The 5 C’s

When I was in grade school, shortly after the discovery of fire but before the invention of the wheel, we were taught in Social Studies class that El Paso’s prosperity was dependent on the 5 C’s.


Obviously, times have changed. We razed the copper smelter. Many of the cotton fields are under sticks and stucco tract home development. I’m not sure what happened with cattle, but it certainly isn’t one of the major drivers of the local economy. The clothing manufacturing moved, first to Mexico, then to China and Bangladesh, but I guess it’s back in Mexico now. And climate – well, hot and dry isn’t as rare and exotic as it used to be.

So I decided to figure out the new 5 C’s for El Paso. Here’s my take:

    Call centers
    Contraband (with bonus points for both cocaine and cannabis)
    Crime fighting
    Cowboy boots

Well, that’s not a lot to build an economy. And god bless them, our city fathers are trying to diversify, by promoting the health and defense industries, and getting UTEP certified as a full blown research university. But that’s a tough row to hoe. El Paso has no inherent advantage in those areas besides the willingness to foster them. And frankly, any success there is in the distant future.

Besides, they don’t start with the letter C.

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