Texas Gov. Rick Perry can have any company stupid enough to move from Silicon Valley to Texas

I’ve really been trying to stay out of this whole California vs. Texas brawl. (Or trying to keep my powder dry, as Texas Gubna Rick Perry might say.)

But this is plain wacko (which, isn’t that a city in Texas? Or is that just the Texas state motto?).

You’ve ┬áheard, right? Rick Perry is coming to Silicon Valley (and some other parts of the state) to try to get some California businesses to move to Texas, because, as the Loon Star State governor says in his Come-to-Texas radio ad: “Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible.”

I was saying the exact same thing the other day over at Apple (Cupertino, Calif.). Or was it Google (Mountain View, Calif.)? No. Maybe it was Facebook (Menlo Park, Calif.). Or Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) or Adobe (San Jose, California) or Hewlett Packard (Palo Alto, Calif.) or Cisco (San Jose, Calif.).

There are so many I just can’t remember.

OK, it’s true: Texas has lower tax rates than California. Texas is also the kind of state that leads the nation. Like in the percentage of residents without health insurance and in the number of prisoners they execute.

And if you like (really, really like) football, carrying loaded weapons around in public and the kind of land-locked heat that will have you screaming for mercy in an Austin minute, then really, you can’t beat Texas.

Anyway, this isn’t my first rodeo. (We do so have rodeos in California.) This come-to-Texas-to-do-business thing is as old as the hills. The charismatic and now nationally-prominent Juilan Castro, mayor of San Antonio, came to raid Silicon Valley a couple of years ago. Of course, that’s not how he put it.

He was  here to thank valley companies that had outposts in San Antonio, he told me at the time.

“We also believe it’s a great moment for San Antonio both to more thoroughly introduce ourselves to Silicon Valley and also to learn from Silicon Valley CEOs, ” the Stanford and Harvard educated Castro said then.

And this whole notion of what a lousy place California is to do business has been getting a lot of buzz recently — especially since Phil Mickelson hinted that he might move out of the state to avoid its income taxes.

When will we stop pushing these job creators into the arms of Florida and Nevada? Oh wait. He’s a golfer. Well, I guess he hires a caddie.

Anyway, the New York Times was back on the “fleeing California” story today, except that they didn’t actually find anyone who said he or she is fleeing California because of taxes. (OK, they quoted a professor who once lived in California and now lives in Nevada. He said fleeing millionaires aren’t going to broadcast their escape because people might think lesser of them for making the move.)

Anyway, I thought that Cristobal Young, an assistant professor at Stanford, had a better point. He’s done research that shows that tax rates don’t affect where millionaires choose to live, the Times said.

“Mr. Young said he suspected that few, if any, millionaires would leave or stay away because of the tax increase,” the Times story said. “More likely, he said, they would find ways of reducing their tax burden, with loopholes or income avoidance, or simply reduce their work.”

Me? I’m thinking any millionaire who can’t figure out how to avoid taxes really has no business being a millionaire.

Besides, it’s not at all clear that tax rates make much of a difference when businesses decide where to locate.

Oh and another thing: Do any of these phantom millionaires leaving the state realize that moving to Texas is great except for one thing?

You end up living in Texas.

(Photo: Associated Press)


Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.