Why would the people give governing leftists power if they are running the place into the ground? The answer is that great promises are made of infinite government resources to solve all human problems; and special favors are granted to strong interest groups like government workers and labor unions and subsidized corporations, who return the favors with votes. Economic decline inevitably follows…
BY Francis Menton FOR MANHATTAN CONTRARIAN
As I have written many times at this site, the consequence of socialism, and of left-wing public policy more generally, is gradual relative economic decline. Take a prosperous country (or state or city), then put in place the progressive policy prescriptions, and wait twenty or thirty or forty years, and you will find a place that has been passed by by all the competition.
But why would the people give governing leftists twenty or more years if they are running the place into the ground? The answer is that great promises are made of infinite government resources to solve all human problems; and special favors are granted to strong interest groups like government workers and labor unions and subsidized corporations, who return the favors with votes. Economic decline continues, but slowly, and the only way to perceive it is to make comparisons with other countries.
The true archetype for long-term economic decline through left-wing policy is Argentina. They have been at it since at least the 1930s. Back then, Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world, right up there with the United States. According to this February 2020 piece from The Economic Standard, “In the first third of the 20th century, [Argentina] was one of the ten wealthiest countries in the world.” Its decline began with the adoption of “autarky and protectionism” between 1930 and 1945. Then, Juan Peron came to power in 1946. Argentina’s public policy regime since then mostly goes by the name of “Peronism.” Here are some excerpts from a list of the key policies of Peronism:
Nationalized several industries, such as electricity, gas, telephone, railways, urban transport, media, etc.; subsidized union and business groups close to power; [greatly increased] public spending and incurred high fiscal deficits; massive debt monetization through the central bank, generating high inflation; raised the taxes. . . .; introduced rigid controls on production and the free hiring of services and workers; fixed prices in the rental market and suspended real estate foreclosures. . . .
Does anything in there sound familiar?
Since the 1940s, Argentina’s government has mostly gone back and forth between Peronists and the military. Most recently, a Peronist named Nestor Kirchner came to power in 2003. He was succeeded by his wife Christina in 2007, and she then served two terms until 2015. At that time a guy promising some free market reforms, by the name of Mauricio Macri, took over; but before Macri could make much policy impression, he was quickly defeated in 2019 by Peronist Alberto Fernandez — whose Vice President is none other than Christina Kirchner. They remain in power today.
Today, Argentina ranks as the 69th richest country in the IMF ranking, also 69th per the World Bank, and 68th in the UN ranking. The three sources put its per capita GDP between $8,433 and $10,041. By comparison, U.S. per capita GDP is in the range of $65,000 per all three sources.
A piece in the Wall Street Journal on March 9 by Ryan Dube gives a good picture of the overall policy and prosperity landscape today in Argentina. In terms of economic policy, they are doubling down on the same Peronist policies that have brought them so low:
For Mr. Fernández, the solution [to Argentina’s economic woes] is to . . . tax a prosperous farm sector and wealthy individuals, while avoiding austerity measures such as cutbacks to billions of dollars a year in subsidies. . . . Facing the crisis, Mr. Fernández’s government is implementing interventionist policies that will undermine hopes of increasing investments needed to generate employment, said Carlos Melconian, an economist and former chief of the country’s top state-run bank. . . . Argentina has banned companies from laying off workers, frozen telecom prices and increased export taxes on soybeans, wheat and corn. The government last year paid up to 50% of the salaries of workers at tens of thousands of small businesses. It has also restricted corporations from accessing dollars needed to service foreign debt.
And how is it all working out in economic performance? It would be hard to get much worse:
“The economy shrank 10% in 2020, one of the world’s worst contractions during the coronavirus pandemic.” By contrast, the U.S. economy, which was also hard hit by Covid, shrank only 2.3%.
The annual inflation rate is given as 36%.
“The country’s total stock-market valuation has collapsed from $350 billion in 2018 to $20 billion last year, according to EcoGo, an economic consulting firm.”
“Poverty has risen to more than 44%.” The WSJ does not give the methodology by which “poverty” is calculated in Argentina. On the other hand, with a per capita GDP of $10,000 or less, it is entirely likely that there is real physical-deprivation poverty in the range of 44%.
“With debt payments looming, Argentina is virtually broke, with just $5 billion in cash and gold reserves, half of what is on hand in neighboring Uruguay, whose population is 8% of Argentina’s 45 million.”
Per Señor Melconian (the former head of the largest state-run bank), “The [government’s] measures are going to fail. . . . There are no [private] investments.” Large companies that have recently pulled out of the country include Wal-Mart and Nike.
Europe and the USA have embarked on their own version of very similar economic policies. I can think of no reason to expect the results to be any different. But everybody with clout in Argentina is somehow getting some kind of subsidy or preference from the government, so they never seem to be able to vote for significant change. That’s more or less the plan for The Great Reset and the coming Globalist Oligarchical neo-Marxism.