Farming and the selling of water and solar and wind

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farming and the selling of water and solar and wind energy over much of the southwest—where for pennies it’s already bought vast tracts of fertile, waterless land. So far, Olivar is one of its smaller coastal holdings, but with Olivar, it gets an eager, educated work force, people a few years older than I am whose options are very limited. And there’s all that formerly public land that they now control. They mean to own great water, power, and agricultural industries in an area that most people have given up on. They have long-term plans, and the people of Olivar have decided to become part of them—to accept smaller salaries than their socio-economic group is used to in exchange for security, a guaranteed food supply, jobs, and help in their battle with the Pacific. There are still people in Olivar who are uncomfortable with the change. They know about early American company towns in which the companies cheated and abused people. But this is to be different. The people of Olivar aren’t frightened, impoverished victims. They’re able to look after themselves, their rights and their property. They’re educated people who don’t want to live in the spreading chaos of the rest of Los Angeles County. Some of them said so on the radio documentary we all listened to last night—as they made a public spectacle of selling themselves to KSF. “Good luck to them,” Dad said. “Not that they’ll have much luck in the long run.”
“What do you mean?” Cory demanded. “I think the whole idea is wonderful. It’s what we need. Now if only some big company would want to do the same thing with Robledo.” “No,” Dad said. “Thank God, no.” “You don’t know! Why shouldn’t they?” “Robledo’s too big, too poor, too black, and too Hispanic to be of interest to anyone—and it has no coastline. What it does have is street poor, body dumps, and a memory of once being well-off—of shade trees, big houses, hills, and canyons. Most of those things are still here, but no company will want us.” At the end of the program it was announced that KSF was looking for registered nurses, credentialed teachers, and a few other skilled professionals who would be willing to move to Olivar and work for room and board. The offer wasn’t put that way, of course, but that’s what it meant. Yet Cory recorded the phone number and called it at once. She and Dad are both teachers, both Ph.D.’s. She was desperate to get in ahead of the crowd. Dad just shrugged and let her call. Room and board. The offered salaries were so low that if Dad and Cory both worked, they wouldn’t earn as much as Dad is earning now with the college. And out of it they’d have to pay rent as well as the usual expenses. In fact, when you add everything up, it’s clear that with the six of us, they couldn’t earn enough to meet expenses. It might work if I could find a job of some kind, but in Olivar they don’t need me. They’ve got hundreds of me, at least—maybe thousands. Every

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