I spent the weekend in Marfa. Marfa is like the Disneyland version of West Texas, like Main Street USA. Plenty of other small towns in Texas are drying up and blowing away. But Marfa was visited, once upon a time, by a legendary artist, Donald Judd, who installed, along with a series of concrete boxes, a mystique.
Now, folks from back East (yankees, we less than charitably used to call them) are driving up property values by buying vacation homes that they hardly ever use.
I imagine, if Donald Judd were still alive, he’d be laughing like the guy who sewed the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Looking at Marfa I discovered a new appreciation for the plans of our city leaders.
A 22-floor tower of luxury apartments? The top down gentrification of downtown? That all makes sense if you follow the Marfa model.
Higher taxes aren’t going to draw new businesses. But high taxes aren’t a serious consideration for people who have more money than they know what to do with. Besides, City Council may well incentivize playgrounds for the leisure class, and spare our overlords the inconvenience of writing a check.
I’m not sure how I feel about all that. I love El Paso. I enjoy showing visitors how special it is. But I’m not sure that property owners should be subsidizing the empire-building aspirations of the one percent through higher tax rates on increased values.