Today's nasty immigration and drugs quarrels in the United States are the direct consequence of Americans focusing on symptoms rather than causes. Help a poor country develop (read here "Mexico") and everyone benefits (think "U.S. and Canada") and, in fact, profits.
That's the core of North American policy expert Dr. Robert A. Pastor's proposal, an idea already demonstrably successful. In 15 short years, the European Union lifted its 4 poorest countries -- Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece -- from where they and Mexico all were in the early '80s, transforming each into a remarkable success story.
The number one lesson that North America can learn from the E.U.? Don't be afraid to do the right thing. The E.U. pumped money into a development fund which built infrastructure and enhanced education. It worked.
That needs to happen in North America, Dr. Pastor believes. Until it does, Mexico's foreign investors and much-needed jobs will continue to make the Mexican-US border region a magnet to the jobless. The lure of pay 8 to 30 times higher in the U.S. assures that workers will continue their migrations north.
The longer term solution? Education, especially in rural areas. It helped enormously in Spain and Portugal and could do the same in Mexico. The U.S. has the resources. Long-term benefits? Incalculable.
OK, for those us obsessed by "the bottom line" -- being a good neighbor would also be profitable. Mexico purchases more goods and services from the U.S. than any country in the world except Canada? I didn't know that. It's hardly rocket science to get from that surprise to what can happen if and when Mexico's overall standard of living were to improve. Doing well by doing good.
Dr. Pastor clears away a lot of wrong-headed old notions by focusing on root-causes and on strengthening democracy. In our conversation, Dr. Pastor shows us a way out of our immigration mess. Come hear for yourself at our "Paula Gordon Show" website .
More personally, I was delighted to open my alumni magazine this week and see Oberlin College "pitching" prospective students with an idea as old as the institution (founded 1835) -- Be Fearless! This is exactly right for a key player in the abolitionist movement, the college that invented co-education. The founding fathers and mothers could well have joined hands with the historical Buddha who urged us to "ESCHEW FEAR" (and probably also with his other two "eschew"s -- social conformity and attachment). Taped to my computer are the words of Oberlin's extraordinary Director of Environmental Studies, David Orr: "It's our goal as educators to present a sense of hopefulness to students, and the competence to act on that hope." Amen.