Something to Consider

I have started reading a Blog Written by La Gringa in Honduras and in her post “A country of retirees”, she enlightened me to something I hadn’t thought about. She is having a hard time getting a maid to work for any extended amount of time, i.e. more than one month. One of the reasons appears to be that there are many Hondurans that are in the US and sending money home to their family to help out.

Therefore many Hondurans don’t do anything, they just wait for the relative in the US to send the monthly cash. This situation has a dramatic effect on Honduras. Read her post to understand more.

After reading her post, it dawned on me that when the US stiffens its borders and improves its enforcement of removing illegal immigrants, it is going to have a dramatic effect on all of Latin America. I don’t think that Honduras is the only Latin American country that has a section of its population depending on money being sent from the states

If an illegal is living in the US and working and earning a great salary by Latin American standards, and suddenly is sent home, look what happens. When he returns home, he will fall into the pool of unemployed competing for a job. That pool will increase dramatically because those that were not working and living off the money being sent from the US will now also be looking for work.

The US has many people living on welfare, but I had never realized that it is effectively sponsoring welfare societies in other countries. I am not saying that all Latin Americans living in the US and sending money to their families back home are illegal, but I bet a fair number are. It is a cultural thing for Latin American families to help the entire family. I am afraid that the effect, of what ever the US’s decision to tighten its borders and remove illegals may be, is little understood and will have worldwide consequences.

38 thoughts on “Something to Consider

  1. I looked at the statistics last April, and I think the U.S. needs more labor than is available with just citizens and the present pool of legal non-citizens. I think we need a way to facilitate legal employment by many of those who would come illegally.

    The guest-worker program that Bush (and now Gov. Perry of Texas) supports may be the answer. More legal workers mean more Social Security payments and the hope of keeping it solvent.

  2. I am all for doing whatever allows them to work legally. A long as they are paying taxes and social security, great. But I have a hard time understanding how people living illegally in the US think they have any rights.

    I thought it was a real joke when all of the illegals were marching and protesting a few months back.

  3. Hi Don, The ramifications of our overlooking the status of individuals in the US is going to be dramatic if it gets turned around without some kind of “individual” case review and requires those without status to leave. The press talks about the US not having anyone willing to do the work that we require to have our economy flourish. The law enforcement talks about the criminal elements at all levels. Communities worry about providing services for people who are not in the economy as tax payers, etc. Your concern about the economy of the countries that have individuals in the US without status being sent home is real. I don’t pretend to know the formula but I do anticipate that the changes being proposed will be painful to many. In today’s world we do have to have more “big brother” than anyone of want. Dick

  4. Hey I want my CHEAP Doctors, Lawyers and Accountants here in the states! The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. They allow the entire worlds poor to do jobs that that Americans won’t …but won’t allow the same courtesy for blue collar jobs! I thought the United States fixed this problem at least three times before? Seems to me my loving Government has sold “ME” 4’th generation tax paying LEGAL citizen down the river!

  5. What good are LAWS when people from other country’s thumb there nose at them? Why should I obey the laws of the USA when our Gov. won’t enforce them?

  6. Hello Don, Well, illegal aliens should be deported. It happens that way in most other countries. It isn’t fair that they come into our country and get free health care and free help on housing and groceries and “maybe” conribute something back. I know a man here who owns dozens of farms, or hundreds of acres and it is all planted in trees, shurbs and nursery stock. He gets his help from South America and while he pays them a good salary, they don’t report it and don’t pay taxes but take everthing from medical care to hospitalization. He will finally have to pay a decent wage to Americans or to legal aliens. I prefer these people come here legally and have no problem with that as that is the way it is supposed to be. Our health care costs have skyrocketed and some of those costs support the free care illegal aliens get.

  7. I agree with you Abe. The extreme healhcare costs and other escalating costs are some of the reasons that made Panama attractive for me for retirement.

  8. You got that right Don, call me a radical but I don’t believe that Doctors should have to treat EVERY person who is dropped off on there door step! If you can’t PAY, to heck with you! Name another profession (in the States)that works this way? There are plenty of Non-Profit charity organizations to help poor people and there health care issues. You have hit on 3 of the hot button issues (I have more too) as to why I’m leaving the wonderful USA!

