Trending

Newsletter

Strike of Public Employees Confirms Bachelet’s Inability to Govern Chile

By: Andrea Kohen - @AndreaKohen - Nov 24, 2016, 1:25 pm
Its evident that Bachelet's leftist government does not have the skills nor the character to maintain social harmony.(Gobierno de Chile)
It’s evident that Bachelet’s leftist government does not have the skills nor the character to maintain social harmony.(Gobierno de Chile)

Español Civil servant protests in Chile show that the country is only going to keep going downhill unless its leaders learn how to govern effectively.

President Michelle Bachelet‘s entourage of left-wing thinkers glorify a statist model that attacks inequality while neglecting poverty and underdeveloped infrastructure. Chile has gone from being a referent — a Latin American leader of economic freedom — to one of primitive underdevelopment without governance.

The strike of public employees has come to an end, and it’s time to evaluate their claims of alleged misery unsupported by hard data .

The numbers say civil servant salaries are greater than the private sector’s. If someone fails to perform well with the salary given to them, we can blame third parties or even the country’s stagnant economy. But the correct method is financial self-criticism.

What produces such strikes is a test of the government’s capacity for tolerance. People want to see if it has the political strength to quickly maintain or at least restore social order. It’s evident that the leftist adminstration of Michelle Bachelet has neither the power nor the character necessary to preserve acceptable margins of social harmony.

We can try to excuse the government by pointing to the inflexibility of the strikers. But more so, the government has difficulties building bridges and establishing necessary dialogues (though this is not necessarily its own fault). It is quite difficult to sit down and negotiate with someone who asks for impossible things like pension readjustments that exist outside of economic feasibility. You can not come and negotiate with those type of demands.

The government has neglected to impose sanctions when there is a rupture in social discipline; for example, when public employees go on strike for weeks and still receive pay, as if it were a vacation. Or when students take over schools, looting them without consequence. Such events have created a climate for taking to the streets and demanding things that are impossible to deliver.

At this point, the government can no longer sit down and talk to those who ask for the impossible. It would mean giving in to demands that might as well result in closing down the country and selling it to the highest bidder.

The left is a specialist in creating such chaotic climates. They excite people to ask for more, to feel entitled to more than they have, to feel that they have rights but no obligations. They encourage them to see the world as a place where everybody owes them something. They think they have been abused all their lives because they were not born millionaires, creating an unjustified sense of injustice.

The left is a specialist in tapping into the worst and most foolish passions of the masses until these demands explode inside their own governments. They devote themselves to sabotaging institutions and then realize that they have created a terrible social storm. Leftist governments tend to encourage these movements, all without suggesting that they should improve their productivity first.

False empowerment has been sown by the left in Chile. They are harvesting it themselves with no way to control or repress their passionate outbursts. This is not longer a society in which things are done according to reason. There comes a time when a country no longer has a solution to its problems, and at this stage Chile feels very much as if it has no government.

Lack of governance is the result of chronic irresponsibility — the philosophy of rights without obligations, a religion in which freedom is an evil and control of the state is a good. In the collective imagination it seems that the state is administered by perfect and incorruptible figures and that the private companies are the exploitive enemy.

Today, Chile has no government. We go out into the street and we see that things move, they seem to work, cars move forward, people go to work, passers-by still mobilize. But they respond only to a social inertia: the country is stopping to catch up with public services. Productivity should be historical and we know that public employees are not angels who work in an altruistic way.

The danger is that this opens the door to all kinds of populist thinking and policy. Let’s see what the presidential race offers us. But as things stand for now, there is only more demagogy and more chaos, which has led to less freedom.

Andrea Kohen

Andrea Kohen is a Chilean historian and economist with a bachelor's degree in Education Studies. Follow her on Twitter: @AndreaKohen.