Monday, August 27, 2007

drilling for air

"Public service is honorable and noble..." Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, letter of resignation, August, 27th, 2007.

To this we agree.

Hearing pundits recite some of Mr. Gonalez's life history during the evening drive time, and then cracking open the online version of the NYTimes, I was reminded again of how just disparate America can be. A reading last week of The Great Deluge - a history of one week that surrounded Hurricane Katrina - now 2 years past may have also keyed me to the vastness of the American experience. The Great Deluge is full of personal stories about how people respond to a massive crisis in their lives. Some people rise up, swim to safety, and bring others to the shore. Others fall down, drown, and take others under in the process. I suspect that it's never that simple, the swim or drown part and that most folks do a little of both, but there are some who seem to be able to intuitively help others through the really tough times. The names of people (and there were many) who rose up and became heroes are not those being bandied about as the next U.S. Attorney General. H.S. Secretary Michael Chertioff may have passed the bar, but he failed the Hurricane Test.

On Sunday there was an article in the NY Times about the social life that surrounds pools in Las Vegas and how much buy-in is required to be A-playa. Doesn't matter if the the dollar is falling, or your home value is plumetting, or if your dog trainer is going to jail, ante-up for the private poolside cabanana (as much as $15,000 per day) and the eye candy and bottle service are complimentary. Feels good, don't it?

Well aparently not enough for some Silicon valley millionaires (net worth 3.5 million) who feel middle class when compared to their other Silicon valley muli-millionaires. The horror, the horror of the middle class.

Tell that to the more than half a million people who live in 1,5000 colonias scattered along the U.S.-Mexico border (more than 90 percent are in Texas). These properties were sold to migrant farm families under the auspices of the "American Dream". However, unscrupulous developers viewed the American Dream differently than you or I. Since the lands were outside city boundaries, they were never properly platted and developers never saw to it to provide the basic human services that should be part of any home ownership. Running water, no. Electricity, no. Adequate plumbing and proper sanitation, no. Roads. Schools. No. No. Proper legal title to the land. No.

But's it not all negative. Rampant infectious diseases, yes. Lack of access to adequate health care, yes. Flooding, yes. Over-crowded living conditions, yes. Povery. High unemployment. Lack of educational opportunities. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Most residents of colonias are legal U.S. Citizens.


The Forgotten America, a 2000 documentary by Hector Galán.

If you want to see how people who live in a colonias view themselves check out photos taken by 8th and 9th graders who live in them.

A Home in Colinas, NY Times multimedia.
Photo: Apologies to Damon Winter, NY Times.

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