Barry Soper’s Poor Mexico Column

One of the cool things about the press travelling with the Prime Minister is how they reveal their lack of knowledge of things outside the Beltway.

Barry Soper’s column on the NewstalkZB website is an absolute zinger. He’s not only ignorant of the fact that Mexico is an economic powerhouse despite a violent drug war, he’s failed to identify why Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world : because he was one of the beneficiaries of Mexico’s state owned asset sales in the early 1990’s.

Carlos Slim is a billionaire primarily because he took advantage of the privatisation of Telmex and has consistently fought off attempts to regulate his monopoly. The son of Lebanese immigrants, he is clearly a smart businessman, but it is remiss of Mr Soper not to mention the role state owned asset sales played in his wealth given that SOE sales are such a hot topic in New Zealand at the moment.

He’d also realise that the reason Mexico has such a massive underclass is because they have corrupt teachers unions and an education system that is designed for the middle class and up to benefit from. He might even have a look at how Mexico’s economic inequality is basically brown/white just like John Key’s Aotearoa.

Furthermore, he makes an aside about our trade with Mexico of $300 million a year being close to the price of “one of Carlos Slim’s Lear Jets”. A simple Google search would tell you that a Lear Jet 60 would set you back about $15 million – 1/20th of our trade with Mexico. And then you’d also realise that Carlos Slim is more of a superyacht guy and prefers to borrow private jet trips from his mates.

He also missed an opportunity to highlight that one of our most hollowed out consumer brands – Fisher & Paykel Appliances – has been manufacturing in Mexico for years. That decision may even have accelerated the job losses in Fisher & Paykel plants in New Zealand before the Chinese company Haier completed its takeover recently. I’m agnostic on this, but many Kiwis would not be.

All in all, it is the little things that matter. Most beltway columnists are clearly not well read enough or not smart enough to do a little bit of research before firing off their missives. Even the most experienced political journalists can produce an opinion piece so below par you wonder how they keep their jobs when younger people could do a better job for a lower wage.

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