Thursday, June 10, 2010

pop goes the population

If I do not head south soon, I am not going to have any teeth left.

Both sides of the immigration issue have me gnashing my teeth.  Argument has been replaced with bile-induced polemics.

On Monday night I was listening to a re-broadcast of one of those modern talk shows.  You know, the type of show where the host disclaims any personal ideology.  Lots of opinion.  Just no template.

The host had supported Barack Obama's election and the president's health care program.  But he is also pro-nuclear power and supports drilling in ANWR.

Toss in the fact that he swears like a sailor on leave in the French Quarter and brags about his use of ecstasy, and you have a program aimed at shocking as much as informing.  Noted Los Angeles personality.  Sometime movie star.

It is hard to slap a label on him.  But, let's call him a progressive populist.  With a capital P on populist.  Especially after what I heard him say about immigration.

While jousting with a political comedian, our host confessed that he was reluctant to allow immigrants in the country because they keep "spitting out hordes of children."  But, he didn't say "spitting."

I am accustomed to his rants.  They are his trademark.  But his rants usually have a factual basis.

This one did not.

The immigration debate has developed several code words.  When most people talk about immigrants, they are talking about Mexicans.  And so was the host.  He is a Californian.

But the Mexico he was parading in front of his audience simply does not exist any more.

In the 1960s Mexican mothers had an average of eight children -- a higher birth rate than India.  Today that number has dropped to just over two.  Almost the same birth rate as the United States.

In thirty years the number will drop below two.  And like Japan and Italy, Mexico will not even be able to replace its own population.

The reason is simple.  Mexico is no longer an agrarian nation peopled by peasants.  It is a middle income nation -- with the world's thirteenth largest economy. 

Mexicans families are experiencing the same changes other industrial nations have faced.  The same amount of money it took to raise eight mechanics will now raise a lawyer and an accountant.  And the middle class grows.

Those families will be the engine of economic growth for Mexico.

And they will do much more to stop the northern flow than any shock jock or even-more-disappointing American politicians.

If Mexican politicians will stop doing their French and Japanese impression of preserving rural society, Mexico can realize its economic potential.

What may create an economic problem is those decreasing population numbers.

But that is for another post.


Anonymous said...

Precarious situation that xenophobia, or want there of.
Just the fodder for a, "progressive populist"
Then again, I believe that same, "progressive populist" once (or twice)had a half hour discussion on the pronunciation of the word Nuclear.

Tancho said...

Too bad we can't go back to before talk radio, to the time when we could ride in the back of a pick up truck and not go to jail, 5 cent Cokes and less rumblings in the world. (I don't remember the newspaper getting people riled up)
Or maybe there were the same rumblings but we just didn't hear about it.
Anyone in public office needs to purchase a copy of Simcity and be proficient at it before doing anything. I am somewhat relieved that I will not see and experience the "New World" of how it will be in 50 or 100 years. I wonder if people, not just Mexicans, Americans, Italians etc are grasping the evolvement of their societies and who really will be in the population drivers seat then?

Chrissy y Keith said...

I agree Steven, this issue really has both sides acting and speaking foolishly.
Just an observation and wondering if anyone else has noticed the increase of multible births in Mexico? For the past 10 years I have noticed more young couples with twins and triplets in Mexico. I see them here in the USA as well, but generally the parents here appear to be older so I suspect fertility drugs. But the Mexican parents seem to be in their 20's. I am just wondering if fertility drugs are accessable to everyone and if it is a status symbol there to have twins? I know that children are adored in Mexico for the most part and we certainly received lots of attention when we travelled with 4 kids at a time. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Read the recent piece declaring Mx a middle class nation, and don't disagree many have assumed that to be their condition though it doesn't make it reality. Birth rates, thankfully have began to drop too, but what's the basis for the unrealistic numbers you wrote about?


Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- I often think the radio talk show personality merely says things to annoy. And I am never certain what his real opinions may be.

Tancho -- There are a number of things in contemporary life I think we could do without. Instead, we endure. But being in Mexico is a lot like living in Powers in the 1950s. That may be why I like it so much.

Chrissy -- I have not noticed many multiplew births around my small fishing village. But I have noticed that families are far smaller than I remember in earler decades.

William -- The numbers are from a 22 April Economist article. I was not surprised at the results. The families in our church who have recently moved from Mexico are consistent with the article: one or two children is the norm for them.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

Important topic. Important facts. Gracias.