Borders are not about political lines
Posted by Elena del Valle on October 3, 2006
By Patrick Osio, Jr.
Patrick Osio, Jr., editor, HispanicVista.com
Photo: Patrick Osio, Jr.
International borders are not about political lines dividing countries. Borders are about people living across each other separated by a political line. When people divided by borders are of different cultures, speak different languages and there is significant economic disparity between them the differences often become political problems.
In the Western Hemisphere most border political problems do not start, or are sustained, due to language or cultural differences. These differences may exacerbate the problems. The roots of most political problems exist where there is an economic disparity between the two divided nations. The greater the disparity, the greater the political problems.
Thus when the problems are not cultural or language, rather economic disparity, it makes little difference what the names or world locations of neighboring countries. So North Korea is to China what Mexico is to the US; Lesotho is to South Africa what Mexico is to the US; Guatemala is to Mexico what Mexico is to the US, and on it goes.
When there is no economic disparity, the political problems between countries are mostly based on historical issues, commercial rivalries and in modern times, environmental issues.
The US has two countries separated by the political line we call border, Canada and Mexico. The economic disparity between the peoples of Canada and the US is of little consequence thus the political problems based on the border as a dividing line were, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack, for the most part non existent, though there are Canadians living and working illegally in the US. And since 9/11 the political border problems the US has with Canada are perceptions that Canada is not doing enough to stop terrorists from crossing into the US.
Along the US-Mexico border the situations is dramatically different. The economic disparity between the two countries is so great that simply stating it in general terms cannot describe its enormity.
To better understand. Unskilled or semi-skilled factory workers in the US earn $11.30 an hour; in Mexico $1.13. A US skilled factory worker earns $16.90 an hour; in Mexico $2.79. An office building janitor in the US earns $9.37 an hour; in Mexico $0.87. A US store clerk earns $8.91 an hour; in Mexico $1.67. A US plumber earns $26.97 an hour; in Mexico $2.50.*
How long do workers in the above job examples have to work for some basic staples like: half-gallon milk; 10-tortilla pack; 1-lb butter; 1-lb Cheddar cheese; 1.42-liter corn oil; 1-lb potatoes; 1-whole chicken; 1-dozen eggs?*
The US factory worker: 1-hour 45-minutes – Mexican worker: 9-hours 16-minutes; US skilled factory worker: 1-hour 5-minutes – Mexican worker: 3-hours 34-minutes US office building-janitor: 1-hour 57-minutes – Mexican janitor: 11-hours 29-minutes; US store clerk: 2-hours 3-minutes – Mexican store clerk: 5-hours 58-minutes US plumber: 45-minutes – Mexican plumber: 3-hours 59-minutes.*
The above costs of basic staples take into consideration the difference in costs between the US and Mexico: chicken at 99-cents per lb in the US versus 81-cents in Mexico; potatoes in the US at 99-cents per lb versus 47-cents in Mexico; the US corn oil at $3.49 versus $1.78 in Mexico; US Cheddar cheese at $4.99-lb versus $2.24 in Mexico and so on.*
Mexican farmworkers earn less than 80-cents an hour, but a great number of farms have and continue to shut down unable to compete with US citizen-tax founded farm subsidized products exported to Mexico, creating high rates of unemployment, driving farm workers to the US seeking employment in agricultural fields.
For millions of Mexicans in other jobs their earnings do not provide sufficient income to provide the basic necessities to support a family, so they cross the political line without official permission in search of economic opportunity, and most find it rather easily. Due to the massive numbers crossing, a political problem has been created in the US.
The economic disparity in wages coupled with job availability in the US are the root problems causing political problems between the US and Mexico. So what does America, the country made great by immigrants, propose doing to solve the root problems?
Builds fences and militarizes the border, declare those desperate job-seekers felons, criminalize aiding them in any way, deny their children education, prohibit renting them shelter and classify them as terrorists to ease the American conscience.
If such laws are enacted, may our Lord have mercy on our beloved America.
