Because they were idiot economic policies

From that Questions in the Guardian series so beloved of us all:

Why did South America’s progressive dream die so suddenly?

There’re perfectly sound methods of reducing inequality if that’s what you want to do. There’re also idiot ways of doing it. And a handy tip is not to do the idiot ways….

28 thoughts on “Because they were idiot economic policies”

  1. And yet in Spain we have 5,000,000 people who are going to vote for more of the same with the coalition Unidos Podemos (the old communists swallowed up by the new communists).

    I suppose the legacy parties only have themselves to blame with the level of petty and not so petty corruption they have sanctioned or ignored, but the duck will be paid (literal translation from the Spanish 🙂 ) by the rest of us.

  2. The article shows us pretty neatly the same old trick is being tried out again: Socialist Utopia crumbles to dust. Give it the obligatory two sentences saying essentially that it was all just the massive personal failures of the not-true-socialists and then move on to extoll the virtues of the new shiny Socialist Utopia.

    Thus Venezuela doesn’t merit a mention; just look at the wonders Socialism is working for those downtrodden Bolivian/Chilean/it doesn’t matter peasants.

  3. I’m shocked by this passage from the Graun article: “The ingrained habit of palm-greasing across the continent..”. This seems to suggest that some cultures or races are inherently more honest than others, and that’s way, way too waycist.

    I’m reporting the Graun to the police for “hate speech”.

  4. “Why did South America’s progressive dream die so suddenly?”

    Er, because South America is full of South Americans?

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    They are all corrupt? That is why these socialist experiments failed?

    So obviously the logical answer is to give them greater control over the economy.

    I like the argument that the terrorist in Brazil was corrupt but she should not be forced out because everyone else is corrupt.

    As I keep saying, Brazilians are going to Brazil. What do you expect them to do? Germans they are not. Mostly.

  6. It’s the perfect storm of socialist totalitarianism and chaotic Latin culture. Socialist states in well-ordered cultures like Germany are bad enough, but at least there was some organisation there.

  7. Just when you think you have found peak Guardian (Ms Raccoon’s recent link is as close as), you read the idiotic comments on their articles, blaming all Latin American ills on the CIA, and you realise there is a long way to go yet.

  8. I’m more fascinated by these “perfectly sound methods of reducing inequality.” I earn my inequality and don’t think any method to reduce that inequality to the benefit of some poor unworthy slob (to quote Daffy Duck) is in any way sound.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    DocBud – “I earn my inequality and don’t think any method to reduce that inequality to the benefit of some poor unworthy slob (to quote Daffy Duck) is in any way sound.”

    Actually Brazil has pioneered some good ways of reducing inequality. They have learned a little.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolsa_Fam%C3%ADlia

    Bolsa Família (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈbowsɐ faˈmiliɐ], Family Allowance) is a social welfare program of the Brazilian government, part of the Fome Zero network of federal assistance programs. Bolsa Família provides financial aid to poor Brazilian families; if they have children, families must ensure that the children attend school and are vaccinated. The program attempts to both reduce short-term poverty by direct cash transfers and fight long-term poverty by increasing human capital among the poor through conditional cash transfers. It also works to give free education to children who cannot afford to go to school to show the importance of education.

    Poverty was reduced by 27% But not all of that was due to this welfare reform. Anyway, apart from giving money directly to women instead of their husbands, it does look like this programme was well thought out and to some extent it worked.

  10. “apart from giving money directly to women instead of their husbands”

    What’s wrong with that?

  11. ‘South America’s progressive alliance crumbled not because it was ideologically unsound’

    Uhhh . . . yes it did.

    Excellent description, Ironman.

  12. It’s not “idiot economics”. It’s CIA-orchestrated sabotage, as the comments make very clear.

  13. Tim

    I take it you have seen Murphy’s response to the ASI column from yesterday:

    Particularly loathsome even by his standards -he seems to be uniquely able to divine people’s intentions and motivations – the table listing out characteristics of Oxfam/Amazon and Oxfam/Critics are particularly comical

  14. the uncomfortable fact that Argentinathe EU’s entire political establishment is rotten to the core, from left to right and back again.

    And now the Guand supports Brexit.

  15. The left’s four stages of useful idiocy:
    1) Ecstasy – “A socialist government has been elected, providing a beacon of hope to oppressed peoples in country dominated by neoliberals
    2) Denial – “The alleged issues in the socialist paradise have been overhyped by the envious neoliberals”
    3) Denial – “The apparent issues in the socialist paradise are outweighed by its successes and in any case are the creation of the CIA”
    4) Denial – “This wasn’t real socialism. More like fascism, really, and everyone knows that’s right-wing”

  16. Well Venezuela for sure, insane. But Brazil? That looked really good before Dilma, books like Acemoglu Why Nations Fail cited as example of country getting its act together, more of a puzzle how wheels fell off so dramatically. politicians feathering their nests not sufficient.

