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Mexico: Heads Will Roll

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Revolutions can take on various forms of subversive activity. In even more extreme states like Saudi Arabia, partly thanks to U.S. support, the royal family of Saud (like the Mexican Hacienda) owns the biggest piece of the country's wealth (oil reserves) and its governing religion is used to control the behavior of its citizens. As in Mexico's theocratic rule, the Saudi justice system calls on God's authority to apply justice. To this day, Saudi Arabia's religious Morality Police, the mutawa, swing a sword to behead people in a public plaza when they misbehave. Though, when a large part of the country's population falls into desperate poverty, even the religion takes on extremist twists. Such is the case with the jihadists groups in Saudi Arabia. No secret: fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis from the Hijaz and Astha regions where resentment rages against the regime in Riyadh. They were alienated and grossly underemployed, although well-educated. The radical rebels in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now in U.S.-occupied Iraq share similar groups of violent subculture "cartels" led by warlords and mostly financed by drug trafficking.

In the case of Mexico, the aristocratic class (Haciendas) owns the highest concentration of wealth, measured by the Gini coefficient of 0.49 (What's a Fair Distribution of Wealth? by Joel S. Hirschhorn). The Gini coefficient is an economic measurement where 1 represents one household owning all the country's wealth. With a Gini coefficient of 0.37, the United States has the second highest in the world, just below Mexico. This high level of wealth concentration among the ruling class in Mexico explains one of the strongest forces behind the failure of the country, in terms of indicators like its inflation, slow growth rate, and high percentage of poverty""over 40% of the population makes less than $1 a day (World Bank). "There are over 85,000 millionaires (in U.S. dollars) in Mexico, while fifty million people live in economic destitution on less than a few dollars a day. According to the Mexican national daily, El Universal, the thirty-nine richest families in Mexico own 13.5% of the nation's wealth, about $135 billion" (Mexico Unconquered by John Gibler).

As in Columbia, so too in Mexico""more and more people have entered the illegal drug industry because it is the surest way to improve their financial situation. Many other Mexicans flee their own country and risk everything to work in the U.S., whose economy offers just a little less concentration of the wealth among a small group of superrich.

American Conservatives Adopt Mexico's Theocratic Model

Since its foundation, the U.S. has also maintained a high level of concentrated wealth among a blue-blood class while it operates on a somewhat unique capitalistic principle. Unlike extremely theocratic societies""like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and, to a lesser extent, Mexico""the U.S. allows its citizens to enjoy a broad social freedom and civil rights, and this soothes the tension of the otherwise staggering economic inequality. Since the 1960s contraception was legalized and African-Americans were permitted equal rights, although the latter required bloody riots. In Mexico, the Catholic Church still refuses the use of contraception, despite the country's overpopulation in proportion to its economic production.

The American middle class is free to pursue its life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness""at a steep price. If they behave reasonably enough, they will qualify for loans, mortgages, and credit cards whose interest rates benefit the wealthy. By greasing the "regular Americans'"""the 90% of the population earning 20% of the income (source: World Banks reports)""with the power to consume, the wealthy business owners or shareholders enable regular citizens to find just enough consumer gratification to tolerate their economic inequality, and so goes the unwritten economic law in America.

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Exaggerated to an extreme under the eight long years of the radically right-wing administration of President G. W. Bush, Regeanomics has allowed the super-rich""the 10% of the population owning 80% of the wealth""to undermine the pillars of our democracy under both""Democratic (e.g. Clinton) and Republican presidents. As radical capitalists have operated over the last 30 years without much regulation, they have pushed the economy, already favoring the wealthy, beyond its own capacity and thus destroyed a large part of the middle class (more than a million unemployed today). More so than even President Reagan, the Bush administration unleashed big business to dig their claws into the pocket books of middle-class Americans, stirring up a feeding frenzy of mortgages, credit cards and stock market bubbles, distracting regular Americans by their delusional consumer borrowing and spending and with hardly any consumer protection from the wolves of corporate marketing pushing for greater profit margins.

Just as the Haciendas have been gorging on the wealth in Mexico by taking land from peons for centuries, corporations like Exxon, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and AIG have been sacking the coffers of the short-lived American empire for decades. These unbridled companies, ingratiated with government, have become America's version of Mexico's Haciendas. The greatest advantage American businesses hold over their Mexican counterparts, the old Haciendas, is their marketing and PR departments, which paint their image as America's pillars of prosperity for all. They have rebuilt a modern day Gilded Age. After all, insurance companies like AIG collect billions of dollars in payments from hard-working Americans and, while denying boatloads of legitimate healthcare claims, they invest the cash in other financial sectors, such as the Internet IPOs of the "90s or, more recently, mortgage derivatives, creating unstable economic bubbles destined to burst. And when the bubbles explode at the expense of homeowners, the likes of Goldman Sachs always find innovative financial instruments such as high interest rate loans to profit from the losses of the taxpayers. At the same time, taxpayers pay for the bailouts of these modern-day carpetbaggers who continue to profit from the misfortunes of taxpayers after they had created and profited from those misfortunes in the first place, and while rewarding the managers with billions of dollars in bonuses.

With hardly any regulations on lobbying, the likes of these corporations pay "campaign contributions," otherwise known as bribes, to both Democrats and Republicans in order to assure their free-wheeling deals and status quo in industries like healthcare, banking, and petroleum. The petroleum industry lobbied the U.S. government and influenced G. W. Bush to invade Iraq""by using a series of pretexts such as WMDs, terrorism, imposing democracy and freedom""in order to retake control of the oil fields after Saddam Hussein had nationalized them. The Republican plan to repossess the Iraqi oil fields was not a stellar success because the Iraqis were not as docile as hoped, though the companies landed contracts from the new Iraqi government which, with support of the U.S. government, hung Saddam Hussein, a slightly less cannibalistic punishment than beheading.

Like most other countries whose upper class benefits from a high concentration of wealth, Mexico has never allowed so much delusional social freedom as America's free-reigning capitalism. Like many other societies that exploit religion to control their populations, Mexico's ruling class has often succeeded for the most part in controlling its pious citizens by the authority of God rather than by consumer credit.

Despite the paternalistic attitude of the Catholic Church and the thuggish, corrupt Mexican Army, Mexicans have revolted numerous times since their independence from Spanish oppression. At the end of the 19th century, the War of the Reform became one of the fiercest attempts to reform the Catholic Church and the government. A large and popular group of young liberals led partly by Ocampo revolted against the conservatives, mainly the wealthy landowners, and the Catholic church, which owns large properties, and the older members of the Army who protected the status quo by massacring "all their prisoners""commanders, officers, soldiers, even the doctors and medical students who were caring for the wounded" (Krauze).

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Two important legal decrees, though entirely unenforced, resulted from this civil war: the Law of Disentailment""which attempted to redistribute some of the Haciendas' and the church's lands to the peasants, and the "sanction of freedom of conscience"""which tacitly implied and tolerated freedom of worship. Yet in the same breath, the conservative government "voted to particularly "care for and protect' the Catholic Church with "just and prudent laws'" (Krauze).

Centuries of Religion and Patria

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Mark Biskeborn is a novelist: Mojave Winds, A Sufi's Ghost, Mexican Trade. Short Stories: California & Beyond. Poetry & Essays. For more details: See Mark's stories on or wherever books are (more...)

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sane country in North America. It should strengthe... by Archie on Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:27:36 PM
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