The El Paso Tribune - El Paso Texas Political Commentary
Date: March 15, 2005

Gasoline, Energy and Housing

Political leadership at the national and state level of government are headed in the wrong direction. Now the "pro business" Wardy administration has El Paso on the move, also in the wrong direction. What El Paso needs is a "pro El Paso" administration that can lead the city on a truly progressive path to prosperity. El Paso homeowners and workers of today are enjoying a borrowed economic boom which devalues the property they own today and indentures the next generation. El Paso has no housing shortage; an abundance of homes are listed for sale now. Every new house built competes with existing homeowners like your Mom and my Grandfather when they want to sell their homes. Older homeowners have an equity investment to recoup so it is difficult for them to offer the same low down payments. By comparison the development corporations can offer "a brand new house" with almost no money down. To be fair, houses built today are better insulated than houses built before 1974 when the first Arab oil crisis made ENERGY an issue. Your Mom and my Grandfather face disadvantages because to get their home up to shape to compete with "a brand new house" they usually have to invest in at least cosmetic improvements; while to insulate an older home so that it is as energy efficient is costly. The advantage your Mom and my Grandfather have when selling is that their houses are located close to existing services including governmental, health-care, and other professional and financial centers. This is an advantage for the same reason that a brand new house is better insulated. The reason is ENERGY in this case the cost of gasoline. The likelihood of a brand new house being built for sale close to town is remote because the banking and development corporations want wide open virgin desert to build on where they can build roads feeding rows of hundreds of almost identical houses which they build and sell cheaply because of "economy of scale". To get existing public services extended to their property bankers, builders and materials suppliers donate heavily to politicians who in turn rationalize their collective greed to the voter by using a few key phrases... "It's capitalism, employment and prosperity", "We need more housing", "You can't stop progress". The Wardy administration is now campaigning for reelection on these false premises. Only by ignoring the ENERGY issue they can they make these false claims credible. This type of growth is not capitalism it is corporate welfare because their are hidden ENERGY costs incurred for every mile of distance that the brand new houses are located from the central city and these costs are left for future taxpayers to pay for in perpetuity. Subdivision development is a false prosperity which we borrow from our progeny. It is our children and grandchildren who will be saddled with confronting the unsustainable nature of our legacy when ENERGY limits can no longer be ignored. Every mile of road, in addition to the cost of building it, also costs money to drive across. It costs fuel, vehicle maintenance, road maintenance and the most precious of all our possessions our Time. If 100,000 people must drive an hour per day for 250 days each year. This represents twenty five million man hours per year in lost potential productivity to any community with no mass transit alternative. This time could be used to read or work on a laptop computer or draw. Say we buy a brand new house just one mile farther from work: if our vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon and we drive to work and back 20 days per month we will use 2 gallons at $2.00 per gallon = $4.00 every month just for gas and just to cover that 1 mile of road. Multiply that by the number of miles out to the new subdivision and the true ENERGY tax attached to that property is revealed. Gasoline will go up in price every year. Experts in the field are coming to the consensus opinion that we have reached "Peak oil production" meaning that the supply of oil can only decline from now on. The north sea oil fields have been in decline since 1999 and even more alarmingly the decrease in capacity is accelerating. T. Boone Pickens who knows a thing or two about "The Oil Biz" announced on NPR. that he is buying oil futures for delivery in 2011. President Chavez of Venezuela, our 4th largest supplier, has stated publicly that "the days of cheap oil are over". A real eye opener is available from another guy in "The Oil Biz" Matthew Simmons an energy investment banker discusses the Saudi and Iranian oil fields; go to... http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/80C89E7E-1DE9-42BC-920B-91E5850FB067.htm The Wardy cartel which is made up of the banking, materials suppliers, development corporations and the local corporate owned newspaper, will tell you that the owner of the "the brand new house" is now a "brand new taxpayer", and his property taxes will cover all future costs! But remember the hidden ENERGY tax? Gas and oil prices are just at the beginning of an irreversible increase. In the years after the developers are long gone, that 4 dollars per month for the school bus to travel that one extra mile and back will become 5, 6, 7 dollars per every single mile and it comes out of the public school budget and will not be available for school building maintenance or for teachers salaries. Municipal workers will be forced to compete for available tax revenue with the vehicle they drive to provide your services. For example... The municipal waste disposal employee will need a salary increase because it will cost him more this year to drive that mile to work and back, but at the same time the city garbage truck will need more money out of the same budget to travel every added mile to work and back. How long will it be before your Mom and my Grandfather have to pay higher property taxes to help cover the cost of maintaining the services (HOW MANY MILES AWAY?) to the brand new neighborhood? How long will it be before that brand new taxpayer in that not so brand new house has to choose between paying his ENERGY bill so he can get back and forth to work or paying his property tax bill? Which bill will he choose to pay first? "We need more housing" they, the Wardy gang, would have us believe. Why do we need more houses when our population does not grow? The Wardy administration will point to the fact that we are getting over three thousand army troops which will need houses. But they dare not ask why these troops are coming here and what they are going to do here. Maybe it is a secret that only Dick Cheney, his ENERGY task force and Donald Rumsfeld share? Maybe they told the Wardy administration knowing the secret is safe because Wardy and crew love secrecy? The dirty secret is that the troops are here because this is the desert and they are going to train in desert warfare so that they can go to Iraq and "secure" Oil. "Secure"... a modern English term coined to replace the word "steal" in order to ease Judeo- Christians into their denial of this murderous robbery we are attempting in Iraq . How do we support our troops by making ENERGY more critical to the way we live? This type of development does not support our troops; instead it forces our troops to support the lies our politicians are telling us. Expanding the city to accommodate the automobile by building roads to ever farther away subdivisions of rows of houses each with it's driveway and garage impoverishes us. Expansion is not progress if it cannot be sustained. The purchaser of a brand new house along with Mom and Grandfather in the old house downtown are condemned to pay an explosive hidden tax by development projects so demonstrably ill considered. Every mile of distance that we put between each other will bleed our local economy like a growing vampire. Of every dollar spent on gasoline 60 cents leaves the country immediately and that amount is increasing at an accelerating rate. To see comparative data on automobile and Oil issues (with sources linked) see... http://www.americanvoice2004/factoids Economic activity is not capitalism when the result of that activity subverts the well being of those undertaking it and devalues the currency of those financing it. It would be much wiser to develop our mass transit capability before the city expands in any direction. However, since people riding the bus are not seen as campaign donors, and because Wardy and crew depend on campaign donors to point the direction, mass transit is ignored. In spite of being in possession of plans for a Solar lighted, heated and cooled (evaporative) bus stop, they voted to extend use of the wood and concrete unshaded bus benches for 10 more years. So taking the bus in El Paso is tied to sitting in the Sun. We can not depend on the local media the, Gannett owned, El Paso Times to inform us of any of this. The Times is totally devoted to selling automobiles as is their parent Gannett corporation. This total dependance on automobile sales advertising explains both their support for road building expansion and their lack of concern for mass transit. The Dick Cheney mentality rules El Paso. What a shame for a city so rich in Solar ENERGY. Victor Cobos Jr
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