Tom Friedman sounds look he took his first trip to Mexico in about the last ten years or so. What do you know, young Mexicans are on the internet, the country has a manufacturing sector, but it is still governed horribly and is increasingly under siege by violent drug traffickers. What a News Flash!
Here’s a reality check, Tom. Monterrey is an exceptionally tech-savvy and educated part of Mexico. Mexico has been an important American trading partner forever, even though guys like you have never seen a draconian initiative by the Chinese communists that you didn’t swoon for. Mexico has always been governed badly, and its government and crime problems are getting worse. People in Mexico are often more diverse and educated than the impoverished and uneducated cohorts that migrate illegally to the US. Mexico depends on the US as a safety valve for its poor and source of revenue to the same in the form of remittances. Mexicans in the US, who are almost exclusively low or working class and have low levels of education, seem to have no impact on our cultural life and no visibility for guys-like-Tom-Friedman.
Mexico is unfortunately in several binds. Its bad government, relatively high wages, and low levels of human capital make it a worse bet for cheap manufacturing than China, where workers are cheap, high IQ, and oppressed. Mexico’s internal problems are also making the country less attractive for manufacturers than it was even ten years ago. It is approaching Somalia territory on the border. Finally, Mexico suffers from many of the same social problems as America, including high levels of divorce, illegitimacy, drug abuse, and over-reliance on the welfare state, that sap it people of their potential. I’d love to see our leaders more concerned with strengthening Mexico than China, but we should not get carried away just because we’re surprised to learn Mexico has it share of MBAs and start ups. It has for years and years, but its patterns of corruptions and crime have been there for years and years too.