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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    How much for a pizza? Try 120 pesos.

    Pesos for pizza? A Texas-based pizzeria’s business plan to accept pesos is being met with everything from contempt to death threats. But those up in arms over the marketing strategy may want to rethink their disdain; they’ll find their feelings are doomsday heralding, racist or both.

    Last week, Pizza Patron owner Antonio Swad began advertising that his Dallas locations would begin accepting pesos from their customers. Citing a 60 percent Hispanic consumer base, Pizza Patron has tapped into a large Mexican and Mexican-American demographic looking to spend pesos accumulated during Christmas trips south of the border.

    It doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Pizza Patron increases its business by changing pesos to dollars at a marginally profitable rate, while peso-holding consumers get to skip a tedious trip to the bank.

    While the currency exchange is slated to end in February, critics are screaming to high heaven that Pizza Patron’s decision sets a precedent for non-border towns to adopt monetary policies previously reserved for places like Niagara Falls and Nogales.

    While some opponents posit that an injection of pesos into the American market will actually increase inflation of the U.S. dollar, others are crying that allowing businesses to accept pesos caters to illegal immigrants and hinders assimilation. And with five Pizza Patron locations here in immigration-hotbed Arizona possibly following suit with the policy next month, expect this debate to soon be local.

    Proponents of Pizza Patron’s decision are quick to point out that countries all over the world, including Mexico, accept dollars, and that American businesses refusing to reciprocate is hypocritical at best and xenophobic at worst.

    Yet this oversimplification just calls for American businesses to copy their foreign counterparts without actually evaluating the consequences of such policy. Yes, Mexican businesses accept the U.S. dollar because it is stable and often convenient, but that certainly doesn’t mean we should return the favor if it isn’t in our economic interest.

    The situation does speak to the true sentiments behind those who attack peso-accepting businesses as unpatriotic. When the same criticisms aren’t leveled at cities in Washington and Minnesota for accepting Canadian currency, it does seem to unveil those opponents as simply racist or uncomfortable with anything Mexican.

    Some may try to sidestep accusations of racism by arguing they don’t have a problem with legal Mexicans or Canadians or Martians, but that by accepting pesos, Pizza Patron is allowing illegal immigrants to avoid the formal financial sector.

    I was curious about the validity of this criticism, but my calls to Wells Fargo and Bank of America put such accusations to rest. It’s true that only bank account holders can do currency exchange. But when asked if one must be a U.S. citizen to open an account, the answer was a definitive “”no.””

    Still, others point out that Canadian currency is more stable than the peso and so poses less of a risk to the American economy by infiltrating it. Of course, only the private businesses that accept pesos stand to lose if the Mexican currency collapsesð – not the American economy – so the critics don’t really have much to be afraid of, unless, of course, they invest in Pizza Patron.

    Unless there is some merit to the increasing-pesos-hurts-the-dollar argument, it looks like opponents to Pizza Patron’s currency exchange are out of luck. And the inflation argument isn’t looking good, either.

    Dr. Vera Pavlakovich-Kochi, a senior regional scientist with the Economic and Business Research Center at the Eller College of Management, contends that while it certainly streamlines American business practices to utilize only one currency, the presence of Mexican currency in the domestic market doesn’t pose much of a threat to the dollar.

    And with the success of Pizza Patron’s campaign thus far, opponents to the currency policy not only seem to be greatly overexaggerating the potential dangers of the peso and revealing themselves as bigots, but also condemning what is shaping up to be a highly successful business plan.

    In fact, Dr. Pavlakovich-Kochi added, with companies like Pizza Patron increasing business by marketing to the huge Latino communities, she is surprised we haven’t seen more businesses in Hispanic-populated areas accept Mexican currency.

    But with the number of Mexican immigrants increasing every day, and an increase in pesos posing little threat to the stability of the dollar, you can bet we will. Time to figure out how many pesos for a slice at No Anchovies.

    Stan Molever is a philosophy senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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