Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Just bury Pinochet, already.

I suspected the Pinochet apologists would come crawling from their fetid, sepulchral holes this week, and they have done so, vandalizing the editorial pages of the Washington Post. The Post wastes no time thoroughly glossing over Pinochet's crimes--3,000 dead, tens of thousands tortured, untold numbers of desaparecidos--to get right to the crux of the matter: Chile did SO WELL economically! What a success story! Yeah, the Lord our God said thou shalt not kill, and His son tossed the moneylenders from the temple--but you need to check out the late edits to the Bible made by the moralists from the University of Chicago!

Here's the thing though: Pinochet was a disaster economically speaking. A decade after he seized power and followed Milton Friedman into his moral relavist swamp, Chile's numbers were--across the board--in the gutter. Unemployment at 22%. Wage decline in the forties. The population below the subsistence level had doubled. Chile's banks were sold off to currency speculators who found better profits in default. And in 1982, Chile's gross domestic product flatlined. As it happened, Pinochet needed to out-Allende Allende in order to save Chile's pension system, and borrow a page from FDR to institute a New Deal-style government jobs program.

Those actions--hardly Friedmanesque--halted Chile's freefall to economic oblivion. And while Pinochet managed, over the ensuing years, to cast himself in the role of the leader of a Friedman-esque success story (a myth that has done its share of harm throughout the developing world)--there was one industry that Pinochet never reprivatized: Chile's copper industry--that nation's most significant export. This is continually glossed over by the Pinochet apologists. You want to know why? Because the person who made sure that copper would remain a steady engine of Chile's economy by investing in copper industry infrastructure and nationalizing the copper mines owned by Anaconda and Kennecott was named SALVADOR ALLENDE.

POSTSCRIPT: A letter to Salon w/r/t Pinochet's death reads: "It's times like this when I regret being an atheist, because now I surely wish that Hell existed so that Pinochet could join Jean Kirkpatrick [and others]...in eternal punishment for their crimes against humanity." Hmph. All I can say is: "Your loss, atheist! I have no such regrets!"


rock_ninja said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let's not be so hasty to get him in the ground- let's have a little more time to spit on his dead, filthy, rotting corpse.

You know what the best part is? Everyone LOVEs what Pinochet did for the Chilean economy (which, as you point out, is a meretricious claim at best), but he was embezzling funds the whole time! He's not a idealistic hero who killed in the name of his beliefs; he's a sleazy, petty crook who made it to the bigtime. Good riddance.

Um, not that I have strong feelings on the subject or anything...

Anonymous said...

Mostly related: When satire's so true it's...no, you still want to jump off a bridge.