Monday, March 6, 2017

Random observations from the Yucatan

A few observations from my spot south of the border.

I don't get much of an insight on how Mexico at large is doing, because we fly into Cancun and get whisked down a highway to the resort (my wife and our family get hooked up). But I did take a trip into a nearby town to grab some groceries today. Things are definitely cheaper when you adjust for the exchange rate, but that's obviously because wages for everyday people are generally lower. From what little I can tell, most of the people work in tourist-related industries and stores, although there is the occasional bank and other business. And while it's great to have this kind of service and amenities, you certainly sense a bit of imperialism and separation from General reality.

You definitely notice where trade can play in when it comes to food. American brands are noted in the stores along with some Mexican ones, and the apples and other northern fruits on the site had the USA sticker on them. But getting a few food items into the hands of locals and tourists isn't really worth the NAFTA-induced wage suppression in items that still have a demand in America and can still be made in America.

I haven't noticed a lot of resentment for being a gringo (although thanks to the rednecks in my home state, my wife talked me out of not wearing a UW shirt when I went into town, even after yesterday's big hoops win), but you do have to wonder about tourism, especially if Commander Cuckoo Bananas and his shriveldicked minions continue with their plans to turn back any social change that has happened in America in the last 60 years. Unlike fair trade plans, I can't see where that part of Trumpism is going to help anyone economically, let alone morally.

I'm also using the time to read David Kay Johnston's 2007 book Free Lunch , which is great in-depth discussion on how corporations game the tax system for TIFs, tax breaks, and other giveaways that the rest of us all end up paying for. This includes tax abatements for businesses like Wal-Mart and Cabela's to encourgae them to move a superstore into the area, which raises property taxes for everyone else, and drives out local businesses and jobs, and causes local services to suffer. It also has a great rundown of the symbiotic relationship between lobbyists, their corporate benefactors, and the politicians who give them these write-offs.

In addition, Free Lunch predicts the impending crash of the economy with its hollowed-out middle class and even quotes a then relatively obscure Harvard Professor named Elizabeth Warren who noted the rising amount of bankruptcies happening in the mid-2000s, and that bankruptcy usually happens "after any two of three events combine : divorce, job loss, or major medical problems."

EDIT NOTE: looks like Sen Warren hasn't forgotten that research, as she mentioned it today in response to Weasel Boy Jason Chaffetz making an ass out of himself when discussing the GOP's ridiculous anti-Obamacare bill

I'm glad not to be working this week, but I'm still paying attention, and I suspect there will be plenty to talk about tomorrow with the release of the "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The WisGOP Legislature sure seems to think so, which is likely a reason why both the Senate and Assembly are in session tomorrow for the first time in weeks. Anything to deflect from 6 years of WisGOP failures for jobs, right WisGOPs?

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