Texas and the art of liking business

Published 1:41 pm Thursday, November 4, 2010

I didn’t bother to read The Dallas Morning News’ recent endorsement of Democrat Bill White for governor of Texas, partly because the piece was longer than a root canal appointment. Mainly, though, it was because the idea of NOT entrusting state government to an exponent of low taxes and relatively limited government (i.e., incumbent Rick Perry) is so detached from common sense and reality that …

Well, heck, let’s talk about California for a minute. California — I adore the place. Went to college there. Visit when I can. Great food, great weather, great wine. And lame-brain government — conditioned on the complaisance of the electorate in the idea that bills never fall due, hence never require to be paid.

A lot of justifiable moaning around the land is due to the excesses of Congress and Barack Obama. Yet no less sad a feature of our present discontents is the financial plight of states like California, whose governments are nearer the people than Washington, D.C., yet they don’t get the picture. Some of this may change after Tuesday, Nov. 2, but probably not enough will. Californians, according to polls, seem set on returning professional pol Jerry Brown to the governorship in preference to letting a successful businesswoman-entrepreneur, Meg Whitman of e-Bay fame, have a crack at straightening out the local propensity to overspend. States, such as Texas, that BOTH pay their bills and provide low-cost service to taxpayers are, shall we say, relatively few in number right now. Though they maybe not forever, as outsiders catch on.

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A Texan feels entitled less to boast, in the manner attributed to us by newspaper cartoonists and nightclub comics, than to note with appreciation the value of an economic climate deliberately, consciously, with cordiality aforethought, friendly to business. To business, yes — creator of jobs, payer of taxes.

When Gov. Rick Perry’s ads declare that “Texas is open for business,” the laudable point is twofold:

— We like and support businessmen down here. They help us, we help them.

— We’d like more of them to recognize the advantages of doing business in a state with no income tax. No extra kick in the pants for you, that’s to say, after you’ve shared your good fortune with the IRS.

Being open for business means being open to the labor and exertion and guesswork and gambling that go with the quest to make a buck.

The quest for a buck is not much in favor — rhetorically, anyway — with officials of the Obama administration, who seem to approve of businessmen mostly as providers of campaign contributions and corporate taxes. This very odd view appears to have had its effects: Business, by and large, disappointed in its expectations — regarding an administration supposedly intent on “bringing us together” — has gone over to the GOP.

The beneficent effects of paying attention to the business climate manifest themselves in Texas, for all the piety that liberal Democrats around here commonly expend on the alleged need to improve Texas schools and health care. Again, with the government talk! If you’re not spending like, oh, Washington, D.C., you’re betraying your people. But that just isn’t so. Texas business is attentive to the need for better schools and health care because, frankly, what’s good for the customers is good for the merchants.

A state government deficit of some $20 or so billions on a biennial basis has to be negotiated after the first of the year. Not the least promising approach is, broadly, to continue talking up business growth and government austerity in the interest of continued growth.

If Washington, D.C., can’t see the big picture — to wit, Big Government drags down economic endeavor and undermines job growth — the witness of individual states to this important truth is there to drink in thankfully and to learn from.

Deo volente, Rick Perry returns to the governorship of Texas in January to bear down even harder than before on the necessities and maxims of smart government. Of course, he can’t do it all. Come on, California; come on, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Alabama — everybody.

(William Murchison writes from Dallas. To find out more about William Murchison, and to see features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website www.creators.com.)