Give Us the Future

Maybe you haven’t been paying attention. Maybe you’ve been frittering your time away, worried about life’s mundane details like putting food on the table and coming up with enough money to pay your property taxes.

So let me review. El Paso’s economic development is built on two legs. We’re trying to parlay the Paul Foster Medical School into a spin-off industry in medical research and development, and we’re trying to build on UTEP’s and Fort Bliss’ strong ties to the military industrial complex to generate some industry from that.

That’s it. That’s our plan in a nutshell.

Meanwhile our workforce is bleeding a hundred jobs a month.

It’s easy to cast speculative stones at our plan. For one thing, that stool only has two legs. But a greater criticism is that, even if those schemes work, many El Pasoans will be left out of any economic development that results.

When the plan was fomented, ten years ago, income distribution wasn’t much of a concern. These days eighty percent of us are fighting over the crumbs that fall from the banquet table.

There should be a path that El Pasoans can choose that doesn’t run through medical school or swearing allegiance to those wacky cats running the federal government.

Well there is. Or at least there could be.

El Paso needs a robotics and technology program for young people.

It’s not too hard. UTEP could probably launch one by the fall semester. It might be harder to get computer coding introduced into the curriculums in our local school districts, but that’s no hill for a climber. If our local community leaders show their resolve, that could be implemented quickly, too.

A benefit of robotics and technology training is that it is synergistic with our current plan for economic development. Medical research is increasingly taking place through computer modelling. And have you seen the developments in what we euphemistically call the Defense Industry these days? Soon we’ll be able to install freedom and democracy in far flung regions of the world from the comfort of our living rooms.

Instead of investing in amenities for the leisure class, we should be investing in education for the masses.

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