Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Rubber Mark's" Idea Isn't All That Silly, But Social Justice Would Be Better

There has been much hay made for a few days about a proposal by U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Illinois, for the U.S. to distribute free condoms in Mexico so as to stem population growth there and thus eventually slow the tide of illegal immigration to the U.S.

It's not as silly as it sounds off the cuff. But first, what about actual economic reform south of the border?

Yes, this proposal is the stuff that TV gag writers live on. And the right-wing talk-show hosts and bloggers are dogpiling on Mr. Kirk. One Tom Roeser has dubbed him "Rubber Mark." Or at least somebody before him did. Roeser went on to compare the proposal to eugenics, sullying the name of the late Margaret Sanger.

Regarding eugenics, I think there's a bit of difference between advocating forced sterilization of people afflicted with genetic defects, etc. vs. simply furnishing contraceptives to people who are having sex but aren't ready to provide adequately for offspring.

Of course, this is an exchange that could never happen between the U.S. and Mexico. For one thing, Mexicans are a priest-ridden people. For another, we would have our own hysterical sex police to deal with right here. And I've read that the birth rate in Mexico has fallen dramatically in recent decades anyway, so the effect would only be just so great.

But hey: Whatever happened to the idea of Mexico having a decent government, and one like that with meaningful U.S. backing?

I'm going to refer once more to an old post of mine regarding illegal immigration and its origins:

The history of the PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party, in Mexico tells the sordid tale of how the 1910-20 revolution was betrayed. In addition to the phony, occasionally murderous one-party "democracy" it operated for 71 years, the PRI eventually gutted many progressive reforms pushed through by legendary President Lazaro Cardenas in the 1930s. It so mismanaged the economy that by the late 1970s and early 1980s, wealthy Mexicans were reinvesting assets abroad because they had little confidence in their own economy. And so, even fewer jobs were created in Mexico. And even when times were better, wealth was hoarded, not shared.

In 2004, the World Bank reported that Mexico, which is considered a middle-income nation as a whole, had a 50 percent poverty rate. Corruption remains endemic, and the country's rich seem more than happy to encourage the jobless poor to cross the U.S. border by the millions.

After fraudulent presidential elections, including one in 1988 that was stolen from Cardenas' son Cuauhtemoc, the voters finally got to throw the PRI out.

But the PAN administration that came to power after the 2000 election has proved to be the Fox in charge of the henhouse. For Mexico's poor, life has improved little, if any, under conservative President Vicente Fox.

And NAFTA's "liberalization" of agriculture in Mexico has been a disaster for peasant farmers there, throwing them into direct competition with more mechanized and heavily subsidized U.S. farming operations.

And still the future looks bleaker. Mexico's leftist hopeful for president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has fallen behind the conservative PAN candidate in a recent poll. And in America, our own steady movement toward a corrupt, Mexican-style oligarchy continues unabated under the sleazy administration of George W. Bush.

The PAN candidate, Felipe Calderon, did indeed come out on top last year in rather suspicious election results. And so, any real future for Mexico was postponed for another 6 years. Some serious economic reform, a revisiting of the old Cardenas era, is the medicine that's needed.

"Rubber Mark's" idea isn't really all that silly. But a strong dose of social justice is the main thing needed. Save the Trojans for later.