  9. Another problem in the US is the costs that trickle down on health care by frivolous lawsuits on the medical profession. Drug costs have gone out of sight and I don’t see a reason for it.

    For the most part I find the health care I have received here equal to or better than the US. However I haven’t required any major surgery here either.

  10. I think consultants take your watch and then tell you what time it is. Lawyers take your watch, tell you what time it is and keep the watch.

  11. I had a lawyer working on a civil matter for me and showed up at my business in a new Corvette and asked me how I liked his new car? I said WOW its awesome how much did it set you back? He said “0”! I replied WHAT? He said he had a client that couldn’t pay his fee, so the Lawyer took his car! Must be nice…I have a laundry list of dead beats that owe me money that are riding around high on the hog, thumbing there nose at me!

  12. Don, Is Snake Eyes the guy that plays the caveman on the Geico adds? Why does it take us so long to become indignent? Have a good weekend. Dick

  13. It certainly was a sad story to read about that poor gringa who had so much trouble keeping her maids, who “don’t want to work.” Of course, given her attitude it could be that they don’t want to work for her. Where I live in Massachusetts, Brazilian maids get $15 an hour; try paying your maids a third of that and see if you have any trouble getting maids. They might even be willing to work for that “poor gringa.”

    If someone cares to dispute my observation, see if you can start out your comment without some variation of “you just don’t understand.”

  14. Well Tom, La Gringa lives in Honduras and I live in Panama. I feel comfortable that la Gringa pays the appropriate rate for Honduras and I pay the appropriate rate for Panama.

    If you start paying above the normal and expected rate you create a negative effect and it is very much not appreciated by others that live where you live.

    You seem a little combative today. Too many Boston Baked Beans perhaps?

  15. Gee, Don, you came very close to saying “you just don’t understand.”

    However, in your own blog about domestic help you mentioned paying people a “reasonable wage.” That’s the key.
    Obviously, the Honduran gringa is not going to pay $5 an hour, but if she paid a reasonable wage, she wouldn’t have any trouble keeping her maids. If she is unable to keep her maids, she is not paying them enough. That is a simple rule of economics It is hardly the maid’s fault that the influx of money from the United States has changed the economic dynamics. Sure, you are correct that it would be wrong to create a negative effect (a friend of mine says the same thing about her domestic help in Mississippi), but the money that is apparently flooding into Honduras from the United States simply means that cheap labor is no longer cheap.

    Nope, no Boston Beans today. I just take notice when a rich person tries to explain why poor people don’t want to work.

  16. As long as you write from the perspective of one living in the US and don’t write of experiences you have living in Latin America, then there is probably a fair chance that “You just don’t understand”. Oops!

  17. I don’t understand the whole American fascination with a Maid service anyway…for crying out loud are Americans So spoiled they can’t clean there own freakin house? Hell it ain’t “ABOVE” me to clean the freakin toilet myself!

  18. Any one can clean a house in the US. The windows are rarely open and very little dirt comes in. That is not the case in Latin America. I don’t think you would be that eager to clean a 1,500 square foot house in Panama. It needs to be cleaned throughly every two to three days. In a larger house a maid would be busy every day doing what she recently just did.

    You can clean your house if you want to. At my age, I have better things to do.

  19. I would rather have a Cook than a maid, I like to eat out, but it really becomes an ordeal after a while trying to get to your favorite restaurants 3 times a day, I myself would rather clean than cook! whats the story on COOKS? Can you hire a local lady to cook for you?

  20. Here in the states I eat allot of frozen dinners from Wal-mart (I know, I’m weird) In Costa Rica anyway TV dinners are scarce, limited and cost 3 times that of the USA. I’m a microwave DUDE! what the heck!

  21. Heck TV dinners in the States have become allot healthier, tastier and better selection and good price, never have to worry about spoilage, over the last 10 years, probably the ONLY thing I will miss about the States…I hate to cook!

  22. Sorry, Don Ray. I have to leave a comment for Tom.

    I’m La Gringa and I pay EXACTLY what the going rate is, sometimes more; always more if you consider the fact that I don’t make the maids work as many hours in a day or 6 or 7 days a week as most Hondurans do.

