Race to the Bottom

It was announced today that Toyota is moving its National Sales Office from Los Angeles to Plano, Texas, a city outside of Dallas. This is not monumental news in itself, but it represents the fruits of the aggressive campaign of bottom-feeding states to pick up enterprises with the lure of cheap labor, low taxes and minimal regulation and a government “open for business,” a euphemism for the kind of pay-to-play government of the Red States.

This has been going on for a long time. Corporations no longer have any sort of public spirit or even vision of long-term self interest. They are run by executives who are compensated for shot-term profits and long-term shareholders are given short-shrift. The combination of self-interested corporate management and short-term capital investors has been particularly toxic for the public. Add to that politicians who are mostly interested in proving they scored short term job growth and the spiraling downward trend of the middle class in this country is readily apparent.

Our economic profile is becoming similar to early nineteenth century Britain, where employers drove wages down with the help of government, which in turn subsidized wages with poor relief, much like our own government pays food stamps to employees of Walmart, which doesn’t pay a living wage.

Texas is a particularly noxious example of the raider, because its own public policy, brightly illustrated by its refusal to expand Medicaid (at essentially no cost to it) is to so burden the working class (and those hoping to enter it) that any job, regardless of the meager pay and benefits becomes attractive. And of course Texans rest easy that the very worst effects of poverty will probably be averted because the rest of the country (or at least those in states not part of the former confederacy of rebels) will pick up the tab for poor relief.

The only solution is consumer action, weak as that is. So today I emailed Toyota headquarters that I will not be replacing my (old) Highlander with any kind of new Toyota, ever. i don’t know if there is a responsible automobile manufacturer these days, but even though I live far from any decent public transportation, I would rather walk (or stay home) than assist in this combination of corporate self-interest and government malfeasance, all designed to help only the temporary occupants of the highest offices of each entity. It’s not exactly storming the Bastille, but even that event began a bit before with consumer actions against local bakers. Who knows? maybe if we begin with minor resistance, soon there will be enough to storm the plantation house that Texas governors live in. It won’t be the first time that building has seen a molotov cocktail.

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