4 Ways America Screws the World (Nobody Talks About)
You know what people hate about America? Damn near everything, and the sentiment isn't completely unjustified. Don't get me wrong -- we do our share of good in certain places, but, for the most part, when the United States comes to town, bad shit comes with us. We talk about one of this country's most destructive exports of all on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by Cracked editors Soren Bowie and Robert Evans. Coincidentally, it's the same thing I'm talking about here today.
Mexico's Gun Violence Is Mostly Our Fault
So, here's an interesting statistic: There's only one gun store in all of Mexico. One. In the entire country. It's on a military base in Mexico City, and buying a weapon there isn't easy. Even if you do jump through the necessary hoops and pass the various background checks, you're still only allowed to buy one small handgun and one box of bullets.
Good luck getting your cartel off the ground with that arsenal.
Understand we are talking about a country that, in 2012, had more homicides by firearm than the U.S. Do I even need to tell you where all of their murder guns come from? Depending on who you ask, as much as 90 percent of them arrive illegally from America. Back when Mexican authorities made that claim, there were more than 6,000 federally licensed gun stores on the U.S. side of the border, so it's a pretty safe bet that estimate wasn't too far off. Just to be clear, that's how many there were just on the border between Mexico and us. That number doesn't even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to how many gun stores we now have in total. They outnumber McDonald's in this country, if that tells you anything.
The gun stores are less dangerous, though.
Even worse, Arizona, which you might recognize as a state that shares a border with Mexico and as a generally terrible place, has some of the loosest gun laws in all the land. Sure, you have to pass a background check to buy a gun there ... if you buy it from a licensed dealer. The problem is, they have almost no restrictions on private owners reselling guns. It's expected that they won't sell them to "prohibited possessors," but they also don't require private sellers to run a background check of any sort -- it's more like a gentlemen's agreement than an actual law.
That's video of journalist Mariana van Zeller buying guns without even having a goddamn I.D. on her at a gun show in Arizona, and YouTube is littered with countless videos of investigative reporter-types doing the exact same thing. It's safe to assume that criminals don't have a much harder time making a purchase in that environment. Gun laws don't matter if you don't keep track of where they go once they're sold. We don't, and, as a result, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. Keep that in mind next time you complain about illegal immigrants. I'll take having my country flooded with people looking for work over guns any day.
Guns aren't the only way we're destroying Mexico, either.
Fast Food and Soft Drink Companies Are Spreading "Globesity"
Bill Clinton's time in office obviously wasn't without scandal, but the stuff that always comes up when it's the topic of discussion is usually bullshit about cum stains on dresses and vagina cigars -- which is completely silly if you're hoping to make a compelling argument for his shortcomings as president, especially when you could just talk about NAFTA instead.
That easy-to-say acronym stands for North American Free Trade Agreement, and it's what we've been using to destroy Mexico for more than two decades now. In the simplest terms, NAFTA removed all of the trade restrictions that, up to that point, had prevented U.S. businesses from entering that country and wreaking the maximum amount of havoc possible. Critics argued that it would mean fewer jobs for Americans, Clinton argued that it would mean more jobs for Americans, and both sides agreed that Mexico could get fucked either way.
Enjoy your steep drop in wages!
There's actually too much awfulness about NAFTA to cover it all in this entry, so let's focus on one thing: high-fructose corn syrup. It replaced sugar in most U.S. soft drinks a long time ago, but wasn't much of a presence in Mexico -- prior to NAFTA. Once that law passed, however, exports of high-fructose corn syrup to Mexico increased by 1,200 percent. Guys, that's a whole lot, and it's a huge problem.
See, some researchers have noticed that high-fructose corn syrup, unlike actual sugar, produces addictive effects similar to those seen in cocaine. What does that mean? Well, for all of the talk about Americans being the fattest people in the world, Mexico actually surpassed the U.S. in adult obesity rates in 2013, mostly because they've also become the country that consumes the most soda.
Coke: the deadliest way to invade a country without using the military.
At one point, the Mexican government proposed a tax on imported products that contain high-fructose corn syrup in an effort to stem the tide a bit, and the World Trade Organization promptly swooped in to shoot it down after corn producers in this country complained. Thanks, Bill Clinton!
