Just How Rough is Mexico These Days, Really

A couple of weeks ago, my post on Mexico received a few spirited comments. But in my writings, I barely scratched the surface of what was going on South of the border. Over on Metal Miner, Lisa recently shared some more specific details about what she saw. In her first post on Tales From the Rio Grande, Lisa writes that "the trip to Mexico taught me a lot about drug cartels, violence and the difficulties of running a business in these border towns. It also taught me how much time and effort US companies need to expend to secure their operations in Mexico. And I use the word 'secure' literally and figuratively." Lisa notes that Mexicans have become hardened to violence like decapitations "including a public display on a main border bridge to the US." The impact on workers is immense. In the US, workers must contend with public transportation and/or high gas prices to get to work. But in Mexico, "workers have to travel, often through dangerous areas just to show up to work each day." And they're getting paid daily now "so that they can leave the premises without the fear of being robbed of their monthly income."

In part two of her post, Lisa commented on the rising tide of corruption and graft that US companies must contend with. As Lisa notes, "with the economic situation so poor in Mexico, frequently occurring petty crimes take a big bite out of profits," as workers steal from plants. Not to get overly political here, but given the out of control violence in Mexico (and our inner-cities), perhaps the US’ best strategy would be to legalize the very products that lead to heads hanging from border bridges. It's not a fence, mind you, but decriminalizing the drugs would lower the price (demand and incentive) for drug trafficking in the border towns. At this point, one could almost make an economic argument in favor of drug legalization, showing how legalization could lead to reduced costs for US manufacturers and consumers -- not to mention sorely needed additional tax revenue.

- Jason Busch

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