Friday, August 12, 2011

Why Rick Perry is My Choice for 2012

As a small business person who is openly not a fan of the current administration, I get asked a lot who I would like to see for president in 2012. Since the last election I have had only one answer--"Rick Perry." And today, as we appear to be one day away from his official announcement of his candidacy for the Presidency, I thought I would do well to repost my reasons for stating why he is the best candidate I have seen or heard so far.

Let me say first that although Perry has become the longest-serving governor in the illustrious history of the state of Texas, I have never voted for him. The reason for that is that while I work and own property in Texas, I am a resident of the neighboring state of New Mexico and, therefore, ineligible to vote in Texas elections. But since my company is a Texas corporation, my office is in Texas and the majority of the work that I do is in Texas, I follow the elections and politics and the laws of Texas with great interest.

I was born in El Paso, Texas at Southwestern General Hospital. My parents moved out of the state when I was seven years old because they wanted to homeschool me, and in the 1970's homeschooling was illegal in Texas. So I am really a Texas ex-pat, driven from the state of my birth at a young age because of onerous regulations which prevented parents from choosing the type of education they believed was best for their own families.

When I opened my business in 1998, I opened my office in El Paso, Texas but I got my first license in New Mexico. As a business owner in both states, I came to see the difference that effective government makes in the health and well being of a state. New Mexico is a beautiful state geographically, but it is a very poor state. The state income tax discourages many people from moving there and causes professional people to move out. The various taxes on businesses discourage industry and innovation.

Texas, on the other hand, has a tax structure which encourages growth. The state has no income tax. The various state departments work with the businesses to promote growth and cooperation. Texas's pro-business stance is a primary reason that over 40% of the new jobs created nationwide in the last two years have been created in Texas. The city of Houston now boasts that it leads the country in one way UHAUL rentals to the city.

My own experience as a business owner has been primarily with the Texas Savings and Mortgage Lending Department which regulates small mortgage brokerages like mine. Texas introduced licensure for its mortgage brokers in 1999, and I received my first license in the state January 3, 2000. The Savings and Mortgage Lending Department was our regulator. Since prior to the licensing law for mortgage brokers, the Savings and Mortgage Lending Department regulated savings and loans, and there were only a handful of these left in the state by the year 2000, the state of Texas made the Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending responsible for regulating the mortgage brokers. But the Department had to be self-sustaining. That meant that all of the fees to run the Department and pay the staff had to come from the brokers and small entities the Department regulated. This was a wonderful system, since each year the Department had to plan its budget based on the amount of money it could charge the small businesses it regulated. If the Department charged too little, it could not meet budget. If they charged too much, they might close a lot of us down which would result in declining revenues for them. Their survival as an agency was tied to our survival as businesses--if we died, they died.

That philosophy is a key reason that Texas is a lead job generator--the state and its governor treats business not as an evil combatant, or even merely a necessary evil, but rather as a partner with mutual interests. In spite of all of the rhetoric we have heard from Washington in the last two years, the government does not create jobs. The only jobs that the federal government has the ability to create are jobs for federal employees, and these positions must be supported through tax dollars. Likewise, the state government does not create jobs except for state agencies. The role of any effective government is to foster an environment where the private sector, large and small, can grow, thrive and create jobs and opportunities. Too much regulation kills incentive and opportunity. No regulation at all creates an environment where criminals flourish and then leads to job killing regulation to cover the mistakes made by a complete lack of oversight in the beginning.

Rick Perry seems to understand this principle. Yes, there are other fine conservatives who have already announced their intentions to run. I watched part of the GOP debate last night with interest and I heard some strong, well-spoken contenders in the GOP field. Most of them have good ideas, and several have clearly demonstrated a commitment to principles. But Perry has a depth of experience as the governor of a state with an economy bigger than many small countries that I just don't see in any of the others. And he really gets the concept of the true relationship between business and government. Business is not the enemy and opponent of the government--it is a partner and necessary ally. We create the jobs, the tax base, and the growth that keeps the economy vibrant. When we die, everything dies.

As governor of the only state that had a brief stint as an independent republic, Perry also gets the concept of personal freedom. We, the taxpayers of Texas, are adults who are capable of making our own decisions about the most important aspects of our lives. We are capable of deciding what type of health care we should have and how we should pay for it. We don't want to be micro-managed; we want to be free to work, to create, to prosper, to help our state and our nation prosper. We know that we can't do that with a massive bureaucracy hanging over our heads, whether that bureaucracy governs us in the form of Department of Health and Human Services, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Rick Perry is a straight talking, action-oriented governor. Those characteristics may be off putting for people outside of Texas who may consider him brash and over confident. But for me his straight talk is a breath of fresh air. We already have an "elegant president" who is a masterful speaker and a great campaigner. Perry is not elegant--he is way too rugged. But much of the U.S. is also rugged--this is a vast country with many people who still have big dreams and big goals and big plans. It needs a president who will allow us to nurture our dreams rather than a runaway freight train of a government that crushes our initiative under the weight of massive rules.

As I await his announcement tomorrow, I am hoping that Americans will take time to get to know Perry better. He would bring a new attitude, a respect for the Constitution, and a sense of personal responsibility to Washington that is sorely lacking now.

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