- The incident was horrifying. As reported in the Washington
- "CANCUN, Mexico -- The general didn't
get much time. After a long, controversial career, Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique
Tello Quiñones retired from active duty last month and moved to
this Caribbean playground to work for the Cancun mayor and fight the drug
cartels that have penetrated much of Mexican society. He lasted a week.
Tello, 63, along with his bodyguard and a driver, were kidnapped in downtown
Cancun last Monday evening, taken to a hidden location, methodically tortured,
then driven out to the jungle and shot in the head. Their bodies were found
Tuesday in the cab of a pickup truck on the side of a highway leading out
of town. An autopsy revealed that both the general's arms and legs had
been broken." ("Warrior in Drug Fight Soon Becomes a Victim:
Mexican General Seized, Slain in Cancun" by William Booth, Washington
Post, February 9, 2009)
- But who is it that really murdered the general and his
- Sure, the dirty work was done by a gang of grisly hoodlums,
one of many that are gradually taking over Mexico as a base for drug-related
operations. But don't these people have anything better to do? Why is it
they cannot make a living except by transporting and selling drugs to customers
in the U.S.?
- The question is almost laughable. There is a dearth of
decent jobs in Mexico. The economy has been ravaged by global capitalism.
NAFTA and U.S. agribusiness have destroyed family farming. Manufacturing
jobs are scarce, because the cheap labor market by which Mexico undercut
the living of U.S. workers in the 1990s has itself been done in by even
poorer workers in China and elsewhere in Asia.
- Let's be very clear: when people have economic opportunity
they do not turn to crime. We saw that in the U.S. in the 1970s, when the
Community Services Administration and other federal anti-poverty programs
began to transform American inner cities into centers of burgeoning enterprise.
But in the 1980s, after the Federal Reserve under Chairman Paul Volcker
raised interest rates above 20 percent, it wrecked the U.S. manufacturing
economy. The disaster turned whole areas in places like Baltimore, Detroit,
and L.A. into "death zones." Poverty, despair, and crime made
a comeback and hover over those areas today like dark clouds.
- Then too the prohibition on drug use in the U.S. has
had the same effect as prohibition of alcohol during the 1920s. The only
ones to benefit were the Mafia. If the government makes it difficult to
get drugs and drives up the cost through stringent and punitive law enforcement,
it's the organized gangs who will become rich and powerful. Everyone else
in society will pay the price, including higher taxes for more and bigger
prisons. Meanwhile, drug havens, secured by official corruption, will flourish.
- With the world falling into near-depression conditions,
things can only get worse. A few months ago I helped some friends, Marshall
and Rebecca, move from an apartment to a house they had purchased. A couple
of young men had driven from Kalamazoo, Michigan, friends of Marshall where
he used to live. I asked them what people did for a living now that Michigan's
manufacturing industries were in such a decline. They said the young people
there now make and sell methamphetamine.
- There are two huge economic problems facing the U.S.
and the world today. One is the enormous amount of debt owed by people,
businesses, and governments to banks and other financial institutions.
The second is the collapse of consumer purchasing power due to the stagnation
of worker incomes compared to constantly rising productivity resulting
from automation. These afflictions are worldwide, and they go back to a)
the growth of global capitalism that benefits owners but leaves workers
out, and b) the debt-based monetary system where all the money that enters
into circulation is created by bank lending and speculation.
- All this needs to change. Monetary systems should be
run by governments on behalf of the nation's entire population, not just
the rich. And we need to move to a system of income security similar to
the Alaska Permanent Fund, where all residents share in the wealth of the
economy whether they are employed or not. It means a basic income guarantee
for all people.
- The economic stimulus plan put forth by President Barack
Obama would help, but not enough. What I am calling the "Cook Plan"
would provide a per capita payment in vouchers of $1,000 per month for
the necessities of life that would be deposited in a new series of community
savings banks. The banks would then lend at low rates of interest to revitalize
local economies. It's the essence of what can be called "dividend
- Measures such as these which promote economic democracy
are the only way to combat the drug epidemic, whether in consuming nations
like the U.S. or producing nations like Mexico, both victims of the global
economy and deregulated bank finance.
- © 2009 by Richard C. Cook
- Richard C. Cook is a former U.S. federal government analyst.
His book on monetary reform, We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary
Reform, is now available at <http://www.amazon.com/>www.amazon.com.
He is also the author of Challenger Revealed: An Insider's Account of How
the Reagan Administration Caused the Greatest Tragedy of the Space Age.
He can be contacted through his new website at <http://www.richardccook.com/>www.richardccook.com.