Personal freedom, opportunity, and an honest and non-meddling government mean far more to a society and it’s success than geography, climate and natural resources. Everyone, perhaps especially those who live south of our border, should be happy that Mexico lost the in 1848.
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In the Mexican American war of 1846 to 1848, the US took New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas and Western Colorado from Mexico. And the US and Mexico are both the better for it. As is the rest of the world. Yes, I believe that President Polk picked the fight; he basically started the war. And at the time, the war was highly controversial, with Ralph Waldo Emerson famously not paying taxes to support what he saw as an unjust war. He wound up in jail, chiding his friend, Henry David Thoreau, for not being similarly committed. “Why are you here?” asked Thoreau of his friend while visiting him in jail. “Why are you not here?” responded Emerson, challenging his friend for continuing to pay taxes that in part supported the war.
Neither Thoreau nor Emerson could see what we see now. By picking–and winning–the fight, the US added huge amounts of land and resources, bringing them into a democratic, capitalist society with relatively little corruption and organized crime. And, at the same time, the US took that land away from Mexico, preventing the land, the people on the land, and the resources from winding up as part of a country, Mexico, with a failed economy, massive government corruption and even more massive organized crime–the drug cartels. With its fortuitous defeat, Mexico became smaller, and the US bigger. A key benefit is that fewer people now need to escape from a smaller Mexico, and have a larger US to escape to. If Mexico had the lack of foresight to lose, a much larger number of people would be trying to escape into a smaller US.
Let’s deal with a couple of possible counter arguments:
- We “stole” the land.
- If Mexico had been allowed to keep states like Texas and California, they would have done as well with them as the US did.
Let’s take the arguments in turn:
The “stolen” argument. We took it from the Mexico after the Mexicans had taken it from the people who already had lived there for many, many decades. Just as we did in the US. There’s no moral high ground here.
Then there is the “Mexico would have done as well” argument. This one is easy to expose. Take a look at San Diego and Tijuana; they share the same geography, climate and ocean, yet they are starkly different. San Diego is an open, free city, with an annual per capita income of $31K. Tijuana is a cesspool of drugs and crime, with an annual per capita income of $843. San Diegans have 37 times more income, yet live a few miles away. No one is trying to sneak across from San Diego to live in Tijuana. Why? Personal freedom, economic opportunity, personal safety and a relatively corruption free government. When the US took those several states away from Mexico, these huge advantages accrued to that entire geography that was taken. Would anyone seriously want California, Texas and the rest of the “stolen” states to be subject to the same corruption, economic devastation and major gang control as exists in Mexico today? What would the world–not just North America–be like if that many more people from South of our border–and all over the world–were trying to come into a dramatically smaller America?
Here’s another example: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is basically a huge rock off the coast of China, with a tiny chunk of the Chinese mainland included, yet it is the world’s seventh largest trading entity. Why? Political and economic freedom–again. Even when Hong Kong was transferred to China in 1997, after 156 years of British rule, the Chinese dictatorship knew better than to disturb the economic and political systems that had allowed the island to prosper, all while the communist mainland was mired in poverty.
Let’s take a final look at another country: Japan. Here there is no comparison being made with a contiguous country, but it is a useful example regardless. Post WWII, Japan had very little. It’s major cities had been bombed to ruins, food was scarce and almost everyone was broke. Natural resources, as always, were in scarce supply. They had neither coal nor iron, yet build a world-class steel industry after the war. With what? Ambition, a plan, and a hard-working, educated workforce. As an example, the founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda, used pieces of American bomb casings to help make motorized bicycles after the war. From there he went on to build the Honda that we know today. Could he have done that in nearby China or Russia beginning in the 40s? Of course not. Not even close. Why? You answer that one.
Now, let’s apply the two Resuls With Reason tenets to today’s podcast. The two main tenets of what we believe at Results With Reason are:
- Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper.
It is easy to apply No. 1. Personal Responsibility. We must always remember, practice, talk about, and fight for the personal and economic freedoms, combined with a good education and hard work, that allow huge political and economic successes to continued be created over time right here in the US.
Applying No. 2. Brother’s Keeper. We have no direct influence over the political or economic systems used in other countries, but we can, as Americans, set a good example of how well our systems work, and the good that comes from those systems. And with the spreading influence of international communications, including email and texts, and global social media, we can gently persuade. Not pontificate, persuade. There are global missions that proselytize for various religions; they work to create better lives for people through faith. Is it time for global missions to help people create better lives through embracing successful political and economic systems–the systems that have been proven to work?
Results With Reason publishes two podcasts and related blogs each week; midday on Tuesdays and Fridays. Twice a week, every week.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if you can do it in love and enjoy the people around you at the same time, all the better. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.