|Precocious Poseur: College-age Rick Perry displayed an early gift for role-playing.|
Treason, Talleyrand famously said, “is a matter of dates.” Rick Perry has amended and updated that principle as it applies to the Federal Reserve’s inflation of the money supply, and the official profligacy that results. Posturing for the benefit of terminally credulous Republican groupies, Perry declared that it would be “almost treasonous” for the Fed to inflate the money supply to “boost the economy" -- when the anticipated boost would serve the political prospects of the incumbent federal chief executive, that is.
Perry's complaint punctuated a standard stump speech in which he depicts himself as the architect of a supposed job-creating miracle in Texas. As chief executive of the state government, in fact, Perry was little more than a pass-through for federal subsidies made possible by the Fed's relentless official counterfeiting.
As the Austin American-Statesman reported on July 17, "almost half of the state's job growth the past two years was led by education, health care and government, the sectors of the economy that will now take a hit as federal stimulus money runs out...." The advocacy group Texas Watchdog points out that "stimulus jobs in Texas cost about $130,000 per job -- and a handful of them cost more than $1 million apiece."
This gusher of plundered funding helped generate an employment rush, as college graduates in appropriate fields surged into Texas in pursuit of a taxpayer-funded job. This created a multiplier effect in the housing market and the services industry. Now that the stimulus boom has dissipated, the inevitable bust will come. Perry and his handlers have calculated that this won't happen until after he's relocated to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"There is a real irony in having a governor that rails against federal spending and doesn't want to take money from Washington, and yet some parts of our state are heavily dependent on federal spending for their economic health," observed economist Bud Weinstein of Southern Methodist University's Maguire Energy Institute.
That's the same species of irony on display when the same governor who strategically spouts secessionist sentiments suddenly discovers a divinely appointed destiny to become the Dear Leader of the central government he supposedly despises.
While the economy of North Texas has been sustained by the Warfare State, the border region's banking and real estate sectors have prospered immensely from the Regime's drug war in Mexico.
"Texas dominates drug entry into the U.S., which means it dominates the wholesale drug trade," wrote Tina Rosenberg of New York magazine. "It's a big business: The DEA's rough guess is that $27 billion in drug proceeds flow back out of the U.S. to Mexico, Colombia, and so on. And another pot of money stays here."
"If you have a few million, would you invest in a war zone or a bank in San Antonio?" asks Jack Schumacher, a recently retired DEA official who was stationed in Texas. Schumacher told Rosenberg that "In San Antonio, a high-dollar trafficker can buy a $2 million or $3 million place and exist for a long time." This might help explain why median home prices in San Antonio are higher now than in 2005. The sudden arrival of wealthy drug war refugees might also explain why San Antonio's housing market spiked dramatically in the first quarter of 2010, which -- given the prevailing national trend -- was an interesting anomaly.
"Mexicans in Texas are hardly new, but in recent years it's middle- and upper-class families in Mexico's north who have also made the exodus, bringing their savings and businesses with them," Rosenberg points out. Many of them are productive entrepreneurs seeking to avoid the U.S.-instigated violence that has claimed the lives of 40,000 lives since 2006. Some of them, speculates Michael Lauderdale, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Texas, "come with funds from the drug trade."
It's not just the banks and real estate companies that have come to depend on narco-boodle. Many Texas law enforcement agencies have grown dependent on funds seized through "asset forfeiture." Witness the efforts by the Texas legislature to expand the use of highway checkpoints – for seat belt enforcement, license and insurance inspections, and drug and weapons searches – in order to rake in "forfeiture" funds to compensate for shortfalls in tax revenue. This is another sector of Texas' "miracle" economy that depends on government stimulus: Call it pharmacological Keynesianism.
The War on Drugs is an immensely lucrative price support program for the criminal class on both sides of the "law." If reason were restored to her throne and drugs were de-criminalized, prices would fall, violence would dissipate, and criminal empires --of both the official and quasi-official varieties -- would disintegrate. Prohibition is immensely profitable for those who are politically connected and sufficiently ruthless.
Rick Perry, an individual so thick he makes Bush the Dumber look like Giambattista Vico, probably doesn't understand the economics of this issue, but the people controlling him do. This is why he has been made to utter all of the formulaic incantations regarding "border security." He has repeatedly called for the use of Predator drones to police the border, and has suggested that the U.S. -- which is already engaged in low-key military operations in Mexico -- should conduct an overt military invasion of our southern neighbor.
Like his immediate predecessor in the Governor's Mansion, Perry has done his considerable best to expand the prison industry, whose donation-laden lobbyists began cultivating his favor when he was Lieutenant Governor to George W. Bush. Not surprisingly, the prison-industrial complex has played a significant role in the state's supposed job boom.
Morgan Reynolds of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas -- a conservative think-tank funded by a clique of corporate socialist oligarchs -- captured the vision of the Bush-Perry approach to penology by denouncing the "tired old socialist model" of prison labor, and insisting that wardens should see themselves as "marketers of prison labor" for the benefit of politically connected corporations.
In his fascinating study Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, author Joseph T. Hallinan relates how Reynolds suggested that prisons should be built "not where the crime is but where the jobs are. In Texas, he says, prisons could even take advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement by making products near the border for shipment to Mexico."