It's not just Mexico we're making fat, though. All over the world, the rise of American fast food companies overseas is, predictably, having the same effect on those countries that it did here at home. Like in Qatar, for example, where adult obesity rates are in the neighborhood of 50 percent.
That same scenario is playing out all over the world, even as demand for fast food in this country is on the decline. In fact, that's probably why interest is increasing elsewhere. As another famous corporate villain has proved, when favor turns against you in this country, the best thing to do is take your show on the road. That's why ...
We Constantly Arm Our Future Enemies
To say America's foreign policy is a bit shortsighted sometimes would be a massive understatement. Basically, when a conflict flares up somewhere that threatens our interests, our go-to move is to identify a faction within that country that is willing to fight for our side, and then send them as many weapons as we think it will take to keep things exactly as they are. Sure, it's better than sending our own troops in to stop every fire that puts our oil at risk, but it rarely ends the way we hope.
Remember when Russia invaded Afghanistan and spent 10 long years trying to win -- before finally giving up? There's an entire book (and an accompanying Tom Hanks movie) about our government's covert schemes to arm Afghan soldiers and help them win.
It worked in the sense that the country didn't fall to the rule of Communism, but failed dramatically in that all of those weapons and all of that training is what eventually led to the Taliban taking power, which, in turn, led to us eventually being mired in a decade long war of our own.
Or, how about that famous picture of Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein, just weeks before a second visit coinciding with the release of a report that Iraq had used mustard gas against Iranian civilians?
Geez, take one little picture with a guy you compared to Hitler, and people just completely lose their shit.
We were still friends then, you know? Iran, on the other hand, was the enemy, and, if Iraq was willing to fight them, we were willing to send them the weapons they needed to do it. For all intents and purposes, we built the military that we eventually went into Iraq to destroy.
Now, we're doing it all over again in Syria ... maybe? We're definitely sending them weapons, but that's where our ability to know how that decision will play out in the long run ends. Someone will take power, and we'll hope that they like us, and, if not, we'll either take our weapons back or send more to someone else in the country willing to start another fight with a newer and fancier arsenal.
On the bright side, a handful of old rich white dudes will probably make a shit-ton of cash the entire time!
Tobacco Companies Still Market to Children Overseas
The impetus for most of the laws that cracked down on tobacco companies -- employing adorable cartoon mascots to pitch their poison to kids -- came as a result of a 1991 study, which found that among kids ages 3 to 6 years, a staggering 91.3 percent were able to match Joe Camel with the product he endorses.
That product, of course, being coolness.
With that, it was decided that cancer sticks were the enemy, and there's been a push in this country to do away with them as much as possible, short of all-out prohibition, ever since.
Of course, that doesn't mean the major tobacco companies have stopped trying to lure kids into a lifetime of thinking they look like James Dean in pictures. In fact, a study very similar to the famous Joe Camel test of 1991 was conducted more recently in Brazil, China, Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and India. Among 2,400 kids ages 5 to 6 years old, 68 percent were able to correctly identify at least one tobacco logo, and, no, they weren't all kids who live with smokers. Thanks for asking, though!
What's most problematic about this is that the major tobacco companies signed a worldwide treaty banning the use of aggressive advertising around the world.
Not only have they not adhered to the rules put forth in that treaty, they've taken to threatening lawsuits against developing nations that try to enact anti-smoking laws, on the grounds that such restrictions amount to violations of treaties those countries signed with Sweden, where Philip Morris also has headquarters.
Sure, the anti-smoking measures in question aren't much different from those that have been enacted in countries such as Canada and Australia.
Smoke up, Johnny!
The difference, of course, is that even if Philip Morris was bold enough to sue them, both countries have the resources to fight it out in court, whereas a long, drawn-out legal battle with a major tobacco company would be way harder to stomach for a place such as Gabon or Togo, both in Africa. That is exactly what has been promised if they, along with several other tiny countries, try too hard to keep their citizens from smoking.
So, basically, Philip Morris is suing for the right to kill people in developing countries the way they used to be allowed to kill people everywhere else, and they have a damn good chance of winning.
For more from ATB, check out 4 Uncomfortable Situations We Should All Be In at Least Once and 4 Recent Scandals That Would Have Opposite Outcomes Today.
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