Tag Archives: AZ

If You’d Asked: The Dark Side of Living in Phoenix

Just for you: a chapter from If You’d Asked Me…the ultimate collection of bathroom or waiting room reading, A new chapter appears here every three weeks, usually by Friday. You can get a complete copy, right now, in PDF format, or, if you like, as a paperback. For details, visit our Books page or send a request through our Contact form.

Here’s an add to Section I (God is Great, Beer is Good, and People Are Crazy!) that just came along:

Section I: God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy!

What’s the dark side of living in Phoenix, Arizona?

Poverty. Low income in general for most who would be in the middle class in other areas. Public schools, whose teachers are paid on the poverty level, rank near the bottom nationwide, year after year. Anyone who can afford it puts their kids in private or religious schools, further impoverishing the public schools and further lowering the standard of public education.

Arizona is a right-to-work-for-nothing state. This means most people here earn minimum wage or less, while a privileged few are amazingly affluent.

This city — or rather cluster of cities that includes Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, and a slew of suburbs and exurbs — consists of endless tracts of low-income areas. Some districts, such as the large area south of the downtown, resemble third-world favelas. Most of the west side is a vast, dreary, dangerous slum, where shootings and drug crime occur daily. The east side and Scottsdale are safer but are quite affluent — to live over there in a house comparable to my 47-year-old centrally located tract home would cost at least a hundred thousand dollars more than I can get for my house. That’s what it costs to live where ghetto-birds don’t hover overhead every day and where you can go into the neighborhood market without running a gauntlet of panhandlers in the parking lot. The place is overrun with drug-addicted transients. To get the bums out of the fancifying central business area, our city fathers & mothers put them on the lightrail and transport them to the north central area, where we now host one 24-hour meth clinic and where installing a second such institution is proposed.

Driving on the local roads — which in the city of Phoenix proper are poorly maintained — is as you can imagine a bit of a nightmare, since you share space with people who are stressed, unhappy, and often frustrated or angry. Many are high or drunk. I call them “my fellow homicidal drivers.” Driving conditions are scary at best and dangerous at worst. Road-rage attacks, including homicides, are commonplace.

Here’s a selection of today’s news stories…and it was a slow news day:

Unless you have a lot of money and a guarantee of a job that will continue to provide a hefty income, don’t come here.

 Within 45 minutes, this rant elicited a scolding reply:

To which I cheerfully responded:

Yup. It is pretty depressing. We were asked for the downside…and lo! There IS a downside. Sweetness and light won’t change that.

Phoenix used to be a nice place to live…but the influx of hordes of people has even changed the climate, to say nothing of the social conditions. To say that LA is worse than Px does not change the fact that this place enjoys dismal poverty, crime, corruption, homelessness, and untreated mental illness/drug addiction. If you live in my part of town — North Central — you, too, enjoy a cesspool of in-your-face homelessness. By way of escaping it (a panhandler literally CHASED me around a grocery-store parking lot in my neighborhood), I drive halfway across the city to do routine shopping. I have been rescued from a home invader by a SWAT team, transients sift through our garbage searching for discarded documents that can be sold for identity theft, bums case our homes looking for convenient ways to break in, no child’s bicycle is safe even inside a locked fenced yard, and those who are unfortunate enough to have carports instead of lockable garages simply expect their cars to be pilfered. There’s a homeless camp next to the neighborhood school playground (one of the residents jumped a neighbor’s backyard fence to molest her two small girls). And our honored city parents actually fessed up, off the record, that they let the bums ride the lightrail for free by way of moving them out of the downtown renovation area and dumping them in our part of the city.

🙂 I’ve lived in LA, too. And didn’t like it there for the same reasons that today I don’t much like it here. If I didn’t have family here, you may be sure I’d be long gone. When you don’t have to live in LA-style circumstances, you shouldn’t.

Woo HOO! I had a defender! Another reader commented:

I agree with all of the above, it’s why I left Arizona for another western state. You can add state sanctioned racism to the above list. Run by the Good old boy network, I see a light at the end of the tunnel with the election of Krysten Sinema.

And I replied, feeling smug:

Well, we shall see. A lot of Arizonans are moderate Republicans — I worked for Barry Goldwater’s election myself, when I was a teenager in Southern California. Today he looks liberal, compared to the extremists who have glommed onto the Republican party (you don’t want to know what he had to say about the religious right shortly before he died — and Quora wouldn’t let me post it). But Goldwater Republicans then were the era’s equivalent of today’s far-right Republicans (remember “In your heart you know he’s right”? 😀 ) One could fear that someday the our contemporary Trumpeters will look “moderate,” hevvin help us. Poverty breeds resentment of the status quo. And from what I’ve heard from workin’ folks around me, quite a few of them think the far right will save them from the vast, often world-wide forces that have trashed their standard of living and their feeling of well-being.

It may take a better educated electorate than we have at this time to move the state’s politics to the center. We budged a little at the mid-term. But only time will tell what the majority here really think and feel.