Last month I posted an item that generated a great deal of critical email from folks in the southwest and southern California. You can read the prior post here, “On Mexico, Terrorism, Cross-Border Violence, and U.S. Interests.” A colleague sent me a link yesterday on a related matter from Michelle Malkin’s site that caught my attention, Mexican Army Invades Arizona Again, along with a series of other posts about U.S.-Mexico border security matters. In a nutshell, U.S./Mexico border violence continues and it will not cease until our colleagues in Mexico City get a handle on out of control central government spending, waste, fraud, and abuse.
There is nothing extraordinary about border skirmishes. They are ancient and can occur throughout the world wherever large populations of different peoples live close to one another. Nations have fought wars over borders. Other modern-day border hot spots include the Kashmir, China-India, several in Africa and South America, and, of course, the most well-known border conflict around, Israel and her neighbors. With regards to the U.S./Mexico border, Mexico must do a better job controlling outbursts.
The short-term consequences of allowing border tensions to flare include loss of innocent life or jailed U.S. Border Patrol Agents for doing their jobs. If we allow border tensions to fester, it will also fuel some bad actors and weaken our defenses. It is a soft underbelly and groups such as al-Qaeda, the Zapatistas, and drug cartels know it and will exploit it to gain access to the U.S. If the Mexican military cannot control its solidersat the border, what message does that send to potential terrorist plotters?
When Mexican nationals vote with their feet and seek jobs in the United States, they are telling their political leaders that they have failed. They have failed to cut wasteful government programs that are a drain on the economy. They have failed to create jobs. They have failed to empower the state governments. They have failed to deliver the basic services taxpayers demand of a federal government, safety and security. The Mexican government is too big, too bloated with bureaucrats, and in need of reform.
Until Mexico has a leader that is willing to tackle the sprawling Mexican federal bureaucracy, Mexicans who live in areas under served by the federaleswill continue to flee to the U.S., the drug cartels will flourish, and the violence at the border, and throughout Mexico, will increase. The irony is that Mexico’s federal government, while extremely bureaucratic, is not that powerful (this dates back to PRI government decentralization that was well intentioned but poorly executed).
Abject poverty, poor healthcare, and a lack of jobs is the perfect recipe for illegal immigration to the U.S. No matter how much we pump into the Mexican economy through NAFTA trade, if the Mexican bureaucracy at the federal and state levels keeps getting in the way through taxes and over-regulation, the Mexican people will never be able to prosper. It will never be a fully fledged opportunity society, but a country in which significant portions of its people are living in a dependency society – a society that looks to the government
One area the dramatically illustrates Mexico’s problems with federal power is their oil sector. Mexico is one of the world’s biggest oil producers; that is at least until now. Billions of pesos have been invested in a failed Mexican state that, up until a few years ago, was able to sustain Mexico’s socialized health care system and other entitlement structures. Yet, because the Mexican oil industry is in government hands, it too is heading into tough financial straits and the oil is running out.
Mexico’s outdated ban in private investment in the oil sector harkens back to a time of extreme nationalism in Mexican politics. To his credit, President Felipe Calderón has tried to break that state monopoly but he has met with stiff resistance in his own party and others in the Congress. Yet, the only way that Mexico will be able to find new oil will be to partner up with private investors, let’s hope Americans.
Every now and then a Mexican politician will criticize the United States about our immigration laws or the state of things at the border. But think about it, if things were so bad on our side of the border, then why do people prefer to risk their lives to get to the other side? The fact is that under our legal system, we treat illegal aliens much better than an illegal alien in Mexico would be treated. Just ask any Central American that has been caught at Mexico’s southern border.
If the Mexican federal government wants to curb illegal immigration to the U.S., then it must start by fundamentally changing how it manages taxpayer monies. The solution lies in Mexico City, not at the U.S.-Mexico border and surely not in Washington, DC. It can start by lifting the ban on private investment in Mexico’s oil sector.
Mexico City could use an injection of free market capitalism and leaders with an entrepreneurial bent that can propel the hard-working Mexican people to new political and economic heights. Until then, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans a day will continue to seek greener pastures in the United States and U.S./Mexico border tensions will remain the same.