Some Hispanics Support Arizona Immigration Law

StoletoSpousesDisagreeArizonaLaw2010-11-14.jpg“Shayne Sotelo opposes Arizona’s new immigration law, while her husband, Efrain, supports it.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 28) PHOENIX — Arizona’s immigration law, which politicians have debated in the Legislature, lawyers have sparred over in the courtroom and advocates have shouted about on the street, has found its way up a driveway in central Phoenix, through the front door and right onto the Sotelo family’s kitchen table.
. . .
That such a divisive social issue would divide some families is not surprising. But what makes the Sotelos stand out is that they are both Latinos, he a Mexican immigrant who was born in the northern state of Chihuahua and she a descendant of Spanish immigrants who grew up in Colorado.
While polls show that a vast majority of Latinos nationwide side with Mrs. Sotelo in opposing Arizona’s law, that opposition is not uniform. “All Latinos are not opposed to this law — that’s too simplistic,” said Cecilia Menjivar, an Arizona State University sociologist. There are other Mr. Sotelos out there, including an Arizona state legislator, Representative Steve B. Montenegro, a Republican who immigrated from El Salvador and became the only Latino lawmaker to vote in favor of the bill.
. . .
[Mr. Sotelo] thinks his adopted state has been unfairly maligned since the law passed. “I’m a Hispanic, and I don’t have any issues walking the streets,” he said. “They make it seem like the police or sheriff are out there checking everyone’s papers, and that’s not so.”

For the full story, see:
MARC LACEY. “One Family’s Debate Shows Arizona Law Divides Latinos, Too.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., October 31, 2010): 28.
(Note: ellipses added; bracketed name added to replace “He.”)
(Note: the online version of the article is dated October 30, 2010 and has the title “Arizona Immigration Law Divides Latinos, Too.”)

Legalizing Drugs in U.S. Would Reduce Mexican Crime Wave

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Vicente Fox. Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 14) Is there anything to be done about the drug wars that are terrorizing Mexicans today and that have reportedly caused 25,000 deaths in the past three years?
That has to be dealt with together by the United States and Mexico. It’s a joint problem and a joint challenge. The U.S. provides the markets and guns that come back to Mexico and allow the cartels to be active.

You think the United States is causing Mexico’s crime wave?
Absolutely, yes. The cartel gangs are nourished through the drug consumption in the United States. That’s why my position is that we should move as fast as possible into legalizing drug consumption.

For the full interview, see:

DEBORAH SOLOMON. “QUESTIONS FOR VICENTE FOX; Border Rap.” The New York Times, Magazine Section (Sun., July 25, 2010): 14.

(Note: bold in original, to indicate questions by Deborah Solomon.)
(Note: the online version of the interview is dated July 23, 2010.)

.

U.S. Jobs Lost Due to Law Restricting Mexican Truck Drivers

CarbonlessPaperMachine2010-05-20.jpg“Carbonless paper comes off a coating machine at Appleton Papers in March. Mexican tariffs have hit sales.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A5) APPLETON, Wis.–Congress’s vote last year to keep Mexican truck drivers south of the border was good news for DuWayne Marshall.

