Oil Booms and Poverty – Texas

Boom meets bust in Texas: Atop sea of oil, poverty digs in, By Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, June 29, 2014, New York Times: “From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars. As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces more than $15 million worth of oil a day, or about one out of every 55 barrels produced in the United States. . .”

Job Corps

Great Society at 50: LBJ’s Job Corps will cost taxpayers $1.7 billion this year. Does it work? By David A. Fahrentold, May 19, 2014, Washington Post: “In the middle of an Oklahoma wildlife refuge — at a campus so remote that buffalo wander in — about 100 young people are taking classes in the hope that the U.S. government can turn their lives around. Given the statistics, most of them will be disappointed. This is the Treasure Lake Job Corps center, an outpost of a job-training program created as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The program began with a noble, untested idea: Government could save troubled youths one at a time, taking them in and teaching them a trade. Today, students here learn subjects such as cooking, nursing and plumbing. . .”

A Plan for Urban Poverty?

What Does Obama Really Believe In?, By Paul Tough, August 15, 2012, New York Times Magazine: “From the back seat of Steve Gates’s white Pontiac, Monique Robbins spotted Jasmine Coleman walking home from school alone. It was an icy December afternoon on Chicago’s South Side, and Jasmine’s only protection against the wind was a thin purple jacket. She looked cold. Gates pulled the car over to the curb, and Robbins hollered at Jasmine to get in. Jasmine was 16, and Robbins and Gates, who were both in their 30s, were her neighbors. All three of them lived in or around Roseland, a patch of distinctly subprime Chicago real estate that stretches from 89th Street to 115th Street, way down past the last stop on the El. Fifty years ago, Roseland was a prosperous part of Chicago, home to thousands of blue-collar workers, most of them white, employed by the South Side’s many steel and manufacturing plants. But the plants closed long ago. . .”