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Tuesday, April 11, 20061144773300

Annex Mexico

"Annex Mexico?," by Glenn Reynolds, Glennreynolds.com, 10 April 2006, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12132529/#060410 (from Instapundit via Purpleslog, also at Riehl World View).

It would make us more federalist. It would make us freer. It would make us richer.

For all of these reasons, I have been calling for the United States to absorb the Mexican United States as the 51st to 81st states of our Union.


Now Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit is too:

Reynolds' piece is so well written that I will quote it nearly paragraph-by-paragraph, giving my opinions along the way:

One difference between the demonstrations in France and the demonstrations in America: The French are demonstrating for the right not to work hard, while the demonstrators in America mostly want to work.

Exactly. America's immigration situation is nothing like Europe. We attract the best and the brightest, and immediately put them to work (though with civil fines for those who don't go through the paperwork hoopla).

At least part of our better solution is the fact that our immigrants come from a sister nation, who also spans our continent, with roots in Western European colonialism, and holds to a federal republic as the best form of government.

In fact, they're leaving Mexico because its corrupt and thuggish political culture stifles economic growth and opportunity. The people there are smart and hardworking, after all, and they tend to do just fine when they get here. They're leaving because being smart and hardworking is enough to get you ahead in the United States, but not in Mexico. And I suspect that if the Reconquista advocates somehow did get their way, and the Southwest United States became a new Northern Mexico, we'd soon have illegal immigrants crossing over into Kansas and Oklahoma for opportunity, because the Mexican political culture would have ruined things in Arizona and Texas just like it's already ruined them further south.

In other words, they are running towards our Constitution and political system. While local conditions differ -- it would be insane to have a Continental education policy for both Oregon and Oaxaca, for example -- our economic system works, too. Our system of property rights, our system of Constitutional rights, and our system of getting things done is what Mexicans want and need.

Oh, we don't need to turn Mexico into a state, or several. At least not right away. But as part of any immigration deal, the United States needs to demand reform in Mexico. Serious political reform, and serious economic reform.

Here Reynolds is referring to what TM Lutas called an "acquis communitaire" -- a European style harmonization of basic laws before the Union. That's fine. If America offered eventual Constitutional statehood to the "free and sovereign" members of the Mexican United States , we would be able fix any serious problems before they join us as voting members. For example, the much-needed privatization of Pemex (Mexico's state oil company).

And reciprocity. If we're going to make it easy for Mexicans to come to the United States to live, work, hold property, and get public benefits without too much paperwork trouble, we need to make it easy for Americans to do the same in Mexico. Right now, as several people have noticed, the environment there is considerably less friendly to foreigners than America's is.

Exactly. Openness is a two-way street. Interstate disputes handled by federal courts, not NAFTA courts. Property rights ultimately enforced by the American Constitution. Travel and home-ownership rights, for our retirees.

But as the Mexican government has been free to express opinions about how the United States should set immigration, economic, and educational policy, it seems only fair if we do the same for them.

It's an interdependent world, after all. And that works both ways.

Bravo Glenn!


well, you are pushing the limits and it is starting to show. I'd suggest the Puerto Rico is a better model than trying to swallow another sovereign country (Hawaii and Texas don't count!) What I mean by that a Commonwealth relationship, with common citizenship, would be a better example. Mexico, on the legal side is starting to clean itself up nicely, and in SOME ways is ahead of the US (airport privatization). But you have two big problems: One is the Republic of Mexico's history of anti-Catholic laws, where the Catholic church is actively discriminated against, and also state owenwership of PEMEX. Removing state ownership would just mean a massive increase in our tax burden, even with a pared down government.

To me the question is creating a North American community, where Mexicans, Candadians, and Americans can all intermingle (freedom of movement).

Let's go one step further: NAFTA was probably a net negative for Mexico....outside of the mini-boom, most Mexican enterprises can't compete on the world economy. A freedom of movement agreement would be a net negative for the US, as more Mexicans would take advantage of a guest worker status and lower wages in certain sectors.

In addition, we already OWN most of what is valuable in Mexico already outside of real estate and oil. So what's the sell for US?

Clinton was the first black president, Bush is the first Mexican.

It's time to stop talking about an immigraiton deal, and start talking about a bilateral agreement with Mexico.

Posted by: charlie | Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Thanks for the comment.

On Mexican views of religion, those laws are generally pushed by the European upper-class, who prevent the Catholic Church from functioning as a political institution (as it does in the United States). Ad advantage to Mexicans of a Union would be that they would enjoy the same freedom of religion that we have in America.

In Mexico, nationalized oil has been an IV for bad government [2] the same way it has been in the Middle East. Privatizing pemex would not only force responsible government in the long term, it would help finance any transition costs the Mexican states would encounter.

The "tax burden" of immigration most recently sighted is education -- which is strange, because education's an investment. That's like talking about a rich man's "burden" of saving so much money.

Your economic history is incorrect. Mexico is labor-rich and capital-poor. America is labor-poor and capital-rich. Free trade (and even better, free movement) helps each al ot. [3] Even if Mexico exported nothing (which is not true -- see the Maquiladoras), Mexicans themselves would be better off. Foreign competition helps the people, but can hurt special interests. In Mexico's case, though, business gained from direct access to the United States while the people enjoyed lower prices.

There is no "Republic of Mexico." Her official name is the "Mexican United States" [5] (los Estados Unidos Mexicanos), a purposeful play on the United States of America (los Estados Unidos de America). Indeed, during Bush's first visit to Mexico the official name was translated as "United States of Mexico" (to honor the guest), but when Mexican politicians get feisty they translate it as "United Mexican States."

