One aspect where the press has not come through as well as it should is really digging into why Mexico is poor. Even people in border states and even those obsessed with immigration usually can’t point to much, except for perhaps a vague reference to corruption. Corruption is indeed a big problem, but Glen shows that the problem runs much deeper.
I sat in on a presentation about the evils of Wal-Mart around the world Ã¢â?¬â?? in Canada, Mexico, China, etc. Most of the speakers were union reps, and I can say without hyperbole that the event played like a union rally. The speaker from Mexico told a story that nicely illustrated how different the same facts can look when viewed through divergent lenses. He held up a Mexican Wal-Mart employee’s pay stub and pointed out the shockingly low (by American standards) wages. Then he observed that the pay period was only 12 days long. Why only 12, when the standard pay period is 14 or 15 days long? Because, he said, under Mexican law a worker becomes a “permanent employee” after 28 days of work. So Wal-Mart officially fires people after 26 or 27 days, and then rehires them a couple of days later under a new contract. To my astonishment, this was presented as evidence of the perfidy of Wal-Mart, rather than the stupidity of Mexican labor law!
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.