I have often pointed to Argentina as an example of what could happen to the United States. The two countries have similar early histories, emerging from colonial status to independence and becoming the economic engines of the western hemisphere.
At the height of the industrial revolution the economies of the USA and Argentina flourished. Before World War II the two young nations competed for foreign investment, building strong infrastructures and well-educated middle classes. Buenos Aires challenged New York City’s status as the gem of the West.
And then their destinies parted ways.
The United States maintained a firm grip on its constitution, perfecting its free-market, laissez-faire economic environment. It established its bona fides as a leader in world affairs, defending democracy and human rights. Argentina, meanwhile, set off on a series of socio-political experiments based on heavy-handed and, ultimately, fascist government rule. Argentina’s people relinquished their rights to the government, resulting in economic devastation and the “disappearance” of thousands of political activists.
Last November Mauricio Macri replaced socialist Cristina Kirchner as president of Argentina, promising to return his homeland to the free-market western world. He immediately renounced the nation’s alliances with failed dictatorships like Iran and Venezuela, embracing the United States and Europe. He settled Argentina’s large outstanding debt to a group of US hedge-fund investors which had destroyed the country’s ability to attract outside investment. He established working relationships with Argentina’s state governors and other federal officials, including his opponents. He eliminated crony utility subsidies, cut export taxes, and dropped currency support, allowing the Argentine peso to float.
President Macri is a man on a mission, and in a hurry. While he still enjoys public support, Argentines are in a hurry too, and are beginning to express impatience as they endure symptoms of the new austerity and economic adjustments.
In a strange twist, President Obama will meet Macri this week, following his friendly visit to communist Cuba. Obama has shown an affection for the very despots that Macri, and Argentina, are rejecting. “I’d vote for you, and you for me,” Obama beamed at Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez a few years ago. The US president warmly hosted newly-elected Canadian president Justin Trudeau, a socialist who vows to take his country in the opposite direction chosen by Argentina.
US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promises to continue the leftward drift established by President Obama. Her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders, would make that a leftward lurch. Our media and schools glorify socialism, demanding more central control and vilifying those who would preserve individual rights.
Will the United States move to the left or the right? Will we follow Canada, our recently-prosperous neighbor to the north, down the proven-to-fail socialist path? Or will we take the hint from Argentina, our wised-up southern friend, and return to the tried-and-true free-market, small government model?
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
You move it to the left, yeah
You go for yourself
You move it to the right
Yeah if it takes all night
The Harlem Shuffle – Rolling Stones
Here’s Mick, strutting his stuff. I just finished reading the bio “Jagger” by Marc Spitz, and was surprised to learn that he was a prized pupil at the London School of Economics, having received a full-ride scholarship. He quit to become a rebel blues singer, but was promised his scholarship would wait for him if his new career choice didn’t work out. We are all glad it did!