"You could put a prison between Houston and north of the border -- McAllen, Brownsville -- and create value-added there," Reynolds recommended. Prison administrators should make decisions based on the "commercial opportunities" of their institutions, Reynolds concluded: "It's pretty clear that's where the future is if we're going to grow our prison population."
Littlefield, Texas tried that "If you build it, they will come" approach in 1999, borrowing $10 million to build a 372-bed medium-security prison operated by the GEO Group -- a major "private" prison contractor (and political ally of Perry). The prison was vacated in 2009 after GEO withdrew from the facility following the suicide of Randall McCullough, an inmate who was kept in solitary confinement for a year as a punitive measure.
The suicide prompted the Idaho State government to cancel its contract with GEO , which has been hit with a wrongful death lawsuit by McCullough's son. GEO dismissed all 74 of its employees and vacated the facility, thereby taking a needle to Littlefield's prison-inflated economic bubble.
The town of 6,000 was hit with a "BB" bond rating and burdened with monthly loan payments of $65,000 to pay for an empty, depreciating prison. "To avoid default, Littlefield has raised property taxes, increased water and sewer fees, laid off employees and even held off buying a new police car," reports the Texas Observer. (You know things are serious when the local junta can't afford new toys for their costumed enforcers.)
After contracting with Southwest Correctional to conduct a frantic search for prisoners to fill its jail, the Littlefield municipal government decided to auction off the facility to anyone willing to pay at least $5 million for the privilege of owning a cage. (The city eventually sold the prison -- a "turnkey operation" -- for $6 million.) Lubbock may soon face the same problem as it struggles to find bodies to fill its 200-inmate jail, and other towns that fell prey to the fallacies of incarceration Keynesianism will soon follow in their wake.
As Governor of Texas, George W. Bush signed off on 152 executions, an apprenticeship in executive bloodshed that prepared him to preside over two wars of aggression. Rick Perry, described as "George W. Bush on steroids" by the kind of people who would consider that description a compliment, has authorized 231 officially sanctioned killings. That figure includes the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of murder by arson. A subsequent investigation of the fire using more reliable forensic techniques demonstrated conclusively that it was an accident, rather than a crime.
In 2009, as the Texas Forensic Commission was finishing a potentially devastating review of the Willingham case, Perry fired its chairman, an independent-minded Austin attorney named Samuel Bassett, who had resisted efforts by the Governor's aides to control the direction of the inquiry. Bassett was replaced by a lickspittle prosecutor named John Bradley, who screwed the lid down tight.
When asked about this transparent effort to derail the inquiry, Perry -- who, like Bush, gave death penalty appeals only the most cursory attention -- insisted that Willingham was a "monster" who simply deserved to die, facts be damned.
After the Texas Child "Protection" Services kidnapped 400 children from their polygamous Mormon families in 2008 Perry instructed spokeswoman Krista Piferrer to confer his benediction on the crime:
"The Governor is very proud of the work being done by CPS.... CPS has handled a very complex situation both professionally and compassionately. " Perry also "applauded" the CPS for promising an "internal" inquiry into the charges, which was tantamount to granting plenary authority to conduct a cover-up.
The mass child-napping at El Dorado's YFZ Ranch was carried out in the name of a child "sex abuse" investigation triggered by an anonymous report later discovered to have been made by a mentally unbalanced woman in Colorado. Healthy, happy, well-adjusted children were seized at gunpoint -- with Perry's approval -- and cast into a government-run foster care system riddled with abuse, including murder and the sexual molestation of children as young as three years of age.
While that crime was underway, Perry was grudgingly conducting a "top-to-bottom review" of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) following revelations of widespread physical and sexual abuse of teenage detainees by guards, staff, and other inmates within that juvenile correctional system. The agency would go through a half-dozen chief administrators without displaying any serious improvement. As I noted in commenting about this case three years ago: Given the near-ubiquity of criminal violence and abuse directed at children in Rick Perry's Texas, it's possible that the notorious YFZ Ranch was the only place in the state where children were safe from such treatment.
to force every 11-12 year-old schoolgirl in Texas to undergo an exceptionally risky vaccination for a sexually transmitted disease. In doing so Perry --acting on behalf of corporatist allies in the pharmaceutical industry -- bypassed the legislature to order those injections by executive decree.
Fret not, however: Employing the mildest conceivable language of self-chastisement, Perry now describes that atrocity as a "mistake," which -- from his perspective -- closes the matter.
Perry is a cunningly coiffed Keynesian chameleon, a political whore of such pristine shamelessness that he makes Mitt Romney -- the Mighty Morphin' Mormon from Massachusetts -- look like a granite pillar of principled resolve. He began his political career in 1985 as a 35-year-old Democratic state legislator, and three years later worked for Al Gore's presidential campaign -- a fact that might help to explain why he's so heartily despised by the Bush crime family's retainers. As governor he ruled as a standard-issue servitor of the corporatist state. Now this political cross-dresser is getting all Butched-up to play the role of a maverick "state's rights" proponent fixing a steely gunfighter's gaze on the Fed and its allies.
For a rent boy, after all, role-playing is a highly valued professional skill.
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