Monday, December 24, 2012

Good Reads: Mexico?s rise, Lincoln?s precedence, and tomorrow?s truth

A round-up of this week's long-form good reads include a look at Mexico's competitive growth, the virtues of compromise in multiple administrations, and how facts 'decay.'

By Marshall Ingwerson,?Managing editor / December 14, 2012

Shipping trucks in Veracruz, Mexico, a major port city on the Gulf of Mexico.

Alfredo Sosa/Staff/File


Which country produces the biggest share of America?s flat-screen TVs? You know it can?t be China, or we wouldn?t bother asking.

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Three years ago, a Pentagon report warned that Mexico was on the brink of becoming a failed state, notes a special report in The Economist. Instead, Mexico?s economic growth has overtaken and surpassed that of Brazil. And as Chinese wages have quintupled in the past 10 years, Mexico?s competitiveness is rising to match its great field position next door to the US Sun Belt. The flat-screen TVs are the least of it. What?s amazing to The Economist is how little Americans know about the progress of their southern neighbor. It estimates that nearly a tenth of current US residents, or their children, are Mexican citizens. But as the Monitor has noted, net migration from Mexico has dropped to zero or lower as opportunities there have expanded.

Many Americans have heard, if vaguely, of Mayan calendars that seem to predict the end of the world coming in a few weeks. But few have heard that recent translations revise that apocalypse into something more like a renewal or fresh start. And that, the magazine argues, looks to be where Mexico is heading.

Lincoln?s example for today?s mess

In these times of winter winds whipping across the ?fiscal cliff? at Americans? feet, compromise is suddenly in again. What was scorned in the tea party upswell of 2010 as caving in to bad Washington habits, is lauded in late 2012 as adult behavior and getting something done.

History, of course, stands on both sides of the compromise question. Abraham Lincoln may have been the self-effacing pragmatist who could hold together a diverse ?team of rivals.? But he was not about compromise. This is something the new Steven Spielberg film on Lincoln gets right, says The New Yorker?s Adam Gopnik. The United States had been straddling various compromises over slavery for years, he says, and there are still arguments over whether Lincoln could have avoided the unprecedented human suffering of the war. But Lincoln instead stood at the end of the line for compromise. His position was absolute, both on union and on slavery.

?Lincoln was an uncompromising man who sponsored violence on a hitherto unimaginable scale; that he paid the highest price himself for the noble but hugely costly morality in which he believed is one of the things that makes his story still so fateful and, in its way, uncompromised.?


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