Support Families like Mine: End Inequality in Immigration Policy

October 22, 2011  |   LGBT Issues Mexico Politics and Policy Progressive Political Commentary

Support Families like Mine: End Inequality in Immigration Policy

I’m one of the lucky ones – lucky because I’ve had the good fortune to share the past ten years of my life with the person I love, despite the fact he’s a Mexican citizen, and I’m an American citizen. I’m lucky because, in 2001 when we met, I had the resources, ability, and the option to move to Mexico and establish a business and a life with Luis. I’m lucky because Luis and I built a rich and rewarding life together.  We enjoy the love and support of both our families, we have a wonderful circle of friends, and we’ve been able to give back to our Mexican community in ways that have been incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, the past two years have shown us just how fragile that luck has been. My business, a small resort hotel catering to LGBT vacationers to Puerto Vallarta, has suffered greatly since the U.S. economy took its nosedive in late 2008. In 2009, Mexico was the epicenter of the H1N1 flu scare – it nearly shut down the tourism industry for a couple of months. And mounting concerns over the safety and security of travel to Mexico due to drug cartel violence has further decimated the tourism industry and my once-thriving business, despite the fact that the violence is enormously hyped by U.S. media and is mostly localized in a few cities far from Puerto Vallarta. Times are hard. The economic realities of a struggling business in Mexico have compelled me to return

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Mexico’s Most Critical Problems are Also Our Own

September 25, 2010  |   Mexico Politics and Policy

August 15, 2010 By Paul Crist  Mexico’s once growing middle class is under attack from above and below, and the stress is showing up in the shrinking numbers who can claim middle class status.  This trend predates the current economic crisis, but has been greatly exacerbated by it.  Middle class Mexicans face a political and economic system stacked in favor of the super-rich above them, while from below they face kidnappings and robbery by desperate and angry criminal poor. Predation from Above: Despite modest progress, entrenched crony capitalism where bribery is the rule and who-you-know counts for more than knowledge, hard work or risk-taking, remains the order of the day in Mexico.  Leaders from across the spectrum of Mexican politics must accept the majority of blame, although there is culpability north of the Mexican border as well.  Progress toward political transparency and economic liberalism has been incremental in some areas, nonexistent in others.  Privatization of formerly government-controlled industries have enriched a handful of wealthy and politically connected Mexicans, as well as a fair number of politicians.  As a popular Mexican saying goes “un político pobre es un pobre político,” (“A poor politician is a poor politician”). Mexican consumers pay higher prices for a lower quality of service and reduced availabil­ity of goods.  The state-corporatist system of price supports, subsidies, and special-interest tax exemptions gives an unfair advantage to wealthy and well-connected businessmen while restricting competition and obstructing eco­nomic growth.  Of course, the most critical result of anticompetitive policies for Mexican

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Immigration Reform Can Help Future Solvency of Social Security

August 17, 2010  |   Economics & Trade Paul Crist Politics and Policy

By Paul Crist, August 10, 2010 The bad news is that the fundamental problem faced by Social Security and Medicare in future years is that the decades-long trend of fewer workers supporting increasing numbers of beneficiaries will become critical, potentially threatening the solvency of the system unless some changes are made. The good news is that there is a simple solution to the worker shortfall.  The bad news is that political posturing, racism and hyper-nationalism is preventing us from adopting that very simple solution. These programs, despite what we hear about the “Social Security Trust Fund” operate on a pay-as-you-go basis.  The “trust fund,”  while real in certain respects, is more of an accounting figure, based on the excess paid-in contributions from workers and employers to the system that are not required to fund current benefit payments to retirees, survivors, the disabled, and administrative expenses.  The current excess funds are invested in special, non-negotiable government securities held by the trust fund.  If the fund begins to run a deficit, where benefits paid out exceed contributions from workers and employers, the Social Security Administration can redeem the securities to cover the deficit. At the end of 2008, the trust fund held $2.4 trillion in accumulated government securities.  According to projections, the trust fund will continue to accumulate surplus funds until 2017, when benefits paid out will begin to exceed revenue paid in. That in itself is not an immediate or grave problem, given the large accumulated surplus.  But it does present

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