Moving Forward In South Central Texas
Living in one of the hardest hit districts of the economic collapse of Fall 2008 in South Central Texas, a ride in the country side makes one's head hang low to avoid the view of every other farm an empty house with broken windows that once had children playing and a big yellow school bus forever in the way of traffic.
Taking a family ride south of San Antonio, the view out the window is of ghost towns in the Old West including an occasional tumble weed that rolls across "farm to market" roads in need of immediate maintenance.
These small Texas "farm to market" roads are the Royal Highways that makes mineral resources accessible and the trading routes of food producing farms trigger economic prosperity of Texas City States of the new millennium.
All Rural Roads lead to American prosperity including our South American neighbors. Not too long ago, one could drive safely from North San Antonio on the Pan American Freeway all the way to Chile in 1995.
I have seen this down turn before, when the strength of the American dollar put travelers on airplanes that ruined 1000s of miles of the passenger rail all the way to Mexico City.
Not long ago, I could hop on train in one of two railway stations in Old San Antone with a backpack and a few hundred dollars in my pocket. The scenic view by rail was worth the few extra hours to visit friends living near ancient city ruins of the Aztec empire deep and safely in to what has become a DMZ zone 500 miles wide between our border and the main metropolitan areas of the Republic of Mexico.
You ask for my ideas to keep America moving forward. I can tell you that heads are up and people standing tall with the bustle of rough neck oil workers filling once empty cafes in small South Central Texas towns with just a dream- The American Dream!
Economic recovery may be years down the road, but you cannot tell it now on the faces of locals after the permitting opened for the Eagle Ford Shale drilling operations.
If we want to keep moving forward in South Central Texas, is to go back in time of conservative spending by state, government, and citizens. Invest some of the profits of oil wealth back in passenger rail that will make Argentina accessible to the average middle class family and heal relations with war torn Mexico, which will strengthen our border security better than a battalion of Army Soldiers, Squadron of Surveillance Drones, or an impenetrable wall twenty feet high, stretching from Del Rio to Matamoras.
Some would say that would take a miracle, or a goal that is not obtainable within reason. While others before us such as Friar Bartolome de Las Casas wrote in his letters to the King of Spain "Apologética historia de las Indias" about the same Royal Highway made without heavy equipment or metal tools as follows:
"Then, there is that miracle -- such it may be called for being the most remarkable, singular and skilful construction of its kind, I believe, in the world -- of the two highways.... across the mountains and along the coast. The finer and more admirable of these extends for at least six and perhaps eight hundred leagues and is said to reach the provinces of Chile....In Spain and Italy I have seen portions of the highway said to have been built by the Romans from Spain to Italy, but it is quite crude in comparison with the one built by these peoples...."
A miracle is a positive event in our lives that seem to oppose the laws of physics or the natural order of things. We do not need to wait for a miracle, reinvesting in passenger rail, Rural Road maintenance, and Freight Lines from Del Rio, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, would just take an investment of profits paid by oil resources. The return on investment would not only save Billions is wasteful sending on border control but regain trusted relations with our South American Neighbors and a balance in economic trade.
The construction and new routes of roads and freight train rail are already in the works by oil companies to gain access to Eagle Ford Shale in South Central Texas. Why not keep on moving forward with rebuilding by laying new Passenger Railroad ties, where once the old systems lay, mass transportation infrastructure lost by inexpensive fuel consuming air travel over the last 30 years in South Central Texas.
Gregory O'Dell Rural South Texas July 4, 2011
Apologética historia de las Indias (Madrid, 1909), originally translated for Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West (New York: Columbia University Press, 1946, 1954, 1961). Used with permission.