The best idea of 2014

Yes, it’s only not even quite March, but who’s going to beat the policy suggestion of columnist Joe Mathews, who advises California to hitch its wagon to the rising star … Mexico.

“Right now, when we do talk about Mexico, we obsess on chronic, mutual problems—unauthorized immigrants, drugs, and violence. As a result, there’s been next to no discussion of Mexico’s rise—or of how we can prosper from it,” he writes in Zocalo Public Square (reprinted in the SacBee).

“We’d be better off thinking about Mexico as California’s China—a vital economic partner that’s also a competitor, a society that is rapidly advancing even as it remains dogged by poverty, corruption, and other severe social problems.


“A California policy of seeking deeper cooperation – and shared governance – with Mexico would change the game. What if we worked with the Mexicans to rebuild our infrastructure, which would boost trade? We could develop new environmental regulations jointly, and in the process reduce abuses of the California Environmental Quality Act. We could offer in-state university tuition to Mexicans who can demonstrate financial need, as Texas does. And with both Mexico and California needing more college graduates, why not open a University of California campus in, say, Ensenada?

“To start with, and for no money at all, California’s media and civic leaders could add Mexico to their campaign platforms, debate dockets and political polls – up there with schools, health care, prisons, water and jobs.

“There has been no shortage of ideas for helping California and Mexico build community. Foreign policy scholar Abraham Lowenthal has suggested creating a joint California-Mexico online database for the school records of children who move between the two countries. There have been fledgling efforts to cooperate in tourism (joint marketing of both places, particularly to Europe and Asia); law enforcement (not just prosecutions but also collaborations around judicial reform to bolster the rule of law); and in health care (cross-border markets to reduce pharmaceutical prices and to control costs).”

Fabulous fresh thinking.

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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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