Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pinochet - the best they could do

It has been awhile since I've posted about the Left's least favorite South American dictator. Of course, we know why they hate him the most - he prevented another Cuba.

They hate him for another reason - he makes the Leftist dictators look bad. Pinochet returned Chile to civilian rule with almost no bloodshed. He left them with a functioning and relatively intact rule of law. His crowning achievement though was the Chicago School economy he gave to his countrymen.

The Chilean nation knows this - and they are going to stick with it.
Chile is the first nation whose return to democracy was based on economic freedom. On global economic freedom rankings, Chile stands near the top — in part because its public employees can't run up debt or corrupt the political process.

The existing constitution makes Chile a full right-to-work country and expressly prohibits government collective bargaining and public employee strikes.

The idea is to prevent the ugly anti-democratic dynamic — now seen in Wisconsin and elsewhere — of public employee unions extorting concessions from politicians in exchange for campaign support.

Under that system, taxpayers foot the bill. The team of Milton Friedman-influenced economists known as "The Chicago Boys" understood this dynamic well and its potential for cutting into economic freedom.

Labor and Social Security Minister Jose Pinera, who wrote the right-to-work proviso, knew that if public employee unions could get their hooks into the federal government, it would be a fiscal and economic disaster.

Chile posted 7% GDP growth in the last quarter, on par with recent trends. Per capita income is now $17,000, 10 times what it was in 1980, and its successful social security system is now private.

Chile's vote shows it has no desire to follow in the footsteps of bankrupt U.S. states like California and Illinois. It's good to see a nation that still knows how to grow.
Maybe after our economy pulls a Greece and implodes after an orgy of mindless, narcissistic spending we can hire come Chilean economists and political advisers. I'm game.

Back to the Old General. No, Pinochet was no saint. He was a nasty piece of work - but he lived at a nasty time in a nasty part of the world that sometimes needed a little nasty to prevent a tragedy. He love his country more than himself. He was a good friend to the British when they had few others in South America during the Falkland Islands War. When you compare what his regime did compared to others around that continent of wasted potential, an objective mind may perhaps give the guy a little nod.

When the list of 20th Century dictators are racked-and-stacked, Pinochet will in time be seen for what he was; the best of bad options for a nation on the brink. Anyway, who is doing better right now, a Chilean born in 1973 or a Cuban born in 1959?

Hat tip Capt'n Ed.

No comments: