Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 28, 2006

Regime Change
for Mexico

Relax, I'm not advocating military action against our peaceful neighbors to the south. What I am suggesting is that the solution to the rising tide of Mexicans crossing our border is not going to be found in Washington, but Mexico City.

The hot issue right now is the 11 million “undocumented workers,” currently in the US and the millions more on their way. These are folks who jumped the border and are in the US illegally. We used to call them “illegal aliens,” but migrant advocacy groups have deftly replaced that with “undocumented workers,” a term that conjures up the image of a worker who forgot his or her wallet at home.

“Immigrants,” is another word that has is being misused in when used to describe Mexicans in the US illegally. Immigrants are folks who come to the US in an orderly, legalized manner to start new lives in a new country. Mexican workers crossing our border by the millions every year are not immigrating .. they are fleeing Mexico.

Okay, now that we have the terminology straight, back to my point.

We can pass all the immigration reforms we want, build walls and fences along the entire border, put cameras on every cactus, strap microphones on ground hogs and nothing will change until there's regime change in Mexico.

I know people in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones. The US is hardly in any position to nag other governments on matters of ethics or competency right now. But that's just what I'm gonna do. So, to those of you who may want to flame me with “you should talk,” emails... Okay, I get it. We need regime change too.

But Mexican politicians make our political bums look like candidates for sainthood. Mexico has institutionalized official corruption, corruption that reaches from the top offices, down through the ranks to the cop on the street. The country is rotten to it's core.

Mexico is rich in both natural resources and labor, a combination which under honest leadership should have long ago made it's people more like Canadians than the near-third world country folk most remain today. I mean how do you screw up a country with lots of oil, good weather, fabulous beaches and a population with work ethic that puts arian nations to shame?

Answer: By putting thieves in charge of the country.

Mexican corruption scandals go on and on
In what is seemingly a pattern, Mexican audiences are being repeatedly roused with illustrations of politicians engaged in corrupt activities and caught on videotape. In a progression of recent events, scandals have damaged the well-worn image of political parties in Mexico....The dramatic tape of Mexican Green Party (PVEM) president, Senator Jorge Emilio Gonzalez, negotiating a US$2 million bribe is still in the news.

Study: Mexico's Culture of Corrruption
In Mexico, corruption is perceived by various publics as widespread. Over 70% of respondents claimed that almost everyone or many in government are corrupt (Table 1), and over 85% in Mexico City agreed that corruption is widespread. Within the private sector, 39% of respondents said that businesses like theirs make extra-official payments to influence the content of laws, policies and regulations (8.5% of income is spent on such payments), while 62% said that businesses make extra-official payments to lower level officials (5.1% of income). Even among internal auditors within the federal government, 60% recognized as “frequent” the acts of corruption within the areas they supervise. ( Stephen D. Morris..Univ. of South Alabama. Dept of Political Science. )

Mexico's Corrupt Oil Lifeline
Mr. Cantu gave Pemex a decade of his working life. But he will never work there again. He can explain why in one word..."Corruption," he said, gazing at the refinery, 20 miles outside Monterrey in northern Mexico. "People being stepped on, forced to be corrupt — I hated that. There were a lot of things you had to shut up about. The bosses would kill to protect themselves. People were subjugated by fear."

Graft's Toll on Mexico
Corruption and environmental destruction

When a nation's treasury is treated like a pinada by successive administrations it leaves the nation with little to spend on infrastructure, job creation, education, health and the other “stuff” governments are supposed to provide. As a native Californian I've made many trips to Mexico. And my last trip five years ago I swore that was it. I would never go again. It was just too upsetting.

Upsetting? Yes. Call me strange, but I have a hard time feeling alright about sitting on a lovely beach, being served cold drinks by a waiter and para-sailing, when 100 yards down the beach a poor woman with six kids is doing her laundry in a polluted stream bed running through the front yard of her families rusted, corrugated tin and driftwood shack.

And then there's the Mexico police. Jesus, I'd rather just let a crook rob me blind than call the police in Mexico. Especially if the crook didn't leave me with enough money to bribe the cop so he did not arrest me on some trumped up charge until my family wired them money to pay a “fine” for a crime that cannot be found in the Mexican penal code.

Fiscal restraint in Mexican politics is defined as knowing just how much they can steal before the country falls completely apart. That's why that at any point in time Mexico is a nation right on the brink.

