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AMERICA VERSUS MEXICO'S PONZI PYRAMID SCHEME
Jan. 22, 2006
If there is anything people hate more than buying a used car, filling
out tax forms, or visiting their attorney’s office it is meeting the
glassy eyed enthusiasm of some acquaintance who wants to recruit you
into a multi-level-marketing scheme. You know the ones. If you can make
a list of everyone you know, and they can make a list of everyone they
know, and each of you spend a few hundred dollars a month on some
assorted widget or another, in three to five years you could be living
on your own Caribbean island.
Fortunately, in the United States, the worse of these Ponzi pyramid
schemes are illegal. But, imagine for a moment if they were not. Imagine
also if, rather than toothpaste, insurance, and Saint John’s Wort, the
product you were purchasing was the right to build a shed in your back
yard, open a business, or avoid police harassment? And, what if this
extortion was institutionalized to the point that it became the price of
trying to live a normal life?
This is the case of the average citizen of Mexico. In 2005, a survey
conducted by Transparency International showed that between 31 and 45%
of Mexicans had someone in their family forced to pay a bribe to a
public official in the past year.
Corruption is an endemic aspect of Mexican government. Extending from
the local police who routinely shake down people who commit minor
infractions for cash all the way to top government officials who
habitually cut deals with political cronies and drug traffickers to
shape Mexican law.
After endless decades, this culture of corruption has taken its toll.
Over 20% of the Mexican population lives in poverty, only 62% of people
have access to clean drinking water, 25% of the economy is illegal, and
in the oil rich state of Chiapas; 40% of all homes have dirt floors and
21% have no electricity. All in a country with a $1 trillion gross
Mexico has all the resources to develop a successful economy and enable
its citizens to earn a comfortable, modern life, but chooses not to do
so for the simple fact that the government is unwilling to stop
enriching themselves at the expense of average people.
Faced with these realities, is it any wonder 46% of the Mexican
population would like to immigrate to the United States?
It would seem obvious that any responsible government in Mexico’s
situation would take steps to fight the corruption that is ruining the
lives of so many of its citizens, reform itself, and reverse these
trends. Mexican President Vicente Fox tried after he was elected in
2000, but all of his reform efforts failed soon after the Mexican
bureaucracy realized that reform would mean they would have to stop
running back to the cash cows of extortion, bribery and illegal
kickbacks that have financed their lifestyles.
But now, President Fox has found an answer to solving the problems of a
stagnating economy and crushing poverty that does not require him to
confront Mexico’s political corruption: illegal immigration.
Why solve problems when you can export them? It is obvious that almost
half of all Mexicans do not want to be there, so why bother wasting all
the time an effort on making Mexico less of a lousy place to live and
just let them go?
In fact, encourage it. Not only does illegal immigration reduce the
number of impoverished citizens who might get mad enough to vote you out
of office, but it also creates an outstanding, if unauthorized, source
of national income in the form of family remittances. Last year,
Mexicans living in the United States sent over $17 billion in cash
remittances to their families in Mexico, constituting the largest single
source of income into the Mexican economy, outpacing even the oil industry.
However, more important to many Mexican officials, illegal immigration
creates vast new opportunities for them to do what they do best; collect
bribes and extort cash.
Just an in any other Ponzi pyramid scheme, eventually the money starts
to dry up. The only way to keep the scheme afloat is to either find new
population areas where the numbers of victims of your system have not
yet reached a saturation point, or those already caught up in your
deception suddenly find new sources of income to give you. The second is
the case for Mexico. Mexicans working in the United States send their
money home trying to help their families survive, only to see it
extorted from their loved ones by corrupt Mexican officials
Is it any wonder Mexico is fighting to prevent the United States from
securing its borders? If America were to stop the flow of illegal
immigrants, then Mexico would be forced to deal with its own problems
and actually address the issues that have forced millions of its
citizens to want to flee the nation, namely, the incompetence of its
Mexico has recently claimed the United States’ efforts to secure its
borders are an international human rights abuse. However, the only human
rights abuse occurring in this case is Mexico’s treatment of its own
citizens. It is not the United States’ responsibility to act as Mexico’s
economic savior and pull its people out of poverty, but to stop the flow
of illegal immigrants, and force Mexico to change itself. Truthfully, it
is the only moral decision we can make.
© Justin Darr
Justin Darr is a freelance writer living in the Philadelphia area with
his wife and twin children. He can be read widely on the Internet and in
publications across North America and in Europe.
Justin Darr is a staff writer for The New Media Alliance, and proud
member of the MoveOff Network.