American Dream Goin’ South

American Dream Goin’ South

May 22, 2012

By John Seiler

People naturally move from depressed countries to thriving countries. That’s especially true when travel between the two countries is easy, as it is between the United States and Mexico.

Because so many Mexicans have come to the United States, pressures have risen to give even illegal immigrants access to tax-funded student loans. A writer I’ve read a lot over the years, Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly, writes the paper’s ¡Ask a Mexican! column. I like how he flavors his articles with a few Spanish words, much as H.L. Mencken did with German words a century ago.

In his current column, Arellano writes about the advance of the California Dream Act scholarships last year, whose actual official title is: the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. And about the federal Dream Act. He quotes the California law’s author, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who “ceaselessly supports DREAMers.”

Cedillo explained: “[S]tudents will have the opportunity to receive Cal Grants, Board of Governors Fee Waivers (for community-college students) and other state-funded scholarships.”

But the legislation comes too late. The California and American dreams have turned into economic nightmares, even as Mexico’s economy has turned into the real dream, leading immigrants to return home.

The Pew Hispanic Center’s recent report found:

“After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—most of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed, according to a new analysis of government data from both countries….”

Here’s Pew’s graph:

You’ll notice the previous time the numbers dropped: the 1930s. That was during the Great Depression, when many immigrants returned home because U.S. unemployment soared above 25 percent. It was a global depression, so people might not have gotten jobs back in Italy, France, Sweden or Mexico. More people were farmers back then, and a family farm could make us of extra hands.

Curiously, that’s a reason mentioned in this short RT video about current immigrants returning home:

This shows that what America is going through now may not really be the time after the Great Recession, but the middle part of the Greater Depression. Although the official California unemployment rate is 10.9 percent, the real level — including those working part time who want to work more and those who have given up looking for work — is 25 percent, just as during the 1930s, as I have reported.

A difference this time from the 1930s is that Mexico’s economy is not also in a slump, but is a hot tamale:

“First-quarter growth was 4.6 per cent compared with a year earlier, the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2010, prompting several analysts to upgrade 2012 growth forecasts.”

U.S. decline

The Pew study noted,

“It is possible that the Mexican immigration wave will resume as the U.S. economy recovers.”

However, this seems unlikely because U.S. economic growth will remain sluggish for many more years. In particular, residential and business construction, which employed hundreds of thousands of immigrants until the real-estate bust of 2006-07, remains overbuilt. Compared to a year before, home prices in April 2012 declined 3.1 percent in Los Angeles County and 2.3 percent in Orange County; although prices did rise 2.4 percent in San Diego county, and rose in the long-depressed counties of Riverside, 5.3 percent, and San Bernardino, 5.9 percent.

The reason the United States is so underperforming compared to Mexico is because of the nations’ debt loads. Everybody is seeing how high government debt is imploding the economies of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain (the PIIGS). But consider these numbers of public indebtedness by country. This is a U.S.-Mexico comparision I don’t think anyone else has made.

Debt by percent of GDP (CIA and Eurostat data), least to most:

8.7 Russia
10.1 Hong Kong
30.3 Australia
37.5 Mexico
38.7 Switzerland
54.4 Brazil
43.5 China
69.3 Spain
82.0 Germany
83.5 Canada
86.5 France
103 United States
108.4 Ireland
108.5 Portugal
120.9 Italy
165.3 Greece
208.2 Japan
230.8 Zimbabwe.

Mexican and U.S. debt

Some comments: Japan is an anomaly because it has borrowed heavily to rebuild after the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami. Although its high debt before that had helped retard economic growth during the past two “lost decades” there.

Zimbabwe, of course, is an economic basket case from dictator Mugabe’s socialist confiscation policies. Spain’s relatively low debt, 69.3 percent, means it might fare rather well in the ongoing European crisis.

The big thing to notice is that Mexico’s debt is just 37.5 percent of GDP, a bit lower than Switzerland’s 38.7 percent. ¡Excelente!

By contrast, the U.S. debt is 103 percent. Terrible. That’s more than two-and-a-half times as large as Mexico’s ratio.

A big reason for the U.S. debt is the huge military commitment overseas. By contrast, Mexico has no imperial ambitions. Its war on drug dealers — foisted on it by by Tio Samuel — at least wastes the money at home.

Mexico also has a young population, whereas America’s is shifting into its Baby Boomer retirement phase, in which well-educated Boomers drop out of the work force — and, as they head for the links, start soaking up Social Security and Medicare, not to mention Metamucil.

