At the beginning you learn your economic credo. You learn about the unquenchable, infinite desire of the consumer with finite resources. You learn your economic necromancy for the Texas market.
Then the economy tanks. The economy craters with a dip as any since the Great Depression, and you feel fear that it may continue down. You read the Dallas Fed’s newsletter “Gauging the Odds of a Double-Dip Recession Amid Signals and Slowdowns.” It doesn’t help.
“My job over the last 10 years has been to keep my retired clients retired,” a rattled securities broker told me last week. “It’s crazy. It’s crazy. I don’t know what to recommend. I don’t know if they’re even going to need me in a few months.”
Top that economic plunge with Mexico’s drug war. Like other border states, Texas long has taken advantage of Mexico’s poverty as a type of economic arbitrage. The price difference of labor across the border has been a reality that Texas business has capitalized upon.
Now the expense of that market imbalance is being felt here. Parts of Texas are being viewed as the buffer for drug violence. Mexico falls to the point where U.S. Department of Defense used the term “failed state” for strategic planning as the drug wars rage. The Mexican business class has been moving across the border to places such as El Paso for quite some time.
To give perspective on how bad it’s been, an acquaintance mentioned in a positive tone recently that the number of drug cartel decapitations had decreased. I look at that sentence again. It’s surreal, isn’t it?
For businesses that aren’t part of the military industrial complex, the violence creates economic problems for businesses that don’t fall into the military industrial complex. The maquiladoras, of course, are an alternative to the awakening China dragon. South Texas agribusinesses are trying to adjust to how produce is delivered across the border.
In addition, the undocumented workforce relied upon by many Texas industries has come under increasing pressure year by year by year. What’s economically good hasn’t been politically viable. What’s politically viable is toxic to the economy.
In the meantime, the world scrambles and shuffles ownership interests of Texas oil and gas. Shell sold a great part of its interest this week, and we’re all aware of China’s buy of Texas energy several weeks ago.
Yes, we’re at that point where several economic bubbles have collapsed, and nothing on the radar seems to be bubbling out of that deep whirlpool.
You try to divert yourself with social networks, games and phones. You try to divert yourself with the latest moves in the Cliff Lee bidding war between the Yankees and the Texas Rangers. The Yankees sweeten the deal because of no Texas income tax. Yet Mexico creeps in again, one of the main reasons Texas has been able to afford not to have that tax.
So you try again and note the tremendous crop of Texas cotton that China buys and buys, then you remember the importance of the workforce in harvesting and processing that Texas product.
You decide to think of a trip. Then you hear others discuss Mexican resorts and how they’re still safe in hopeful tones. You see a dark figure doing a dirty or dangerous job nearby and know that he probably worries about family in land south. You find yourself contemplating Mexico again. You try not to consider how wealthy we appear to people willing to risk all to come work a dirty job here. You try not to acknowledge how a life of polite deafness to economic injustice has worked its way into your commercial process. You try not to admit how the daily business routine of looking the other way allows you to enjoy the fruits of Mexico’s poverty. Yet things change.
You realize you’re a Scrooge, a Scrooge who wished just ghosts visited him rather than those images and threats of violence. Yet you’re forced to see Mexico in Texas. You see the Mexico problem is a Texas problem. You know this now. Go forth.