*(Wage and price comparisons from: International UE at: http://www.ueinternational.org/shop/index.php)
Patrick Osio is the Editor and Columnist for HispanicVista.com — an Internet public interest weekly publication. Patrick also writes a monthly column, The Connection, for the San Diego Metropolitan Magazine (http://www.sandiegometro.com/), which have garnered 5 awards from the SD Society of Professional Journalists. For over 15 years, he was a consultant to the private and public sector on trans-border business and economic affairs. He is a frequent lecturer on U.S.-Mexico issues and a frequent guest on radio talk shows.
Great article, Patrick
Nothing to add except to agree wholeheartedly with Martha. Thank you for this, Patrick. Those figures and the disparity make for a very effective presentation of the issue. The national dialogue needs more voices like yours.
It is a disgrace that people in certain parts of the world have to live in disparity compared to their neighbors. However, allowing them to have the same freedoms and wages that we is not fix the problem. Communism was an attempt at leveling out the field so that everyone had income, housing, food, etc. and it proved to be a failure. People need to work diligently within the countries they live in to improve conditions THERE, not run from them. If everyone runs, nothing will improve. It takes, guts, gumption and perserverance to change the historical cycle of poverty. Until people attempt to make changes in their own countries and in their own situations they can’t expect that running from the problem will make it go away.
I agree with your analysis of the situation. But I also believe it is time to start empowering the peoples of Mexico so that they may have the freedom to create the Life they desire and require. I am talking about Self empowerment about their own well BEing.
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Mexico is responsible for its own plight. Mexicans have no right to come to this country without our permission. The U.S. is only protecting its self interests by building a fence and trying to control immigration, as is its right under international law. Mr. Osio more appropriately should have asked what does Mexico proposed to do about its situation? It would appear the U.S. is treated a wrong doer by defending its sovereignty, just as every nation in the world is entitle to. God help us and the Mexican people when we have leaders with such a convoluted way of thinking.
NAFTA was a balnket solution for the 3 nations involved. What works for the US does not necessarily work for Mexico. NAFTA was and is a diaster. Mexico voted for it. But yet Mexico will not enact provisions which would prevent the flooding of its market of cheap corn and wheat. Obviously, those top Mexican politicans are getting kickbacks from the corporations. But Mexico is so corrupt and non-democratic that after 100years still can’t get their act together to provide desecent social services for its people in terms of democracy, social income and industries. Heck, even the state run oil company is in dire straights now days, literally going bankrupt because of being sipphoned of its revenue by the corrupt politicians.
Don’t blame the US for Mexico’s problems. What does it take for Mexico to get its act together and help its own people.??
One of the things that always amazes and sickens me is that some US citizen Hispanics claim to be talking for all US citizen Hispanics, which is false. Most Hispanics in the US want the laws enforced and illegal aliens to stay in their own country where they belong (not invade and ruin other countries because their country is so screwed up).
The sad part is that those Hispanics who side with law breakers are giving a very bad name (by association) to all US citizen Hispanics and giving all Americans the wrong impression “that all US citizens Hispanics side with criminal invaders, otherwise known as poor little workers who think they have a right to go anywhere they damn well please no matter what the cost and impacts to others).
The solutions are not going to be found by imposing the sickness of Mexico onto the US, but by helping Mexico fix its own ill health – which starts by getting rid of its endemic corruption that saturates both its government and social constructs.
More US citizens Hispanics need to speak out against the invasion of their country (America) and against Mexico – or they need to consider moving to Mexico if they prefer to support that country more than their own. America deserves respect from all its citizens, and Hispanics are no exception.
The age-old pesky U.S.-Mexico border problem has taxed the resources of both countries, led to long lists of injustices, and appears to be heading only for worse troubles in the future. Guess what? The border problem can never be solved. Why? Because the border IS the problem! It’s time for a paradigm change.
Never fear, a satisfying, comprehensive solution is within reach: the Megamerge Dissolution Solution. Simply dissolve the border along with the failed Mexican government, and megamerge the two countries under U.S. law, with mass free 2-way migration eventually equalizing the development and opportunities permanently, with justice and without racism.