View From Lodi, CA: As U.S. Poverty Grows, Time for Mexico to Take Care of Its Own

Last week, the Lodi
reported that based on

U.S. Census Bureau
statistics the Stockton
metropolitan area, including Lodi, is the nation`s fifth
fastest growing.

Stockton grew 12.3 percent to
633,000 residents during the three year period from
2000-2003. [Census:
West Seeing Fastest Urban Growth
, Lodi
, September 22, 2005]

The Census Bureau also announced
that 12 of the 20 fastest growing metropolitan areas are
in the western U.S., where the population

increased by nearly 20 percent
in the 1990s.

Growth in the West
, especially in the San Joaquin
Valley, is not “Stop the presses!” news.

But it presents the classic
question: “Is the glass full or half empty?”

If you are a

or a

, growth is good. On the other hand, if you
are concerned about

quality of life
, then it`s bad.

To get a true and complete picture
of what`s going on in the Valley regarding

population, growth
and the

well-being of its residents,
the Census Bureau
information should be read hand in hand with

two other, less publicized reports
issued by the
University of California, Los Angeles and California
State University, Fresno.


UCLA report,
based on the 2003 California Health
Survey, found that in the Valley the percentage of
adults living below the
federal poverty line
and in a state of “food
grew to 41 percent from 34 percent
during the past two years.

“Food insecurity”
is defined as not having
enough money to eat regularly.

And the CSU-Fresno report is

similarly grim.
According to it, in the San Joaquin
Valley almost half of

low-income immigrant households

were food-insecure in 2001. [PDF]

Almost four in five

children of immigrant parents
in the San Joaquin
Valley lived in households with incomes under 200
percent of the federal poverty level, compared with two
in five children of US-born parents.

The percentage of

food-insecure households ranged from 32.6
percent in San Joaquin County to 41.4 percent in Tulare
County, another large agricultural area in the San
Joaquin Valley.

That so many are starving in the San Joaquin Valley
is hard to believe. The region is one of the largest
food producers in the nation and generated gross
agricultural production of $1.5 billion from

, walnuts and


Still, health care specialists and sociologists
compare the Valley to

because of high levels of poverty and

What is the implication of the
three reports—Census, UCLA and CSU-Fresno—taken

Because of its agricultural base,
the San Joaquin Valley draws significant numbers of
illegal immigrants from


Central America
for fieldwork. But once the crops
are harvested,

the workers do not return
. That is one cause among
several for the Valley`s population increase.

Their native countries offer
nothing. And while farm laborers do not have enough
education to get better, non-agricultural jobs, they are
however eligible to collect

social services
. Hence, high levels of poverty
dominate in the Valley.


Mortimer B. Zuckerman,
editor and chief of U.S. News
and World Report, in his October 3rd column,

Debt to Ourselves

“Hispanics account for much
of the increase in poverty–no surprise, since 25
percent of poor people are Hispanic. Since 1989,
Hispanics represent nearly three quarters of the
increase in the overall poverty population.”

Viewing this depressing scenario,
social workers call for more federal and state programs
to ease hunger and poverty.

The drawback—as it always is when

money is thrown
at societal problems—is that the
programs never work.

A refreshing approach would be if
the immigrant workers` countries of origin made tangible
efforts to improve living conditions.

Few Americans know, for example,

Mexico is a very rich country
. Why hasn`t it done
more for its citizens?

Three experts on Mexico offer their

  • Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow
    at the Institute for International Economics in
    Washington, D.C. described a burning need for fiscal
    reform in Mexico. Noting as did Grayson the low tax
    base, Hufbauer said, "Social services and
    infrastructure are awfully lean. Basically, it`s up
    to Mexico to solve its problem, but the

    wealthy classes
    don`t want to tax themselves.”

  • The Mexico-born director of the Mexico program
    at the Center for Strategic and International
    Studies, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, draws the same
    conclusions: "I look at all the Mexicans who want to
    leave Mexico, and to me it`s as much a statement on
    Mexico`s failure to push through the necessary reforms
    to better the country as it is about the opportunities
    present in the U.S."
    said Armand Peschard-Sverdrup.

    Mexican Pols Press for Immigration, Neglect Home Front,
    Pols Say
    , Jerry Kammer, San Diego Union
    , May 29, 2003)

The U.S. is a generous country to
people in need.

But we can`t do it all. Others—like
Mexico—have to pitch in.

As the U.S. continues to help
illegal immigrants, Professor Grayson reminds us:

are more poor people in America than Mexico.”

For more on the subject of
Mexico`s wealth, see VDARE.COM editor Brenda Walker`s
important website,
Of special
interest is the section on

Mexico Is Rich

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English
at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly
column since 1988. It currently appears in the

Lodi News-Sentinel