Gunmen Kill 19 at Mexican Cockfighting Party

This headline, and many others like it indicate Mexico will remain in drug cartel hell until it decides it’s essential to pay living wages across the entire country — an impossible change because Big Capital has continued to absolutely oppose that. The evil of non-living wages is global, of course.

So long as millions and millions of working Mexicans continue to live under the tyranny of seven to ten dollars a day, which is Mexico’s “legal” minimum wage, a number of them will keep on taking a chance on crime.

Working people in Mexico have families to feed but often can’t do that fully. We’re talking about the basic necessities of food, medicine, housing, and school for their kids. But they all have smart phones or know someone who does, so they’re well aware they’re getting screwed and they’re angry.

Besides more money — never mind that it’s blood money — a life of crime for some people may also promise an imagined payback against the unfair and racist system they’ve known first hand.  That said, I do not defend making immoral choices.

But the fact is, the working poor mostly have no future and they know it. They see their children also having no future unless they make significant changes, so a life of crime can appear to be an option for some who do play by the rules, keep working hard, and still can’t ever make ends meet. Month after month, year after year it stays the same. Again, this is a global problem.

In the United States, for instance, in a lot of states once a felon you’re always a felon and many non-violent offenses of small amounts of drug possession can make you a felon.

Being a felon often means you can’t vote, you can’t get public housing, you can’t get food stamps if you’re broke, and getting a job is really hard because employers will ask you the dreaded question “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”  If you say yes, you’re likely not getting the job.  And if you say no and then they find out you lied, not only you’re not getting the job but if you have one you’re getting fired.

So what are felons to do?  Never mind most of them are also saddled with jail debt which can and does land them right back to prison for non-payment. Phone calls in jail are very costly, as are administrative fees, previously unpaid fines now growing under huge interest rates, and so on. Any arrangements you can manage to make from behind bars for your appeal will cost you a lot. All this snowballs for people in jail and makes their ex-convict lives outside very hard.

Ex-convicts and undocumented workers have some travails in common. Consider this. Under current United States immigration law, where guidelines for what’s called Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) are still changing and not yet fully resolved, many immigrants’ cases can be either dismissed (cannot get work authorization) or administratively closed (they can get work authorization).

Sometimes the side of government chooses to push the non-argument of, Well, since you, the defendant, have somehow managed to hustle a working existence illegally in this country for the last ten years, you can be free to continue doing so after we dismiss your case. We don’t care.

To which a good judge will respond with  No!  I will oppose dismissing this defendant’s case, forcing him to continue a life where he will need to keep working under the table.  Our courts are better than that.  They’re better than officially putting a defendant in a position where he’ll have to break the law in order for him and his family to survive. That makes no sense to me. Therefore, I will move instead to temporarily administratively close this case so this defendant can get a work permit and work legally while this court waits for the US government to produce their long-overdue final guidelines on this matter.  At that point in time this court will reconvene. Government counsel is free to appeal my decision.

Good judges do actually dispense justice when they go to work.

The immigration system in the US will remain in need of serious reform so long as it remains a profit-making system for businesses that benefit directly from cheap immigrant labor.  Big Capital prefers to nibble at the edges of the problem without really changing the system too much. Talking about lives of crime, what about corporate lives of white-collar crime?

Newscasters and pundits in corporate media constantly talk about capitalism and democracy in the same sentence unquestioningly.  Capitalism and democracy not only don’t go together, they often exclude each other.  A lot has to change before a society can functionally bring those two terms together. We are still not there in the United States or in Mexico.

It’s clear not everyone can be like New Zealand, Finland, Norway and so on, places where capitalistic societies function decently even when the means of production remain privately owned.  Those advanced societies show us that more humane societal choices are also possible.

Drug cartels have Mexico in their grip irremediably because they bring the promise of more breathing money to people suffocating economically. So the working poor and the alienated join cartels knowing blood money is a certainty, but their survival situation is desperate enough and demoralizing enough that many keep taking their chances with the devil. They lose and the devil wins.

With nineteen people gunned down and many more wounded, that was some cockfighting party, huh?

It’s just another day in the world where savage economic inequality rages on.