Toyota Converts Texas…To Tolerance?

I must confess, I was completely shocked that my former company, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), is moving to Plano, Texas. My first thought went out to my friends.

It must be pure anguish – choose your killer job or your killer location.

And Southern California is bliss.  I know, I know, there are “taxes” to it’s utopia.  I’ll get to that later.  But to my Toyota peeps, I do know how ridiculously disruptive a move of this magnitude will be; I undertook a substantial move recently and it is not to be taken lightly.  It is very hard to change houses, leave friends and family, and get to know a new place.   It takes years to readjust.  At least I had the luxury of having family in Menlo Park and friends in San Francisco.  And I was staying in California.  My heart goes out to each and everyone of my Toyota friends as they contemplate a move from California to Texas.

My second thought about TMS moving to Texas was how condemning the move is for business in California. If TMS is willing to spend the amount of money it is going to take to relocate all those thousands of people, build a new building, and take the hit to business that WILL happen from the distraction of the move, then all the costs of doing business in California must be very out of whack.  I cannot believe it only comes down to tax rates.  I have to think that it includes the cost of living and the negative aspects that take away from quality of life in California – the traffic, the expensive housing, the crappy school districts, all those things matter and combine to make Texas a better choice for long-term sustainable growth for a business like Toyota.

I don’t know how many folks from TMS will move to Texas. It is a tough, tough, tough decision and deeply personal.  I know TMS will do right by their associates and I know first hand what an amazing place Toyota can be to work.

But Texas?
I do not think I could do it.

And I’ve thought about it as I have had several amazing career opportunities in Texas.  But at the end of the day, I could never get over the idea of living in Texas.  In my case, I am from the proper side of the Mason Dixon line.  I have many, many, many friends and family all over the deep South.  And I even know a few Texans that I like.  I know quite a bit about the reality of the South and the reality of a place like Plano.

The fact is, I have never felt more at home than in California.  When I finally arrived in San Francisco, I felt a huge sigh of relief.  I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.  I was finally surrounded by people I could relate to and who make sense.  Simply put, I am one of those people that needs to see, on a daily basis, mixed race couples, gays and lesbians and transgender people, out together, in the streets, living life and doing all those mundane things we all do, to feel safe.  I would not feel safe living in a place where interracial, lesbian couples were not a common sight.

It comes down to tolerance.
Tolerance of the left, tolerance of the right, tolerance of the middle.

And California is very much a live and let live place, more so than any other place I’ve been.  Granted, I’m not one for the snowy north east where there may be pockets of high tolerance as well.  I do require lots of sunshine and zero snow and ice to be really happy!

So, I was thinking about how Rick Perry, the conservative governor of Texas, has been bragging about how he has lured over 60 California companies to Texas.  He has been known to say things like “gay marriage is not fine with me” and “would you rather live in a state like this [Texas], or in a state where guys can marry guys?” Or “if you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol – don’t come to Texas.”  The man may not even believe in evolution. Y et he has not just invited, but has actively worked to get Californians to move to his state.

Does he really know what he is in store for?  Does he really know what he has done?

What happens when Texas gets flooded, absolutely inundated, with tolerant, slightly left leaning Californians? Do you think Texas will adapt and change or do you think the Californians will flee after a year or so? It’s not like Californians are suddenly going to become intolerant, non-voting, social conservatives. Hell, even my most ardently conservative Republican friends, the arch-fiscal conservatives I know, think cannabis should be legal and gays should have the right to marry.  These are no-brainers.  Just because they suddenly find themselves living in a land of no income tax doesn’t mean they are going to convert to far right wing, socially conservative, intolerant points of view.

So, fast forward a few years…will Texas finally become a place of real social tolerance?  Has Rick Perry just sealed the deal for Texas to be the largest state with mainstream, middle-ground politics?  Will Texas become a democratic stronghold?  Or at least a moderate Republican state?

This might be the best outcome of Toyota’s move, to make Texas a better place for all the citizens of America.  A place of tolerance and maybe even acceptance.