Joel Is Right

There are lots of places where people can live and El Paso is one of them.

Unfortunately for the El Paso taxpayer, there are lots of other places people can live, and people are exercising their option.

The problem is that all our current and future debt was modelled on an expanding population and tax base. So we’re screwed. Our taxes are going up for all these shiny baubles they told us we could get for (almost) free.

You know, El Paso’s all about free.

But now what? Static population, higher taxes, and senseless development. And we’re encouraging it. City government is subsidizing sprawl. Reducing our open spaces. For some fairy tale future that nobody really wants, or wants to pay for.

I really don’t see any lazy river rides in my future. I don’t see any personal benefit to El Paso getting that Wolf Lodge hotel/water park on the west side.

(However, I might go to the ballpark. Wednesdays at the ballpark baseball fans over 60 can get a free microwave jumbo dog and French fries and a drink. I might buy a $5 berm seat just so I can get the free meal. That way I’ll almost break even, paying five dollars for a hot dog meal. Maybe I’ll catch a foul ball and wind up ahead.)

(Who am I kidding? I’ll stay home with a package of Ballpark Franks and a six of Banquet beer. You’re welcome to join me. Bring a salad.)

They tell us that all this public investment (investment “in ourselves”) will lead to economic development which will, eventually, lower our property taxes.


They’ve been singing that song for twenty years, and the only thing we’ve gotten is tired of that song. But how else can they justify their gifts to the developers? How else can they rationalize their misguided policies? How else can the explain away our rising taxes?

“Trust us,” they say. “We’re smarter than you are.”

Maybe they are. Maybe all the smart people left town.


  1. Yes, I think the smart people are long gone. Hell, we raised four kids here, and only one remains in El Paso. That said, here’s a reality check fer ya: We have a pretty decent little house out here in far east El Paso, and we are very well aware that we could not afford to buy another like it in any of the major population centers in Texas. That is, if we were able to find anyone willing and able to buy it. I mean, I’d love to have an HEB nearby, and maybe some nice places to eat, like Freddie’s Frozen Custard and Steak Burgers, or In ‘n Out, but property values are about double what ours is worth to live close to one of those places. And, then, there’s the climate in Dallas, Austin, San Anto, and forget Houston.

  2. I won’t be so arrogant to assume that you’re talking about me in the title, only that people named Joel have great sense. Haha! I agree that subsidizing sprawl and giving incentives to corporate, out-of-town entertainment companies is foolish at best. Best wishes for November. My unsolicited advice: keep the message positive. More about how you want to help local arts, culture, history, and small businesses. Less about how our community is in a death spiral. Stay on message and I think you’ve got a great shot.

  3. Dear Rich, you always write great posts and this one is exceptionally great. l hope you do stay on message and continue to remind people that we are in fact in a death spiral. This is not a time for make believe, pollyanna, cutesy-ness. This is a time for reality and truth. Not only will some people possibly get a little upset and angry, but l’m actually hoping for it! lt’s for there own good. lf people get concerned, worried and (God forbid) even angry, then maybe that anger will snap enough El Pasoans out of their self hypnotic trance. l’m not saying that it’s going to be easy, after all, even though Cook did lose (thank God) he still received about half of the vote. lt’s not going to be easy to de-zombify the zombies, but this lS a fight worth fighting.

  4. The wide open spaces disappearing is called entitlements. I know a group that was doing that in Salt Lake City until I.R.S. nailed them for tax evasion. You got someone who a bureaucrat in the city and country offices giving them information on those open spaces which is legal, except the information is going to a relative or company which gives back a little green when the entitlements open up. Politicians are involved also. There a couple of Senators on the Judicary committee who ask their constituents if they are looking for entitlements. Don’t answer because you will be investigated. They understand what their doing and will burn them for it if they are doing it on a massive scale. The planning office in your city is a good place to look . It’s not the rich getting richer it,s organized crime or a group of young people trying to get rich.

  5. Ya’ know that if these projects started early & ended on time and were under budget;
    I might be more understanding

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *