Small central government, limited regulation and control, low taxes, no unemployment compensation, low minimum wage, concentrated wealth - is this Rand Paul's Libertarian platform or the Republican agenda? It could be either, but it is neither; instead, it is Mexico today. It is the primary source of the USA's immigration problem and the rampant drug cartel violence on our southern border. It is a showcase for limited government and deregulation which Republicans and Libertarians have promised to deliver to us - the government which they advocate as an alternative to "Obama's Socialism." Is Mexico "America's future" without social programs? The United States is nearing social chaos as it is mired in economic stagnation and working class disintegration. If Mexico is not the showcase for limited government and unregulated enterprise, then what nation is?
Mexico's economic policies have fueled inflation and eroded the real wages of the poor. The highest hourly minimum wage is $4.45 USD. The average household income is a little more than $7,000, but Mexicans pay a much higher percentage of their incomes for basic expenses than Americans do. Mexico has a poverty rate of 44.2% and 23 million people lack access to basic food. The top 10 percent of the population receives more than 40% of all income and nearly 60% of their earnings is shared by the top 20% of the population. The bottom 40% receives less than 11% of all income. On the eastern outskirts of Mexico City, over 1,000,000 lower-class Mexicans live in single-room brick structures built on land that floods when it rains. The U.S. still has a ways to go before it can match those conditions, but they are moving closer everyday. For the first time since the beginning of the 19th century, the majority of America's wealth is held by the top 1% of the population.
Following Vicente Fox's term as President, the net worth of Mexico's billionaires soared, from just over 4 percent of GDP in 2000 to about 6 percent in 2006. Corporate earnings have driven the stock market repeatedly higher, but those benefits haven't been shared by all. The concentration of economic power in the hands of a few has left Mexican consumers with high prices, exacerbated income inequality and retarded economic growth. (Sound familiar?)
Oh, but there is so much more to this Mexican style of limited government. Health care is basically free for Mexican citizens, but according to the US Embassy fact sheet on Mexico, 43.9 million of their 111,211,000 people lack access to basic health care, which they often receive from a nurse in a rural clinic.
Although the U.S. economy is moving ever closer to the flagging Mexican economy, there is another side, a dark side, to Mexico's economic plight which thus far has only touched the U.S. border. Mexico, like Afghanistan, and other third-world countries, is decentralized with different tribal and sectarian factions. Each region in Mexico has its own autonomous leaders (caciques), who have become drug lords and who are more powerful than the government. The wealth and power gleaned from the drug trade enables them to impose their own politics, usually fundamentalism to the point of fascism, and they ignore the needs of the poor. Drug related violence in Monterrey and towns along the highways to Tamaulipas resembled a conflict zone from January through April this year.
The dire economic conditions and the ever increasing violence have spawned an outmigration of Mexican nationals which we casually refer to as "illegal immigrants". It has triggered a reaction of animosity, resentment, fear, and hostility toward a struggling group of "interlopers" who seek little more than a refuge from the violence, a job, and a place to lay their head. We have vilified them and demonized them for their plight and we blame them for flaunting our immigration laws. We ignore their plight, we resent their poverty, and we rage at their intrusion. Is it possible that we dislike them because they are too much like us? In reality they are simply political refugees and they should be granted political asylum. The question is: are they becoming us or are we becoming them?
Still, the problems associated with the flight of the Mexican people have adversely impacted the U.S. economy. They have saturated the labor force, they have stressed limited social service resources, they have swelled school classrooms, and they have overburdened hospital emergency rooms. In these lean economic times, how can the U.S. afford to support all of these new immigrants when it cannot even afford to take care of its own people?
The U.S. can seal its borders and it can attack the violence of the drug cartels, but those actions will not solve the problems. The plight of the Mexican people rests solely on the shoulders of the Mexican government and President Calderon. Mexico is not a poor country, but half of the Mexican citizens are poor. Mexico's economic policies and the disproportionate concentration of wealth are responsible for the conditions which forced their citizens to seek refuge in the U.S.. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Mexican government to enact the necessary reforms to reverse these conditions. It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to issue an ultimatum to Mexico: "either correct the economic inequities in Mexico or the U.S. will seal its border, impose trade sanctions, and cease all economic aid. To prevent the U.S. from following this same path of self-destruction, the U.S. Government will have to reorder its own distribution of wealth and income.
Mexico offers a clear picture of a nation which has embraced limited government, low taxes, scarce social services, and concentrated wealth - and that, without a strong, widely dispersed, large active military to support. The U.S. has been steered toward government deregulation and corporate control for the past 30 years. Without a change in course, the U.S. is destined to repeat their failure. Many in the U.S. Congress and many aspiring candidates will continue to pursue and campaign for this agenda, but does the U.S. really want to be like Mexico?
1. Mexico - Poverty and Wealth (source: Encyclopedia of Nations)
2. Mexico at a glance (Source: US Embassy fact sheet)
3. Tax Rates Around The World http://www.worldwide-tax.com/
4. Mexico: What Do Third-world Countries Share with the U.S.? (source: The Smirking Chimp)
5. "State of War" Nuevo Leon in 2010 (source: Borderland Beat)
6. In Mexico, High Poverty, Concentration of Wealth Among the Few, Sparks More Immigration
7. Distribution of wealth returns to Great Depression levels
8. Radical concentration of wealth is destroying capitalism