Government debt is like family credit cards. Suppose your family income is $60,000, which it is for many Californians. A 38.7 percent debt means you own $23,220 on the plastic. Not great, but manageable if you’re frugal.

But a 103 percent debt is $61,800, which is difficult even to sustain, let alone pay off.

It’s true that the U.S. government currently pays really low interest rates. That’s because the Federal Reserve Board is keeping rates low. As my colleague Wayne Lusvardi has shown, artificially low interest rates are devastating the private economy because families, in their private savings, actually are losing money from inflation. So the low interest rates that help the government debt are undermining the private economy that is the foundation of the whole government structure. That’s why I expect the Fed, after the election, will jack up interest rates, just as Fed Chairman Paul Volcker did in the late 1970s to kill the 1970s inflation.

But that will meain higher interest paid on the federal government’s current national debt of $15.7 trillion — and rising.

It’s a Catch 22 that cannot have a good ending.

Recent economic history

Mexico also has had more pro-market presidents in recent decades. President Reagan obviously was pro-market. But his successor, President George H.W. Bush, increased taxes in 1991, crashing the economy. In 1993-94, President Bill Clinton raised taxes and tried to push Hillarycare into law.

But after his actions led to the Republicans taking over Congress in 1995, Clinton switched. He dropped Hillarycare; cut taxes — twice; and enacted welfare reform. The dot-com boom ensued. A mild recession began in 2000. But Clinton left office enjoying the first budget surpluses in 30 years.

In 2001, President George W. Bush panicked after 9/11, and went on a wild spending spree, turning the Clinton surpluses into record deficits. At the same time Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, also panicked over unbased economic worries after 9/11 and debased the dollar, causing the inflation we’ve suffered since then; and kept interest rates artificially low, sparking the boom-bust in housing. (There were other reasons for the housing boom-bust, including shady bank loans and government easy loans to homeowners.)

Bush’s tax cuts would have helped — but they expired in 2010. Since about 2008, this has caused great uncertainty, because no one knows if the extensions since then will continue, so no one can plan for future tax policy.

After the September 2008 financial crisis, Bush also panicked and signed the infamous TARP bailout of Wall Street, paid for by Main Street. He also imposed the Sarbanes-Oxley absurd regulations on business.

President Obama has continued the Bush policies of wild spending, record deficits and hyper-regulation, especially Obamacare and the absurd Dodd-Frank financial reform disaster. Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has continued the Greenspan policies of easy money and too-low interest rates.

Although America needs financial and business reform, Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank were bureaucratic monstronsities that have destroyed businesses and jobs.

Republicans are saying that Mitt Romney, if he becomes president, will improve things. That’s unlikely. His Romneycare in Massachusetts when he was governor there was the model for Obamacare. Romney only would tinker with Obamacare, not get rid of it entirely. And he’s not serious about spending cuts. Any reduction in the trillion-dollar deficits must include major cuts to defense spending. But Romney, on his Web site, even attacks Obama’s proposed “cuts,” which really are just a slowing of massive increases that Obama would continue. Romney admits, “This will not be a cost-free process.”

There is little indication that America will veer away from barreling toward a Greek-style crisis.

Mexican history

Now consider Mexico’s recent presidents. The 1994 devaulation crisis crashed the Mexican economy. But the New York Times later reported of new Presidente Ernesto Zedillo, elected that year, “[T]he tight-money policies and fiscal discipline that he imposed after [the crisis] brought the broad economic indicators back to healthy growth in two years.”

Further free-market reforms have been enacted by Presidente Vicente Fox, elected in 2000, and current Presidente Felipe Calderon, elected in 2006.

Let’s compare them: Since 1994, Mexico has had 17 years of economic policies, 1995-2012, promoting free markets. The United States has had only six years promoting markets, 1995-2000, all under Clinton. The Bush-Obama years, 2001-2012, have been 11 years of assaults on the private economy.

Of course, Mexico has its own problems, especially the horrible drug-gang violence. But that was caused because the drug “war” was pushed on Calderon by Bush. In 2007, Bush gave Calderon $500 million in U.S. taxpayers’ money to heighten the war. Calderon should have told the Yanqui caudillo to keep his money. But it’s hard to say no to a bully with 10,000 nuclear weapons. The Bush-Calderon “war” on drugs meant drug-gang retaliation across Mexico. Of course, almost all the dope ends up in the United States. And the drug “war” is pointless, because the dope still is readily available at low prices. Mexico pays the price in blood for Yanquis getting high.

