“Chile is the country with the highest per capita income and least inequality in all of Latin America,” writes Pat Buchanan. “Yet the protesters have succeeded in forcing the elected government to capitulate and write a new constitution.”
The economic issues propelling workers into the streets to protest inequalities of wealth and income are occurring at a time when our world has never been more prosperous. …
Neither authoritarians nor the world’s democracies seem to have found a cure for the maladies that afflict our world’s unhappy citizens. …
What we have in reality is what Pat Buchanan has always warned of:
The ethnic and racial clashes within and between nations seem increasingly beyond the capacity of democratic regimes to resolve peacefully.
As for matters of fundamental belief — political, ideological, religious — the divides here, too, seem to be deepening and widening.
The Economist concurs that Chile has it quite good, writing that it “is the second-richest country in Latin America, thanks in part to its healthy public finances and robust private sector”:
Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s centre-right president, at first took a tough line with the malcontents. “We are at war,” he declared during the rioting. The state’s response was heavy-handed. Although most of the deaths occurred because of arson …
What the people of Chile want, it would appear, is less capitalism and MORE socialism:
Under a model developed by free-market economists during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990, citizens are expected to save for their own retirement. … In many other countries, public pensions are financed by taxing current workers and giving the money to current pensioners—a system that comes under strain when the population ages. Chileans, by contrast, invest the money they save in privately managed funds. This system has helped Chile manage its public finances and encouraged the development of long-term capital markets, which in turn has boosted economic growth.
IS this good? You bet it’s good.
The conservative Mr Piñera is unlikely to scrap a system which in many ways has served Chile well. It is the second-richest country in Latin America, thanks in part to its healthy public finances and robust private sector.
BUT the people are not interested.
* Image courtesy The Economist.