Where have all the jobs gone?

People in companies with all the money have been dubbed “job creators” by the conservative faction in America. In the past two years, corporations in America have reaped record profits in the billions. They are doing better financially now than they ever have in the history of this country. Yet they do not seem to be inclined to create new jobs.

I am told on good authority that very specific attributes are considered as deciding factors when corporations/companies are locating in a state or particular area. These things generally listed at the top of their desires: a properly educated workforce, adequacy of land and the quality of life for the employees who would live where the manufacturing plants are located. Texas obviously has plenty of the land, but unfortunately, we continue to lag in the properly educated workforce and the quality of life. And the Perry/Republican strategy might have created numbers of jobs, but has done very little for Texans’ quality of life or workforce education.

Texas lags in health care, environmental protection, education, high-paying jobs and justice.

I once read a story about one of the Fords taking union leader Walter Reuther on a tour of the plant. The new plant had replaced many autoworkers through automation and technology. Toward the end of the tour, Ford smugly told Walter Reuther that he supposed Walter’s furrowed brow was out of concern that he would not be able to sell union cards to the machines that were working so tirelessly and efficiently. Reuther replied, “No, I was really concerned about how you’re going to sell these machines Ford automobiles.” Almost every economist agrees the greatest promoter of manufacturing and associated manufacturing jobs is the demand for whatever is produced. In other words, it is difficult to promote manufacturing without buyers or consumers. It appears obvious minimum wage workers are not inclined or able to be purchasing high-dollar products.

The fact Texas has more minimum-wage workers than any other state is directly tied to the way we prepare our citizens for employment. Education is the key; the lack thereof is the problem. Texas has an education board more concerned with politics than quality education for our children. Our state board has spent more time trying to inject a religious flavor into the curriculum of our public education system than attempting to improve its quality. I do not recall one time that our state board has attempted to address the inequality of funding wherein some of our school districts are trying to educate students with a third less money than other districts. A recent study by a member of the Legislature has confirmed that far more students are successful in districts that receive greater funding than those with woefully inadequate funds. Our state leaders seem totally unconcerned that we call our system of public education a state system. They have passed the buck to the point that over 60 percnt of funding of public education in this state is on the backs of local districts through taxes on small business, properties and homes.

Members of the Legislature boast of “no new taxes.” Yet, without hesitation, they double every fee known to mankind, including doubling and in some instances almost tripling college tuition, which is making it harder and harder for kids of middle class parents to get an education.

In terms of policy, our state seems to have adopted the ostrich strategy of burying its head in the sand when it comes to protecting the environment. Our governor says climate change, including global warming, is a hoax. In my opinion, he does so because it allows him, and regulators, to ignore any control on the spewing of poisonous substances in our atmosphere. Too many of our leaders at the state level simply think being concerned about future generations having an adequate environment in which to exist is simply a leftist plot and not needed.

Right-wing pride and boasts of Texas justice are totally misplaced and ignore too many of the facts. Texas justice favors Roy Bean’s West of the Pecos style. Texas has had more reversals of convictions of people placed on death row or given life sentences than any state in the union. We lead the country in inmates we have had to free and pay large sums of money because they were wrongly convicted. We still lead the nation in executions.

So-called tort reform has succeeded in making it hard, or almost impossible in some cases, for persons injured at the hands of drunken drivers or negligent caregivers to hold them responsible for the injuries they cause. Builders of shoddy homes are better protected in Texas than almost any other state in the union.

Texas does lead the country in many things. Unfortunately, too many of them are bad for the average Texas citizen.

Carl Parker has practiced law in Port Arthur since 1958. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1962 and the Senate in 1976, Parker continued to practice law while writing and sponsoring hundreds of bills that became laws relating to every aspect of life in Texas.