Suppose that you were subject to, say, horrendous sinus infections or earaches. In America, by law you would have to get an appointment with a doctor, $75, thank you—when he had time, how about day after tomorrow, whereupon he would give you a prescription for amoxicillin, fifteen bucks and a trip to a pharmacy. If this happened on a Friday, you would either slit your wrists by Saturday evening to avoid the torture, or go to an emergency room, however distant, where they would charge you a fortune and give you a prescription for…amoxicillin.
In Mexico, upon recognizing the familiar symptoms, you would go to the nearest farmacia and buy the amoxicillin. The agony would be nipped in the bud (presuming that agony has buds). The doctor would not get $75, which is against all principles of medicine. The pharmacist would not lose his license, as he would in the United States.
See? Criminality is legal in Mexico. That’s how bad things are.
Another grave crime here is horse abuse. Often you see a Mexican father clopping through town on an unregistered horse—yes: the horror—with his kid of five seated behind him. A large list of crimes leaps instantly to the North American mind. The kid is not in a governmentally sanctioned horse seat. He is not wearing a helmet. The father is not wearing a helmet. The horse is not wearing a helmet. The horse is not wearing a diaper. The horse does not have a parade permit. The horse doesn’t have turn signals. The father does not have a document showing that he went to a governmentally approved school and therefore knows how to operate a horse, which he has been doing since he was six years old.
In Mexico, if you want to ride a horse, you get one, or borrow one. If you don’t know how to ride it, you have someone to show you. Why any of this might interest the government is unclear to everybody, including the government.
You see. Here is the dark underside of Mexico. People do most things without supervision, as if they were adults.
This curious state of affairs, which might be called “freedom,” has strange effects on gringos. Shortly after I moved here, I began to hear little voices. This worried me until I realized that I was next door to a grade school. Daily at noon a swarm of children erupted into the street, the girls chattering and running every which way, the boys shouting and roughhousing and playing what sounded like cowboys and Injuns.
In the United States, half of the boys would be forced to take drugs to make them inert. If they played anything involving guns, they would be suspended and forced to undergo psychiatric counseling, which would in all likelihood leave them in a state of murderous psychopathy. Wrestling would be violence, with the same results.
Here you see the extent to which, narcotically, Mexico lags the great powers. The Soviets drugged inconvenient adults into passivity. America drugs its little boys into passivity. Mexico doesn’t drug anyone.
In fiesta season, which just ended, everybody and his grand aunt Chuleta puts up a taco stand or booze stall on the plaza. Yes: In front of God and everybody. These do not have permits. They are just there. If you want a cuba libre, you give the nice lady twenty pesos and she hands it to you. That’s all. There is in this a simplicity that the North American instantly recognizes as dangerous. Where are the controls? Where are the rules? Why isn’t somebody watching these people? Heaven knows what might happen. They could be terrorists.
If you chose to wander around the plaza, drink in hand, and listen to the band, no one would care in the least, in part because they would be doing the same thing. If you didn’t finish your drink, and walked home with it, no one would pay the least attention.
In America this would be Drinking in Public. It would merit a night in jail followed by three months of compulsory Alcohol School. This would accomplish nothing of worth, but would put money in the pockets of controlling and vaguely hostile therapists, and let unhappy bureaucrats get even with people they suspect of enjoying themselves.
Mexicans seem to regard laws as interesting concepts that might merit thought at some later date. There is much to be said for this. The governmental attitude seems to be that if a thing doesn’t need regulating, then don’t regulate it. Life is much easier that way.
If a law doesn’t make sense in a particular instance, a Mexican will ignore it. Where I live it is common to see a driver go the wrong way on a one-way street to avoid a lengthy circumnavigation. Since speeds are about five miles an hour, it isn’t dangerous. The police don’t patrol because there isn’t enough crime (in my town: the big cities are as bad as ours) to justify it. It works. Everybody is happy, which isn’t a crime in Mexico.
I could go on. In Mexico, legally or not, people ride in the backs of pickup trucks if the mood strikes them. This is no doubt statistically more dangerous than being wrapped in a Kevlar crash-box with an oxygen system and automatic transfusion machine. They figure it is their business.
Here is an explanation of Mexican criminality. The United States realizes that a citizen must be protected whether he wants to be or not—controlled, regulated, and intimidated in every aspect of everything he does, for his own good. He must not be permitted to ride a bicycle without a helmet, smoke if he chooses, or go to a bar where smoking is permitted. He cannot be trusted to run his life.
Have you ever wondered how much good the endless surveillance, preaching, and rules really do? In some states your car won’t pass inspection if there is a crack in the windshield. There are—I don’t doubt?—studies measuring the carnage and economic wreckage concomitant to driving with a cracked windshield. Presumably whole hospitals groan at the seams (if that’s quite English) with the maimed and halt.
Or might it be that the rules are just stupid, the product of meddlesome bureaucrats and frightened petty officials with too much time on their hands? Maybe it would be better if they just got off our backs?