Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lessons From Mexico

There's little doubt that the current economic crisis in the U.S. is going to get worse. Even Paul Krugman has admitted we're probably heading for another depression (although it's for the wrong reasons).

Americans are all crying about unemployment benefits being cut off (after 99 weeks!!!) and additional layoffs, etc. States, counties and cities are laying off workers including teachers. The situation is bleak.

Mexico doesn't have much in the way of welfare or unemployment insurance. When people are out of work or need to supplement their income, they hit the streets.

I can drive around Culiacan (the capital city of the Mexican state of Sinaloa) and buy flowers, oranges, nopales (cactus), toys, tomatoes, bread, newspapers, a jillion different trinkets, watch silver painted fire jugglers (in the evening) etc. without ever getting out of my car.

Aside from that, you'll see pickup trucks full of produce at the side of the road selling everything from DVD's (pirated of course) to produce, to toys and so on.

The salient point is, they don't sit around waiting for someone to hand them a check, they get out on the street and do something. They might not make much, but they do it.

Oh, and lets not forget the window washers. And these guys won't vandalize your car if you tell them no. Every parking lot has a parking attendant who makes tips by helping people back out (apparently most Mexicans are incapable of this on their own) or load their purchases. Lots and lots of little micro-entrepreneurs.

Sure, in the US we have laws that say you can't sell food without a health permit and all this other stuff without business licenses and you can't do it on public roads, blah, blah, freaking blah. If massive amounts of people just started DOING IT, it would be impossible to enforce.

But no, Americans just have to sit around and collect unemployment and wait for the non-existent recovery to really take off so they can go back to work.