Nincompoop democracy

OUR PRESIDENT-ELECT, a fellow best known by his initials, AMLO, and who takes office in about a week, won in a landslide* on July 1. I did not vote for him.

copy6-1307210385-free-stuff2He is a “man of the people,” which is why so many people voted for him. He crushed the opposition on his third run for the presidency. He came close the other times.

Like Bernie Sanders above the Rio Bravo, AMLO is fond of promising “free stuff.” He’s promised free healthcare like “they have in Canada,” even though the Mexican healthcare system is already excellent and offers various low-cost or free options to anyone who wants to sign up for them.

He wants to give all students scholarships and all graduates employment. This sounds swell, of course, if you disregard the matter of who’s paying for the largess.

How do you promise jobs? You can’t unless you make everyone a bureaucrat.

One of his worst ideas is putting major economic plans to a plebiscite. This has already happened at least twice around the country even though AMLO still is not president.

* * * *

Don’t underestimate ignoramuses

“The people know best,” he opines, though they rarely do, of course. “The people” usually are ignoramuses.

The first plebiscite took place quickly after his election win.

The topic was the new Mexico City airport, which is sorely needed due to the current one’s having long since outgrown its britches. The new airport is already partially done, and was scheduled to open in 2020.

“The people,” in all their brilliance, voted against it. Wiser minds in the business community called the plebiscite “Mickey Mouse” and illegal. How this will play out remains to be seen.

Just this week, a senator in the president-elect’s Morena Party presented a bill that would require mining companies to get permission of indigenous people before opening mining operations. Common sense says indigenous people will always say no to such a thing unless a huge payoff is included.

Stocks in Mexico’s two major mining firms plummeted, a loss of $1.6 billion U.S.

Earlier this month, the Morena Party proposed another law to curb bank fees. That sent bank stocks into a nosedive, and it took much of the Mexican stock market with it.

Mexico’s economic growth prospects are looking questionable, thanks to AMLO. But not to worry! We’re gonna give all students scholarships and guaranteed jobs on graduation. And free healthcare all around, just like Canada!

And AMLO has not even been inaugurated yet. By the way,  he’s invited Venezuelan despot Nicolás Maduro to the festivities.

ALMO is telling those invasion caravans from Central America who are passing through Mexico to stay here. He’ll give them jobs too! Latino solidarity, one supposes.

The mind reels.

* * * *

Felipe voices his opinion

I voted in a plebiscite on Saturday, which I happened upon by chance on our main plaza. There was a table with two ladies, ballots and a box to drop them into.

I flashed my voter identification card, in color, with photo, something Mexico requires to vote, as should all nations.

I opined on various topics. A Yucatan tourist train, yes. Doubling pensions for people over 68, yes.  (I’m way over 68!) Scholarships to everyone, no. Free healthcare to everyone, no. Some other stuff, mostly yes to my surprise.

* * * *

Hold onto your sombreros!

AMLO takes office Dec. 1, and the term lasts for six years. No re-election is allowed, but since the Morena Party is the majority, they could change that. I’m sure AMLO would love it just as much as he loves himself, which he surely does.

* * * *

* Universal suffrage is a dreadful idea. Only certain segments of the population should have the right to vote. There should be educational limits. No one without a high school degree should be able to vote. Voters should be property owners too.

22 thoughts on “Nincompoop democracy

  1. There are a few “people” up the road a bit and bottlenecked at the US/MX border who he could invite to cop a squat on his presidential doorstep and they’d probably make good voters.

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    1. Carole: Cop a squat indeed. I like that. As for their voting, unlike in the United States, you have to prove citizenship to vote in Mexico. Prove it beyond doubt. It’s smart.

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  2. Politicians always promise to do things for the people. Then when they get into office, they do things to the people.

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    1. Señor Gill: This is generally the case. However, Trump is, for the most part, perhaps completely, doing things for the people still, though the leftists are incapable of seeing this. Gotta love him.

      AMLO is simply confused, out of touch, whatever.

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  3. I see the morning finds you in high dudgeon!

