Sunday, April 23, 2006

Old Europe Solutions Are Answers To New World Problems

Mr. Hill writes in the Washington Post the following about an innovative way to solve the problem with Immigration in America. He calls it the Tex-Mex Marshall Plan

Immigration issues are always ripe for demagoguery, particularly in an election year. But the solution to the very real problems along the U.S.-Mexican border can be found, ironically, in that other part of the world that American demagogues love to ridicule: old Europe. Two years ago, the European Union admitted 10 new members. Like Mexico, all of these nations were poor, some of them fairly backward and most recently ravaged by war and communist dictatorship. To deal with the situation, the leaders of the European Union wisely created policies for fostering regional economic and political integration that make efforts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement "look timid and halfhearted by comparison," according to Bernd Westphal, consul general of Germany. Europe realized it had to prevent a "giant sucking sound" of businesses and jobs relocating from the 15 wealthier nations to the 10 poorer ones. It also had to foster prosperity and the spread of a middle class in these emerging economies and prevent an influx of poor workers to the richer nations. So for starters it gave the new states massive subsidies -- billions of dollars' worth -- to help construct schools, roads, telecommunications and housing, thus making these nations more attractive for business investment. The idea was to raise up the emerging economies rather than let the advanced economies be dragged down. It was expensive, but the result has been a larger economic union in which a rising tide floats all boats. In return the 10 poorer nations had to agree to raise their standards on the environment, labor law, health and safety -- and more. The incentive of admission to the European club was used as a carrot to pull the poorer nations toward acceptance of human rights and political democracy. There won't be any border maquiladoras in the European Union. Worker migration still is regulated. Immigrants will be carefully integrated so as to cause the least amount of disruption to the developed economies, with the goal of having open borders within a decade or two. This bold yet carefully planned E.U. approach suggests the direction that policy between the United States and Mexico should take. Increasingly the demands of the global economy will push North American regional integration out of the realm of a shadow economy and flawed free trade agreement. But what might such an American-Mexican union look like? It would start with massive subsidies from the United States to Mexico, a Tex-Mex Marshall Plan, with the goal of decreasing disparities on the Mexican side of the border and fostering a climate riper for investment. This would create more jobs in Mexico and foster a middle class, homeownership and better schools, roads and health care. Fewer Mexicans would then want to emigrate north. Instead, they'd stay home, becoming consumers of U.S. products.
Could some Americans fathom this, much less accept such a brilliant idea like this?

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