Life Choices

Did you go to college?

Have you/are you raising kids?

Have you ever had a job?

Can you imagine doing all three of those things at the same time? Or even two.

Jewel Jackson and Victoria Rossi report:

Across the country, about one in five college students are parents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a national research outlet based in Washington, D.C. The vast majority are mothers, said Lindsey Cruse, managing director of the IWPR’s student-parent success initiative. They’re also disproportionately single mothers and women of color, and are more likely to face issues like food and housing insecurity.

At El Paso Community College, half of its student population are parents.

The report goes on to describe how childcare and early childhood education are lacking in El Paso, and often prohibitively expensive.

Imagine thinking that a Downtown Arena, or a deck park, is more important for El Pasoans’ quality of life than childcare for working mothers, or mothers pursuing higher education. Imagine thinking that a ballpark is more important to El Pasoans’ quality of life than early childhood education.

Yet that’s what the City of El Paso tells us. That’s what the Chamber of Commerce is pushing. That’s the blue pill that the Downtown Management District is asking us to swallow.

I have to wonder how those people were brought up.


  1. When did government assume the roles of parenting, and child care provider?
    I paid 100% of my college tuition, and did not receive any government assistance. Liberal politicians continue to promote government policies that create a false sense of personal entitlement.

    1. When did government assume the role of providing amenities for the leisure class?

      If we weren’t throwing money at glittery baubles, we’d have money for things people need.

      “Ordinary people pay taxes. Rich people pay accountants. The really wealthy pay politicians.” — Nearly everybody on Twitter

  2. Yes, I did all three of those. I was a parent in college, worked two jobs, too. My wife was a part-time student and mom and also worked in her parent’s business. Suck it up, Lindsey. Half this town is on some kind of welfare and HACEP is a hatchery full of single moms. Eventually, you run out of other peoples’ money.

    But I will say this about El Paso, poverty is big business for some and there is a lot of money to be made in it. It’s one of the reasons we can’t seem to raise ourselves out of it. Try maximizing opportunity instead of welfare and people will find a way. Build the ladders of social mobility. Jobs, literacy, education, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation, social capital.

    1. Okay, boomer.

      The problem is we spent all that money on amenities for the leisure class.

      Since 1990, college tuition has risen 1200%. Inflation during that same time has risen 236%. (Source:

      In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:

      Whenever the government provides opportunities in privileges for white people and rich people they call it “subsidized” when they do it for Negro and poor people they call it “welfare.” The fact that is the everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit. And highways that take our white brothers out to the suburbs were built with federally subsidized money to the tune of 90 percent. Everybody is on welfare in this country. The problem is that we all to often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor. That’s the problem.

      It’s not the same world that it was when you went to college, and you can’t just tell everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. A minimum wage job won’t even pay rent.

      How would you suggest that we build the ladders of social mobility, jobs, literacy, education, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation and social capital, without government intervention?

      I’m all ears.

      1. Dear Rich, I love your blog. Read it every day. I am making this response deliberately long to weed out the Twitter folks whose attention span runs 144 characters. OK, Zoomer 🙂

        Back in maybe 2013-2015 I wrote a series of essays on this very topic published irregularly by Brutus on his blog as I completed them. They explored this and other ideas and were also my own exploration of a theory-of-everything or TOE regarding urbanism and El Paso, a topic in which I have much interest. In fact, to the point of traveling internationally to conferences on urban systems, regenerative design, integral theory for cities and sustainability. Of course, one problem with sustainability is who wants to sustain the current mess we are in?

        The essays were widely read. I received many comments (not all friendly), an invitation to meet with a prominent local architect for lunch about these ideas and, as recently as last year, a request from a city council rep for reprints. They are a little out of date now as I look back at them but one’s TOE evolves over time like one’s waistline.

        If there is one theme I kept coming back to it was, what is your focus for urban design, because you can’t be all things to all people. My focus for El Paso was on those ladders I mentioned above and I might update these essays for our current epoch if there is interest out there. Usually your readers tell me to STFU 🙂

        I have this thing I’ve been developing that I call Alternative Urbanism, the result of these ruminations and of my last trip to the UK in 2019 where I studied regenerative design practices for a month at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Urbanism typically deals with the structure of the city, it’s spatial design and economy. In El Paso, it’s focus is what you have pointed out earlier about amenities for the elite or at least a jobs program for them. Alternative urbanism deals with the things that officialdom doesn’t talk about but nevertheless are key to the life of the city.

