Opinion: Who wants to move to Texas now?

Texas has low taxes, which is nice. Its mild winter weather appeals to many in the snowbound north. And the cost of living there is certainly lower than that of the elite coastal cities. Also nice.

On the other hand, it has a political culture that launches serial attacks on voting rights and obsesses over transgender youth in high schools. It has now deputized citizen creeps to hunt down anyone who helped a woman obtain an abortion — her parents included — for which they can collect a $10,000 bounty. And we’re only on our second cup of coffee.

In recent years, Texas has attracted companies looking for the nice things. But some big corporations worry that the young, educated workers they want to lure to their Texas operations will start saying “no, thanks” to a place whose government mass-produces schemes, it seems, just to get into the faces of people like them.

Texas has cool progressive cities — Austin’s at the top — that fit right into the knowledge workers’ list of allurements. But these diabolical state laws and restrictions apply to those places as well.

Banning abortion after only six weeks — during which most women wouldn’t know they are pregnant — effectively ends abortion in the state. Even more offensive, though, is the legal trickery employed to get around Roe v. Wade — the guarantee to a right to abortion — by substituting citizen enforcers for government ones.

Opportunities for odious behavior are limitless. A woman in Waco who has suffered a miscarriage in private could represent a bag of cash to complete strangers in Wyoming. They could extort her medical providers to pay them money just to go away.

No standing in the case? No problem. Have a good time, and if you prevail, you win a $10,000 lottery plus legal fees. No money to pay the other side’s legal fees if you lose? No problem. The defendants cannot go after you for legal fees.

We have here the Lone Star version of Stasi, the surveillance apparatus run by Communist East Germany. Under Stasi, an estimated 2 million East Germans spied on fellow citizens. A study found that most informers did it for ideological reasons, not money. Imagine what would happen if, in addition to political motivations, you added a cash prize.

The Supreme Court rushed out its decision letting the law stand. Chief Justice John Roberts says the majority’s ruling was tentative — that this was not an overturn of Roe, not yet.

Some say the law gets a pass because no one intends to enforce it. If so, its intention is merely to create an atmosphere of suspicion, confusion and fear.

Is any of this good for business? Dell Technologies, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, American Airlines, IBM and HP are among the companies that have publicly criticized the Republican-run state government for forcing everyone into a house of funny right-wing mirrors.

The business group Texas Competes released a letter of complaint about the assault on LGBTQ rights. Texas Republicans have proposed bills to stop transgender students from competing on sports teams that don’t match their assigned sex at birth. Can’t the schools deal with that? And in an intrusion into parental authority, a state agency announced that it will treat gender-affirming surgery as child abuse.

We haven’t even gotten into the law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott forbidding private companies to require proof of vaccination. His government, basically, is interfering with corporate efforts to keep COVID-19-infected individuals from harming their businesses.

In an April interview with Fox News, Abbott said corporations “need to stay out of politics.” Alas for his state’s economy, some corporations may need to stay out of Texas.

— Froma Harrop is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.

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