    I’m far from an expert on the new airport. And while it was being planned in 2016, I was skeptical. Not that I really opposed a new airport, but I majorly opposed closing the old one, especially since it wasn’t long ago that they finished Terminal 2. Who wants to have to schlep in from Texcoco to get to Roma Sur?

    However, with the recent plebiscite, I’ve grown a bit more concerned about the new one. According to an editorial I read in El Economista, we have reached the point where canceling it will cost just as much as finishing it. Of course such a position cannot possibly take into account as yet unforeseen cost overruns. Still, if that figure is anywhere near the mark, it seems almost lunatic to stop the airport now. Right? Spend the same amount of money to get a nice, new piece of public infrastructure or something that will decay before it needs to be demolished? Seems like a no-brainer to finish it. If anything, they should double down by putting some kind of high-speed rail from there to, say, Pantitlán, or other subway stop so you could actually get there and back during traffic.

    As for using Santa Lucía, well, that’s a pretty obvious non-starter to anyone who flies into CDMX with any regularity. According to Google Maps, a trip from Condesa (a random, central location full of airport users) to Santa Lucía by car takes about an hour and six minutes versus fifty five minutes to Toluca. Flights into and out of Toluca are already notably cheaper than flights to CDMX. Yet I have never once availed myself of one due to the ridiculously long ground trip to get to that airport, a ridiculously long ground trip that could swell to nightmarish proportions during rush hour.

    So if people already can but don’t use Toluca, then what on earth is going to make them use Santa Lucía, which is effectively farther away? And why even build anything in Santa Lucía if Toluca is already functioning and a smidgen easier to get to?

    As for a nationwide vote on the airport, that too seems ridiculous. First, the airport should be self-funding through taxes and concessions. Which is a fancy way of saying that those who use it will pay for it. So why does a campesino in Chiapas have a say? He’s literally never going to either use that airport nor have to pay for it, nor will be even affected by its noise, overflights, etc. Second, it’s hard to imagine that even a sliver of the votes on the airport (either pro or con) were well informed votes. I’d imagine that a large percentage of the no votes were simply folks who wanted to stick it to “the man.”

    As for all the complaints of environmental damage, I’m sympathetic. But the damage is done, so it’s not really any longer a relevant factor. Flooding seems a potential issue. And frankly, I’m amazed that the current ACIM doesn’t flood more regularly.

    Meanwhile, AMLO is doing a great job of frightening international capital markets. The Mexican Peso took heavy hits on both the airport decision and the bank commission proposal. Which, in fairness, AMLO opposed a few days later. But the peso didn’t really recover.

    It could be a great sexenio for retired Gringos if the peso collapses, but less so for the average Mexican who still needs to buy internationally traded goods like medicines, fuel, cars and auto parts, and other things.

    Lets hope AMLO grows a pair and starts leading instead of becoming the national pollster-in-chief.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Which has a tiny, easy-to-navigate, jewel of an airport with a total of 3 terminals. My favorite kind.

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    1. Kim: “So why does a campesino in Chiapas have a say?” The ridiculousness of these plebiscites could not have been summed up better. Kudos.

      As for AMLO growing a pair, oh, I think he already has a pair. His style is that of a demagogue.

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  4. P.S. I think it’s sheer brilliance on the Trump administration’s part to get the caravaners to have to wait in Mexico for the processing of their asylum claims. Whatever fear of persecution they might have in Honduras, it’s going to be impossible to claim they are in fear of persecution in Mexico. Meanwhile their NINJA status (no income, no jobs or assets) means they’ll likely turn back soon enough.

    By the way, yesterday I watched this video (in Spanish) put out by Reporteros Televisa where they accompanied a bunch of Honduran migrants aboard “La Bestia,” the train they illegally ride to the border.

    Let’s just say that Trump himself could have produced that video. It shows that basically all of them are carrying marijuana to fund their trips, many are criminals (aside from that), many are gang-bangers, many have drug problems, and virtually all of them seem very poorly educated at best. In short, Honduras is “not sending their best people.”

