Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on the Mexican Politicians Who Lecture the U.S. on Immigration

While we aren’t hostile to Mexican immigrants who come to the United States, we are pretty contemptuous of Mexican politicians who lecture America on its immigration policy.

The reasons for this are laid out in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, written in late March just before the presidents of the United States, Canada and Mexico met in Cancún. The author, who teaches government at the College of William & Mary, explains:
. . . Mexico’s leaders have turned hypocrisy from an art form into an exact science as they shirk their obligations to fellow citizens, while decrying efforts by the US senators and representatives to crack down on illegal immigration at the border and the workplace.

What are some examples of this failure of responsibility?
  • When oil revenues are excluded, Mexico raises the equivalent of only 9 percent of its gross domestic product in taxes - a figure roughly equivalent to that of Haiti and far below the level of major Latin American nations. Not only is Mexico’s collection rate ridiculously low, its fiscal regime is riddled with loopholes and exemptions, giving rise to widespread evasion. Congress has rebuffed efforts to reform the system.
  • Insufficient revenues mean that Mexico spends relatively little on two key elements of social mobility: Education commands just 5.3 percent of its GDP and healthcare only 6.10 percent, according to the World Bank’s last comparative study.
  • A venal, “come-back-tomorrow” bureaucracy explains the 58 days it takes to open a business in Mexico compared with three days in Canada, five days in the US, nine days in Jamaica, and 27 days in Chile. Mexico’s private sector estimates that 34 percent of the firms in the country made “extra official” payments to functionaries and legislators in 2004. These bribes totaled $11.2 billion and equaled 12 percent of GDP.
  • Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, placed Mexico in a tie with Ghana, Panama, Peru, and Turkey for 65th among 158 countries surveyed for corruption.
  • Economic competition is constrained by the presence of inefficient, overstaffed state oil and electricity monopolies, as well as a small number of private corporations - closely linked to government big shots - that control telecommunications, television, food processing, transportation, construction, and cement. Politicians who talk about, much less propose, trust-busting measures are as rare as a snowfall in the Sonoran Desert.
Generations of leftist journalists, college professors, authors and activists have lamented the fact that the United States spends, as a percentage of Gross National Product, less than socialistic European nations.

But, by a massive margin, the most successful program of social uplift this nation has had has been its willingness to accept large numbers of immigrants. This was true circa 1900, when the immigration was virtually all legal, and it’s true in 2006, when the majority is probably illegal.

None of the socialistic nations of Europe has done so much to lift so many people out of poverty.

This is not to argue that massive illegality should be ignored, but it is to argue that immigration is good for the immigrants and its good for America.

And waiting for Mexico to get its economic act together isn’t a policy.


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