Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

(These comments are edited from an original post to the Rebirth of Reason discussion board.)

This week and next, I am in Austin, Texas, to find work.  I have not had W-2 income in Ann Arbor for over a year, and I was never employed full time since we moved there in 2005.  We completed our degrees, which was our goal.    Watching NUMB3RS, we saw ads for Rick Snyder's campaign for governor - "The toughest nerd in politics."  But I cannot wait for a Republican to discover free enterrprise.

 A few years ago, after we moved back to Michigan, I heard NPR's Terrie Gross of "Fresh Air" interviewing Mrs. Lynn Cheney, the wife of the former Vice President and Terrie Gross simply was so focussed on lesbian politics that she failed to perceive Lynn Cheney's actual purpose for the interview: her funding of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.  You see, out West, they had racism and prejudice and all that nonsense, but if you kept your word and helped your neighbors without making them beholding to you, then you stood as tall as any man.  Out West, people are equal despite the law.  Back East, you cannot be equal without the law.
"... where the only law is Right."

The first woman to be governor was Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming (appointed). The first woman in Congress was from New Mexico, when they were a Territory.  The first woman elected governor was Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas.  

We have been planning this move for about three years, but it never gelled.  In 2008, we checked out Portland, Oregon, Cincinnati, and Madison, Wisconsin.  No place seemed better or better off, and in Portland and Madison, people said that we would like there because "it's just like Ann Arbor."  

I considered New Hampshire. It has good numbers and the Free State Project.  Nice place. But I'm a cowboy, not a yankee.   We lived in Albuquerque and loved it.  New Mexico is poorer than Arizona, but we know that left wing socialism is economically worse than fascism. You have to pick your demons. Myself, at some level, I can take the poverty in preference to the prison, but Michigan has sunk below my pain threshhold. 

Until this year, I never considered Texas.  From my studies in criminology, I know Houston to be a whole peck of troubles, beginning with the police.  Dallas is Big. It has skyscrapers and suburbs. It is "like" any other American city its size. I worked a project for AEP's purchase of a power company in Dallas. I flew down on Mondays and home on Fridays for about two months. Nothing at all stood out for me, which is why I never considered moving there, though I did think of Fort Worth, which still has that substrate of having been a cow town.  This year, Austin came up on repeated searches of demographic and economic data.  Perhaps the deciding factor was the bumperstickers we saw in Ann Arbor: "Keep Austin weird."  

Arriving on Tuesday, the 19th, I have been riding city buses to see the town.  I met a realtor with rentals to see what we could get for how much.  I shopped at the Wheatsville Food Co-op and saw several of its competitors in and around Hyde Park, the area with with bookstores, Vietnamese carryout ("Bite Mi"), and some alternate media, including the Austin Chronicle, and at least one, maybe two, gaming cafes.   (I found the area from a real estate search engine asking if we needed a kiln or proximity to yoga classes.)  I had a walk-in interview with a security firm I know. It went well enough: no management jobs now, but lots of opportunity for posts and patrols, which no longer exist in Ann Arbor.  On Thursday, I met with an IT recruiter.  On Friday, the 22nd, I had lunch with the Austin Tech Republicans, a group I met via LinkedIn. Our guest speaker was Austin BayHis topic was "Cyber War."  Colonel Bay earned a Ph.D. in English at Columbia.  (More on that later.)

After five days in Austin, it is clear that I could work 80 hours a week at a range of part-time jobs paying $7.50 an hour.  That is no longer possible in Michigan.

The final closing of Borders only underscores the intellectual bankruptcy of the groups behind Gov. Rick Perry as it does the supporters of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.  Chasing smokestacks, they want to "bring jobs" to Michigan.  Unable to let go of the 20th century, they are unprepared for the 21st.  Austin has beggars at the freeway exits; and I see people sleeping under bridges; but here also is enterprise.  You cannot tell a bodega from a car dealership because everything is for sale.  With the temperatures near 100-F, I saw a woman standing a median, selling bottles of cold water.  When I introduce myself, it seems perfectly normal that I have three different business cards.

Of course, it is not utopia.  Yesterday, I heard a discouraging word - several of them - from a drunken guy whose wife and daughter were leaving him.  I took out my cellphone for 911, but he turned away from them and walked off.  Also discouraging is the lack of stetsons.  Even downtown, guys wear suits, but not hats.  Like a topology problem, Austin is surrounded by Texas, but not really in Texas.

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