By Phil Kadner
Rick Perry is a prime example of why this country fails to provide jobs for people.
Perry, the governor of Texas, is in Illinois this week trying to lure businesses here to his state. Texas has spent about $80,000 on an advertising campaign using the slogan, "Get Out While There's Still Time," as Perry compares the Illinois financial situation to a burning building.
The fact that Texas has to run a marketing campaign to lure business given the pension crisis in Illinois, the increase in the income tax, skyrocketing property tax bills and two governors sent to prison for corruption indicates that businesses aren't exactly in a hurry to flee to the Lone Star State.
While states such as Texas, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, to name just a few, try to poach jobs from Illinois, the real enemy is foreign competition.
Perry is like a vulture pouncing on road kill because he really doesn't have a plan to generate jobs. And neither does the federal government.
For several years, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) has been trying to pass legislation that would create a national manufacturing board.
This bipartisan panel -- composed of federal officials, businessmen, academic types and other experts -- would be charged with designing a game plan to keep jobs here and compete with China in the future.
It would target growth industries for investment that would actually pay people a living wage so they could pay the mortgage, put their children through college and maybe set aside some money for retirement.
Because, you see, if people don't have that kind of money, the consumer economy that this country is based on will eventually disappear.
"I think for a long time now states have been trying to steal jobs from other states because that's all they can do," Lipinski said. "You see the same sort of thing between municipalities.
"But once you get in a bidding war, everyone ends up losing out. We need to begin creating new jobs in this country, and that was the idea behind the manufacturing strategy bill."
The idea seems so logical that U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-16th) co-sponsored the bill with Lipinski last year. And the U.S. House, which seems to be split along party lines on every issue, passed the measure 339 to 77.
Despite that victory, it was killed in the Senate by one of our state's U.S. senators, Dick Durbin, who, like Lipinski, is a Democrat. Durbin's spokesman told me the senator liked the concept, just not the Lipinski-Kinzinger version.
Durbin and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) were going to champion their bipartisan manufacturing bill, I was told.
Of course, there is no bill and there are no jobs and there is no national plan to develop the American manufacturing base.
Small-minded politicians are the biggest obstacle to job creation in this country, and Perry's attempt to steal businesses from Illinois is a prime example. Shifting jobs around, moving businesses from one state to another, eventually benefits no one.
When states compete against each other, offering ever-larger tax breaks, there's eventually less money to operate the government, build and repair roads, fund the public schools, run mass transit and pay police and firefighters.
And how often have you seen a business threaten to pull up stakes, get a giant tax break from government, and after the deal is made, cut jobs from its payroll.
The news conference looks good for the politician, but the working stiffs who pay the tax bills know who's getting the shaft.
What's needed in the 21st Century is a plan to encourage growth and development in targeted industries and maximize the impact of government dollars.
Foreign countries "are in it to win it" as "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson would say.
As politicians like Perry talk about the wonders of a free-market economy, countries such as China use child and prison labor, hack into our computer networks to steal business secrets and pour billions of dollars into monopolizing markets.
As the tax base erodes here, Chicago ends up selling its parking lots and parking meters, the Skyway and maybe Midway Airport.
That sort of privatization was once cheered as forward thinking.
If you saw a neighbor putting all his furniture on the lawn and selling it off, you would know exactly what was happening.
In the meantime, Cook County and the state of Illinois cut government programs to the bone while increasing taxes on the poorest people.
I understand why Perry wants to cannibalize the Illinois business community. That's what people do when there's not enough for everyone.
But the intelligent solution is to invest in a federal plan to create new jobs and growth.
This country needs to prioritize existing industries that need protection from foreign competition. It needs incentives for companies to stay here, and it should weigh penalties for those anxious to ship jobs and production overseas.
I've said this before and I will say it again -- we are involved in an economic war with the rest of the world. We wouldn't enter a military conflict without a strategy, so why force our workers to do battle without a plan of action?
This economic war, epitomized in a way by Perry's pathetic ploy to grab jobs for Texas, poses a much greater risk to the future of this nation than any terrorist attack.
Perry is so frantic he's trying to scare Illinois businessmen into coming to his state. Lower taxes. Cheap labor, he boasts.
Yep. And China could do even better with fewer government regulations.
If we keep fighting among ourselves, our competitors in foreign countries will pick us apart.