    For one girl who was previously living and working in a small town, we gave her her own room, private bathroom, TV, 3 meals a day, AND increased her salary by 88% (eighty-eight not eight.eight) to pay the going rate here in La Ceiba, with a promise for further increases if she did a good job. She left after 2 months.

    Two maids never returned to work after I told them that I was giving them a raise. I can tell you that money is not a motivator, as strange as that sounds to us North Americans. “That simple rule of economics” doesn’t apply here in Honduras.

    An extreme example is when we were building our house. We would call about a bid for materials, either with questions about their bid or to tell them we wanted to do business with them. If the person we needed to talk to wasn’t available, they would never call us back. Ever, in 2 years of construction. So they would risk a $10-20-50,000 contract because they didn’t want to spend $1 on a phone call. And this was after they had gone to the trouble to quote the work or materials. Explain that one to me?

    Sorry, Tom, until you’ve lived here, you can’t possibly understand. You are assuming that every culture is motivated by money like the U.S. and it just isn’t so.

    Every Honduran family I know (from the not wealthy at all to the very wealthy) has the same problem keeping a maid. Not only that, do you know what they tell me my problem is? They say that a maid will not respect me because I treat them TOO NICE! They say that I cannot treat them like an equal.

    So, Tom, you just don’t know what you are talking about.

  23. You bring up an interesting point about returning phone calls. I rarely have calls returned. Lawyers say they will call me later in the day and they never do. Maybe I shouldn’t have used lawyers as an example.

    Also in Panama if you call a cell phone then the person calling pays for both parties charges. No one ever calls me on my cell number. They will call once, maybe, hang up before I answer so it is listed as a missed call. Then they expect me to call back.

    I have gotten in the habit of calling back and letting it ring once.

  24. Good morning folks:

    It is interesting that you all assume that I’ve never lived in Latin America. I have, indeed.

    No question, the cultures are different, but money is a motivating factor. There is no other explanation as to why young Central Americans suffer so much in Florida in order to provide a better life for their families back home. And, to reiterate, they do suffer, painfully.

    As for the phone calls, Don Ray shed some light on that in a different blog.
    Rural Latin Americans just are not big on using phones with strangers; neither am I for that matter.

    Just do like Snake Eyes; clean your own house and buy TV dinners.

  25. Hi Tom. I made no assumption about your living in Latin America. I can only base my opinions on my experience here in Panama. Granted it is only about four years being her perminant and another ten years periodically visiting. My experience continues to grow with each new day.

    Returning phone calls has nothing to do with not wanting to call strangers. When I complain about the problem to local Panamanians they tell me to get used to it. They say on one returns calls to cell phones and seldom to local non cell phone numbers.

    As for cleaning my own house and eating TV dinners, I’ll pass. But if it is good for you, then have at it.

  26. Hi Don Ray:

    I was only speculating as to why they do not return phone calls–(we should add) to North Americans. Not much question that you and La Gringa are generally correct about that. The real question is why don’t they?

    Ah, cultural differences, indeed. I once asked a Costa Rican to meet me at a certain time, and he replied, “Do you mean gringo time or Costa Rican time?”

    By the way, Don Ray, you do get a good response to your blog. I know two people who publish very good (political/economic) blogs and hardly ever get a response.

    Anyhow, I’ll shut up now until your next trip to the barbers.

    Tom

  27. Hahahah. Yes, Yanie is worthy of a few more photos. However, I am probably good for another month.

    I will have to tell her that she is a very popular subject on the Internet. That will bring out a smile.

    I think Costa Rican time is very similar to Panama time. It is always much later than I expect.

    I have been very fortunate that as many people read this blog as they do. More than that I happy that so many take the time to leave a comment. I think it is easy for the comments to provide more information than the blog itself.

  28. I have heard all these stories about Latins not returning phone calls, not showing up on time and quitting jobs…granted I have never lived in Central America yet, but I can say the very same thing about Americans right here in my home town! I see a whole generation of young Adult American “SLACKERS” with “0” work ethic! Can’t be any worse than Panama or Costa Rica?

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