Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Today I Solve Illegal Immigration

It seems to me that there comes a time in every great crisis when the sheer force of human events demands an answer. People of all backgrounds are called upon to stand and deliver and most shrink away and try to hide from responsibility. Some people though respond to the challenge. They recognize problems as opportunity in disguise, and come forth with novel solutions that boldly define the future course of human events.

Today’s illegal immigration issue in the U.S. is one such problem, and I, your good buddy and host, am one such man.

Let’s buy Mexico!

Yup, you read that right. Now is the time for bold moves, for a country as great as ours to seize the day and chart our future course. We have a problem and there is only one peaceful solution, and that solution is to recognize reality and give the people of Mexico what they really want: their own little piece of the American Dream.

I know, I know, this is a completely nutty idea when first considered – believe me, I said to myself, “Gosh Pursuit, have you gone nuts?” All I ask is that you hear me out. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Buy Mexico? Why that would mean expanding our borders, adding a huge number of economically disadvantaged citizens, expanding the gulf between rich and poor in our country, completely re-working the political dynamic along ethnic, economic and geographic lines! It will never work!”

Ah, my panicky friends, I do not deny that the proposal is complex and fraught with risk, but need I remind you that so is our current path? Currently we have millions of undocumented aliens crossing our border every year. We don’t know who these people are, we don’t what they are doing, and yet we provide them with social services, we offer their children who are born here citizenship, and on the darker edge of the issue, some of us exploit their vulnerability. Viewed in isolation, purchasing Mexico does indeed seem risky. Viewed in the context of reality, it becomes, perhaps, an alternative worth examining.

So let’s examine it. First let’s look at what we know. There can be no argument that the country to our south, despite a population of good, hard working people is, by any measure, an economic and social failure. Despite sharing a common border with the most technologically and economically advanced country in the history of man, Mexico has been chronically unable to achieve any level of success that approaches that of the U.S. Numbers do not lie:

o Mexico’s economy is the 9th largest in the world with a GDP per capita of $6,884

o Yet this wealth is not shared broadly as evidenced by the fact that 53% of its people have an annual per capita income of less than $720

o The CIA Factbook lists 40% of the population as living below the poverty line, although the preceding statistic would suggest this is low

o Unemployment is officially listed as 3.9%, however at least 25% are listed as “underemployed” and U.S. border crossings suggest the problem is much worse

o Growth in GDP per hour has been flat for the last decade, and the gap with the U.S. has been widening for the last two decades (since Carter left office)

o Mexico ranks last in terms of educational attainment of OECD countries

I could go on and on, but you get the idea and none of this comes as a particular surprise. Every American is well aware of the numbers of Mexican citizens that are in our country working to make a better life for both the families that they have brought here, and the families that they send money to back home. While we welcome legal immigrants to this country with open arms, and are grateful for their work in making our lives easier, it is troubling to know that these people from a country separated from ours by nothing more than a legal border have so much less opportunity at home.

I think it is reasonable to assume that were opportunities in both countries similar, Mexican citizens would prefer to remain home and enjoy the land into which they were born. Or, more importantly, were opportunities equal citizens of both countries could move freely across borders trading goods and services, working in markets that most highly value their services, and enjoying the fruits of both of our great cultures. Were our countries on a more even basis Americans would view Mexico as something more than a land of vacation resorts, cheap labor, and illicit drug production.

The problem though, is that the economic imbalance with Mexico not only is not new, it is also getting worse, much worse. As a result we cannot expect the problem to correct itself, and waiting for the Mexican government to serve in its own people’s interest is by all evidence a hopeless cause. The fact remains that we cannot expect to solve illegal immigration from Mexico until the economies of the two countries offer similar opportunities to those looking for work. All the walls, Minuteman projects, border guards, and army patrols in a free world will never keep out desperate people searching for hope in the U.S.

This is why the current debate in Washington confounds me. Our leaders are arguing over various forms of a policy that will lead to the same ultimate end; illegal Mexican immigrants will be granted some sort of citizenship, or road to citizenship for having broken the law to get here. Mexican citizens from similarly desperate backgrounds seeing this, will be even more motivated than before the deal to find a way to get to the U.S. In ten years, we’ll engage in the same debate once more and the circle will become complete.

So something more must be done and the truth is that there is really only one answer:

One way or another we must buy Mexico.

Tomorrow: Buying Mexico; Not as hard as you’d think!

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