Mr. Marshall, 49 years old, owns a truck and hauls loads all over the U.S. from his home in Wisconsin. “Why should I have to compete against Third World drivers within my own borders?” Mr. Marshall asked during a break on a run to San Diego. “By closing down the borders, we are saving American jobs.”
Elizabeth Villagomez, 38, isn’t so sure. A single mother of two teens, she has worked at a paper plant in this community near Green Bay for 15 years. After the Mexican government retaliated against the trucking ban by slapping $2 billion in tariffs on U.S. paper, produce and other goods, orders plunged and managers began slashing shifts and overtime for the unionized work force.
“The company has done all it can to cut costs,” Ms. Villagomez said. “I’m at the bottom of the list if they have layoffs. It’s kind of scary, not knowing if you’re going to have a job.”
. . .
At Appleton Papers Inc., the fight over who can drive a truck across a border 1,600 miles away has translated into falling wages and rising anxiety.
Rick Bahr, head of the United Steelworkers union local that represents more than 500 employees at the Appleton plant, said six shifts have already been cut, cutting down on overtime.
“The battle ends up union versus union, truckers versus the paper workers,” Mr. Bahr said. The national steelworkers’ union has been supporting the Teamsters on the issue of Mexican trucks in the U.S.
Nearly half the company’s revenue, about $420 million last year, comes from carbonless paper sales. Its largest foreign customer is Mexico. After Mexico put a 10% tariff on carbonless paper, revenue from Mexico fell to $37 million in 2009 from $46 million in 2008.
Now, more Mexican customers say they will look for alternative suppliers to avoid having to bear part of the tariff costs. Just last month a major customer told Appleton it was going to get its carbonless paper from a European producer.
Even before the tariffs were imposed, the company had seen business hit by the economic slowdown and had cut its work force in 2008 and stopped other benefits, such as reimbursing tuition and matching workers’ contributions to their 401K retirement plans. Company officials said it was hard to quantify what part of the business downturn could be blamed directly on the tariffs, but they noted that Appleton sold 18% fewer tons of carbonless paper in the U.S. last year, compared with 2008. The number of tons sold to Mexican customers was down 24%.
Inside the plant, the machine that coats 4,000-pound rolls of paper to make it carbonless was idle one recent afternoon. Once run 24 hours a day, it is now used only half that time.
Kevin Bunnow, 50, a 33-year veteran of the plant, said the reduction in shifts had meant a wage cut of several thousand dollars last year.
“When elephants fight, the grass loses,” he said. “It didn’t take me long to realize, we’re the grass.”

For the full story, see:
GARY FIELDS. “Trade Dispute Divides Workers; It’s ‘Union vs. Union’ as Ban on Mexican Trucks Cheers Drivers, Triggers Cut in Hours at Paper Plant.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., April 6, 2010): A5.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

Calderón’s Decision Is Bigger than Reagan’s Firing of Air Traffic Controllers

ElectriciansProtestMexico2009-10-29.jpg“The Mexican Union of Electricians protests the government’s decision to liquidate the state-owned electricity company in Mexico City.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A19) Eight days ago, just after midnight on a Sunday morning, Mexican President Felipe Calderón instructed federal police to take over the operations of the state-owned electricity monopoly, Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LyFC), which serves Mexico City and parts of surrounding states. The company’s assets will stay in the hands of the government but will now be run by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), a national state-owned utility and the major supplier of LyFC’s energy.

The net effect of the move is to dethrone 42,000 members of the Mexican Union of Electricians, which had won benefits over the decades to make Big Three auto workers in Detroit blush. When the liquidation is complete, it is expected that the company will employ about 8,000. To appreciate the magnitude of Mr. Calderón’s decision, think of Ronald Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers–only bigger. As one internationally renowned Mexican economist remarked on Sunday, it is “the most important act of government in 20 years.”

For the full commentary, see:
MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY. “Mexico’s Calderón Takes on Big Labor; Its state-owned electricity company was bleeding the national treasury dry.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., October 19, 2009): A19.

“Build a Wall Around the Welfare State”

For a long time, I’ve been meaning to post a pithy comment on immigration policy from the Cato Institutes’s Bill Niskanen.
The comment was related to the proposal to erect a wall between the United States and Mexico, in order to reduce illegal immigration. Some libertarians favor open immigration. Others believe that so long as we have a large welfare state, open immigration would impose high costs on the taxpayer, and thereby reduce economic growth. (I believe that I read Milton Friedman supporting this latter position, in the year or two before he died in 2006.)
In this context, Niskanen’s pithy comment has appeal:

“Build a wall around the welfare state, not around the country.”

Source:
William A. Niskanen on 11/19/07 at the meetings of the Southern Economic Association in New Orleans.

