So Bush lovers are saying the economy is up and everything is looking bright. I wonder in which fairlyland they live? Brazil? Thailand? South Korea? The Oval Office? Great Britain? Get in and I'll take you on a tour of my town.
You see, we moved here back in the late seventies. The economy was blowing the top off of the 100 dollar bill. Gas and oil was drilling everywhere. A driller was getting 4 thousand a week to come up the crew and get through their shift. You could stop your car anywhere and count 5 or 6 working oil derricks in 360 circumference. Penn Square Bank failed in the middle of the 80s and the next day, everything was gone. Down the tubes.
I remember the news lady interviewing this white headed, gentleman who seemed to have little command of the English language. They gave us a tour of their beautiful, two storied, million dollar home, somewhere in Oklahoma City, with an indoor swimming pool. I've often wondered what happened to all those richy oil people, one week later. I can tell you what happened with them in my town.
They call oil workers, ruff-necks, because most of them were riding the oil wave until it tailed out. It is said that most of the ruff-necks had a checkered back-ground, and since money changed from hand to hand, these guys didn't even need a W II form. We had a driller living down from us. We were on a party line at that time, and we had to call Ma Bell every 2 or three days because the jerk would purposely leave the phone off the hook. We had 4 young children at the time.
"What the F--- do you have going there, " he yelled, when I picked up the phone. "Cheaper by the dozen."
We could also hear gun shots coming from his direction two or three times a week. I questioned his next door neighbors and even went down to his house with the telephone guy, only to discover the phone off the hook again. His neighbor informed me that he was sure the ruff-neck was a gun runner and after three days on and a good night's sleep, he'd be selling guns behind the house, shooting at targets on the other side of the river. When he left, he took his guns and more than several neighbors' gas out of their cars, with him. It went bust in a week, and those dudes were gone, heading south to the oil rigs in the Gulf waters.
But suddenly, it was over. Now some of those high-paying non-educational jobs have shown a very modest come-back, with the high cost of gas. So, ... let's go through my town from west to east.
First you'll notice by the 18 hour Walmart is a new Sizzlin' Sirloin. Like Walmart, the eatery will not be offering, livable wages. You want to live, both get jobs and put off having children.
Walmart has lots of part-time workers. Workers are given just enough time to almost qualify for full-time benefits. I've got to admit, that when folks get paid little, it helps to have a WalMart in town. The WalMart gets shoppers from a 40 mile radiance.
Notice on the east fence of WalMart is the school system, ... pretty much. The facilities for these upper grades would have to get an A+, but the reason for its educational edifices is that this district has a high bondage-capacity because of the electric plant about 10 miles west.
Notice on the other side of WalMart is the new Texaco Mart. Clean and neat and draws lots of business. Fully automated. The people who own Carl's Jr. owns the Mart, ... a used to be shoe salesman who moved into retail food business. The car wash is his too. He owns two other Carl's Juniors.
Behind Carl's Junior is one of the biggest County Department of Human Services in the state. Probably about the state's 5th largest. Walk in their and you must "sit in line," until your number is called.
Now notice the west side shopping center. Empty. Only a cellular phone business and a Subway anchors that shopping center with their shops closer to the highway on a small island of businesses.
As we turn the corner, we notice the Braum's still remains open and busy. And over there is Mazzio's Pizza. Our son was fired from there in high school because he used his skateboard to go to work. And then down Mission Avenue, you'll notice the grandpa of fast-food businesses, in our town, Kentucky Fried Chicken. This was the only one fast food place in town, other than the Dairy Queen across from the court house.
The court house draws professional lawyers and judges, as well as, GED jailers and other somewhat skilled workers that go along with the court's function.. Right now, oil venturers are trying to buy up surface drilling rights, for about 25 dollars an acre. We'll pass, thank you.
Along the rest of Mission is 4 more food places, another Cellular place, a Quick Lube and another grocery store. Down central, you'll notice the Save-A-Lot, at which you will "save a lot." I've seen small town stop and fetch'ms from other towns, buy at Save-A-Lot to resell the cans for a higher amount. Next to that is a appliance store. Across the street is the First Christian Church and next to it, you'll find a well established furniture store. There are small business down town, but, other than the owners, there are few jobs to be had on Main Street, other than the Postal Workers.
The Dollar General Store and Family Dollar Store both get plenty of business. One will accept a check, the other one demands a photo ID, even if you lived in the town before the store existed. And of course, O'Reilly's car parts business.
As we leave, you can see Western Farmers north-east of town, an oasis of high paying jobs that come with a college price. Notice, too, the dead east-side shopping center and the gone auto dealership. A couple of motels round out the tour. No wait! How could I forget! The smoke you noticed, ... that's used to be the Peanut plant which paid above minimum wage. Oh, ... it had been dead for a year, but the peanuts stored, were sprayed with a pesticide and the snow and sleet dribbled down on the peanuts and started the blaze. That was 3 days ago, and it is still smoldering, hissing off its steam at an economy not strong enough to keep it.
I forgot to mention the carpet plant that paid many a good worker a good living. Notice I said paid. About 5 years ago, it kissed the town goodbye.
Oh yes, ... we have Indian gaming establishments around the town and the regional Federal Goverment Offices and Riverside Indian School can be found north of town. But that is it. 80% of our school children, ADA 2000 enrollment, is on free lunches. About 8% are reduced lunches, which gives us 12% making enough money not to be qualified for those government programs.
So, ... there it is. Bush's 2.3% increase of economic growth. Oh, I forgot to mention that the shock absorber business in the next town, went to China, and many of our towns' people lost their assembly and warehouse jobs over there.
Maybe I'm blind, but, with the GM plant closing in Oklahoma City and the tire plant as well, I think, our percentage of economic growth bottoms out in the negative numbers. How about your town? What would a visit to your town, turn up? Growth or economic retardation.