Dear Mexican: People talk about the costs of illegal immigration to our society. What about the savings? Has there been any research into how much more a meal at a restaurant would cost without Mexicans cooking and washing dishes? What percentage increase would we see for supermarket produce if migrant illegal laborers were paid a fair wage?
El Mojado Acaudalado
Dear Wealthy Wetback: There are some studies out there, but the ones most often publicized are usually penned by Know Nothing groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies, and their statistics and findings are as twisted as the trenzas on a fine Mexican lass. Conversely, the ones stating the Reconquista is fab usually originate from Aztlanistas, so one must proceed with caution through the thicket of papers on the subject. The hard, boring stats: Out of the 2.2 million U.S. farms counted in the 2007 Census of Agriculture, only a quarter reported hiring workers. And out of the 1.42 million farmworkers reported in the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, foreign-born Mexicans made up only 35 percent of the population and just 10 percent of the food-preparation-and-service industry. A 2006 report by the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture found that nearly 39 percent of every dollar spent on food en los EstadosUnidos went to labor costs. Conclusion: Any pay raise for illegals toiling in the factories in the fields and kitchens would undoubtedly affect the bottom line of farmers and restaurateurs, which would force them to raise prices to recoup the cost—but probably not high enough to shut up the Know Nothings once and for all.
Dear Mexican: For the past 15 years, I’ve been periodically working enel campo of southern Veracruz, with both local campesinos and Mexican academics from the cities. After an incredibly hot, sweaty day in the sun, all I want to do is immediately take a cold shower. My Mexican colleagues (both rural and from the city) refuse to take a shower for at least a couple of hours, after their bodies cool down. When asked, they state a cold shower when you’re hot is very unhealthy and may even lead to sudden death. Now, my ancestry is northern European, and I’ve always experienced that there is nothing more invigorating than jumping into an ice-cold pool of water while being extremely hot, like, say, after being in a sauna. Is this hot-plus-cold-equals-death idea I’ve encountered in Veracruz widespread throughout Mexico? Is there a history of Mexicans dying from cold showers? What’s the basis for this? Or is this just due to the fact I’m not caliente enough, as my Mexican friends say?
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Dear Gabacho: I found a 1964 study from the Journal of Applied Physiology that discovered taking an ice-cold shower substantially increases blood pressure and pulse rate—but you knew this. Some people like that rush, but others know that putting instant stress on your cardiovascular system isn’t always wise. Mexican men know this, so they avoid las regaderas for a bit. But the more important reason for not taking showers so soon is because hombres also know that sweat contains pheromones, and we will use any possible angle to get into a woman’s chonis.
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