martes, 11 de abril de 2006

Texans: Who We Are

Daniel Franco

Government 2301-2460

Dr. Eileen Lynch

February 2006

2. Texans: Who We Are

Identify and describe the possible implications of the two expanding populations in Texas and what the state must do to meet these challenges.

As we reviewed the circumstances and historical precedents that transpired in the creation of Texas, first as a part of Mexico, then as an independent nation and finally as part of the Union, the textbook led us to the conclusion that Texas is a state steeped in enduring paradigms about the role it plays as part of the nation; and Texas is also self-aware about its uniqueness, which might explain its apparent self-imposed conceptual isolation from the rest of the country, compared to the rest of the states in the nation. We learned that many of these paradigms resist all attempts at shifting them, even if said attempts were tectonic in magnitude, and chthonic in nature.

Then, it is positively alarming to realize that major changes in our cultural attitude will be needed to deal with the consequences of the two expanding populations in Texas: The growing immigrant Hispanic population and the growing geriatric population. Major paradigm shifts are required.

In the video lesson, Steve Murdock goes on record to state that, by the year 2030, about 64% of the population in the state will be from the minority ethnic groups, with about 45% of the total consisting of Hispanics. Then, the lesson continues with other amazing numbers. It tells us that an estimate of the number of illegal immigrants that enter the country each year is as high as 300,000. And although many advocates are correct in surmising that such high amount of underpaid labor actually contributes to our society (because they do not receive medical benefits, retirement, vacation, 401k plans, and still have to pay income tax and sales tax), and although the pundits seem correct in assessing that the money that illegal immigrants send out of the country to their nation of origin is the cheapest international loan we will ever extend to the third-world countries, the fact remains that a few of them abuse some social programs and that all of them are breaking the law of the land. But the problem goes beyond their mere presence: Although they are underprivileged and underpaid, many of them produce their offspring in situ, adding numbers to the ever-growing ranks of underprivileged American citizens, and fueling the ever-burning flame of the conflict between the have’s and the have-not’s. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges Texas must tackle as a state is facing the fact that one of the resources it has to bolster, uphold and support is education, first and foremost, because it might be the ultimate equalizer between the different social classes. The rest of the related challenges (such as: Social services, sanitation, housing, law-enforcement, etc.) remain formidable, but a better educated population would become part of the solution, instead of remaining part of the problem forever.

The video lesson also mentions that Texas’ population is becoming older, poorer, and less educated. It mentions that in the next thirty years, the elderly population will amount close to 20% of the total state population. Shockingly, the lesson then states that one out of every four senior citizen lives in poverty, and that even those who are not impoverished will require some sort of public services. The problems arise partly due to the nature of the population distribution in Texas, where the majority of the state’s population resides in small, rural communities. Such communities sometimes are comprised by as much as 25% of senior citizens. Because, usually, senior citizens live on a fixed income, there will be many occasions when they will require certain services provided to them for them to remain independent. Like in the example of the town of Claude, Texas, many of these communities lack the resources and infrastructure necessary to service their large-proportioned senior population, and sometimes these citizens must find the services needed at a different location, adding to the already existing problems of service provision at that other location. With the federal government burdening the states more and more with providing their own funds for the social services, Texas will have a serious challenge in the near future to begin finding solutions for the provision of these necessary services.

In closing, I would like to suggest that once the state manages to address the seemingly insurmountable problem of education for the masses, some – but not many – solutions to the social services problems the state faces will become apparent. In the video lesson Mr. Tom Christian relates to us that at one time most of the senior citizen needs were met by traditional institutions. Although I have no comment on the situation of any church in our modern context, I know that one of the greatest resources for senior citizens in the past consisted of their families, but in our present day society, as Mr. Christian sagely comments, families seem to somehow have disbanded. A very important feature of the Hispanic population is that they, to a great extent, still focus their values on the extended family scheme. So if we were to provide better education for this growing sector of the population, maybe in turn they will be able to provide help with the other sector of the population and help care and provide services for the senior citizens. My humble opinion, of course, is based on the fact that I am part of the Hispanic contingent in Texas.

Sources:

Texas Politics, 9th Edition, Richard H. Kraemer, Charldean Newell, David F. Prindle, Thomson Wadsword, © 2005

United States and Texas government I. Programs 1-26 [video recording], Presented by Dallas TeleLearning DCCCD, © 2005

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