EspañolI don’t know very much about Chile, but I know what socialism does to countries.
On Sunday, Chile elected Michelle Bachelet to be president. An open socialist, she previously served as president until 2010. During her first term she served as a moderate, but this election is different.
That is bad for Chile. Chile is almost an anomaly when it comes to Latin-American economies. It is the strongest economy in the Spanish-speaking, western world — as underlined by its performance in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness ranking. All of that, however, may come to a screeching halt if Bachelet has her way and fulfills her promise of an “in-depth transformation.”
Among those are “free” college educations for all at the expense of professionals who will have to pay higher taxes, which will lead to less spending and investment by those professionals in the real economy, which will cause higher unemployment and lower productivity.
Her decision to side with the hardline socialists and communists and propose to rewrite the constitution could spell disaster for one of Latin America’s freest countries. Chile’s economy thrives on freedom. Just as China has grown thanks to a partial opening of its economy to capitalism, Chile’s relatively open markets have made it easy for the country to become and remain strong.
This election has put Chile on a road to Venezuelan economic calamity. While some observers have indicated that the new president may have simply sought out the communist left in order to win the election, her strong showing in the runoff election will give her nearly carte blanche to implement some, if not all, of her reforms.
There is no question about her capacity as a leader or her experience as a chief executive. (Read her bio here.) What is at play here is the continued move by Latin America toward collectivism. Despite decades of proof that socialism has and always will fail, socialist leaders continue getting elected and socialist reforms continue being implemented at the expense of free markets, personal liberty, and the people.
It may be too soon to tell if she will remain a European Socialist “light” advocate or if she will in fact put Chile on the road to communism. One can only hope she will pursue a moderate path and spare her citizens the discomfort and awkwardness of a toilet paper-less society like Venezuela.