Did Rick Perry shield Texas from the recession?
- 19 August 2011
- From the section US & Canada
To me, any industrial process is a sort of miracle. At Pratt Industries, one of the largest paper and packaging companies in the US, sleek flat conveyer belts move stacks of cardboard around, as tough recycled brown paper is converted into cardboard boxes with the help of a little corn starch and heat.
But I am looking for a different sort of miracle, the type of economic miracle that Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry touts.
Texas has weathered the recession better and created more jobs than most states, although unemployment is only a little below the national average. But Mr Perry claims the Lone Star State is booming and that much of it is down to his policies, which he wants for the rest of the US - low tax, low regulation, and as it happens, low wages in many cases.
Texas has taken on jobs faster than any other state and appears to have a booming economy when the recovery is sluggish in much of the rest of the US. Companies and people are moving into the state. Pratt Industries is one of them.
Pratt has its headquarters in Georgia and recycles paper in Louisiana, but Texas is where it has been expanding.
The company came to the state six years ago and has opened plants in the cities of Dallas, St Antonio, Houston and now Fort Worth. In Fort Worth Pratt has created 200 new jobs, 60 of them since March.
The president of Pratt's south-west division, Michael Tansey, tells me: "Texas is an easy state to do business [in]."
"The government is very forgiving with tax abatements. We are central in the US, distribution is easy. There's no state income tax and that matters to us a lot," he says.
Mr Tansey adds: "The housing market wasn't as affected as it was in other parts of the country, it's still a very affordable party of the country to buy housing. There's a big work pool to pull from, and wages are stable, very affordable."
This answer provides a mixture of reasons, some of it nothing to do with politics. So how much is it down to the governor?
"Rick Perry has done a very sound job for our state, adding jobs to Texas. There is a lot of impact. Our local and state government get involved in getting jobs for the state," Mr Tansey says.
I wonder if the workers feel differently. Jose Rivas was born in Texas and works on the shop. Does he see a miracle?
"It's not bad. It is just a matter of looking in the right areas, there are jobs around if you want to find them," Mr Rivas says.
Of course, low taxes mean low government services. Does that bother him?
"I've never really considered it, I've never known anything else. I'm happy with it."
But there is a down side and a lot more to say. On Monday, I'll write in this blog about those who highlight the problems, and those conservatives who see Texas as a model - not just for the US, but the whole world.
In the meantime, you can listen to my From Our Own Correspondent piece on the Republicans' wacky race from this Saturday.