I was on assignment for the Daily Republic last week. They didn’t know it, but I was. Glen Faison, the managing editor, would never have approved of such a dangerous, expensive mission. I went rogue, risking my very life for you, dear reader, doing professional, investigative journalism, deep undercover.
My journey took me far from the familiar environs of Fairfield, into the dark, dangerous jungles of mysterious Mexico. When I arrived at my final destination, I secretly donned the guise of an American 1 percenter and checked in at a swanky Cancun resort. Using my remarkable “people skills” (many mistake me for that Dos Equis guy: “The Most Interesting Man in the World”), I mingled effortlessly with the 1 percenters as they unabashedly frolicked in their Republican Theme Park, Mexico.
I now present you with the Blood Diamond of my treacherous quest: A brief glimpse into your future.
Mexico is what the Republicans want America to be. You can either agree with me or you can agree to disagree, it doesn’t matter. It remains the truth. Before you go all indignant on me, let me first say that I really enjoyed being a 1 percenter. At the resort, there were more workers than guests and we were well cared for: beautiful surroundings, modern, immaculate facilities and every need instantly met by a smiling, gracious, uniformed worker.
What’s not to like?
Mexico is truly a Republican Dream Land: There are far fewer of those pesky regulations than the U.S. and also far fewer unions. Officially, the minimum wage is about $4 per hour, but jobs often have task-oriented pay. Eight-hour workdays can become 12 without overtime and health insurance is usually not the employers’ problem. Retirement comes when you can no longer work efficiently. Then it’s adios, and good luck.
Mexico City reports 100,000 deaths a year from air pollution and ranks as the fifth unhealthiest city in the world. Water? Bottled, thank you. Mexico also has an extremely regressive tax system with no income tax, a 4.7 percent corporate tax and a 10.6 percent sales tax. I think that’s the official Republican Christmas list this year.
The conservative Heritage Foundation ranks countries by “Level of Freedom — Government Spending” or, what a normal person would call “lack of government.” Mexico gets good ratings along with other “winners” at the top like Haiti, Liberia and Bangladesh, while “losers” like the U.S. are stuck with the likes of Switzerland and Japan. It really doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out which direction Republicans want to take this country and for the 99 percent of us on the bottom, their future looks mighty bleak.
One day, our group rented a van to go check out another beach a few miles away, we took a wrong turn and discovered where some of our happy resort workers lived. It was an obviously poor town with many do-it-yourself homes constructed from what I would call “found” materials. Skinny kids and skinnier dogs wandered the filthy streets unattended.
Welcome to the real world of Republican deregulation.
For the 1 percent on the top, I can tell you from personal experience, it’s pretty sweet. The problem is that not everyone can be a 1 percenter. Only about one in a hundred, or, more realistically, that number is about one in a thousand. Unfortunately, through the awesome power of propaganda, many of us 99 percenters vote as though we were 1 percenters. We vote against our own best interests, for the benefit of those much, much richer.
Hey! Stop doing that.
Now, who do I talk to at the Daily Republic about getting reimbursed for this? I have receipts. Glen?
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil” the worker’s view of banking in America.