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Mexico's coming collapse

By Alan Caruba
web posted May 30, 2005

I received an email recently from a 55-year-old, unemployed American who had been to 14 States looking for work. He couldn’t find any, he said, because “I am not a Mexican.”

Despite a desire to work, he could not compete with the cheap wages Mexican illegals will take. They do so because wages in Mexico continue to leave a vast portion of that nation’s population in poverty, forced to live on $3 to $4 dollars per person a day.

According to data from the CIA, 40% of the Mexican population lives below the poverty line. The current population is estimated to be 106,202,900 people and the labor force is estimated to be 34.73 million. Despite being rich in natural resources, the Mexican economy is highly dependent on the US economy. We buy 84% of all Mexican exports, compared to Canada that buys a mere 1.8%. “Per capita income is one-fourth that of the US; income distribution remains highly unequal.” That’s a diplomatic way of saying a handful of Mexican elites own most of everything.

There are a lot of reasons advanced to explain why the Bush administration will do nothing to stop the flow of illegals across our southern border, the vast bulk of whom are Mexicans, but the one I had not heard until I received the email was that Mexico would collapse without the money sent back by the Mexicans, legal and illegal, among us. When you look at the economic data, it is the one explanation that begins to make sense.

Ignoring the financial and social impact that millions of illegal Mexican workers are having on America may well be the US government’s way of avoiding a tsunami of even more Mexicans crossing over in the wake of an economic disaster, the collapse of the Mexican economy.

The most dramatic change that the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement has had is the way it has emptied out whole sections of Mexico as its former citizens head north. People don’t do this because they have a choice. Mexico is not creating new jobs. It is, instead, sending its people here to take over all kinds of jobs that unemployed Americans no longer can get.

The World Bank confirms the CIA data that nearly half of the Mexican population is just as poor today as they were in the 1960s. That’s not slow growth. That’s no growth.

According to Bloomberg.com, “Mexico’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a year in the first quarter as US demand for the nation’s autos, textiles, and appliances declined.”

Surpassing oil and tourism, the estimated $20 billion in US dollars that Mexicans sent home last year is the mainstay of Mexico’s economy. When your main export is your citizens, your nation is in big trouble.

Moreover, Mexico has found a new competitor when it comes to exports. China has surpassed our southern neighbor as the top supplier to the US of a vast array of assembled goods, as well as textiles, office computers, metal parts, and prefabricated construction parts.

Mexico’s problems have become America’s problems despite all the hoopla about NAFTA. The failure to stem illegal immigration and all the problems that go with it will become a major political issue in the 2006 elections and beyond. It simply cannot be ignored, though the Bush administration is doing its best to do just that.

My correspondent is probably just one of thousands of able-bodied Americans who cannot get work because illegal Mexicans will take any job available, but even worse news for Americans is the growing trend that is out-sourcing of many white-collar jobs. Though it is hard to determine due to reporting procedures, there is no debate regarding the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs that will leave many Americans unemployed in the years directly ahead as their jobs migrate to India, China and other nations.

So while the potential of economic collapse of Mexico looms to the south of us, internally jobs are disappearing into cybersphere as workers in developing nations, receiving far less than American workers, are the beneficiaries of the way technology speeds aspects of globalization. Here again, the US government is taking no steps to address this looming crisis. If the US economy begins to falter, Mexico’s will tank.

Is anyone paying any attention to this? Well, I am and so is my out-of-work correspondent. Maybe you should, too?

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, May 2005

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