Afta Nafta the Lafta

Well, maybe.  But say what you want about FTA’s, Mexico’s changed a lot since the old days, and has closed much of the gap separating it from the first-world living standards of the US.  In the old days, at least right after the first major currency devaluation around 1980, you could get a room for a few bucks, private with running water, no pissing in the sink or anything like that.  Then it became hard to know whether inflation was causing devaluation or devaluation was causing inflation.  Mexicans are gougers at retail, probably a vestige of the monopolistic past.  If a merchant in Mexico wants more income, the method is simple: raise prices.  Being a part of an economic entity now with the US seems to stabilize all that.  If Mexican businesses aren’t competitive, then US companies will drive them out.  Latin American airlines have been decimated since US airlines moved in, though the same US airlines struggle to compete in the Asia market, where companies are nothing if not competitive.  The world is ruled by those who know how to hold money without spending it.  They’re the masters.  The slaves are those who spend every penny they get.  This distinction is without race or class and, in fact, promotes class mobility.  That’s all it takes to be in business, really.  My friends are of both types.  Though saving money is a traditional American virtue, it is somewhat eclipsed these days.  Chinese are good at it; Thais are not.  Ethnic Chinese rule Thailand, and always have.  What would Thailand be without Chinese businessmen?  Laos.  Ditto for Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, and others.  Southeast Asia without Chinese businessmen would still be a village-oriented society, which would be nice, but probably untenable.                

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