Monday, December 23, 2013
"Affluenza" raises deeper questions about commitment, to family and only then to something else
James McAuley has a commentary on “affluenza” (and its conceptual use as a defense of a teen in a tragic DWI homicide and maiming by a spoiled teen near Ft. Worth, TX) in the New York Times today. The pundits have moralized enough, but there’s one interesting point that McAuley adds. That was about the white flight to the suburbs. His link is here.
I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988, and the whole time worked in or near the Oak Lawn area. That was lucky and fortunate enough, but precarious. Employers felt the constant pull of the far north suburbs. In Texas, school districts did not have to lie within city limits. Some of “far North Dallas”, above I-635, had been annexed to the City, but was in the Richardson School district. Parents felt an incentive to move north of I-635 for presumably better schools. Your kids come first, right? How’s that for socialization? It cuts both ways.
In fact, EDS, which had been a bastion of military-style social conservatism when Ross Perot founded it, had been located in Exchange Park, near Oak Lawn and Love Field, then moved to a campus on Forest Lane, but still within the LBJ Freeway. (Even the woman who leased my first apartment there, on Cedar Springs, said to me that she wouldn’t live below LBJ, back in early 1979.) Eventually, EDS built a bigger data center in Plano, the next suburb north of Richardson, with an even more prosperous school district. It seemed odd that in Dallas, prosperity increased as the distance to Oklahoma decreased.
McAuley paints a picture of suburban Dallas that sounds accurate, an area of conformity and conservatism, where strictly religious sexual values (which have certainly loosened in recent years there just as everywhere else as times change) cover up economic inequality and seem to provide an excuse for it. It doesn’t seem that putting “family first” will teach you everything.