In my opinion, one of the driving forces behind the epidemic of El Paso corruption is El Paso’s dependence on government largess for private revenues. Basically, with very few exceptions, El Paso’s businesses are dependent on monies from government entities. The vicious economic cycle that exists is that the governments’ expenditures trickle down to the private sector that in turn trickles back up to the government entities in the form of taxes.
It is an unsustainable economic model.
During the last few years, the city leaders in the form of government officials and “business” leaders that sustain them through the various business chambers of commerce have harped on the “economic growth” of El Paso even through the national recessions. The news media, mainly the El Paso Times masquerading as a newspaper furthers this illusions by reprinting the various press releases issued to them.
The illusion of economic prosperity ignores one fundamental reality. The fact that the temporary “economic renaissance” in El Paso was driven by three major factors; federal government expenditures at the military base and hospital, the temporary influx of Mexican monies because of the uncertainty in Juárez and local housing market’s insulation of the housing crisis by the lack of speculative monies on housing.
Those temporary economic drivers have now ended and El Paso continues on the vicious economic circle it has created for itself. It works like this. I’ll use the city government as an example however it works the same with all of the other government entities.
The city contracts a contractor to build a building. The contractor then contracts various professional entities such as architects and engineers. In turn, all three professional entities contract labor to produce their work product. Some require a small subset of professional “white-collar” workers while “blue-collar” workers drive the majority of the labor.
Keeping in mind that the “creative services” companies are unable to sustain their overhead without government work thus the vicious cycle begins. Architects, engineers and designers, or public relations firms cannot sustain their operations in the El Paso economy without government work. The public relations firms become the key to sustaining the failed economic cycle.
The public relations firms through their various forms are tasked and paid, to further manufacture the illusion necessary to keep the “economic model” purring along. Consider the following.
The city hires a public relations firm to “inform” the community about the city’s activities. At the same time, the contractors hire the public relations firms to inform the community about the need to vote a necessary bond for a quality of life project or a new high school. The public relations firm is like a hydra with many heads. While one focuses on the “It’s all good El Paso” another focuses on the managing the political climate through electoral campaign strategies, fund raising and political whisper campaigns through useful idiots.
Thus, the public relations firms are the lynchpins to the failed economic model. You see, not only do the public relations firms create the necessary environment for a successful political campaign thus putting them in a position to control the political outcome they are also the gateway to the revenues the local news media desperately needs to sustain their own business model. Likewise, the contractors, and by extension the architects and the engineers need the public relations firms to create the environment for another successful bond to fund yet another unnecessary public works.
As the “creatives” work the monies they generate from public jobs, works its way down the economy through the grocery stores, restaurants and other El Paso businesses. At the same time, the employees who draw paychecks from the government entities also contribute their paychecks through the cycle of grocery stores, restaurants and other local businesses.
You now have two economic activities that are very dependent on government monies; the “creative” and the public employees. The more monies that flow through them the “healthier” the economic cycle for the stores, restaurants and so on. This dependence is now the single most important voting block come election night.
And this brings us back to the public relations firms that create the illusion that all is well in El Paso. After all, the city is one of the safest in the nation, the drugs magically disappear before reappearing in cities like Chicago or Houston and there is no corruption at the city.
By now, you know who funds the economic cycle, you the taxpayer. The problem is that instead of creating new monies to cycle through the local economy El Paso is stuck in a vicious cycle of generating money from the taxpayers of the community. A viable economic engine makes products or provides services that are exported outside of the city in order for new monies to enter the economic engine. Name one product or service El Paso exports outside of the city. You can’t.
Instead, what happens is that the dependence on the taxpayer is so strong that politicians advocating holding the line on taxes will not be voted into office because to do so would mean ending the vicious circle that is the El Paso economy.