Here last Friday we discussed three aspects of populism: the invention of a mythical past lost to evil elites, the destruction of middlemen to link the direct leader to “the people,” and irresponsible electoral spending. It seems to me that the current government clearly covers all three: we are already in financial trouble, the institutional framework has been destroyed, and every day there are references to the past and to the evil elite.
I want to stress the latter, because I think it’s of the utmost importance. We haven’t talked about the future for five years. Five years of debating which past president did the most damage, which one is similar to the current president, who should be blamed and judged. Five years blaming everything that happens to the evil elite and the past.
Not to mention the future, the near opus took us by surprise and we didn’t prepare in time. Not to mention the future, we go back to the ancient technologies of generating electricity. Not to mention the future, we are not investing in it. I am not saying that there is no one to propose and argue, rather I am saying that the national agenda does not focus on the future.
Only the chief and his followers can see into the past. However, his opponents do not leave the present. From today they judge everything, and that is why they cannot imagine the year 2024. That is why there are many who believe that it will not be possible to change in that year, because they are simply expanding their current experience.
It seems to me that the future is important. Mexico’s future is in North America, which is the first thing we have to accept. No more outdated Latin American teachings, and no more searching for diversification. North America is the only region, in the developed world, that will experience at least a small demographic advance in the following decades. It will not happen in Europe or East Asia. We have already assembled production chains, developed academic and production relations, and functioning markets. Millions of Mexicans built their spaces in the United States, as they did nowhere else.
Secondly, the future is clean energy. Oil will continue to be used, but increasingly for chemical development and less for combustion. Gas will certainly facilitate the transition, followed by sun and wind. In this, too, integration with the United States is evident.
Third, for Mexico to succeed in the future, we will require, as we discussed last week, a strong state, bound by law and accountable to citizens. That strong country depends on having sufficient income, which we do not have today. Rather than wanting to change the status quo, it is convenient to imagine how much spending seems reasonable to the government, and from there to work out what sources of health financing we can draw on. This is the financial reform that needs to be done.
Fourth, for the state to be constrained by law, i.e. government and society, a profound change is needed in the way Mexicans imagine society to function. If something has stopped Latin America, and Mexico in particular, it is the impossibility of accepting that there should be rules that are applicable to everyone. We want to have personal rules, no privileges. And this has nothing to do with skin color or economic level: everyone wants to feel like they’re being treated differently.
We will dwell on these issues in detail, because now we have to prepare for the future. But hey, even though we’re talking about it, I’m momentarily joined in seeing the past: Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of my first newspaper text. In this newspaper, El Financiero. Thanks for the space, and thanks for reading.
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