Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What Happens If the Lights Go Out in Chicago

Paul Gleiser, in his You Tell Me Texas Blog this morning, warns that Chicago's newly down-graded junk bond rating may be a sign that the Windy City is going the way of Detroit. I
f Chicago goes bankrupt, we may see a mass exodus of workers, fleeing soaring property taxes. Businesses will flee when operating costs become prohibitive and if businesses go, jobs go away too. Unfortunately, as in the past, an economic collapse in the North often triggers a flood of job-seekers coming to places where they believe the economy is goods and lots of jobs other words, Texas!

Houston used to be a relatively conservative town until about 1978/79 when an estimated 250,000 people from Detroit moved to Houston over a space of just a couple of years. In that time the population of Detroit declined by a quarter million. At the same time the population of Houston increased by a quarter million. Refugees from Detroit came to Houston looking for work in the oil industry, figuring, I suppose, that they had skills that were transferable and that there must be an oil workers union here.

If you remember, all these people were fleeing due to massive layoffs in the auto industry, the first symptom of Detroit's looming bankruptcy. It was during the Carter years. Gas prices soared. Gas lines and rationing became common and to survive, people sold their big Detroit iron and bought little foreign cars that got good gas mileage. I happened to be living in North Houston at the time. Somebody from Detroit in the radio industry even fled the city. They bought a radio station in Houston and advertised it with..."If you're from Detroit, you've found your station in Houston!" They played lots of Motown.

Detroiters descended on Houston like a plague of job-seeking locusts - whole families piled in cars with everything they could carry, like Okies during the Dust Bowl, rolling the dice that there really were good jobs in Houston.

We had one carload show up on the driveway of our little two-bedroom duplex on Canino Road looking lost and bedraggled. They'd spotted my wife and pulled in to ask if she knew a really cheap hotel. The man had a job interview on Monday and then they were going home to Detroit. They were running out of money fast.

So my wife, faithful Christian that she is, came in the house, told me about the carload of gypsies out front, and then suggested that, since we were going to visit my Grandmother for the weekend anyway (the car was loaded and we were just about to leave), we should let them stay in our house till the poor man could go to his interview.

I always trust my wife in matters of kindness and Christian charity, so I agreed. The poor mother broke down in tears when my wife handed her the key to the house. As we drove to North Texas, I was picturing Yankee carpetbaggers looting our home while we were gone, throwing a party, and generally messing the place up. When we returned, however, the house was neat as a pin and the mother of the family had left a note that was sweet and filled with gratitude.

I don't know if they ever moved to Houston, but it was a symptom of the pre-Reagan era that this kind of wing and a prayer, "They can go to hell, I'm going to Texas," thing happened at all. When progressive socialists rape the economy in the name of grabbing power for themselves, it's always the poor people that they claim to love so much who wind up in desperate circumstances. The man wanted a job. He fled to where he thought he could get one.

One would hope such folk would learn their lesson. Sadly, they seldom do. Look at Houston now after a quarter million Detroit refugees hit the city in the late 70s - electing representatives like Sheila Jackson Lee and pouring out lunacy like water from city hall.

About fifteen years ago, I got into the fight for transit dollars for East Texas. The Houston and Austin area rural transit lobbyists were sucking in millions of dollars a year, while East Texas, the second largest rural transit district recieved less than 4% of Travis County's appropriation and less than 2% of Houston's. The Democrats in those two counties were siphoning from the federal transit budget which was supposed to be apportioned by population. Instead of having the second largest appropriation we had the next to the smallest. We really had to fight to get the legislation through that cleaned up that - fortunately we'd just elected a Republican House and Senate and Governor.

I joke that Houston and Austin is where we store our Democrats in Texas, because if you bunch 'em all up it's easier to keep an eye on them. It's not such a joke anymore and it's going to get worse if Chicago falls. 

What we need to do is figure out some nice nonunion manufacturing businesses we can start up quickly to put all those Yankee refugees to work at.  Because you can bet the flood of Chicago refugees is about to begin. Guys want to work. You can hardly blame them. We should make them join the Republican Party, though. Kind of like signing a loyalty oath - instead of leaving them to gin up some new kind of union that merely reflects the old bad habits they got up to back home; the kind of habit that brought down two of America's wealthiest cities so far and may yet bring down others.

Just one man's opinion,

Tom King
© 2015

1 comment:

Mark Milliorn said...

I lived in Galveston during the days when it seemed like half of Detroit was moving to Texas. I remember the Houston Chronicle once announced that over half of their out-of-state subscriptions were mailed to Michigan.

For those younger than Tom and I, let me explain that newspapers used to have a section called Want Ads—this is where out of work people used to locate prospective jobs.

Galveston, just 50 miles out of Houston, got its fair share of refugees from the Motor City. I remember when the island’s city council, only partly in jest, passed an ordinance making it illegal to be from Michigan after dark.