Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3/12/08 When the U.S. Gets a Cold

I had the rare pleasure of an IM conversation with Lucia from Guadalajara today. She asked me what I thought of the "Economic Crisis in the U.S.". Before I go on, let me state that the media in Mexico is like the media anywhere else. It utilizes fear, glamorizes events and tears at your heart strings. It also has its own agenda. Obviously their media is focusing on the falling dollar, rising gas prices and the scramble in the housing market here in the United States. (If for a second you think their focus is unfair or biased, just look at the news you watch and tell me 2 recent newsworthy items about Mexico that don't have to do with violent border disputes. It's always biased.)

I told Lucia what I honestly believe. That this is just the beginning of a greater economic downslide. And, like I've said before, it's all tied into gas prices. It's somewhat important to note that gas prices in Mexico are 1) Much more expensive than they are here and 2) Controlled by a government monopoly (Pemex) that taxes gas at a very high rate, since there are very few commodities outside of transportation that can bring substantial revenue to the country. So, expensive gasoline is relative.

I tried to put gas prices in perspective. I told her that in the late 1990's gas was somewhere around $1/gallon. Today, right outside my place, regular unleaded is $3.60/gallon. I have no doubt that gas will hit $4/gallon by Memorial Day and tinker near $5/gallon by the end of 2008. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that we'll hit $8/gallon by 2010. These numbers are nothing new and shouldn't be viewed as shock value. We then extrapolated these numbers into the costs of basic goods. The cost of food is rising as a result. The amount we spend getting to and from our jobs is increasing, in turn decreasing our expendable income. It's to the point where it may not become worthwhile for certain people to even commute to their current job. This whole domino effect should come as no surprise. We've known about it for decades. Our country has waged wars, some in secret, to postpone this inevitable oil hangover. Well, we're here. And we're approaching potentially scary economic times.

While I didn't go into quite as much detail with Lucia, she responded, "Don't scare me". I couldn't quite figure out why she was scared. She then told me a saying, roughly translated is, "When the United States gets a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia". In economic terms, that's the sentiment in Mexico. In general, most Mexicans I know take a greater interest in our politics than many Americans do. Lucia said that she's rooting for "El Morenito" for president. Pretty much saying, she likes the skinny brown haired fella.


I'm not quite sure how I feel about this webpage. But I found it share-worthy. It's called Stuff White People Like.


Let's continue to make this more multicultural and talk about "Peter and the Wolf". Remember "Peter and the Wolf"? Sure you do. I certainly grew up on the music. On a vinyl record if I remember correctly. The cartoon is from 1946 and is by Walt Disney. The original music and cartoon is from Russia. I'm going to start a completely false rumor and say that Disney stole "Peter and the Wolf" from the Russians and initiated a half century long cold war.


Finally, to end my short sighted view on the world - 50 people in India blind themselves while staring into the sun, hoping to see the Virgin Mary.


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