Right when you thought things were getting better...but then you just realize, "Hey, it's Socorro!"
You all know what I am referring to...the recent bribery scandal.
I am not as interested in the details because after all we have seen this play out before, whether it was at the County Courthouse or EPISD.
The question though is "Why does it happen?"
We Hispanics are allegedly "family-oriented." For us, it is all about the family and by extension our friends, who we consider to be family. Yes, that is a great thing. But sometimes it is our love for family that gets us in trouble.
If you ask any of the corrupt in El Paso, they will tell you that they did not think what they were doing was wrong, and that it was not all about the money. It was about helping a friend.
Who amongst does not want to help out a family member or friend?
That is perhaps why corruption went on for so long. Because for many of those who were paying attention they did not see it as something wrong. These folks were doing things that we do quite naturally and without question.
So what is wrong with helping out our friends and family, at least in government? We can talk about ethics or taxpayer funds, but it comes down to something even more practical than ethics and public monies. This system of patronage does not allow for any buy-in from anybody outside the immediate circle. If other people do not feel that they can be part of the system, they will completely abandon it. That itself is not good for that group of family and friends within the system.
In a free and open system, where anyone can participate, that system is likely to be the more prosperous. Don't believe me? Look at Houston and Chicago. The former has been on the rise for the last several decades, while the other has been on a steady decline. One attracts thousands of people a year, the other loses thousands of people a year. In which of those two cities, do you think a non-politically connected newcomer feels more welcome?
El Paso is slowly realizing this. Socorro has still ways to go.
Oddly enough, it may be that very family-orientedness of ours that got us in trouble that get us out of it. Because many of our families have had no buy-in, we are not seeing our own lot in life improve, we are realizing that just as important as family is opportunity. Where there is no opportunity, we cannot have family.