Perhaps Mexico’s next presidente, elected this year, will reverse this process, and even legalize drugs, as has been urged by ex-Presidente Fox.

After Portugal legalized drugs a decade ago, drug use actually declined. Drug addiction has been treated as a medical, not a criminal, problem. With no profit motive, the pushers don’t push drugs on kids, or fight turf wars.

A combination of continued economic growth and ending the drug violence through legalization would turbocharge the attractiveness of Mexico’s economy. Likely millions more immigrants to the United States would return home.

Goin’ South

Not only that. Millions of gringos would head South, seeking jobs and freedom. Among the many ways Mexico is freer than El Norte, South of the border you can smoke and drink most anywhere. And you can buy Cuban cigars legally.

The United States government still imposes an embargo on most Cuban goods, especially cigars, because of fears that the Soviet Union will use Cuba as a base for a Red Army invasion, as in the 1984 movie “Red Dawn.” Except that the Soviet Union dissolved 21 years ago. Now we know who’s been using all the drugs the U.S. government confiscated from Mexican drug gangs.

As millions of gringos move South to pursue the bright Mexican Dream, we’ll soon hear complaints about the Yanquis “taking Mexican jobs.” Yanqui defenders will say they’re only “doing jobs Mexicans won’t do.”

And for their children attending university, gringo parents will insist on the Mexican government passing a “Mexican Dream Act.”


Write a comment
  1. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 21 May, 2012, 21:14

    It’s all over! Ohhhhh Noooooo—— buy gold!! Head for the bunkers! Grab your guns!!!!

    Reply this comment
  2. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 21 May, 2012, 21:25

    LOL “uncertainty” no one can plan for our tax futures! —LOL Oh man John that is right out of the Republican talking point kool aid !!!! Bravo !!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 21 May, 2012, 21:32

    Interesting – and mostly accurate – take. Agreed – the drug war is a disaster.

    Arrellano is an entertaining writer to be sure. He can also be a complete putz, as the slightest objection to unfettered illegal immigration brings forth a torrent of F-bombs and charges of being a “troglodyte racist” (one of Melonhead Gus’ favorite terms.)

    Reply this comment
  4. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 21 May, 2012, 23:05

    JS – I commend you for authoring such a blog on Mexico in relation to the US. You took a big risk here. And I like people who take risks. From your previous blogs on Mexico, immigration, etc.. I know that you are biased in favor of putting a happy face on Mexico and the mexicans who come to our country either legally or illegally. It’s very obvious. But that’s fine. I just want to put a little different twist on the material that you presented.

    First off, nobody really knows how many mexicans live in the US. The large majority are illegals. It could be 11M. It could be 15M. It could be 25M. We simply don’t know. And the government – as with all information they disseminate – game the numbers so that Americans don’t know the truth. So Pew or any of these other organizations are merely guessing at the number.

    You claimed that mexicans are fleeing back to their home country. I question that. Wired remittances that mexicans send back to Mexico from the US have actually increased since the 2008 meltdown. If Mexicans were going home it would seem that remittances would fall. They haven’t. They’ve gone up.

    Also, I have posted a link before that shows child tax credits going to ITIN accounts have skyrocketed in the last several years since the meltdown. ITIN numbers are primarily used by illegal foreigners – according to the Inspector General of Treasury Tax Administration. In 2010 ITIN accounts collected over $4B in child tax credits – even for children living in Mexico. I linked a short news segment on that very topic recently. If mexicans were leaving the US I contend that ITIN child tax credits paid out by the US taxpayer would not increase exponentially since 2003.

    Mexico encourages the poorest of their poor to violate US immigration laws and go to the US for employment and to leech off the US taxpayer. We know the mexican government has printed up brochures for poor mexicans telling them the best ways to evade our Border Patrol. You see, we are their safety valve. They send their problem population north while keeping their more valued (educated) population in Mexico. Consequently, just in California we spend upwards of $20B a year in our taxdollars for their education, healthcare, incarceration and welfare (yes, many illegals do collect welfare in the US).

