February 6, 2013

Editorial: Pity Rick Perry; his big state has big needs

Poor Texas. With its high dropout rate, lack of health insurance coverage and economic disparities, the Lone Star State appears to be desperate, or least its governor is. How else to explain Gov. Rick Perry's unseemly radio ads attempting to lure businesses away from California?

"Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible," the Republican governor says in the ad. "This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and I have a message for California businesses: Come check out Texas."

Yes, come check out Texas. Check out a state that ranks dead last in the percent of its population with high school diplomas. Come check out a state that is last in mental health expenditures and workers' compensation coverage. Come check out a state that ranks first in the number of executions, first in the number of uninsured, first in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and first in the amount of toxic chemicals released into water.

Texas certainly has some attractions for business, and California certainly needs to work harder to create a friendly place to start companies and grow jobs. But California is creating businesses all the time, partly because of our natural assets – great weather and stunning mountains, beaches and deserts – and an excellent although underfunded system of higher education.

If we invest in that system and protect our environment, our state will continue to create companies such as Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard, Oracle, Craigslist, Yelp, Twitter, Sun Microsystems, Genentech, Cisco, Intel and Qualcomm, and the list goes on and on.

Gov. Jerry Brown, visiting a UPS distribution center Tuesday to celebrate a new fleet of all-electric vehicles, suggested that media hounds find something else to cover than the Perry ads. "It's not a serious story, guys," the governor told reporters. "It's not a burp. It's barely a fart."

Actually, we think it's more than a fart. It's a cry for help. Perry can't create jobs, he can only steal them from other states. His campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was a joke. His beloved Dallas Cowboys haven't been in the Super Bowl since 1996.

Being sympathetic souls, we can't help but wonder what California could do to help Texas and poor Gov. Perry.

Could we organize a book drive so his state could graduate more high school students? Maybe Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg could send him some Prop. 63 money to provide mental health care services? Maybe Jerry Brown could share some pearls of wisdom about Aristotle?

Obviously, Texas can be better and wants to be better. Californians should help it out.

As the late Molly Ivins said of her native Texas, "It's a low-tax, low-service state – so shoot us. The only depressing part is that, unlike Mississippi, we can afford to do better. We just don't."

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