My wife recently got back from a jaunt to just south of the border in Mexico last week. It's bad news she said. Crime is through the roof. People are desperate -- shootings, decapitations (right by the border crossing), kidnappings, and random violence. It makes going to rural India and China look downright safe by comparison (at least there, the worst thing that could happen to you is getting food poisoning or injury/death from a car accident). In Mexico, theft and corruption is rampant inside companies as well, requiring formal programs to track theft at all levels of the Mexican employee base -- apparently far worse than in China. When Lisa spoke with some friends in country, it appears that no one can remember when it was this bad.
Given this environment, why isn't Mexico as cheap as China? It should be. One wonders, if US companies begin to cut back their operations in Mexico thanks to both a slowing economy at home, the crime and violence waves and the theft and corruption that run rampant with Mexican employees, how much worse the situation will get. While I'm all for inviting hard working Mexicans into this country to work and ultimately apply for citizenship, perhaps we really will need a fence just to keep the violence south of the border. It's also further proof that sourcing from Mexico -- and forcing Mexican suppliers to deal with the travails of getting finished parts and goods across the border -- might make better sense than building new facilities in border towns.