Yesterday the El Paso Times chimed in on the El Paso exodus report that was released by Bloomberg in an editorial. In its editorial the newspaper clearly laid what is wrong with El Paso’s leadership. As you know, the local newspaper’s editorial voice is an extension of what the city’s leadership believes. The editorial explains it all in excruciating detail.
The unsigned editorial published on July 26, 2015 blames the exodus on low wages and lack of opportunity. Surprisingly, but not so surprisingly, the editorial neglected to blame the other common scapegoat El Paso politicians have used before, low educational levels. I’ll address that in a moment. First, though, is the issue of low wages and opportunities.
In a market-driven economy wages reflect the access to the labor pool. Two dynamics are at play each opposite but complimentary of the other. They are the availability of a labor force and the ability to pay for what they produce. The more individuals willing to work the less the wages are needed to put them to work. When individuals consume less, it results in fewer work slots to fill. In other words, when consumers spend less on services and products it results in less work available.
Thus wages decrease and opportunities vanish in a never-ending vicious cycle to the bottom.
So what is the problem? Simple, it is taxes.
Consumers in El Paso have less disposable income because they are overtaxed in feel good unnecessary taxpayer funded projects that do nothing for the labor market in El Paso. Thus, people leave for better opportunities elsewhere.
The paper’s editorial agrees that the problem is lack of jobs and low wages. Yet, it refuses to acknowledge the problem and instead perpetuates the myth that artificially raising wages will solve the problem. It uses the example of Project Arriba as the model for artificially addressing the problem.
The problem with Project Arriba is that it uses taxpayer funds to solve the problem for a very small subset of the community that needs better wages and access to more jobs. As a matter of fact, the editorial board suggests that adopting “broad living wage strategies” like Project Arriba will help resolve the problem.
Except, and what is conveniently ignored, is that in order to increase the wages of a few and give them jobs requires having the taxpayers fund other Project Arriba’s. Thus the race to the bottom continues.
What is even worse is that if you look at the model that Project Arriba proposes, jobs in the health industry, it ends up training and placing employees in jobs that are not only dependent on the taxpayers to keep afloat but, as proven by UMC’s and children’s recent financial turmoil, have also proven to be unstable as well. Has anyone bothered to ask how many of the 56 employees Jim Valenti recently laid off from UMC were Project Arriba graduates?
The editorial then jumps unto the issue of building up the “entrepreneurial climate” of the city, again conveniently forgetting that El Paso is notorious for being anti-business. The El Paso business climate is simple; if you can sell to a government entity you will do well. If, on the other hand, you want to sell to a clientele that is not government related, well good luck with that because the reality is that you have to be connected politically in El Paso in order to do any business.
Of course the exception to that are local mom-and-pop operations such as restaurants that are nothing more than jobs for the family members of the owners. Real, money making operations in El Paso are government-connected with very few exceptions.
The editorial then drops the tired old mantra of low educational attainment in the city. The fact is that education in El Paso is low as the vast majority of the labor force does not have a college degree. Those that do have a college degree understand that the degree would be wasted in El Paso, because of high taxes, and thus they seek better opportunities elsewhere.
Without missing a beat, the editorial jumps right in and gets to the crux of what is wrong with El Paso. The editorial glosses over the “quality-of-life investments” and argues that El Paso won’t reverse the exodus until it resolves the problem of “better pay and opportunity.” No shit, Sherlock!
Notice how it argues that the problem can be resolved with “better pay” and greater “opportunity” but doesn’t bother to tell the readers how to get there? Because the solution the paper advocates is that same thing it has been supporting for decades; higher taxes to build monuments to a dying city.