The production of many of the goods the United States imports from Mexico causes pollution within Mexico - Mexican pollution introduction. Is this extra pollution fair to the Mexican people?
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The use of the word “fair” is somewhat simplistic, as issues of concern to the vital interests of Mexico are highly complex and not subject to some concept of status quo fairness. Also, there needs to be a clear definition of who is posing the question of fairness. Is it the Mexican people themselves or is it an environmental group injecting itself into the mix and using (exploiting) the Mexican people’s situation? The reason this is important is that unless the Mexican population is actually making wide scale claims of unfairness that is documented in the Mexican media, the question has little credibility as there can be no call for fairness when no one is actually calling for fairness. Furthermore, what if the calls to “fairness” (if they exist) undermine Mexico’s fragile economy? Should Mexico devalue its peso by driving its export/import profits up (or down) in order to be fair to the people who will suffer from a serious economic fate? If someone does not have enough food for their family, their concerns will not be about how clean the air is. The people should rightfully be concerned with rebuilding the economy of Mexico rather than the issue of pollution. China, for example, has the worst pollution in the world and their economy has grown 30% a year, the highest rate in history.
When firms in Mexico cause pollution that crosses the border, U.S. residents along the border are damaged. That pollution is an external cost, since the U.S. residents have no way to extract payment for damages from the Mexican polluters. What policies should the United States pursue to reduce this pollution?
Again, does this situation actually exist to the degree that American citizens are angered that they wish there was a remedy to exact payment for pollution? And, if so, does the number of people looking for “pollution reparations” exist in such a volume that a serious attempt to seek remedy in the form of pressuring congress and the president to alter American foreign policy in such a way that punitive actions are taken against Mexico. Yes, the United States could embargo Mexican goods as a means of reducing pollution, but this would only punish Mexico’s economy which, in turn, would punish a number of innocent people and lead to the compounded problem or further migrant refugees seeking opportunity in America.