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.