A mailbox sticks out of water during neighborhood flooding after Tropical Storm Cindy, now downgraded to Tropical Depression Cindy, in Big Lake, La., Thursday, June 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Houston Housing Growth and Liberal Hyprocrisy

The devastation visited upon the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Harvey is truly biblical in nature. Both the volume of rainfall to the record flooding levels are unprecedented. It is difficult to imagine the scope of what has happened to the coast, and the effects won’t be fully understood for a very long time.

From the estimated 500,000 vehicles lost, to the thousands of flooded homes, the recovery will be arduous, painful and subject to criticism by Monday morning quarterbacks of every stripe and persuasion.

Not able to blame the size and ferocity of Harvey on a concrete issue, liberals have landed upon assessing blame to city and county government for allowing so many homes to be built up and down the Gulf Coast.

The regional and demographic bias shown by those who want to blame flooding on permissive housing development shows a lack of appreciation for the economic engine that has propelled Houston and the gulf coast into one of the most important and vital regions around the globe.  Because of their liberal bias, they have bifurcated the region’s economic drivers from residential/commercial development, and that’s impossible to justify. In reality, industry has driven housing development in Houston since it’s inception, and both are inextricably connected.

Three prime examples jump out:

Texas Medical Center: The Texas Medical Center is the largest med complex in the world. The facts on Wikipedia show the Med Center to contain 54 medicine related institutions, having 21 hospitals, along with eight specialty and eight academic research institutions, four medical schools, seven nursing schools, three public health organizations, two pharmacy schools and a dental school. All are non-profit. Located just south of downtown, the Med Center is larger than the downtowns of many mid-tier cities.

Whether it’s open-heart surgery at Memorial Hermann, cancer and cancer research at MD Anders, wide ranging children’s medicine at Texas Children’s and Shriners, the list goes on and on.

Thousands of Houstonians work at the Med Center, and even more thousands support it in some way. The economic ripple across the region and benefit the world, common citizens and national leaders have come into the Med Center for care.

Over 50% of the Med Center employees live in areas that were affected by the storm.

Gulf Coast Oil & Gas Refining Industry: At least 10 refineries have been forced to temporarily shut down due to the hurricane, and resulting flood. The gulf coast region accounts for nearly one-third of the nation’s refining capacity: (CNN Money)

S&P estimated Sunday that roughly 2.2 million barrels per day of refining capacity were forced offline because of the storm.Overall, the Gulf area is home to refineries and other operations that account for nearly one-third of the nation’s capacity to turn oil into gas, diesel and other products.

Oil & Gas refining employs thousand and thousand of people living in the gulf coast region, and many more thousands servicing those refining plants. The vast majority of these employees live south of Houston, which is the area hit hardest by Harvey.

From paraffin for candles to asphalt for roads, parking lots and driveways, a barrel of crude produces many products. Products which impact every part of every American’s life.

Gulf Coast Petro-Chemical Industry: The petro-chemical industry is the least discussed but most important industry on the gulf coast. From the very large companies such as Dow Chemical to the smaller speciality petrochemical plants, America depends on gulf coast chemical production (Business Texas)

Texas is home to over 50 energy-related companies on the Fortune 1000 list. More than 3,700 energy-related establishments are located within the Houston Metropolitan Statistical Area, With 100,000 workers employed, Texas is home to the largest petrochemical cluster in the world. Houston alone accounts for over 40 percent of the nation’s base petrochemical capacity.

Gulf coast locals have heard it all, and this is not our first flood. Its just the biggest and most devastating. We’ve also heard it all when it comes to the self-righteous liberal eco-hypocrisy about our oil & gas, and petrochemical industries.

A thought experiment: Stand in your garage. First take a look at your car. Forget for moment that it is fueled by our gas or diesel, forget about the fact that your motor oil, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid and brake fluids originate from here, forget all of that. Just take a look at your car. Because even if it were electric, solar, or hydrogen powered, it wouldn’t be a car without the petrochemical industry. From the heavy duty plastics on the grill, to the rubber on the bumpers, to the paint, the dyes on the carpet and cloths, well you get the picture. Your car is basically a mobile barrel of refined crude, even the carbon black for rubber is produced here.

Then, look around your garage. See any mosquito spray, bug killer, grass or plant fertilizer? Thank you, we’ll take credit for the chemicals in those. Oh, if you are storing them on heavy duty plastic shelves. That’s on us as well.

Step into the mud room. Washer & dryer? Laundry detergent? Stain removal? Ditto ditto and ditto.

Then go into your comfortable air conditioned home. The A/C? Not possible without us. The dyes in your carpets, the paint on your walls, your refrigerator, kitchen counters, the list goes on and on and on. Virtually 100% of your life is affected by and made more beneficial by the petrochemical industry.

We find it rich when a limousine liberal complains about the gulf coast, all the while living in a life enriched by the great men and women that work here faithfully. We can chuckle at the nonsense about the sprawl of housing development, knowing how loudly they would howl if these companies disappeared. We look on in pity and grace when their relatives come in for life-saving care, never reminding them of how they are so adept at speaking out of both sides of their mouth.

The bottom line? Have mistakes been made in urban planning? No doubt. But this is one of the most vital and necessary regions in the world. Before you speak out to criticize,  please take a moment and consider how every minute of your life is dependent on those who live in the development areas you are criticizing.

Walk a mile in our shoes, then thank us for them.

About the author

Wm. P. Fitzhenry

5th generation Texan, 2nd generation reformed Presbyterian, a twin and a serial entrepreneur.

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