Sunday, July 1, 2012

Economic Opportunity, Job Growth and Socialism ... Mexico Votes Today and Asian-Americans Remind Us What Being An American Means


There's a presidential election in Mexico today. The issue is the economy and jobs. Pocketbook Issues Weigh Heavily as Mexicans Vote says this in part about conditions in Mexico:

"But voters are equally or more focused on the economy. It has performed unevenly. Although the currency and debt crises of the 1980s and ’90s have given way to fiscal stability and steady growth, which reached almost 4 percent last year, many areas of Mexico . . . have yet to experience reliable prosperity.

“There has been a deterioration in the quality of employment,” said Gerardo Esquivel, an economist at the Colegio de México. “We have a dynamic where we have a modern sector that is experiencing a bonanza and other sectors that are much less dynamic.”

Mexico — after nearly 20 years of expanded free trade and minimal economic reform at home — has essentially become a country of the stuck-in-place glaring at the upwardly mobile. While a minority of educated, skilled workers benefit from the dynamics of global trade, many more Mexicans work long hours, often at several jobs, without progressing. Census figures show that 57 percent of the Mexican labor force earns less than $13.50 — not in an hour, but in a day."

Socialism, France and the U.S. Democratic Party

What's a Socialist? compares the "sameness" of French and European socialists to U.S. "progressive" Democrats:

"Socialism and social democracy today are about a society with more solidarity, more protection of people, more egalitarianism. . . . socialism is defined today mostly by its contrast to neo-liberalism — by more reliance on the state and higher taxes on the wealthy. . . . European socialists are essentially like American Democrats . . . .

"The French state represents 56.6 percent of gross domestic product, one of the highest figures in the Western world.

“Socialism here is very statist,” says Marc-Olivier Padis, editor of the quarterly journal Esprit. The leading figures in the Socialist government are . . . creatures of the French establishment — elite schools and careers . . . .      

Belief in the centrality of the state to run, regulate and innovate remains a core belief of French socialism, and the size of the state is hardly going to be reduced under (newly elected French President) Mr. Hollande, whose few concrete promises include hiring 60,000 more teachers over five years, raising the minimum wage (the highest in the European Union) and creating a state bank for innovation."

Asian-Americans and the "American Way"

For another view, let's look at the rising immigration of Asian-Americans to the U.S. as well as the reasons behind this movement.

In other words, what about opportunities in our country? And what's the reality concerning today's U.S. immigration story? 

"No Country on earth is in the same league as the U.S. when it comes to the quantity of immigrants who have come here and the quality of their contributions. But lately, in our generally sour mood, Americans have been questioning the benefits of immigration. Many worry that today's immigrants differ from those of the past: less ambitious, less skilled, less willing and able to assimilate.

The conventional picture is of an unstoppable wave of unskilled, mostly Spanish-speaking workers—many illegal—coming across the Mexican border. People who see immigration this way fear that, instead of America assimilating the immigrants, the immigrants will assimilate us. But this picture is both out of date and factually wrong.
A report released this month by the Pew Research Center shows just how much the face of immigration has changed in the past few years. Since 2008, more newcomers to the U.S. have been Asian than Hispanic (in 2010, it was 36% of the total, versus 31%). Today's typical immigrant is not only more likely to speak English and have a college education, but also to have come to the U.S. legally, with a job already in place.
What's responsible for the change? The reasons include a rapidly falling birthrate in Mexico, dramatic economic growth there and the collapse of the U.S. residential construction industry—a traditional market for low-skilled, non-English speaking immigrants whose documentation was often subject to question. . . .

The Pew study found that the new Asian immigrants identify themselves, surprisingly, as 22% Protestant and 19% Catholic, but whatever their religion, most of them have in spades what Max Weber called the Protestant work ethic. Arguably, in America's long history of immigration, the group that the new immigrants resemble most is the original cohort of Puritans who settled New England.

Like them, the Asians tend to be better-educated than most of the people in their countries of origin. Steeped in the culture of enterprise and capitalism, they're more likely than native-born Americans to have a bachelor of arts degree. While family sponsorship is still the most important entry route for Asians (as for all immigrants), this group is three times more likely than other recent immigrants to come to the U.S. on visas arranged through employers.

In many cases, they're not coming to the U.S. because of the economic conditions back home. After all, places like China, Korea and India have experienced jumps in prosperity and an explosion in opportunity for the skilled and the hardworking. But most of the new immigrants like it here and want to stay (only 12% wish they had stayed home).

More Asian-Americans (69%) than other Americans (58%) believe that you will get ahead with hard work. Also, 93% say that their ethnic group is "hardworking."

There also seems to be some truth in the "Tiger Mom" syndrome described by author Amy Chua. While 39% of Asian-Americans say their group puts "too much" pressure on kids to succeed in school, 60% of Asian-Americans think that other Americans don't push their kids hard enough.

Other family values are strong as well, according to Pew. Only 16% of Asian-American babies are born out of wedlock, in contrast to 41% for the general population. In the U.S., 63% of all children grow up in a household with two parents; the figure for Asian-Americans is 80%."


(1) European socialism does closely resemble our U.S. Democratic party's guiding principles and practices. 

(2) On average workers earn $13.50 per day working in Mexico. U.S. workers with similar skills won't work for several times that amount. Hence, Hispanic immigrants will continue to fill many of our domestic "low skilled" jobs. The decline of construction from its pre-bubble bursting state and the deteriorating K-12 public educational system and welfare "safety net" will exacerbate our unemployment problem for years to come.

(3) Asian-Americans seem to buy into the American dream more than many Americans do these days. The U.S. long ago became an economic powerhouse and magnet for people throughout the world aspiring to a better life. That's still true today.


Economics is economics. Socialism won't save anybody from global competition.

We either seize opportunity or we squander it instead.

We need to provide every American with an opportunity to get a first class education by putting parents in charge of their children's educational choices and not government bureaucrats and teachers unions. Today we don't do that.

We also need to have a work force capable of competing against all comers. Today we're not focused on achieving that. We're too busy fighting each other in the name of "fairness" and ignoring the necessity for global competitiveness.

We talk a lot about income inequality within America these days.

Why don't we look at the other side of the coin? That is, let's look at our income and career opportunities compared to the what exists in rest of the world. That's why people from Mexico and Asian-Americans continue to come here. There's more opportunity here.

Meanwhile, much of  Europe is in recession, and they are NOT a worthy example for us to follow. Yet that's largely the kind of argument we're having in the U.S. today.

Is it "fair" to restrict our native-born youth to a future like that facing today's Europeans? Wouldn't it be far better to leave to future generations of Americans opportunities that Asian-American immigrants envision when they first arrive?

Socialism brings forth one set of working conditions and society. France is a telling example of that, as is Greece, Italy, Spain and others.

Free markets create another set of working conditions and society. What America has long represented is a telling example of that.

And that's why so many people continue to come to work, live and raise their families here.

Let's keep it like those entering America want it to be. And like the vast majority of us want it to be as well.

Thanks. Bob.

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