It is possible we missed the real story when the governor of the great state of Texas came to the great state of taxes, aka New York state, last week on his second business poaching trip in less than a year.
Rick Perry’s challenge to debate Andrew Cuomo had all the testosterone and substance of a schoolyard challenge. Considering that for decades now, political debates have been anything but debates, Gov. Cuomo was wise in ignoring Perry.
Nor is Perry’s attempt to poach businesses from New York the real story. New York has been doing the same thing in a more subtle way. New York state’s Open for Business initiative has run ads on a variety of cable networks. These ads, which are meant to lure businesses to New York, have run in a number of Texas markets.
Which state is better for business is not the real story, either. The conservative Washington Times editorialized on April 25, that “In New York vs. Texas, it’s TKO by Texas.” But the Times did not mention that New York workers are more productive than Texans, the average New York state worker is better educated and a greater percentage of New Yorkers have their bachelor’s degrees.
It’s not to the benefit of business, of course, that New Yorkers have an annual per capita income of $31,796, while Texans earn only $25,548. It is of interest, however, that Texas has a crime rate of 3,770 crimes per 100,000 people to 2,329 in New York.
The real story is that the governors trying to lure businesses to their respective states are all carrying water for big business.
More of the same
Corporate influence on politicians has dramatically increased over the past half-century and is only going to get worse following two Supreme Court decisions — Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010) and the recently decided McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, which accepted the dubious arguments that a corporation is a person and that donating money is a form of speech. These decisions lifted most restrictions to political candidates off contributions by individuals and corporations and, in my book anyway, made bribery legal.
If corporations were philanthropic organizations, we would not have to worry about them giving large sums of money to politicians. But in the real world, corporations expect something in return for what they give. Large corporations have historically acted in the interests of their shareholders and the bottom line. Over the years, they have only grudgingly given workers safer working conditions, shorter work days and more pay.
The power of the American worker reached its zenith in the 1970s. With our industrial base continuing to move offshore during the past four decades, unions have lost clout and corporations have gained power in a way that should concern all Americans.
I am not opposed to corporations. We need industry. We need banks.
However, corporations are more intertwined with the state now than they were under fascist governments. The difference is that as evil as fascism was, the corporations were subordinate to the state. What I see happening in New York, Texas and the entire country is government becoming subordinate to corporations.
Playing the game
Corporations use a variety of legal schemes to avoid paying taxes but expect the government to bail them out when they fail. They continue to give management more, while expecting workers to take less. And they show a complete lack of patriotism by moving factories offshore when they don’t get the breaks they demand.
Perry’s debate challenge is faux news. What we should be reporting, debating and challenging is the increasing number of corporations on the dole, the influence of corporate money on politics and how privatization of military and governmental functions is strengthening corporations and weakening the government. The corporate state within the state is a threat to the republic.
It should concern everyone, regardless of whether they live in New York or Texas.
Daniel T. Weaver lives in Amsterdam and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.