May 21, 2005


When Cash Crosses Over (LA Times, May 21, 2005)

There is a bank in India that sends out ATM machines to roam the countryside, allowing villagers to withdraw some of the cash earned by their relatives in places like the Middle East, Britain and California. It's a modern twist on a venerable tradition. Depending on your village, Wednesday could be cash day at the market.

Remittances is jargon not only for those hard-earned sums flowing into India but also for the money sent home by Mexican maids in Los Angeles and their Filipino counterparts in Hong Kong. It's a phenomenon obsessing global bankers and social workers alike.

Nobody planned it this way, but that money sent home by migrant workers around the world has become one of the most important means of alleviating poverty.

This north-south flow of money is closing in on $100 billion a year. In the case of Latin America, the roughly $45 billion in remittances, coming largely from the United States, now exceeds all foreign direct investment and development aid combined. And unlike investment or aid that often fails to reach its intended recipients, remittances flow straight to those in need.

One of the great ironies of nativism is that were it possible to place limits on immigration and this flow of cash to be reduced it would create explosive pressures within neighboring countries and eventually force even more immigration, this time of a desperate nature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Some anti-immigrationist believe that if immigrants were to stay in their home country, that it would put pressure on their governments to reform the feudal system they presently have. By coming to the wealthier western countries (the US and Europe) such pressure dissipates.

"become one of the most important means of alleviating poverty"

It doesn't alleviate poverty for the long term because the exploitive elite of those countries view such remittances as mere supplements for their peons and therefore a subsidy for further exploitation.

"create explosive pressures within neighboring countries"

Good. That's what needs to happen, in order for change to occur.

"and eventually force even more immigration"

No. It will force the Vicente Fox's of the world to make changes that will allow their citizens to prosper in their own country.

Posted by: h-man at May 21, 2005 8:44 AM

I am sick and tired of being blamed for other countries' socioeconomic choices.

Socialism kills, free markets feed.

They need to blow, OJ.

Posted by: Sandy P. at May 21, 2005 12:33 PM


Fine by me--I welcome a tidal wave of immigrants.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 1:10 PM