        That little piece I posted here a few months back in which I shared my notes here from a lecture by Portland architect Mark Lakeman is typical of Alternative Urbanism topics, as are models of sustainability and resilience; growth as qualitative rather than quantitative; a regenerative economy, not just a sustainable one; urban Permaculture as a feasible jobs strategy. That kind of stuff.

        Currently I am deeply (no pun) involved with a climate modeling project here relevant to water resources in the Rio Grande and its aquifers. In case you haven’t notice, we’re running on empty.
        Maybe, if time allows but I do not want to start my own blog on the matter.

        1. I respect your opinions. But I was surprised to hear you say that today’s young adults should suck it up. Life was different for our generation. (I’m a 1957 year model.) There’s a lot less economic activity at the lower end than there was when we were young. My parents were middle class when middle class meant college, summer vacations, and a stay at home mom. These days middle class means both parents have steady jobs. Upper middle class means health insurance.

          When you order your next glass of zinfandel, ask your bartender about his/her economic prospects.

          I remember when you started a comment to DavidK the way you stated your comment to me. That was right before he self-immolated.

          1. Rich; Do not self-immolate like David. Your blog is too important and more soulful than any here.

            I’m a 1946 model year. We’re both Boomers, it seems. And yes, today’s young adults are not immune from a life that is hard and then you die. They haven’t figured that out yet, having been raised by helicopter parents in a school system that told them they were perfect snowflakes and always got a participation trophy. In our generation you got 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The rest of us were not in the winners circle and no one gave a shit about how that felt or called it racist or elitist.

            My parents too were middle class, my father a civil engineer and my mother a stay at home mom and RN, occasionally. Mom was an immigrant, coming here in 1927 at age 5, so I am 1st generation American. Both served as officers in WWII, where they met in France and married.

            In 2015 to 2019, I lived in community with many young adults, literally in a dorm in 2016 in an ecovillage in Canada. I learned much from them and they saw me as an elder or at least a nice old guy with a car and an income who could always be counted on for a ride to town and a bottle of wine at table for dinner. Most were good workers but didn’t have a clue what to do with themselves, even in their mid to late 30s. They hadn’t settled into anything that looked like it had a career attached and so went from gig to gig, living with parents in between. Meanwhile, there were/are “help wanted” signs everywhere but you have to put a stake in the ground at some point, and that eluded them. I do not hold it against them that they did not want a corporate life as I had chosen.

            What I enjoy about El Paso is that the young adults I meet here are nothing like what I described above, even the bartenders like the ones I meet weekly at Ripe and Ardovino who are mostly UTEP and EPCC students studying for a career and a life. My critique is not for them and the young adults I met were mostly from white, professional families in Canada and the west coast.

            I have watched this country go down the tubes to globalism which is the world organized for big business. Not to say we shouldn’t trade and have productive relationships with the rest of the world. In the time I grew up you didn’t have to be middle class to own a home; that could be done on a paper mill worker’s paycheck cashed at the bar every week in the Fox Valley communities of northeastern Wisconsin where I hail from.

            Your question re: bartender. That was never a permanent position in our town. Factory workers were permanent and well paid with healthcare and retirement, something gone to China now. You could have a life as a factory worker, own a home, raise a family, even own a 14 foot fishing boat with Evinrude outboard to catch the walleye run on the Wolf River. The whole town was mostly paper mill workers.

            I do empathize re: college costs. I graduated with a liberal arts degree (Econ) from a top private college in 1969 with $3,300 student loan debt. My starting salary was $8,400, the going rate for a new grad then, so my debt to income ratio was about 40%. Today’s 4-year liberal arts grad starts at about $40,000 and has a debt of $26,000 (Google it) or 65%. That is a big change! Someone has to pick up the tab for all that equity and social justice overhead on campus, it seems 🙂

            Economist Milton Friedman said it best: “There is no free lunch.”

          2. “ask your bartender about his/her economic prospects.”

            The last minimum wage increase was in 2009 to its current $7.25 per hour and that is awful. I don’t know why it isn’t $15.00 per hour but our government thinks that importing thousands of largely unskilled migrants into the workforce is a good idea, like it’s going to raise the minimum wage. It will have the opposite effect of keeping low-end wages low, which is probably why we’re doing it.

            Do you ever wonder like I do who our politicians really represent?

          3. Your bartender, who gets tips, likely gets paid less than minimum wage by their employer.

            No, I never wonder who our politicians really represent. It’s pretty obvious.

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