View From Lodi, CA: As U.S. Poverty Grows, Time for Mexico to Take Care of Its Own
Last week, the Lodi
News-Sentinel reported that based on
U.S. Census Bureau statistics the Stockton
metropolitan area, including Lodi, is the nation`s fifth
Stockton grew 12.3 percent to
633,000 residents during the three year period from
West Seeing Fastest Urban Growth, Lodi
News-Sentinel, 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?”
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
insecurity” grew to 41 percent from 34 percent
during the past two years.
“Food insecurity” is defined as not having
enough money to eat regularly.
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
low-income 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
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
cherries, walnuts and
Still, health care specialists and sociologists
compare the Valley to
Appalachia 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
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.
“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
- Professor George Grayson, an
expert on Mexico and its economy and a professor at
William and Mary University,
points out that it has the highest gross domestic
product in Latin America. Yet Mexico collects
less tax—about 13% of GDP— than any other Latin
American country. Only 9 million people—of a 40
million person working public—pay taxes.
- 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
Tribune, 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.”
TO VDARE.COM READERS: For more on the subject of
Mexico`s wealth, see VDARE.COM editor Brenda Walker`s
interest is the section on
Mexico Is Rich)