The hissy fits

fitWE MEXICANS love our hissy fits. They rarely resolve anything, but we throw them anyway. Here are three examples:

First: Eight or so years ago, Mexico City switched its electricity provider from some unionized outfit that ran an antiquated system to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, the modern entity that provides light to most of the nation.

The unionized outfit promptly threw a hissy fit. For months, they blockaded the entrance to the CFE high-rise on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. The government ignored them.

These days the entrance is open, and electricity service is immeasurably improved.

Second: Mexico is in the early stages of an “education reform.” In part, this entails competency tests for teachers and they also lose the right to hand off their jobs to relatives on retirement. Unionized teachers promptly threw hissy fits.

The fits happened mostly in the usual suspect, backward states of Michoacán, Chiapas and Oaxaca. Unions blocked roads and highways, and squealed in the streets. The government is giving them lip service, but mostly it’s ignoring them.

Like the improved electricity provider in Mexico City, the education reform will happen.

Third, another reform is the energy sector, which is getting into high gear this year. For a variety of reasons, gas prices have gone up a lot. How did we react? We threw hissy fits, blocking highways, attacking gas stations, looting stores.

People want the old government-subsidized gasoline price. The government will ignore them and, in time, things will be better. Though gas prices likely will be higher.

Our hissy fits normally result in squat, but we throw them anyway. And it’s usually unions having the fits, fighting change, modernization and improvements.

Music men

band

OUR MOUNTAINTOP is a magnet for tourists, especially during the Christmas holidays, Easter Week and the Day of the Dead. Most of the tourists are Mexicans.

But in all the years I’ve lived here, I don’t recall our having the hordes that we have right now.

We live on the outskirts of town, and every day we face a long line of creeping traffic heading downtown. Luckily, there is an alternative route, but I’m not going to advertise it.

A twist to this year’s Christmas season is a gasoline crisis. Lots of gas stations are out of fuel, and those that have some often have long lines of cars. A number of Mexican states are affected, and nobody seems to know why.

Rumors abound.

Our “Energy Reform” starts Sunday, the first day of 2017. Gradually, the Pemex monopoly will fall as foreign gas stations are phased in around the nation.

In theory this will lower prices, but on Sunday prices will increase from 15 to 20 percent, so people are angry.

But Mexicans are usually angry about something or other. Along with the Energy Reform, we’re getting a reform of the legal system, and reform of the educational system.

That latter has the teachers, a gang of union leftists, foaming at the mouth, which tickles me no end.

Mexico is changing.

The last gas crisis, earlier this year, only lasted about a week. The current one has gone on more than two weeks. Nobody seems to know how long it will last. I fill the Honda tank every time I pass an open station with no line.

Mexico is ever entertaining and challenging. If it’s not severed heads rolling down cantina floors or teachers apoplectic at having to take competency tests, it’s something else.

One way to stay mellow is to sit at a sidewalk table on the main plaza with a hot café americano negro, reading my Kindle and sometimes seeing street musicians.

I tipped those old boys in the photo.

And life goes on.

Trains running again

THE VAGABOND sound of passing trains has returned.

We live just one block from the rail line, so it’s long been a part of our daily lives. But the sound vanished for more than a week till the day before yesterday.

Rail traffic had stopped due to a blockade just up the highway, “teachers” unhappy with a reform of the educational system recently implemented in Mexico.

The unhappy “teachers” had set up an encampment, blocking the rails with rocks and logs.

The economic loss was reportedly vast.

“Teachers” down in Oaxaca and Chiapas have been blocking highways now for weeks, causing economic and other forms of chaos. These are “teacher” unions.

The educational reform, like the energy reform, is something new in Mexico, something good. The energy reform is opening the energy sector to foreign competition. We will have options for gas stations like in the United States.

For decades, there has been just one gas station in Mexico, the government’s omnipresent Pemex.

Left-wingers, of whom we have many in Mexico due to the high percentage of ignoramuses, oppose the energy reform because they oppose choice and the free market.

Plus plenty of xenophobia.

And no group is more left-wing than “teachers” who have a number of unions. They also have their “teacher colleges” where “teachers” are made. These schools are communist indoctrination centers that sport murals of Ché Guevara.

No joke.

“Teachers” in Mexico are the most disruptive element in the nation, constantly causing problems.

What has their Red panties in a twist about the educational reform? A number of things, but my favorites are that they will have to take exams to show competence.

Oh, my goodness! Imagine that.

starAnd they will lose the right to hand their jobs over to a friend or relative when they retire.

The “teachers” are so numerous and have so much support among the lamebrain population that the government is afraid to take action against the protesters. Its tactic often is wait-and-see. This has worked in the past.

And example of this wait-and-see took place a few years ago in Mexico City when electric service was taken from the hands of a union and handed over to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) that runs service outside the capital.

The union went berserk and set up blockades outside the CFE high-rise downtown. After a few months, they wearied and went home. Electric service in Mexico City is run now by CFE, and it’s immeasurably better than before.

Even an old lefty like Franklin D. Roosevelt said unions have no place in the public sector. A union fussing with its private-sector employer is one thing. Interrupting services like police, firemen, education, electricity, etc., is quite different.

It should be illegal.

In the meantime, trains are passing the Hacienda, but how this education reform ends up is yet to be seen. Will we modernize, or we will continue swimming in seas of corruption?

Will the government buckle?

The energy reform is being phased in with more success, and we’re already seeing gas stations in some areas that do not fly the once ubiquitous green colors of Pemex.

There is also a legal reform that will lead to open courts. Left-wingers haven’t tried to block that yet.

They’ve been too busy blocking highways and railroads.

These “progressives.”

* * * *

(And meanwhile.)

Socialism for dummies

(Thomas Sowell, the Black Knight of Intellect, returns today in the form of a guest column. Give him a big hand!)

* * * *

SowellSocialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it probably will always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous.

But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or other countries that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.

The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?

But people who attribute income equality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts — such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a living standard for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

* * * *

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

* * * *

When Senator Sanders cries, “The system is rigged!” no one asks, “Just what specifically does that mean?” or “What facts do you have to back that up?”

In 2015 the 400 richest people in the world had net losses of $19 billion. If they had rigged the system, surely they would have rigged it better than that.

But the very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and other ideas of the political left.

How many of the people who are demanding an increase in the minimum wage have even bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed?

More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers — sometimes known as “everybody,” with their assumptions being “what everybody knows.”

Back in 1948 when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16- to 17-year-old black males was under 10 percent.

But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30 percent for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 to 1994.

In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40 percent and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50 percent.

The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest. Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs. But you can’t move up the ladder if you don’t get on the ladder.

The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think their education should — and will — be paid by raising taxes on “the rich.”

Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue for the government. Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

None of this is rocket science. But you do have to stop and think — and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.

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(BONUS 1: A brother Black Knight of Intellect, Armstrong Williams, also addresses this issue in a piece titled Bernie’s Utopian Nightmare.)

(BONUS 2: Nicolás Maduro, president of the collapsing socialist nation of Venezuela, endorses Bernie Sanders, calls nutty Ole Bern a “revolutionary friend.”)

(BONUS 3: Ole Bern hems and haws when asked about the imploding socialist mess in Venezuela.)

(The Hacienda couple will be out of touch for a few days due to a vacation jaunt to Colima. ¡Hasta luego!)