The upshot: Mexico's constitution already recognizes the "free and sovereign" nature of her member states. Like the US and the EU, Mexico is an economic and political union of component states. Mexicans are used to local, state government. And, no doubt, Mexicans would make admirable defenders of States Rights.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/04/05/james-madison-wants-union-with-mexico-to-avoid-being-like-fr.html#c747611
[2] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2004/12/09/removing_the_i_v_from_tyrants.html
[3] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/04/07/bloggers-mexico-productions-posibility-curve.html
[4] http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/maquiladoras.htm
[5] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/03/29/drawing-north-america.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, April 11, 2006

what you continue to leave out of course is that you and the esteemed glenn reynolds are both asking those of us already here in america to reduce our own relative power over our federal government by around 50%. that is, unless you've seen the light :)

Posted by: Federalist X | Tuesday, April 11, 2006


To slice your worry, note that "those of us already here in America" seem to refer to

1. The American Nation
2. The American People
3. The American States
4. Each American Person

Each of those deserve a response...

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Tuesday, April 11, 2006


On the catholic church issue, I am not sure where religous Mexicans would be better off; in the US or in Mexico. Given the level of idiocy in most 1st Amendment establshment clause debates (Creche or no-creche) my point is really limited to saying intergrating the Mexican rule-set into the US religious rule-set would be hard. Example: Hawaii (the only really independent country borged into the US). Special scholarships just for native hawaians violate US civil rights laws, even if those had been set up before US intergration.

And don't pick on the European-mexicans; they are the ones most like us.

On the economic side; what I meant was not to argue that freedom brings wealth (agreed) but that there is a difference between liberalizing your markets and exposing them to foreign competition. NAFTA brought foreign competition, and my point is the Mexican government has done a decent job of liberalizing the rules internally. But again, another example is that of EU integration, where a combination of market protection and liberalized economic rules has brought Spain, Greece, etc up to modern standards very successfully. The issue is how to make Mexico richer; just replacing the politics with a US ruleset is not going to do that overnight, and domestic pressure from the US to stop future immigration from the lower 30 will still continue unless Mexico becomes more wealthly (think Okies in CA). NAFTA has brought great growth to Mexico, but not enough to stem the massive wage disparity.

My argument in a nutshell: Commonwealth, not intergration, with a common citizenship.

Posted by: Charlie | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Catholicgauze is concerned because the Mexican government has a long history of making martyrs for the Church- in a very bad way.

Posted by: Catholicgauze | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

European-Mexicans aren't the ones most like us. Americans are settling people, who left the comforts of the old world for a chance of life in the new. As the old creed says, "The cowards never started. The weak died along the way. Only the strong survived. These were the Pioneers." I can think of no people in this country who fit that definition better than migrant workers.

The European-Mexicans are most like the Europeans. Look at their statist economics, and ask how much Americanism is there.

"Market protection" hurts economic growth. At the dawn of the fax age, for instance, Brazil and Taiwan both made conquest of that market a state goal. Brazil chose to protect domestic fax producers, to shield them from foreign competition, while Taiwan purposefully opened their fax market even more, to expose their producers to hyper-competition.

Buy any Brazilian faxes lately?

The "Okie" analogy is a solid one.


Thank you for your comment. While the federal government, through her courts, often persecutes religion, it is Mexico that has regularly produced martyrs.


I added a post on how union gives us more power -- certainly more than the 25-50% shift you cite. [1]

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/04/12/the-manifest-destiny-of-the-american-nation.html

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

There are countless millions of poor people in the world, many living in more poverty-stricken areas than Mexico or other parts of Latin America. If we hope to help them while continuing to sustain our own nation's prosperity, we have no choice but to draw a line and enforce our policies.
Ultimately, our solution needs to be an instrument of tough love - neither Pollyannaish nor Draconian, humane but not personal. The ark, after all, is only so big, and even Noah couldn't save everybody.

Posted by: Frosty | Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mexicans in America already show a state-specific pride that you see for some states in the US. "Proud to be from Michoacan," etc. Also, there is a political devide among the states as in the U.S. In the recent election, Mexico split, almost perfectly north/south. The north went for Calderon and the south went for AMLO (except for Cancun, which sided with the northern states).

While I think I could support further integration/annexation, I do have some reluctance. I like having a separate federal polity (i.e. a border to run to).

Posted by: ElamBend | Sunday, October 29, 2006

Frosty & ElamBend,

While the "go-slow" crowd looks like it's winning in Europe and America [1], it is important to recognize we can't do everything at once. Just as State borders within federal unions provide opportunities for local democracy and local experimentation, so State borders between countries provide room for nondemocratic experimentation. Some countries -- Chile, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, for example -- have done well with democratic norms that America could not tolerate.

Besides being troublesome from an economic perspective, annexing southern Mexico risks warping their growth if the southern Mexican states have a better chance at becoming rich through "rent seeking" (demanding things from Congress) rather than good economic foundations.

Thus, I am open to the possibility of a piecemeal approach, annexing only the northern states and letting the "blue Mexican states" come to their own conclusions about economic growth. The EU has done a similar thing with the annexation of the old Russian empire [2]

A complication with following the Brussels model is that Europe's potential medium-term competitor, Russia, is right next door. Five member states -- Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland --- actually share a border. Yet the only state that could similarly challenge America -- China -- is across the Pacific Ocean. The American people have a history of turning inward and ignoring what goes on far away. It may be that Europe's relatively greater danger prevents go-slow plans from becoming static, while America's insularity might allow us to put off expansion until it is too late.

[1] http://tdaxp.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/10/28/ukraine-belongs-in-europe.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlargement_of_the_European_Union

Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Sunday, October 29, 2006