Regular Citizens Perform Vast Majority of Disaster Rescues

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Source of book image: http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2008/06/the_book_the_unthinkable_expla.html

The most important message of this book is a very important message indeed. That message is that overwhelmingly, disaster survival and rescue depends on the actions of regular people, not the actions of professional lifesavers. (Very often, the professionals cannot get there quickly enough, or in sufficient numbers, to get the job done.)
This message, is itself worth the price of the book—if it were sufficiently understood, it would have enormous implications for individual preparedness, and government policy. (Think about the implications, for instance, for whether individual regular people should be allowed to carry guns.)

(p. xiii) These days, we tend to think of disasters as acts of God and government. Regular people only feature into the equation as victims, which is a shame. Because regular people are the most important people at a disaster scene, every time.

In 1992, a series of sewer explosions caused by a gas leak ripped through Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city. The violence came from below, rupturing neighborhoods block by block. Starting at 10:30 A.M., at least nine separate explosions ripped open a jagged trench more than a mile long. About three hundred people died. Some five thousand houses were razed. The Mexican Army was called in. Rescuers from California raced to help. Search-and-rescue dogs were ordered up.
But first, before anyone else, regular people were on the scene saving one another. They did incredible things, these regular people. They lifted rubble off survivors with car jacks. They used garden hoses to force air into voids where people were trapped. In fact, as in most disasters, the vast majority of rescues were done by ordinary folks. After the first two hours, very few people came out of the debris alive. The search and rescue dogs did not arrive until twenty-six hours after the explosion.

Source:
Ripley, Amanda. The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why. New York: Crown Publishers, 2008.

Montezuma Tried Appeasement with Cortes

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Source of book image: http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/26910000/26912572.jpg

(p. A 13) Cortés was a man of deep contradictions. A devout Catholic, he was horrified by the sights and sounds of Aztec worship: its human sacrifices and cannibalism, its skull racks, its idols draped with human body parts, its priests with their blood-clotted hair. But he was not above massacring his enemies or burning them at the stake. He was genuinely dazzled by his first sight of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, with its tidy fields and gleaming stone causeways, a city of nearly a quarter-million people that was, he wrote in a letter to the Spanish king, more beautiful than any in Europe. Even so, he was ready to destroy it all to feed his desire for gold and to bend the Aztecs to his will.

If Cortés was a man of contradictions, Montezuma was not. Studious and conscientious, he had been trained for Aztec priesthood before becoming emperor in 1503 — the same year that Cortes set out from Spain for America. Montezuma believed in the rightness of his own convictions but also, it appears, in the importance of an open mind. As Mr. Levy shows, he always looked for ways to dispel a crisis by placating the feelings of all concerned. He would have made a fine college president. From his first meeting with Cortés in November 1519, though, he was desperately overmatched.
Montezuma hoped that, by giving Cortés magnificent gifts of gold and silver, he could make him go away. He made him want to stay instead. The Aztec ruler never quite shook off the suspicion that Cortés might be the Aztec god Quetzelcoatl returning home according to ancient prophesy — a suspicion that led Montezuma to want to treat the intrusive Spaniards as guests rather than a threat.
Cortés exploited Montezuma’s weakness without scruple, squeezing one concession after another out of him until, though outnumbered by more than 1,000-to-1, Cortés made him a hostage. When Montezuma had lost all credibility with his people and was no longer useful, Cortés cast him aside. Montezuma died a broken man — although probably not, Mr. Levy argues, at Cortes’s order. It is more likely that Montezuma died from wounds inflicted by his own subjects. When they saw him appear in chains and appeal for calm, they had bombarded him with stones and arrows. His weakness, they understood, had betrayed them to the Spanish.

For the full review, see:
ARTHUR HERMAN. “Bookshelf; Spain Says Hello.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., July 10, 2008): A13.

The reference for the book, is:
Levy, Buddy. Conquistador. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.