A nation so abused by it's own leaders inevitably becomes a nation of serfs. When the interests of the many are continually subjugated to the greed of the few, peasantry is always the result.

And so they flee... NOT immigrate, flee. They flee north where they can earn $6 - $10 an hour, rather than $4.50 a day. They flee with the ragged children in tow, for real education, first-world medical care, clean streets and (comparatively) honest officials.

Nothing Washington does about immigration reform will change that until we force Mexico to change how it's governed. We should insist on it.

First understand the real purpose of illegal Mexican immigration to the US -- it provides crooked Mexican politicians and businesses to continue being crooked. The US/Mexican border is a safety valve, providing an outlet for the otherwise hopeless frustrations of the Mexican people which otherwise might spark domestic revolt – and regime change.

That's why Mexican President, Vincente Fox, -- and virtually every other Mexican politician -- become apoplectic whenever Washington talks about real border security. That's why they were so angry with the grassroots “Minutemen” project. They know that any measures on the US side that slow the flow of Mexican workers north represents a risk to “their thing,” (as John Gotti would put it.)

Oh, and then there's this little related fact. Mexicans working in the US send nearly $20 billion a year back into Mexico, replacing the $20 billion corrupt Mexican officials and connected businesses skim off the Mexico budget.

Too harsh? Facts often are. And those are the facts. Two nations are threatened by the status quo in Mexico: the US and Mexico. The US has already lost millions of blue and gray collar jobs, once the foundation of America's middle class. Construction was one of the few bright spots since they can't outsource the building of American homes. But illegal immigrants from Mexico, willing to work for half what Americans demand, have taken many construction jobs and will take them all eventually.

In America's inner cities, already hard hit black communities are getting the double whammy from cheap Mexican labor. Every passing day they scarf up the unskilled jobs that were for inner city blacks the first rungs on the ladder out of poverty, the alternative a life of of welfare or crime.

We may not have a neighbor rattling traditional weapons of mass destruction at us. But what Mexico is imposing on the US, our budgets, our schools our hospitals – and now on our government itself – may be even more deadly than traditional WMD in the long run. Mexico's fleeing modern-day peasants have already depressed wages here.

And now they are also becoming a political force with which to reckon. They have built alliances with those who came before them and gained citizenship (largely thanks to the Ronald Reagan amnesty.) Those alliances are now expressing themselves in Washington as both parties try to figure out top look like they are doing something about illegal immigration without pissing off the growing Hispanic voting demographic. That is likely to translate in nothing meaningful being done about illegal immigration.

But, as I said above, there's really not much Washington can do about it. The real solution has to be found in Mexico. And that must begin with regime change.. top to bottom. A national housecleaning.

If George Bush really wants to spread democracy and the rule of law, as he says, he might want to try it on a nation closer to home for a change. And he wouldn't even need troops. Just some straight talk with and about the regime in Mexico.

Readers Respond

Bang On!

DeLong, Thoma, Angry Bear, Hamilton and even Legal Fiction have recent posts. My comments thereon include:

Mexico is long since a failed state. Now, their failure is bringing down the US. If the US employment to population ratio is ~65% and 11 million of these employed are illegals then the employment to population ratio of US citizens is ~62% and the real unemployment rate of US citizens is ~12%. In a sense it began with the replacement of unionized meat packers in the 80s. For the ~11 million illegals holding jobs 11 million US poor are unemployed and those who do have a job are working for about half what they should be paid. Illegal immigration has the same effect as off shoring.

Good comments all. By the measure of their inability to provide for their people, economies all over the world are failing. Mexico's has long since been a failure as evidenced by the millions living in abject poverty there and the more than 10 million illegally in the US. Albeit better concealed, the US economy has long since failed to provide for our people; most notably since the 80s. An example of how it has come to be in America: In the 80s the meat packing unions were busted and their workers replaced with illegals. Per BLS, the number of people working stayed the same, perhaps rose, but US workers were displaced from jobs that payed a living wage, jobs that allowed them to educate their children. In the US, just as in Mexico City, homelessness and poverty grew. Millions of US citizens have effectively disappeared. If the US employment to p opulation ratio is ~65% and 11 million of these employed are illegals then the employment to population ratio of US citizens is ~62% and the real unemployment rate of US citizens is ~12%. For the ~11 million illegals holding jobs 11 million US poor are unemployed and those who do have a job are working for about half what they should be paid. Illegal immigration has the same effect as offshoring. And, what evidence that Mexico is the better off for this illegal immigration?

