What do we want from El Paso?
If you say industry to alleviate the homeowners’ tax burden, I’m not buying it. We El Paosans will only fall for that the first fifty times. We’ve just about figured out you’re lying to us when you say that.
I think we’ve just about made sufficient investment to start looking for a return.
Industry’s not beating a path to our door. We’ve taxed ourselves out of that market. The best we can hope for is some labor-intensive businesses, like call centers. Nothing with expensive capital that the City and the School Districts can tax.
I know, it’s ugly. It’s repetitive. But it’s true.
We can try to educate ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug. But that’ll take what? Ten years, minimum? And after they’re educated, the smart kids will move to someplace where there are jobs.
No, before we start developing the labor force, we have to give El Pasoans a compelling reason to stay home.
We’ve got to show them how cool El Paso is.
Look at all the people in El Paso who haven’t left. Sure, inertia counts for some of it. But a lot of people see El Paso for what it is: a jewel. They work a little under scale (maybe a lot) because they like El Paso.
They think it’s cool.
But El Pasoans have a problem with cool. It’s this: You can’t fake cool. Acting cool and trying to be cool are the uncoolest things you can do.
Let me tell you a secret to cool.
Cool people are people who do cool things. So what’s cool? Electronic Dance Music? Making EDM is cool. Dancing to it, not so much. Making movies is cool. Watching movies is not. Competing in sports is cool. Watching sports, not.
Making beer is cool. Drinking beer, well, that’s kind of cool, too. But not as cool as making it.
Are you sensing a pattern? Making content is cool. Consuming content, not.
Doing things is cool. Watching people do things is not.
So how do we get there? I don’t know. Maybe we start taxing teevees, the way New York City did with sodas.
Or maybe we ask the local riches to finance some genius grants, money to help people doing things to keep doing them. Maybe, since it’s El Paso, we don’t call them genius grants. Maybe we call them ganas grants.
Or maybe we all just realize that El Paso should be a place where we do things, not just watch things.