Friday, 6 June 2014

Tipping point in Mexico

Cartels are getting more money from mining than drugs, moving from thuggery to the Robber Baron stage. Can national government be many decades off?  As reported by Strategy Page:
Officials and national security analysts believe that the Knights Templar and the Zetas may have reached a “tipping point” in sources of income. The cartels may be making more money from non-narcotics related criminal operations. The Knights Templar and Los Zetas both make a lot of money in mining (Templars extracting iron ore, Zetas in coal). Both run extensive business extortion operations.
Davidson and Rees-Moog make the case in The Sovereign Individual that the opportunity costs and benefits of violence explain much of society.  Government and banditry, in their view, are on a continuum.  At the low end,  life is cheap and everyone poor.  At the high end, few people own the right to use violence and rewards are widely distributed to crony players and to civil servants but the size of the pie is so big that the insider who gets a small slice has more than the old time warlord who got all of his local little pie.

Matthew Jameson's book, "The Robber Barons" makes the case for this halfway step from brigandage to a prosperous economy. The book summary at Amazon is below.  I've never forgotten the tale.  This looks like Mexico's future, creating societal institutions from the ground up at home.
The Robber Barons details the history of a small class of men who arose at the time of the American Civil War and swept into power. They were aggressive, and in important crises, nearly all of them tended to act without those established principles associated with the common people of the community. At the same time, many of them showed qualities of courage. These robber barons, as were their medieval counterparts, were the dominating figures of an aggressive economic age.
In their hands the renovation of American economic life proceeded relentlessly: large-scale production replaced the scattered, decentralized production; industrial enterprises became more concentrated, where they had been purely individualistic and wasteful. To organize and exploit the resources of a nation upon a gigantic scale, to regiment its farmers and workers into producers, and to do this only in the name of profit—is the great contradiction whence so much disaster, outrage and misery has flowed.
Matthew Josephson illuminates the story of industrial concentration in the United States, which is here pursued through the study of the major financial events and personalities between 1861 and 1901. This book also focuses on establishing the manner in which the country’s natural resources and arteries of trade were preempted, its political institutions conquered, and its social philosophy turned into an economic one, by the new barons. This is, by all odds, a classic study of the culture of American capitalism.

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