What would it take for Latin America’s left-wing populist economies to turn around?

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

We turn our attention away from porn stars (and no, looking up a Twitter feed is not a good idea), if we may, to a more vexatious problem: The economics of ruinous populism in Latin America, and how to avoid that in the USA.

Samuel Gregg, in his essay EXORCIZING LATIN AMERICA’S DEMONS
Its populist cultural norms are a killer
, explains that reversing decades’ worth of damage,

such as food-shortages, electricity-blackouts, endemic corruption, the disintegration of rule of law, utterly insecure property-rights, and wild inflation — all of which have helped ArgentinaVenezuelaBolivia, and Ecuador achieve the ignominious distinction of being categorized as “repressed economies” in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom

will take more than just

a dramatic shift of economic incentives away from the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats, . . .mandated price-and-wage controls, government restrictions on currency and capital movements, the nationalization of industries, import-substitution policies, and the manipulation of official statistics.

A drastic shift in culture will have to also take place: it will require the embrace of “the habits and institutions of freedom.”

Gregg lists abandoning three mindsets:

  •  the widespread clientelismo, where government  dispenses favors and largesse to their followers,
  • the idea that if only the “the right leader” can be found, everything will be fine,
  • the widespread use of the language of conflict.

In other words, abandon Chicago-style politics.

We are experiencing in the USA many of the  ruinous policies that Gregg lists: “the relentless cultivation of connections with politicians and bureaucrats”, wage controls, government dispensing favors and largesse to a select few who can afford the lobbyists, a cult of personality where anyone disagreeing is accused of racism, a language of conflict accompanied by attempts to curb free speech, and the manipulation of official statistics.

It behoves us as citizens to stop these policies. The question is, how?

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on American and Latin American politics at Fausta’s blog.