U.S. ownership of Mexican property, free trade in Medicare

Tyler Cowen:

Morgan Warstler has a question:

On Mexican immigration, I’d like your thoughts on an open door policy conditioned on Mexico changing their Constitution to allow Americans to own beachfront property and companies outright.

The idea being we simply need to get Americans thinking about Mexico like a big Florida, thinking about their boomer parents buying condos and getting cheap medical care. Get entrepreneurs thinking about setting up manufacturing shops in Mexico and generally anything which makes more Americans feel annoyed by a closed border.

Why don’t free market economists that champion the import of human capital and free trade, spend more time pushing Free Market Manifest Destiny? Are we so sure Mexico wouldn’t agree to such horse trading? We push our ideas all over the globe, why not lean on Mexico where it is in our obvious strategic interest?

I believe Mexico would not agree to such horse trading, though it may happen in some lesser form, if the United States simply keeps quiet about the idea.  In particular Mexico is likely to allow greater FDI in its fossil fuels production, if only to prevent a fiscal crash from this revenue source going away.  They need expertise from U.S. companies in this area rather badly.

Beachfront property touches too closely on national pride and the efficiency gains to American ownership are in any case small.  Rent if you must, and Mexico has more wealthy people all the time to buy up that stuff.  I would favor the extension of Medicare coverage to American citizens living in Mexico, at least with some safeguards against fraud or maybe even without.  The U.S. medical establishment would not like that but I think Mexico would find it more than acceptable.

The U.S. does best in Mexico when it allows Mexicans to move the key ideas forward in the public arena.  Free trade in Medicare is the next big step we could take on our own.