Mexico held back by corruption
What the heck is wrong with Mexico? It's got everything it needs to be a prosperous First World country.
It's got a $1.7 trillion free-market economy -- the 12th largest in the world.
It's got 116 million of the hardest-working people on the planet.
It's got its own oil, gas, silver and other natural resources. It's got beautiful beaches and ancient ruins to attract tourists.
So why is Mexico such a mess?
Why are its wages so low and its per capita income a third of ours? Why is its unemployment rate so high? Why is its pollution so bad?
Why are drug cartels killing tens of thousands of people each year in turf wars? Why are the drug traffickers effectively in charge of the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border?
And, most important to us, why do so many of Mexico's poorest citizens have to leave their families, become criminals and sneak across the U.S. border just to get a decent-paying job?
The answer is simple, and no secret.
The reason Mexico is not the safe, prosperous First World country it should be is because of its corrupt government and the politicians who run it.
Thirty years ago Ronald Reagan shocked the professional appeasers, the Cold War wimps and the detente-forever crowd when he called the Soviet Union exactly what it was and always had been -- "The Evil Empire."
My father's politically incorrect truth-telling told the whole world what he thought of the USSR and announced that he was going to use moral and spiritual weapons, not just military strength, to fight Soviet communism.
My father knew it was not the captive peoples of the Soviet Union who were evil. It was their totalitarian government and the terrible ideas that it enforced so brutally.
Mexico's people are equally blameless. They're not the source of their country's economic ills or our illegal-immigration problem.
The Mexicans who cross into the USA looking for work are doing what most people I know, including myself, would do if they were trapped in a politically corrupt country.
It's time for Washington to stop arguing over the length or height or strength of our border fences, or how many years our 11 million illegal immigrants must wait in line to become an American citizen.
It's time for Washington to address the root cause of our immigration problem -- the mess that is Mexico.
We need to stake out the moral high ground and do what it takes to help Mexico -- and it's not money.
Mexico already has all the human and natural resources it needs. But it's being held back by corruption.
It's time for an American president -- this president -- to stand up and call Mexico what it has been for at least a century, "The Corrupt Empire."
We -- through the president -- have to tell the people of Mexico we want to help them clean up their corrupt government.
We have to tell them we understand why they must risk their lives to come here illegally. And we have to tell them we want to help them become a First World country so they can stay home.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution."