Latin America never misses a chance to miss an opportunity. How do you take the most prosperous nation in the region and ruin it? It’s a story that is told over and over until the telling is really not even interesting anymore. Argentina in the 20s; Mexico in the 40s; “Saudi” Venezuela in the 70s. Now it’s Chile’s turn, waves of instability and stupidity that ricochet around the hemisphere but never seem to lose energy.
Chile has been one of Latin America’s success stories. The first country I can think of in the region to participate in the visa waiver program with the United States (enjoy that while it lasts). A stock market that is secured by blockchain, the first in the world I think. A privatized pension system which is the envy of everybody, including the United States. Santiago – I’ve been there a few times – is an amazingly modern city, resembling somewhere in Europe. Rule of law, safety and security.
Perfect time to ruin it all. Which is what the Chileans decided to do in yesterday’s elections. “I have an idea,” say the ignorant, “lets take everything we’ve built and just flush it into the sea!!” I said the same thing about Venezuela, 20 years ago when Chavez was alive and popular and oil money was covering over some seriously bad economics. I told of Venezuela’s upcoming discovery of hunger; of the suicide that was slow-moving. Nobody was listening. Who wants to talk about the hangover when you are a few beers in? What a downer!
Chile, which since the days of Allende’s overthrow and the righting of their economic ship has been doing very well indeed. “We’ve had enough of prosperity,” they seem to be telling themselves. “Let’s do misery for a while!!” And the justification? Inequality. Like Mario Vargas Llosa has said in is auto-biography A Fish In Water; “Redistributive policies don’t work. Others do work, the ones which, since they take into account an inevitable inequality between those who produce more and those who produce less, lack the intellectual and ethical fascination that has always surrounded socialism, (…) but egalitarian-oriented economies based on solidarity have never raised a country out of poverty; they have impoverished it even further.”
That is what will now happen in Chile. The do-gooders will have the first crack, enacting policies hatched in a café, street protests raging outside, based upon the ideas of the mass-man that Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote about 100 years ago, “Once for all, he accepts the stock of commonplaces, prejudices, fag-ends of ideas or simply empty words which chance has piled up within his mind, and with a boldness only explicable by his ingenuousness, is prepared to impose them everywhere”. Through violence. The mass-man knows only violence. “Today (…) the average man (…) has lost the use of his hearing. Why should he listen if he has within himself all that is necessary? There is no reason now for listening, but rather for judging, pronouncing, deciding. There is no question concerning public life, in which he does not intervene, blind and deaf as he is, imposing is ‘opinions’.”
But slowly, the self-dealers will take over – corruption, that is the second phase of ‘revolution’. The thieves will realize that without institutions there is no way to stop them. They will push out the flower-minded utopians, most often violently. Then, after the thieves, come the criminals – aren’t they one and the same? Those who seek power through violence over others realize there is no restraining wall; those who seek unlimited money through the employ of the whole state as a criminal enterprise will stop at nothing to control that greatest of prize. Don’t ask me – ask Chavez or Lula or Stalin or Hitler, to name only a few.
And who will suffer? The people who voted for redistributive (retributive) policies in the first place. What makes Chile’s case more significant, more dramatic, and probably faster is that the institutions that one would assume would protect the property-holder and the poor from their predators are already being riven asunder by a constituent assembly currently seated in which the conservatives don’t even have a veto. What Castillo wants in Peru, or AMLO in Mexico, what it took Chavez two years to secure in Venezuela the Chilean commies already have in their hot little lands – the means to undermine all institutionalism.
Hold on to your seats, it’s going to be epic. And Miami bankers, get your people ready to work overtime as all Chile’s property owners desperately hurry to send their money abroad before Chile enacts the first paper cut in their suicide, currency controls. The upside? You can sell your nice Santiago apartment today to an excited revolutionary, sending the money to Miami to put it in a CD. In twenty years, you’ll be able to buy it back for a song after the economy has collapsed (unless you’re unlucky and Chile is the next Cuba, it’s been known to happen…).
It might need a little maintenance though…