September 26, 2012


Chile Rises (Alvaro Vargas Llosa | September 25, 2012, National Interest)

I recently spoke to President Sebastián Piñera and found him to be exuberant. The economy is roaring, his popularity is recovering (although he knows likeability will never be his forte), and his education initiatives have managed to isolate the communists and left-wing anarchists from the middle class.

Inequality continues to drop, thanks to the seven hundred thousand private-sector jobs created in the past two years, coupled with safety-net subsidies targeting the poor.

And support for the free-enterprise system remains high. According to a recent survey conducted by the Center on Public Studies (CEP), an academic foundation headquartered in Santiago, the vast majority of Chileans continue to support the country's free-market model.

As to why some people do well and others remain poor, half of the respondents attributed poverty to a lack of education. Others blamed it on laziness and lack of initiative, or to personal vices, such as alcoholism. Only 28 percent of the respondents, however, attributed poverty to flaws in the free-market model.

Indeed, Chileans seem to accept income inequality as a fact of life, more so perhaps than in the United States.

But they do so with qualification. Half the CEP respondents said they accept inequality as long as opportunity exists for families to improve their lot. Some 73 percent of the respondents said it was important to "reward individual effort" even if it results in differing levels of income, and 77 percent supported the idea that the principal responsibility for society's economic well-being should rest on "the people themselves," not on the government.

Such attitudes toward wealth are not those of a Third World country; they are the attitudes of an advanced, developed country.

The value of a fascist interlude.

Posted by at September 26, 2012 8:48 PM

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