By Bill Oakey – June 2, 2014
If you often feel like a pawn in somebody else’s chess game, you are not alone.
The Players are looking down at Us from their perches on the upper floors of the tall towers. Those towers are all over the country, and even in some places overseas. They can see us on their super-HD computer screens. I’m not talking about literally seeing us through the cameras on our computers. I’m talking about the figurative representations of us.
They are the kings and the queens, the rooks and the knights.
We are the pawns.
The City of Austin is just one ledger on one page in their impressive portfolios. Of course, there are more of these viewing stations in downtown Austin than there are in New York, California , and Dubai. But the objective is the same. Move the pieces on the chess board around. And try to outwit the opponents. Try to make as much money as they can as fast as they can. If only those gosh darned pawns didn’t get in the way sometimes! They could make even more money.
We are the little dots seen slogging through the crowded streets, trying to get to work, to the grocery store, or perhaps over to Barton Springs, if only we could find a parking place. And then slogging back home again to get some rest. Before getting into the game all over again the next morning.
The Players have to be pretty worried right now. Our tax appraisals were not a pretty picture. The news media is telling them that we have been observed acting restless. So, what does that mean? What will They do if We fall victim to the simple laws of economics? No amount of maneuvering on the chess board can change the fact that we only earn X amount of income. We can only afford so much in taxes. We can only afford to vote for X number of bond elections.
The economy is part of the game too, but it is a Silent Player. Just like Mother Nature is silent. You can’t do anything about the weather. And when the economic scales get tipped out of balance, it becomes a desperate race against time.
Can The Players find enough new pawns to replace the estimated 40 current pawns who are leaving Austin every day? Can they build enough self-enclosed “apartment communities” where the lowest rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,375 per month? These places have secured club rooms, open terraces with views, green lighting, and DNA testing for dogs. You read that right. If you find dog poop on your doorstep, THEY know whose dog did it. They have everybody’s dog’s DNA. (I’m not making this up! I saw it last night).
They want you to sell your single-family house so they can scrape it off and add another “apartment community” to their portfolio.
But what will happen to Them if the economy and Mother Nature don’t cooperate? They have to scrambling to find a solution to the drought problem. (I have to wonder how They feel about the proposed 30% water rate increase, with a new “drought fee” added to it).
Reports keep popping up in the news, stating that too many of Us are have stagnant wages and we can’t keep up with the costs of living in Austin. So, I will end with the same question that I started with.
If this is a chess game, what is the next move?