Kevin R. McCarthy for Jefferson County Commissioner

Business in Jefferson County

As I go through this process of running for office, I will continue to try to make my views on topics known. If there is something you want to know, then ask me.

Recently, Philip Klein of The Southeast Texas Political Review (note: This was the Sunday Nov 25 post. The link may not point to that article for long.) posted an article about the airport and the businesses of Southeast Texas, but more importantly, it was article about the culture of Southeast Texas.

First, my attitude toward business is much more laissez-faire than most politicians. Business, that is free enterprise, is one of the principles that made our country great. Any man, with some effort, can create a going concern that can net him anything from a good living to millions. Politicians should stay out of business.

That being said, there is a role for government in business. That is to make sure that businesses follow the rules. No price fixing, no monopolies, no oligopolies with their inherent collusion. Cheating is still cheating whether you are an individual or a multi-billion dollar corporation. As an example, I believe that Microsoft’s stranglehold on the operating system market for the last almost 30 years has truly stifled innovation and caused many of the problems with the internet (spyware, viruses, trojans, etc)

Notice, I said that government’s job is to make sure the businesses follow the rules. Ideally this is a job for the Judicial Branch of the US, where you and I can bring our problems with businesses to have them resolved. If a common problem crops up and continues (pollution, price-fixing, unfair labor practices), then the legislature MAY get involved.

Remember though (and this is one my central tenets) We rarely need more laws, we just have to enforce the ones we have!

Which brings me back to Philips article about the culture of Southeast Texas.

“Ask anyone – and we mean anyone – that has a business in Southeast Texas and they will tell you that the Government and those who run it are not “business friendly.”

Ask anyone – and we mean anyone – that has a business in Southeast Texas and they will tell you that there is a severe labor shortage – strike that – a severe educated labor shortage.

Ask anyone – and we mean anyone – that has a business in Southeast Texas and they will tell you that there their children are leaving Southeast Texas as fast as they can.”

Politicians can’t do anything about the last bit. That is the right of every US citizen. To go when and where they please. I’m sorry they are leaving in droves. I hope they find a place they can be happy. I hope that those of us who stay can fix this eventually.

When I say eventually, I say that because I refuse to lie to anyone to try and get elected. There will be no instant solution to our problems. There won’t even be any quick solutions. I dare say, moderately speedy is also out of the question. That’s what all the local bond issues are about. Throw money at the problem and it will go away. That doesn’t work. We’ve been throwing money at everything from education to feeding the hungry and it still hasn’t corrected the problem.

Unfortunately, government (in the form of city, county, or state government) has very little impact on education. The state has more impact than the others and they, like our county leaders, have lost sight of all reality. I hate to say it, but it’s true ask any teacher in Southeast Texas. Most of our schools are crap. It’s really not the teachers, or the administrations fault. They are so hamstrung with rules from school boards and the state that they literally can’t accomplish anything but getting students a passing grade on the TAKS, and that’s only if the kids are willing to try.

Sorry, education is a hot topic for me, but there is little that can be done without a lot of effort from a lot of people… most of whom don’t even realize there is a problem.

Back to Philip’s list. The one thing that the county government can do is make Southeast Texas a “business friendly” environment. In this case I am only slightly referring to the giants, Motiva, ATOFINA, Exxon, etc.). We should be trying to attract these businesses. Our area has a lot of experience with refineries. And every effort should be made to keep these businesses growing.

But we should also try to keep the local businesses and smaller chains in place. These businesses (Drago’s, Jason’s Deli, Market Basket) to name a few are the cornerstone of our economy. And they are the success stories of Southeast Texas.

In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t appreciate these businesses and try to help them is letting Jefferson County fall away.

How will I help these businesses? By doing the same thing for them that I will for you as a County Commissioner, voting against tax increases and actively trying to lower taxes and decrease government spending.

How can I help with the other problems mentioned in Philip’s article? In my opinion, we can do a lot of things, here are a few:

  1. Stop paying for things that don’t work. (Ford Park, it’s go or die time.)
  2. Actively seek business investors to handle things that the county shouldn’t be dealing with. It’s true that government can’t run a business effectively, let it go to people who can run it effectively. (Airport, Ford Park)
  3. Quit paying for bosses and start getting more people who actually work for a living.


November 26, 2007 - Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics, Texas

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