If they were to arrest a handful of restaurant owners and construction contractors today, no immigrants would need be arrested. They would go home. The problem would solve itself.

Some call it compassion. I call it greed. Poor Americans call it getting worse off. Illegals are here because businesses can make more money hiring them than they could if they hired US workers and it forces wages down so that US workers have to work for less. Then, the business owners talk about patriotism and send the children of the illegals and the poor US workers off to fight for America.

Ken Melvin

The US can use "precision smart bombs" on Mexico City to get the attention of the current regime. Then we can use our superior military power to push back the millions of "illegal aliens" to the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Just as long as we don't make the mistake of following them all the way to Mexico City and destroying their entire infrastructure. That would make us responsible for rebuilding their country. If all else fails, we can always use a page out of the Israeli playbook and build a concrete and barbed-wire fence along the entire length of the US-Mexico border.

But this is all pure fantasy because the big corporations WANT the cheap Mexican labor that DOES suppress the minimum wage in America. Let's see if I've got this straight -- outsourcing plus "legal" illegal immigration add up to a huge monetary drain on the average American's bank account while big business keeps reaching new and obscene profit levels. Ain't it great living in the land of the free and the home of the brave during the 21st century! Thank you Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld for everything you have sacrificed since Nixon was in the White House. It took you a few years longer than you expected, but you have finally and fully implemented the Project for the New American Century.

You fellows look fabulous wearing the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Jeff Morgan, Rochester, MN
You hit it right on the head, the so called undocumented, Bush and other Presidents should have been telling the corrupt leaders years ago get you house in order,this guy Fox is a real fox sitting on all that oil and people living in squalor. I even have to agree with the blowhard Lou Dobbs, but our leaders want the votes.

Ole Vet

Excellent article about the illegal alien problem and its causes. Even the corrupt lackeys around Bush know what the real problem is but I suspect they don't care because as long as their corporate bosses are happy with the cheap labor there's no problem for them. They figure they'll be insulated by their wealth and they'll all be dead before it really gets bad enought to affect the fat-cat class anyway.

You're right about the problem for what passes for the Mexican government if the safety valve at the border gets closed. If that happens the Mexicans will be forced to deal with their own corrupt, greedy government and the thieves that run it know that. That's why they even assist people who want to come here illegally. Unfortunately, I don't expect much of anything to change. Bushco doesn't care about the dwindling middle class as long as the sheeple among them continue to vote for his party out of fear and against their own interests. His corporate buddies are happy with lower wages and support him. The media, for the most part, is too cowardly to tell the truth and too many of our fellow citizens aren't paying attention or are afraid anyway. The Bushies are getting away with setting up their unaccountable fascist government because not enough of us pay attention and too many react to the fear mongering that they're so good at.

I don't know, Steve. It's discouraging. The solutions are there but our corrupted Congress and our corrupt and incompetent administration aren't going to deal with it. Another amnesty will double the number of illegals here unless the border is dealt with first, and that ain't gonna happen.

Have a good day anyway.

George Piter

And further more why not encourage the influx of undocumented worker (rather than illegal immigrants) as Bushs' cronies love it; instead moving their companies to Mexico for the cheap labour they just wait for the cheap labor to show up on their factory door steps, or their hotels (cheap Mexican housekeeping labor), etc.

By using lingo like undocumented workers Bush changes the language to make it acceptable because for the above reason he finds in acceptable for cheap labour to be brought into the country to benefit his cronies bottom line and to ease manufacuring from going overseas.

I was amazed when we were in Arizona last year how the Mexican's line up/hangout at the highways overpass exits in Phoenix and then pickup trucks come along, driven by white men, load a bunch of these Mexicans into the back of the pick up for a day of labor at your local "under the table" construction site. There are the minute men and then there are the men that really want these immigrants in the US,

Your right, great, cheap labour.

As always, Kathy

Hey Steve,
I've been watching this immigration thing for weeks and cannot comrehend why no one in Washington can figure out that Mexico itself is the problem. Oh, I forgot. Our politicians want the Hispanic vote. Good sense has nothing to do with it. Someone should write a song like Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With it?" and rename it "What's reality got to do with it?"