sometimes I think we should build the big wall on this side of Texas. (Except for Kit and a few others here, of course)

Mary Donnelly (47)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 4:38 pm
Thanks Kit--like so many others I'm appalled by the low minimum wage, and peculiar health care. Texas might soon become 'a banana republic'.

Svetlana B (20)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 4:40 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 4:58 pm
At some point, the people are going to fight back...and hard. Witness Wendy Davis' stirring 12 hr. filibuster and the crowd surrounding the capital bldg. I can think of a lot of nasty names for Perry, but I think the most correct would be sociopath.

Judy C (97)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 6:16 pm
I just can't believe that those good ole boys in Texas are still trying to hang onto the entirely discredited "trickle down" theory. At least they are pretending to expect it to work. I guess it's better than saying, "Hey, I don't give a rat's ass about anyone or anything except for money, power and myself".

Mitchell D (87)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 6:52 pm
Judy, you are right on it! "Trickle down" is nothing but Plutocratic propaganda.
Mr "Trickle Down, aka Saint Ronald, to the right, used the idea to set up a huge redistribution of wealth upwards, and the 99% are still paying for it
I just started to read "Capitalism Hits the Fan," by Richard Wolff, a professor of economics, at UMass, Amherst, and I recommend it! So far, it is a good companion to, "Democracy for the Few," by Michael Parenti.

Jeremy S (3)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 7:11 pm
I feel great sympathy for anyone stuck in that state. I lived there five years--and it felt like an eternity! If Texas takes over America (something most people there would heartily relish(), I don't think I'll enjoy it...

Past Member (0)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 8:38 pm
This is a depressing thought! Thx Kit

Michael C (217)
Wednesday July 3, 2013, 10:02 pm
Lord, Jesus, How the thought of that makes me shudder!!!!!

Past Member (0)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 1:14 am

paul m (93)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 4:04 am


Past Member (0)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 11:30 am
Perhaps you should look at the highest rate not the greatest number. The risk of job fatalities and injuries varies widely from state to state, in part due to the mix of industries, and it appears that a high Latino population doesn't help. Shouldn't we be more concern about the estimated 50,000 workers die each year as a result of occupational diseases?

Phil P (94)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 6:17 pm
Turn into Texas - couldn't think of a worse fate for the US. Hell, I'd light a 1000 candles and even pray if there was a chance that could happen.

Suzanne O (33)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 6:28 pm
Kit, to me this article represents one side getting all they want and it not really working to the benefit of all. On the other hand it can go the other way where regulations, fees, licenses, required insurances etc. etc. can be a real burden to a smaller business. For example, Workman's Comp, is a bill that can crush businesses. I am not saying it should be eliminated but the insurance industry should get a grip on pricing it out. New Jersey is an expensive and heavily regulated state to do business in. You couldn't even imagine with all the insurances required how much the monthly bill is just for that. So it can go both ways.

I honestly believe there is a mix in between over and under government interaction in business that would be healthy for us all. A mix of thoughts from both put together with honest reason and not who will benefit from it in the next election. Too much of anything is just too much...

Allan is that the best you got on Governor Christie...silly name calling and nothing substantial. That kind of attitude will never help New Jersey.

Robert K (31)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 7:22 pm
There is no longer any such thing as a worthwhile conservative. They are only good for death and dishonor.

Sheila D (194)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 10:33 pm
Someone remind me again Why we didn't let Texas secede for the Union??

Sheila D (194)
Thursday July 4, 2013, 10:34 pm
Sorry - I meant FROM the Union.

reft h (66)
Friday July 5, 2013, 1:11 am
doesn't sound very good

Sherri G (128)
Friday July 5, 2013, 1:23 am
"Republican conservatives have a simple economic precept: what's good for business is good for America." American Legislative Economic Council purpose is to control legislative regulation. More people need to know. Then add in the ignorance of Perry, Bush, and too many to list here and workers are left with no recourse to make their work places safe. ALEC doesn't get enough press in venues to expose them. Thank you for posting Kit. Noted
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