Friday, January 13, 2017

Something's Missing

This writing was originally posted on FB last week.

I don’t know all that was said at yesterday’s meeting, where city officials gabbed about the city’s future, but apparently the mayor is amazed that Webb Co. is ranked as one of the nation’s poorest counties. He’s not cool with that, and neither am I. I don’t understand, however, how this can be a surprise to Mr. Saenz.
Mayor Saenz pointed to Laredo’s enviable unemployment rate, which is at 4.2 percent - low when compared to other TX border communities. That should spell success, right? But it doesn’t, ostensibly. The mayor wants to know what’s at the root of our poor ranking. Thankfully we have Councilman Roberto Balli to explain things: “The largest factor that contributed to this is the number of people who are undocumented.” Balli went on to say, “I’m not saying that in a negative way, I’m saying that in an economic way. They’re working, but they’re working for less than minimum wage.” (Julia Wallace, LMT)
Instead of going all Tea Party, or Alt-Right on the undocumented, I would instead say that people here have jobs, yeah, but not jobs that pay enough for them to own property like Mayor Saenz or Roberto Balli. I would say that people here are under-employed. I would say that Laredoans are living paycheck to paycheck, even the ones with good-paying jobs. I would say that our economy is retail/service-based. And I would suggest to Mayor Saenz, and especially Mr. Balli, that they should look up census statistics to get a sense of what sets our ranking as one of the poorest counties around. [I need to check up on this, but I don’t think a lot of the undocumented take part in census surveys.]
For every Danny Lopez, we have hundreds of wait staff that earn little money. For every Martha Washington dress maker, we have tens of thousands of people who can’t afford the extravagant debutante gowns. There is wealth in Laredo, and there are good-paying jobs too, but not everybody shares in that.

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