    Mexico is not nearly as prosperous as you claim. They rank 52nd on the Human Development Index (HDI) which measures quality of life in various nations. Many banana republics outrank them. And don’t forget that remittances from the US are their 2nd largest contributor (next to oil) to GDP. Without those remittances Mexico would fall flat on its face. And Mexico makes tons of money off the drug trade. Maybe that’s why Mexico has been largely unsuccessful in combating it. Why would you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs even though tens of thousands are getting massacred??

    Mexico benefited from NAFTA while the US citizens got screwed. 90% of Mexico’s exports go to the US and Canada. Our jobs went south too. NAFTA was sort of like the merger of East and West Germany. The west got screwed while the east prospered. The US is analagous to West Germany while Mexico is like East Germany.

    And following the 2008 meltdown Mexico’s GDP was -6.5%. Yes, you read that right. -6.5%. We covered them with huge loans – otherwise Mexico would have collapsed.

    No one forces Mexico to supply us with drugs in America. Just like no one forces illegal mexicans to cross our borders, violate our laws and suck billions of taxdollar from citizen taxpayers. This is like blaming the homeowner when a burglar breaks into his house and steals his belongings. I have never heard such convoluted and pathetic rationalizations before in my life!

    Mexico has become a leech. They depend on America for their economic survival. Essentially, the government has done NOTHING to stop the massive culture of bribery and drug trafficking in Mexico.

    To make a comment that Americans will eventually flee into Mexico in search of work and demand a Dream Act for Americans is probably one of the most absurd comments I have ever read from a CWD reporter.

    You need some balance on this subject matter, JS. It’s extremely important to keep your articles within the realm of reality. I like CWD because you folks generally keep it real. But when you unlease these articles on Mexico I have to say you lose some credibility with me.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 22 May, 2012, 10:14

    50 familes in mexico own 90% of its wealth-that is the definition of a banana republic.

    Reply this comment
  6. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 10:16

    I found some interesting stats:

    A consulting firm De la Riva Group said that only 32 percent of the Mexico is “middle class,” defined as making the equivalent of between 13,500 pesos ($1,000) and 98,499 pesos ($7,360) per month…

    In contrast, the latest poverty statistics from Mexico’s government poverty monitor CONEVAL say that the number of people living below the poverty line in Mexico (2,114 pesos or $158 per month in urban areas, 1,329 pesos or $99 per month in the countryside) increased by 3.2 million between 2008 and 2010, and now stands at 52 million. This figure amounts to more than 46 percent of the country’s 112 million inhabitants. This directly contradicts optimistic accounts in the US media which imply that increasing standards of living in Mexico are causing immigration to fall, such bogus liberal based articles in the Sacramento Bee …

    I don’t think Americans have to worry anytime soon about needing to flee to Mexico to find a job or to demand a Dream Act in Mexico for Americans! 😀

    In fact, let’s make a deal with Mexico. Stay the hell out of America and stop sucking down our tax dollars – and we’ll gladly make Mexico off limits for US citizens. Deal???

    Reply this comment
  7. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 11:14

    “50 familes in mexico own 90% of its wealth-that is the definition of a banana republic”

    Absotutely, rex.

    Anybody who has seen the inside of a mexican jail or prison understands that Mexico is not the bastion of freedom as this article seems to claim. As an American citizen – go to Mexico and protest the mexican government in public and see what happens to you!!! HAH!

    Yet illegal mexicans can march by the hundreds of thousands in downtown LA WHILE CARRYING THE MEXICAN FLAG – and the cops just stare at them and smile!!

    Comparing freedoms in America and Mexico is like comparing the moral values of a politician and a Franciscan nun.

    We need some reality in these articles on Mexico and mexicans, please!

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 May, 2012, 12:20

    Disgusting waste of eyeballs!

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted Steele, Beet Framer
    Ted Steele, Beet Framer 22 May, 2012, 12:27

    right as rain Mr. U Haul

    Reply this comment
  10. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 12:53

    When birdbrains can’t argue against the facts without looking like dolts they will always attack the messenger. Right out of the liberal playbook! 😀

    Reply this comment
  11. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 13:04

    Btw, Teddy. If I had to pick a side and root for either: The mexicans or the public trough feeding swine – I would root for the mexicans.

