Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Phoenix... if you believe in stereotypes

I posted the following response to a YouTube video someone had put up about the "Pros and Cons of Phoenix."  I found it somewhat misleading and typical of the stereotypes you hear from people who really haven't spent much time here.  That the video was a glorified PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover didn't add to its credibility.

I'm the last person to defend the place and truth be told if finances allowed I'd rip up stakes in a heartbeat.  This state has been no friend to me but when I hear deliberate misinformation it annoys me to no end.  I've provided the video in question and my response to it.  If you really want to know what it's like to live in Phoenix, read the post that follows it.

My response:

"As someone who's lived in the Phoenix area since I was dragged here as a kid in 1971 I can say with authority that this video is somewhat lacking in content.

Let's start with all those great jobs she was talking about...I suppose if low wage jobs are your thing then jobs around Phoenix would seem plentiful.  I can tell you that for anything above flipping burgers the wages are absolute crap and so are the corporations that came here for just that reason.  Where do you think Michigan got it's ideas for union busting anyway?   

Cost of living may be lower than other places but so are the wages so it's not like everyone here can afford to just jump in the car and head to their luxurious cabin in Pinetop then take a jaunt over to the Canyon for some lunch.   The state's biggest employer is Wal-Mart so that should tell you something.  We used to have big companies here but most of them pulled out or scaled down in the 80's.  This state is only high tech if you think Best Buy is an indicator. 

 The majority of jobs are either retail or healthcare to take care of all those "snow birds."  Those wages are depressed compared to other places as well.  Want to be a teacher?  Try 35K a year to start and maybe you'll get to 45K if you stay for 10 years.   35K a year doesn't buy much of a house when median prices are 250K for anything but a shack in a bad neighborhood that's a bloody 2 hour commute with gas prices anywhere from $2.50 to $5.00 a gallon depending on who farted in Iraq today.  

Let's also not forget about our beloved Sheriff Joe whose corrupt administration has the feds and the ACLU setting up permanent offices just to keep an eye on him.  Socially and politically Arizona is the Mississippi of the Southwest.  We make Texas look progressive by comparison.  Nothing gets done around here unless there's a greased palm and plenty of photo ops for someone's coffee table book.  

But I digress...

The weather is what it is, it's a freaking desert you know.  You completely forgot to mention the monsoons which make it more humid but it does cool us off from July to September.  Late May through mid July are usually the hottest months.  What really irritates me though is that this city including all the other satellite cities that surround it has done absolutely nothing to combat sprawl.  The people with money here are the developers and they'll put up a 15 story office building just for the hell of it.  Then we got all of the refuges from California in the 90's and doubled the population.  

Now we have freeways that look like the 405 6 hours a day and even more competition for the few good paying jobs available. 

Traffic is bloody awful and the combination of Midwest and California drivers makes any trip an adventure.  Either they're going too fast, too slow or both while they babble on endlessly on their cellphones.  Traffic is bad everywhere but it's doubly so here because you never know what to expect depending on what part of the valley you're in.  It can take over an hour to get from Mesa to NW Phoenix on a Saturday evening.  

A trip of less than 50 miles on freeways with a 65MPH speed limit on a weekend day because of the equivalent of an early morning weekday rush hour at 5PM on a Saturday!  Let's not even talk about the elephant in the room.  The fact that 4 million people depend on a water source fought over by 4 states and the western half of the country is in a severe drought!  Are you people freaking nuts?  It's only a matter of time before the chamber of commerce has to admit that there's not enough water to sustain this many people. 

As for the people, yeah Scottsdale and the Biltmore area have their noses in the air like any wealthy zip code but there's far more zip codes that average less than 25K a year in wages meaning there's lots of places you don't walk to dog at night.  Most people are friendly enough on a superficial level but don't expect  much more than that.  People are usually very transient only sticking around a few years before bouncing off to the next new subdivision.  Everyone works very hard to keep up appearances even if they can't afford it.  That's what Phoenix is.  I don't know where this lady was living."