Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mexico: Cash and Drugs on the Border

We've just had a wonderful Christmas. Together and sharing and cozy. At church on Christmas Eve, Paul Walker spoke about welcoming others warmly, and how Jesus was not welcomed that way by the world. I want to work on warm welcomes in 2010.

The big news over the past several days was that the Senate passed its health care bill, 60-39, on the morning of Christmas Eve. Tuck told me that Harry Reid accidentally voted no, giving Mitch McConnell a good laugh. I liked this personal, human anecdote.

390. How long will it take for the conference committee to generate a bill for both houses to vote on? Which will be a bigger sticking point: abortion or the taxation of "Cadillac plans"? My prediction is that a bill will be passed by the end of January.

In this morning's Times, James C. McKinley, Jr. and Marc Lacey report (here) about the enormous amounts of cash flowing back and forth over the US/Mexico border, stemming from the drug trade. The article is well-reported. It reinforces my sense that every front page story about Mexico focuses on the drug issue.

The article makes it sounds as though the Mexican cartels operate similarly to the American mob in the 1950's and 1960's -- with a hand in various different industries and small-scale retailers being forced to pay bribes in order to remain in operation.

391. What portion of the world's economy operates through cash transactions, as opposed to checks and credit cards?

392. What's the largest amount of cash that non-criminals carry in their wallets/purses on a daily basis? Are there many people who carry more than $1,000 at a time?

393. What is Vicente Fox doing in his retirement? Do Mexicans give their ex-Presidents the same level of respect (ceremonial awe) as do Americans?

394. Will the Mexican drug trade increase of decrease in 2010? Are the efforts to decrease the flow of drugs having any discernible effect?

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