By Cho Kwang-han (mayor of the Namyangju City, Gyeonggi Province)
Recently, I have changed the title of my article published in series by the media, where I try to give a piece of my mind.
I am writing this article with a sense of serious fear that if we should fail to make a really wise selection in the next Presidential election, there could occur a serious problem to our country.
I am not talking about the present state of things in Korea today. Rather, I am writing with a sense of fear concerning the future of our country.
I hope that there would be no person who might misunderstand my meaning.
Today, I am trying to look at the difference between the United States (U.S.) and Mexico introduced in the book entitled “Why Does the State Fail?” (literal translation).
The city of Nogales, which straddles on the border between the U.S. and Mexico two countries, is half the United States and half Mexico. People living in the former live well while those in the latter do not.
The area of Mexico is 20 times the size of the Republic of Korea (south), and the thirteenth largest in the world. It is the seventh largest oil-producing country in the world and has abundant natural resources.
Mexico is ranked the 15th in the world in terms of economic power, and she is not a poor country when viewed on the basis of numerical figures.
However, if you look at the facts, the poverty rate is over 60%, and most of the people suffer from poverty due to the extreme gaps between the rich and poor.
The U.S. is the world's Number One economic power and has become a very powerful country and country in the world. Why is this difference between the two countries?
The two countries basically have different system of operation of the state.
The U.S. uses a system where the land, power and wealth were distributed among the different strata of people. The land went to the people who pioneered and developed it. The power and wealth were divided among the different classes of people with an emphasis on enlarging the middle class. They used a policy of tolerance, acceptance and sharing. And, of course, there were leaders who initiated it and carried it out.
On the contrary in Mexico, Europeans came and ruled the country exploiting the indigenous people and employed a system of violence aimed a monopolizing the wealth and land.
For a total of 24 years from 1876 to from 1876, after 50 years of independence President Porfirio Díaz used a policy of violence and forced the Mexican people to indescribable hardships—although it helped attaining a measure of success in the promotion of industry.
Ownership of land and wealth were all but monopolized by people from Europe and the majority of the indigenous people lost their land.
An exploitative system of coercive and monopolistic leadership has been established, and even now, only a few are wealthy while the majority of people are poor.
Then came an extremely important event in the history of the U.S. and Mexico.
In the mid-19th century, 55% of northern Mexico's territory was annexed to the U.S. Literally, the U.S. just grabbed the land of Mexico.
Today, Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming are the territories of the United States in Mexico.
Of the total 50 states of the country, as many as eight originally belonged to Mexico. They were just ‘stolen’ and were incorporated into the U.S. territory.
Texas, which used to be a Mexican land, rebelled against Mexico when many Americans migrated and 90% of the population became Americans.
In 1846, Mexico attacked the U.S. to reclaim the lost territory, where 16 American soldiers were killed or captured. The United States declared a war against Mexico. In 1848, the U.S. won the war, and Mexico was forced to sell the land (including California) for a give-away price of US$15 million, including California and other areas listed above.
By the way, as of 2017, California's economy was ranked 5th in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom and France if it exceeded 2.7 trillion dollars in GDP, and Texas was the 10th largest in the world with about US$1.7 trillion.
If these regions had remained as Mexican territory, would the U.S. have been able to enjoy the same economic scale and wealth as they do now?
This example clearly shows the consequences of differences in national institutions, that is, national operating systems.
The fate of a country becomes different depending on which leader is chosen and which system is used.
Depending on whether they were incorporated into the U.S. or remained in Mexico, the fate of these two regions became completely different!
On my next, occasion, I am going to introduce a funny story about the “importance of one vote” in elections during the U.S. incorporation of Texas and the Mexican War in Mexico.