El Paso vs. Phoenix: An Economic Development History

Our recent municipal expenses are based on the (secret) idea that Phoenix outpaced El Paso in economic development since 1950 because Phoenix is and always has been an Anglo community, while El Paso is mainly Mexican. So El Paso is playing catch up by striving to mimic the United States of Generica.

Of course, no one will say that out loud.

Mexico has intrinsic barriers to economic development, like wealth and income inequalities, and the lack of an effective justice system. El Paso isn’t as hindered as Mexico by those factors yet, but we’re working on it.

In 1950, Phoenix had a population of 106,818. In 1950, the El Paso County population was 194,968. Today, Phoenix’ population is 1.626 million, and the population of the El Paso County is 840,410.

A more prosaic explanation for Phoenix ascent can be found in their economic development policies of the fifties.

In the fifties, when the United States economy was growing like London Rocket after a spring rain, Phoenix got heavily into recruiting industry. Specifically, the aerospace industry. El Paso, meanwhile, sat on its thumbs.

Now, the United States economy is relatively stagnant, and El Paso City Government is driving up property tax rates by offering incentives to recreational facilities that offer minimum wage jobs.

There’s stupid and there’s stupid. I think we’ve got both those options covered.


  1. Don’t forget the City Councils and County Commissioners of the 80’s and 90’s who decided that textile manufacturers were evil polluters, did nothing to further the economy and there fore must be locally regulated or driven out of town. So we lost all the jeans’ “wash” facilities, Billy the Kid, Arizona, Levi Strauss, Farah, Wrangler, Lee, Ralph Lauren & Polo, and several generic brands. Losing those meant the cutters, sewing machine operators, sewing machine mechanics, and related industries vanished overnight. Then there were the awful environmentally-dangerous companies like ASARCO, Phelps-Dodge, American Steel, Chevron, Texaco, and the other entities operating the El Paso Refinery, the tin mining operation on the western mountainside- all these just had to go because they blemished El Paso. Let’s not forget the quarry companies either. So now we have as they say bupkus. A large military contingent that can be again reduced to a training battalion? School districts that are huge but produce- what? – call center attendants? restaurant workers? A University that prides itself on reaching for Tier One research status while it dilutes the knowledge and quality of its graduates? But now we have a baseball field, soon an arena for futbol, and soon Top Golf, and Great Wolf Lodge, and don’t forget all the construction at Texas Tech (which was halted after it was discovered the five floors would cave in on themselves due to shoddy construction using local talent.) El Paso is just this side of bankruptcy. And has rapidly slid into third world status. Heck, even the politicos and police believe the lie that El Paso is safe from the goings on in Juarez-because they invented the lie.

    1. Well, all those folks in power claim to be Democrats so they must be following the Detroit model.

  2. stagnant economy? I made more money this year than any three of the last 10 years. The other day I heard someone talking about how they haven’t had a day off in fifteen months. Stagnant was 2012 when we could hardly pay our bills and city council was full-blast on spending taxpayer money on ballparks and other things that do not improve anyone’s life.

    1. And it’s 7:40 on Christmas morning and here you are picking fights on the internet. Maybe you should examine your priorities.

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