  17. Luis

    I wholly agree. Corrupt politicians, whilst almost certainly indicative of a wider malaise, are not enough to drag a country down

    So we’re left with Socialism.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    Luis Enrique – “But Brazil? That looked really good before Dilma, books like Acemoglu Why Nations Fail cited as example of country getting its act together, more of a puzzle how wheels fell off so dramatically. politicians feathering their nests not sufficient.”

    So the usual suspects just wanted to believe that a non-White country could modernize so badly that they were willing to ignore the evidence. Why is that a surprise? Everyone has a plan until reality hits them in the face. It turned out that shipping a lot of stuff to China can make the figures look good but can’t actually turn a population of Brazilians into the Swiss.

    Ironman – “Corrupt politicians, whilst almost certainly indicative of a wider malaise, are not enough to drag a country down So we’re left with Socialism.”

    Then it ought to follow that non-socialist countries do not have these problems. Like, say, Puerto Rico. Can’t be struggling. Because not only is it not socialist, it has the same legal and political framework as Rhode Island. If Acemoglu is right and it is all about institutions, then PR should be doing about as well as RI.

    It is not, is it?

    Nor is Costa Rica rich. Neither is Honduras. Or a lot of other places that are not socialist. The Philippines is a good example. Not rich at all. But not socialist either.

    So some other explanation is needed. What might that be?

  19. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Costa Rica actually is pretty rich. Not by Northwestern European standards, perhaps, but by comparison to most of the rest of the world, it’s doing very well. It’s on a par with southern Italy, or Portugal, or the Balkan countries. It’s better off than almost all Southeast Asian nations. Rule of law is strong, as are property rights and press freedom. It’s easy to open a business here. It’s grown spectacularly in the 17 years I’ve been here.

    You see, I actually live in the place about which I am opining. So I know first hand rather than via something I read on the Internet.

  20. So Much For Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa Rica – “Costa Rica actually is pretty rich. Not by Northwestern European standards, perhaps, but by comparison to most of the rest of the world, it’s doing very well. It’s on a par with southern Italy, or Portugal, or the Balkan countries.”

    Which is about what you would expect if culture was the main determinant of wealth. Costa Rica is a mostly Southern European-origin country and so it is about as wealthy as other Southern European countries.

    However, it did not have Communism for three generations like Bulgaria and Croatia did. It did not have a Communist coup a generation ago after three generations of crypto-Fascism like Portugal. It has been a stable, law abiding, democratic country since 1948. Their institutions have not helped that much. If Adam Smith was right and all it takes was the rule of law and the government getting out of the way, Costa Rica would be as rich as Sweden. It isn’t.

    “It’s grown spectacularly in the 17 years I’ve been here.”

    Export goods: bananas, pineapples, coffee, melons, ornamental plants, sugar; seafood; electronic components, medical equipment (2012)

    They have tried to do what Puerto Rico did and instead of growing their own tech sector, they have offered tax breaks to big Northern European-origin Multinationals. There are problems with that:

    In 2006 Intel’s microprocessor facility alone was responsible for 20% of Costa Rican exports and 4.9% of the country’s GDP.

    In 2014, Intel announced it would end manufacturing in Costa Rica and lay off 1,500 staff. The facility now continues as a test and design facility with approximately 1,600 remaining staff

    Apart from that, what has CR got? It is prostituting its women, its young men and its beaches by encouraging tourism. Like a lot of the Caribbean, where many places rely more or less entirely on tourism. It is better than nothing I suppose.

    “You see, I actually live in the place about which I am opining. So I know first hand rather than via something I read on the Internet.”

    Good for you. I picked CR for a reason.

    But the signs are not good. They have banned hunting. They promise to become carbon neutral. Their medical system seems to be imploding. We will see how the voters and the government respond to that. Don’t get me wrong – Costa Rica has done much better than any other Spanish speaking country I can think of. I am not trying to throw a low ball. But it is still parasitic on other people’s growth.

  21. Peter S

    Pagar el pato

    Or

    Pagar los platos rotos, but that is less fun translated, as it means pay the broken plates.

  22. The corruption and the socialism are really entwined in many ways. If you start to control prices and quantities, there is no longer an open market. Therefore the market will become a grey or black market by definition, ruled either by criminal trading or official connections.

    The Russians might have always been corrupt to some degree, but it was the communism that really entrenched it.

  23. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Yeah, SMFS, I work in the tech sector here. Losing Intel was a blow to a lot of people, but hardly the end of the world. And the healthcare system is not imploding. It’s so not imploding that people come from all over the world to use it. It’s better than the NHS, and cheaper than the US. If you think tourism is prostitution then there’s little more to be said. Those friends of mine who work in the industry, both foreign and Costa Rican, would be surprised to hear it characterised as such.

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