Jim Lee: Texas doesn't hold a candle to Maryland

Someone who would take from their neighbor in order to improve their own prosperity has to be about the lowest form of life on our planet. Yet Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems to pride himself in doing just that.
Perry, the failed 2012 and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is trying to court Maryland businesses away from our state, saying Texas is much more business friendly. I liked Perry during his short run for president. When he said you have to have compassion for people, even the children of illegal immigrants, it cost him the GOP nomination, but I thought it showed a strong character.
Apparently I was wrong. In politics, say and do whatever you want against your opponent. There's plenty of fertile ground for Perry to attack our own Gov. Martin O'Malley, himself a possible presidential candidate of the Democratic side. But we should not try to hurt other states by cannibalizing their businesses. Go after new ones, or existing businesses that are looking to expand.
Since Perry opened the door to this little campaign, however, let's look at all the advantages of doing business in Texas.
CNBC ranked the state among the top for business in 2012. States got points in nine different categories, including such things as the cost of doing business, economy, and business friendliness.
While Texas did well in the survey, according to the CNBC website, "The state had to make some sacrifices though, and that hurt in some categories. Texas comes in 26th in Education and 35th in Quality of Life. And while the state held the line on income taxes, the overall tax burden - including property and sales taxes - is high. That hurts Texas in the all-important Cost of Doing Business category, where it comes in 28th."
Wait a minute. The state is 28th in the cost of doing business? That doesn't sound good. And to achieve the high ranking it had to cut corners in education and quality of life? And it taxes residents at a high rate? Doesn't sound friendly to me.
Well, who needs an educated workforce or parks to play in? Higher taxes on low-paying jobs are always a big draw for residents, too. Guess we know where their priorities are. In fact, in a matchup on "Crossfire" last week between O'Malley and Perry, O'Malley criticized Perry for creating mostly low-paying jobs that basically keep people locked in poverty.
Texas actually is one of only two states in the nation where poverty declined in 2012. Now it is all the way down to 17.9 percent, or almost 1 in 5 people. And one in four children in the state lives in poverty. Maryland's poverty rate is about 1 in 10.
So the state is bad for workers and average folks, but it is good for businesses. No need to worry about state regulations to hamper a business. The West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion this year killed 14 people, injured 200 more and took out about 50 residential homes that were built next to it. Texas is a fairly big state. Why they would put a fertilizer plant right next to a residential neighborhood should raise questions at the state government level, not high praise and slaps on the back from officials who say how wonderful the state is for business.
The state is also a leader in executions. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the state has executed 12 people so far this year. Nationally, there have been 25. After so many people on death row have been cleared of wrongdoing through DNA, many states including Maryland have rethought the use of the death penalty. But in Texas, apparently it is better to execute someone - even if the person might be innocent - in some false notion of justice than to make sure your criminal system is operating effectively.
So these are some of the state's major accomplishments. Cut education. Cut quality of life for residents. Create the lowest paying jobs possible and have one of the top poverty rates in the nation. Stay in line or we'll execute you. Tout fewer regulations to protect workers and others who happen to live near businesses, and wrap it all in a nice package to try and entice a company to move away from another state and into yours.
I guess if I was a business owner looking for cheap, unskilled labor who I could pay peanuts to and didn't have to worry about all those pesky state government regulations concerning treating employees right, protecting the environment or giving back to the community where I located, I'd probably jump at the chance to move to such a Third World place. Luckily, most of our business owners have more integrity and character than Perry and, in all likelihood, wouldn't be caught dead locating there.

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