Earlier this week, Texas governor Rick Perry gloated that his "pro-business" policies allowed his state to steal 3,000 Toyota jobs from California. If true, that would be terrible public policy. But it now appears it's not true, which is even worse.
The issue of states handing out public money to private companies in the form of tax breaks and other corporate welfare is an important one, because it will continue, and it will continue being an outrageously wasteful policy, because all it does is transfer (not create) jobs around the country at a massive cost to the public. So it's important to understand that swaggering moron Rick Perry, who could not care less about damaging the economic health of the nation as a whole as long as he could score some political points for it, was just this week claiming credit for Toyota's decision to transfer much of its U.S. operations out of California and into Texas, because Texas has such "business-friendly" Republican policies, whereas California has high taxes and liberals. This is the framing that Rick Perry, a blow-dried idiot who would be your president, is giving to this issue.
Now then. Today, the L.A. Times digs into exactly why Toyota decided to leave California. Here is what the company said:
[Toyota North American chief Jim] Lentz said the move grew from a conversation a year ago with Toyota global President Akio Toyoda, about how to structure North American business "for the next 50 years." The current setup, with corporate affiliates spread across the U.S., no longer made sense for a company that builds and sells millions of cars a year here.
Toyota began looking for a place to consolidate, comparing everything from climate and direct flights to Japan to cost of living and schools in 100 metro areas. It then narrowed the list to four finalists: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Denver and Plano, an affluent suburb of Dallas. Torrance was never on the list, in part because Lentz wanted to avoid a culture clash between different arms of corporate management.
Lentz said that the $40 million in public money that Texas gifted Toyota for moving there was "a minor factor." The L.A. Times also points out that since 2007, wages in Texas have fallen by nearly twice as much as they have in California; that Texas has no personal income tax; and that data shows that companies relocating in and out of California has only been shown to affect total employment there by 1-2%.
So let's review the possibilities here: if you take Rick Perry as completely correct, the best-case scenario is that he spent $40 million of taxpayer money to steal jobs from another state, creating no new jobs in the process. If you take Toyota at its word, it's even worse: Rick Perry gave $40 million in public money to a corporation that would have moved to Texas anyhow. (Why not just deposit the payroll taxes of minimum wage-earning Texans directly into the bank account of the Toyota corporation and save some time?) Not to mention the fact that Rick Perry's shitty pro-business anti-public tax policies are one reason that the state of Texas "ranks 50th in high school graduation rate, first in amount of carbon emissions, first in hazardous waste produced, last in voter turnout, first in percentage of people without health insurance, and second in percentage of uninsured kids." And not to mention the fact that poaching companies from other states has been shown to be an insufficient way to address your own state's employment situation.
Congratulations, you swaggering fucking moron! Vote Perry 2016!