What’s Left: Revealing Rick Perry



Rick Perry’s major selling point, his record of job creation in the state of Texas, is spotty to say the least. At first glance, the following numbers are astonishing: 37 percent of all new jobs in the United States were created in Texas, and the state’s unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is a full one percent below the national figure. However, don’t be fooled by the sexy statistics. There is much more to these numbers than Rick Perry or any other Republican would like to address. A popular joke in Texas is that while the state has created a million jobs during Perry’s governorship, the average Texan is likely to have three of them. The reason is that a high percentage of these jobs are minimum wage. According to a March 28 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.54 percent of hourly paid workers in Texas are paid at or below the minimum wage, which makes Texas the state leader in this category.

In addition, many of the new jobs created in Texas don’t offer health insurance. As of 2011, compared to oth­er states, Texas ranks dead last in the number of residents with health insurance. A mind-blowing 26 percent of state residents do not have health insurance, 9 percent over the national average of 17 percent. The state also made huge cuts to public education, which in hindsight makes sense, considering that Texas ranks last in the number of residents who graduate from high school by the age of 25. Texas is also the most deadly state in which to work, a frightening statistic that is exacerbated by the fact that the state also ranks last in workers’ compensation coverage.

As of August 2011, Texas had an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, a full percent lower than the national fig­ure. This number places Texas right in the middle of the state rankings. But don’t be impressed by this statistic ei­ther. A fact worth noting is that New York and Pennsyl­vania have been more economically successful than Texas, without enacting draconian cuts to vital social programs such as education and healthcare.

According to Perry, the state economy has improved as a result of his far right conservative policies. Others have argued against this point, most notably the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. Krugman argues that above average population growth and rising energy costs are the main ingredients of Texas’s high job creation numbers, issues that are outside of Perry’s control. While it is impossible to argue that low wages and deregulation in Texas have brought more low-paying jobs to the state, Krugman makes a point that lower wages would lead to fewer jobs nationwide. He writes, “They would leave working Americans even less able to cope with the over­hang of debt left behind by the housing bubble.”

Thus far, the radical right, a small but sadly influential group of voters in our country, has embraced Rick Perry mostly because of his propensity to make ridiculous state­ments that surpass even those made by Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann. Rick Perry spoke at a secession rally, where he threatened that Texas may secede from the Union. He called Social Security, the social safety net that keeps millions of our senior citi­zens out of poverty, “an illegal Ponzi-scheme” and “unconstitutional.” He believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, and stated that all non-believers in the Bible would go to hell. That may sound like a lot, but just wait. His most infamous statement was his accusation that Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, who was originally appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, was acting treasonously. Perry even threatened the Chairman of the Fed by saying, “We would treat him [Bernanke] real ugly down in Texas.” Thank goodness that many Republicans, including Karl Rove (of all people!) condemned Perry for his comments against Bernanke. Rick Perry’s image of America should be frightening to any responsible and patriotic American. Traditions that we hold dear in our country, most importantly equal opportunity and separation of church and state, would be threatened. And finally, anyone who could make conservatives like George Bush and Karl Rove seem reasonable should be alarming to both conservative and liberal Americans alike.

Contact Noah Merksamer at [email protected].