Money Is Eating a Place I Used to Love

Money is eating Austin and the Texas Hill Country the way it ate the San Francisco Bay Area.

As I often say, everything happens in California first. The only hope I have is that Texas – which like California is majority minority – will also slide away from the extreme right, but watching money destroy a place you love hurts.

Also, I’m pretty sure that money is not why California (which gave us Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Grover Norquist) moved away from the extreme right.

I’m just getting back from a road trip to Texas to see family and the eclipse. While on the road, my sweetheart and I were reading Marjorie Kelly’s Wealth Supremacy outloud to each other, so I was thinking a lot about our flawed economic systems while traveling through a part of the country I’ve known well all my life.

Rural areas in Texas seem to be surviving in large part on hunting camps and taxidermy, which are service businesses catering to the rich who like to pretend they hunt. For the most part, the small towns of the west are tired and dusty, and not just from the harsh arid climate. So many businesses are boarded up.

As you drive east from El Paso toward Austin and San Antonio, you go through small towns about 50 or so miles apart. Sierra Blanca probably survives on the Border Patrol folks stationed there.

Van Horn and Fort Stockton have motels and quick car repair shops for travelers. There’s a little more in Ozona and Sonora, both county seats with a decent restaurant or two.

And then you hit the Hill Country, with fancy wineries and places bought up by rich people. Fredericksburg has been a cute tourist town for awhile, but now all the towns around there have fancy boutiques and interesting restaurants, plus a large number of real estate offices: Johnson City, Blanco, Boerne.

The closer you get to Austin or San Antonio, the more big money developments you see. Sprawling subdivisions. They’re finally repairing US 290 going into Austin from the west, but it’s in service to massive development in a relatively fragile ecosystem.

The Hill Country isn’t desert, but it still has water limits. Meanwhile, none of this big money is going to places that would benefit from the spreading around of wealth. Continue reading “Money Is Eating a Place I Used to Love”