Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TEXAS TUESDAY - Changing Texas: Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge

Today I'm introducing something I'm calling Texas Tuesday: every Tuesday I'll bring you something Texas-related, not necessarily always a book - but probably. I can't think of a better way to begin this new series than by tackling total demographic, cultural, economic, educational, etc, etc, destruction in my home state. Yep.

Category: "dystopian nonfiction" - Nothing like a dose of reality to smack you in the head: "Coming to Our Census" is a review by Michael Ennis of Changing Texas: Implications of Addressing or Ignoring the Texas Challenge by Steve H. Murdock (Texas A&M University Press) in the March issue of Texas Monthly. Our Hispanic population is the key to our future. Duh. We're supposed to know that. But check out what's gonna happen to Texas if we don't set about addressing the factors that limit the futures of our Hispanic population. Ignore it at our considerable peril, we do.

Unavoidable facts:
  • Currently the average age of non-Hispanic white women (the author refers to non-Hispanic whites as "NHWs") in Texas is 42. The average age of Hispanic women is 28. What this means is that over the next generation Hispanics will account for 70% of population growth. 
  • By 2050, Hispanic workers will outnumber NHW workers by three to one.
  • By 2050, Hispanic households will outnumber NHW households by two to one.
  • In 1980 Hispanic per capita income was 46 percent of NHWs’, but by 2010 it had declined to 41%.
Avoidable truths:
  • By 2050, the median income in Texas will decline because Hispanic workers will still be concentrated in low-wage jobs.
  • Consumer spending will decline because no one will be able to afford a house or a new car. And that's what we have, y'all - a consumer economy. Texas likes bidness. There's no bidness if consumers can't consume.
  • NHWs hold 82% of home equity in Texas and in 2050 they'll still hold more than half. And we'll need it for the cushion when the low-wage workforce can't support retirement and health benefits. Read: social security and Medicare. 
BUT! All does not have to be lost. There are steps we can take, yes there are. And it ain't rocket science. Education dynamites the asteroid. EDUCATION. Whew - such a relief, so simple. But wait - oh hell. Great. We have such a sterling record on education here. Do y'all know how we fund education? Property taxes. Ipso facto they whose property is worth more can afford a better education for their children. This leads to wildly disparate outcomes. Check it out: University Park/Highland Park ISD spends $25,993 per pupil.* Median home value in the district is $1,003,864 and the median income for a family of 4 is $296,404. Compare and contrast these numbers to the numbers for Lyford CISD. Lyford spends $10,793 per pupil. Median home value in the district is $43,997 and the median income for a family of 4 is $39,624. Tell me, who do you think gets the better education and opportunities? Who is better served and prepared? Now tell me why we let this continue. 

If we can manage to get our fiscal and moral acts together and educate all of our children then Texas will enjoy a future in which our workforce is both younger and better-educated than the rest of the United States. And do you know who values a younger, better-educated workforce? Bidness. 

I'll close with the reviewer's final words: 
For a generation now, our entire state has in effect thrown a high-growth party with low-wage Hispanic labor—and with very little reciprocal thought for the welfare of those workers and their children. After all, they were always “them.” Now that “them” are about to become “us,” Changing Texas should be the catalyst for some serious thinking. 
*All numbers regarding University Park and Lyford are according to Neighborhood Scout

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