    Frankly, after watching it, I was a little horrified that anyone wants to let those folks into the country. It seems like that group will have a very high probability of becoming a burden on society.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we did briefly consider trying to hop on a train and go somewhere like that ourselves.

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      1. Frankly, that video was a lot scarier than I’d have guessed. And I wish every person who poo-poos Trump’s concerns over border security could watch it. I don’t think any rational person should want such folks pouring, unchecked, into the USA.

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          1. I find it odd that CNN and MSNBC keep saying there are almost five thousand wanting to cross the border, but some of the comments by so-called leaders of this invasion mention twenty thousand. Imagine twenty thousand people without funds or a support system descending upon the San Diego area. True, there are few do-gooders who will attempt to help them, but that will wear thin promptly. Then the horde will turn to crime. It will make the Watts riots look like a Sunday school picnic.

            The people of Tijuana are fed up with these folks already. That woman who refused the beans and tortillas given to her tells a lot. She said it was only fit for pigs. These folks want to get to the land of the food stamp and subsidized housing. They want to be in the land of the free stuff. This will not end well. I foresee teargas and maybe gunshots.

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            1. Señor Gill: I favor funneling them all into California. Then seal the border of California from the rest of the United States. It would be just desserts for California. But we’d need to get Kim G and his mama out of there first.

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              1. They are truly Kamala Harris’ people.

                The people of California voted for this. They complain and complain, then they go and vote for the very Democrats that come up with this lunacy. I fear for the people in the San Diego area. I used to live there. I see some of the migrants made a run for it. They got teargassed. I am not sure whether it was the Mexican Federal Police or the U.S. Border Patrol that did it. But I am sure it will be President Trump who will get the blame. There will be lots of video of crying kids and Don Lemon telling folks, “Trump did it.”

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  5. How do you promise jobs? A government like Mexico (and the US) can — and does — create money at will. It can afford to buy anything that is offered for sale in pesos. That includes unemployed labor.

    Keynes put it this way: “The Conservative belief that there is some law of nature which prevents men from being employed, that it is “rash” to employ men, and that it is financially ‘sound’ to maintain a tenth of the population in idleness for an indefinite period, is crazily improbable — the sort of thing which no man could believe who had not had his head fuddled with nonsense for years and years.”

    Unemployment is a waste of the most valuable economic resource in existence: human energy and ingenuity. And there’s no end of useful things that people could do for each other and for Mexico.

    The government could offer a basic wage and benefits to anyone that the private sector does not need. This would create a buffer stock of workers that the private sector could draw from when it expands, and release workers to when it shrinks. The workers would learn skills and discipline on the job, for their own benefit and the benefit of private businesses that employ them.

    The buffer stock at a fixed wage would also provide an anchor for prices, along the lines of how a buffer stock of gold or any other buffer stock anchors prices.

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    1. Creigh: I am a conservative, relatively newly minted, who does not believe there is some law of nature which prevents men (or women!) from being employed. Many other factors can do it, however.

      As for your other points, they seem to require far more government intervention in our lives than I would like to see.

      AMLO is promising jobs without a good clue of how he might do it. It’s just political, populist blather, which is what got him elected in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, you are probably right that AMLO, like most politicians (and pundits), is clueless on economics. For that matter, a shocking number of economists are clueless on economics in the real world. Anyone who thinks that unemployment is always or even mostly a choice of leisure over income is clueless on economics in the real world.

        Government-sponsored jobs (WPA, CCC and other programs) saved a lot of people’s bacon during the Depression, and left us with many enduring public benefits, like parks, schools, courthouses, libraries, works of art and literature, and much more.

        As to the amount of government intervention I’d like to see, the answer will always be “it depends” (although, of course, it should not be any bigger than it needs to be). But it has never made sense to me that the correct size of government could be determined from first principles, without considering a real world context.

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        1. Creigh: I would never say that unemployment is often a choice of leisure over income. I don’t think most people would. However, some folks do choose unemployment for that reason. You are looking at one.

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      2. Also, unemployment is far more a result of policy choices than most people realize. Employers benefit from the existence of a pool of unemployed and hungry workers. That fact drives a lot of economic policy.

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