    Stuff some of that in your stiletto pipe and suck on it!!! 😀

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 May, 2012, 13:51

    There are about 130 million Mexicans in North America. A huge labor pool in need of leadership for the common good. It will take a hundred years to making Mexico a capitalist and truly democratic nation. So relax-

    Reply this comment
  13. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 14:28

    “There are about 130 million Mexicans in North America. A huge labor pool in need of leadership for the common good. It will take a hundred years to making Mexico a capitalist and truly democratic nation. So relax-”

    If Mexico wants to be ‘capitalist’ then they can do it on their own damn dime and with their own jobs program. I am vehemently opposed to the American taxpayer subsidizing Mexico by taking care of their indigents as they swarm across our borders. Their US apologists should either join them in Mexico or we can make a VOLUNTARY MEXICAN CONTRIBUTION FUND that you generous people can finance with YOUR money to care for indigent illegals.

    Capitalism is great. But making me pay socialist taxes to help a corrupted and crime ridden country to convert to capitalism is a HUGE fail.

    We are not supposed to be Mexico’s sugar daddy. As a sovereign nation they should stand on their own and we should not bail them out.

    I suggest you read the FACTS in my previous posts and respond to those instead of making generalized statements that seek no solution.

    Reply this comment
  14. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 May, 2012, 14:53

    Frankly, who has the free time to read opionated rants that change little in the grand scheme out in the real world!

    Reply this comment
  15. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 15:06

    “Frankly, who has the free time to read opionated rants that change little in the grand scheme out in the real world!”

    At least my opinions offer solutions. That’s more than I can say for many here. My first solution would be to set up a separate tax account for all of Mexico’s apologists so that they could exclusively subsidize the illegal invaders who cross our borders. If they want to subsidize Mexico’s turtle-like pace towards ‘capitalism’ more power to them. But naturally the apologists would call that ‘unfair’. It’s only fair when the misery to spread to all! heh. The apologists think like socialists but call themselves ‘lovers of liberty’. Go figure.

    Reply this comment
  16. Ted Steele, Beet Framer
    Ted Steele, Beet Framer 22 May, 2012, 16:53

    Once again Mr Uhaul– exactly right!

    Reply this comment
  17. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 18:52

    Looks like waterboy is at it again. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  18. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 22 May, 2012, 21:24

    Ted. Are you a waterboy? I didn’t know!

    Reply this comment
  19. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 22 May, 2012, 22:08

    What do you think the odds are that Queeq = Ulysses?

    1 to 1?? 😀

    Reply this comment
  20. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 23 May, 2012, 06:00

    poor beezytool us math challenged! ™

    Reply this comment
  21. Mad Mick
    Mad Mick 23 May, 2012, 08:33

    Sniff sniff, what’s that I smell? Oh, it’s Libertarian bullsh*t!

    Reply this comment
  22. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 23 May, 2012, 11:12

    Poor Teddy.

    Paid $thousands$ for a college degree and nothing to show for it!!! 😀

    Reply this comment
  23. Ted Steele, Law King
    Ted Steele, Law King 23 May, 2012, 13:26

    is he still talking about himself? LOL ™

    Reply this comment
  24. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 23 May, 2012, 16:22

    You are a college professor’s dream student. Too dumb to understand what’s happening around him, yet capable of an income stream large enough to pay for tuition and fees!!!!!HAH!!!

    Reply this comment
  25. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 24 May, 2012, 05:59

    in psychological terms we say that Beezytard is “projecting”.

    Quick beezyboob…to Google!


    Reply this comment
  26. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 24 May, 2012, 07:31

    “in psychological terms we say that Beezytard is “projecting”.

    Your lame comebacks are an indication of ‘stunted intellect syndrome’. The only cure is to read or to associate with people who are smarter than you are. I’ve been trying to help you overcome your problem. But I can only do so much. If the horse refuses to walk over to the water hole I cannot force him to drink. So wallow in your ignorance. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  27. Sreejaya
    Sreejaya 15 July, 2012, 00:52

    In which scenario does this innisaty makes sense? Foolish as it may seem to some, I’d have to say the only reasonable situation where the US benefits from sending so much money to secure Mexico’s southern border (while blatantly neglecting our own) is the planning of a North American Union. Honestly, folks, why else does this make sense? Oh, I know. Maybe the US Treasury has been so busy printing off fiat money that it printed too much and ran out of things to do with it. I’d just as soon use it as toilet paper, if you ask me. Also consider why else an assumingly intelligent man, Ben Bernanke, is continuing to make ridiculous decisions for our economy that have positive short term results but devastating long term results. Maybe Ben knows the Union is coming so he realizes the US economy doesn’t matter long term ..just a thought from consipiracy land.

    Reply this comment

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