American Gothic: Ma and Pa Perry’s Boy

Posted in: Featured | By: | November 06, 2011

Americans love a good story.

A nice, inspiring narrative makes our presidential politics slightly less vinegary. Herman Cain’s stature has more to do with his humble background and rise to corporate success than it does anything he has said regarding policies. He sounds like he rolled out of bed one morning, got bored over coffee, and decided to run for president. His ignorance of issues ought to be an embarrassment to the GOP.

Rick Perry, too, brings with him a nice yarn. The first seven years of his life were spent in a house without indoor plumbing and now he’s being thought of as presidential. Journalists are finding their way to little Paint Creek and beseeching Perry’s acquaintances and family to sit for interviews. In the process, they file reports that romanticize the roots of a man who is almost single-handedly destroying the state where he was born.

Perry’s mother and father, hard working and humble people with West Texas horizon eyes, agreed to be interviewed by the Dallas Morning News. Unsurprisingly, they spoke with love for their son who they said doesn’t lie and is exactly what this country needs.

Parents are often wrong about their children.

The romanticizing of the handsome man riding in from the west to save the nation is a dangerous construct for Americans in need of answers and political courage. Rick Perry can provide neither. Even the critics of his decade as governor have hesitated to call his cash and carry government worse than cronyism. But it is much, much worse. The exact adjective for Perry’s administration is corrupt. How is it anything other than corrupt to have two slush funds paid for by taxpayers to write checks to your campaign donors and corporate sponsors? Voters appear not to notice that the Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) invested $16 million dollars in enterprises that were owned or founded by Perry campaign donors. A Dallas Morning News investigation found that big campaign donation checks were written shortly after the announcement of investments by the state.

How, exactly, is corruption defined?

The ETF was established with regional panels to review startup applications and then recommend them to a review committee in Austin before being sent to the governor, lieutenant governor, and house speaker for approval. In the case of Convergen, however, the company appears to have skipped straight to the governor’s desk and bypassed review. Convergen founder David Nance, according to the Dallas paper, filed at least two lawsuits against the state attorney general in an attempt to stop the release of information on his company. Convergen was awarded $4.5 million, and Nance, not coincidentally, had given $80,000 to Perry’s campaigns since 2000.  Convergen went bankrupt in 2008. Perry’s office blocked the release of information on Convergen until after he was reelected in 2010.

But maybe that’s just cronyism, which is nicer than corruption. Why has there been no real transparency of the ETF? Further, why are politicians making business decisions for taxpayers when the opportunity for favoritism is clearly too hard for people like Perry to resist?

Examples like Convergen are abundant in Rick Perry’s Texas. The fact that the governor parcels out millions in taxpayer dollars for corporate frivolity or “projected” jobs at a time when he is cutting health care and welfare for the indigent ought to chastise those who would write his small town hero narrative. One in four Texans lacks health care and the state is first in the percentage of uninsured children. We have the highest percentage of residents 25 or older without a high school diploma. Perry’s booming economy is apocryphal enough that the state over which he presides is 49th in credit scores for individuals. But we do lead the nation in hazardous waste generated and carcinogens released into the water and air.

Meanwhile, as Rick Perry was forcing the Texas legislature to cut $4 billion from the state’s budget that would eliminate most home care for the mentally and physically disabled, increase class sizes in schools and require firing tens of thousands of educators, he was also busily administering the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) to assist corporations looking for a handout. Perry talks about rousting the corporate fat cats that run Washington but the TEF is nothing more than a $453 million dollar account that he has used to bestow favors upon companies like ebay, T-Mobile, Bank of America, Samsung, Lockheed, Office Depot, Cabela’s and Caterpillar. The man who wants to “make government as inconsequential as possible” in your life is using tax money to make life less risky for corporate America. 20 of the 55 companies that got tax money to move jobs or offices to Texas gave money to either Perry’s campaign or the Republican Governors’ Association when he was its chairman, according to the Dallas Morning News. When promised jobs don’t materialize, the governor’s office quietly revises downward the projections or imposes minor penalties on companies that have contracted for the corporate welfare.

The funding cycle is infuriating and ought to be indictable. People pay their taxes to the state government, which dumps the money into the general revenue fund, and then is apportioned to the TEF and ETF, before it is distributed to corporations promising jobs, and those corporations then make campaign donations to Rick Perry. A generous definition might call this campaign money laundering. The most confounding thing about the Texas governor is the manner in which he complains with a straight face about government waste and calls for difficult cutbacks while he writes multi-million dollar checks to corporations on a taxpayer account and with virtually no oversight. This is beyond hypocrisy and cronyism. Corruption is the only appropriate descriptive. If this form of delivering favor is not considered corrupt then American democracy is beyond salvage.

In their exclusive interview with the Dallas paper, Ray and Amelia’s evident pride in their son didn’t do much to obfuscate his horrid record as governor. They are proud of the fact that he was raised in the church but seem completely unaware of the fact that he continues to foster policies that ignore Christian teachings and harm the poor, ill, and elderly while he heaps largesse upon friends and companies who can help his political ascension. The Perry’s undoubtedly raised their son well but he has failed them as mightily as he has let down the people who voted him into office. Rick Perry, the rancher’s son from Paint Creek, grew up to become a very corrupt politician who lost whatever moral guidance his parents taught.

And he ought to be prosecuted. Not elected.





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