Tag Archives: Marxism

How a small, poor country became the top economy in Latin America

One way to learn about whether specific economic policies work or not is to look at different countries that have tried them. Believe it or not, patterns do emerge about what works and what doesn’t work, as you look across different times and places. I’ve been reading a book called “Money, Greed and God” with my friend Carla, which talks about what has worked to reduce poverty.

The author basically outlined two approaches. In the first approach, the government 1) confiscates the wealth of the most productive workers, 2) nationalizes (takes control of) the businesses of the most successful entrepreneurs, 3) restricts trading between citizens and with other countries, with minimum wage, price controls and tariffs. In the second approach, the government does the opposite: 1) lowers taxes on the most productive workers, and 2) lets entrepreneurs compete to provide goods and services to consumers, and 3) lowers restrictions on internal trading and trading with other countries, e.g. – eliminating minimum wage, tariffs and price controls.

Let’s take a look at two Latin American countries that went in opposite directions. Venezuela and Chile. Then we can finally find out which policies actually achieve results for the people.

Here is how Chile started out in 1973.

PROBLEM: Price controls and tariffs:

Prices for the majority of basic goods were fixed by the government in 1973. Even though Chile was and still is a small economy, the level of protection­ism was high. By the end of 1973, the nominal average tariff for imports was 105 percent, with a maximum of 750 percent. Non-tariff barriers also impeded the import of more than 3,000 out of 5,125 registered goods. Just as economic theory predicts, large queues in front of stores were usual in Santiago and other cities in Chile as a result of the scarcity caused by price controls.

PROBLEM: Government taking over private businesses:

The decline in GDP during 1973 reflected a shrinking productive sector in which the main assets were gradually falling under government control or ownership through expropriations and other government interventions in the economy.

PROBLEM: Deficit spending and government printing money:

The fiscal situation was chaotic. The deficit reached 55 percent of expenditures and 20 percent of GDP and was the main cause of inflation because the Central Bank was issuing money to finance the government deficit.

SOLUTION: lower or eliminate restrictions on trade:

The most important economic reform in Chile was to open trade, primarily through a flat, low tar­iff on imports. Much of the credit for Chilean eco­nomic reforms in the following 30 years should be given to the decision to open our economy to the rest of the world. The strength of Chilean firms, productive sectors, and institutions grew up thanks to that fundamental change.

SOLUTION: let competing entrepreneurs in the private sector provide goods and services to consumers:

A second fundamental reform was to allow the private sector to recover, adding dynamism to the economy. In fact, important sectors such as elec­tricity generation and distribution and telecommu­nications were still managed by state companies. After we implemented a massive privatization plan that included more than 50,000 new direct share­holders and several million indirect (through pen­sion funds) shareholders, these companies were managed by private entrepreneurs that carried out important expansion plans.

SOLUTION: let people take responsibility for their own lives instead of depending on government:

The 1981 reform of the Chilean pension fund system deserves special mention. Under the leader­ship of Minister José Piñera, an individual capitali­zation account program was designed with specific contributions, administered by private institutions selected by the workers. The Chilean Administra­doras de Fondos de Pension (Pension Fund Administrators or AFP) has been replicated in more than 20 countries, and more than 100 million workers in different parts of the world use these accounts to save for retirement.

SOLUTION: allow parents to choose the school that fits their needs from competing education providers, and push school administration down from the federal government to the municipal level, where it would be more responsive to voter’s needs:

In 1981, Chile introduced a universal educational voucher system for students in both its elementary and secondary schools. At the same time, the central government transferred the administration of public schools to municipal governments…  The financial value of the voucher did not depend on family income.

RESULTS: And I was able to find a nice short, description of how all that worked out for them on the far-left Wikipedia, of all places:

The economy of Chile is a high-income economy as ranked by the World Bank, and is considered one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations, leading Latin American nations in competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.

In 2006, Chile became the country with the highest nominal GDP per capita in Latin America. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD. Tax revenues, all together 20.2% of GDP in 2013, were the second lowest among the 34 OECD countries, and the lowest in 2010. In 2017, only 0.7% of the population lived on less than US$1.90 a day.

According to the Heritage Foundation, Chile is ranked as the 18th freest economy in the world. The World Bank ranked Chile as the 50th highest GDP per capita for 2018, just below Hungary and above Poland.

Now, you can contrast those results with Venezuela. I have been blogging about Venezuela for years on this blog, and documenting how they raised taxes, banned guns, nationalized private sector companies, raised tariffs, and increased regulations. They are now ranked JUST ABOVE NORTH KOREA for economic freedom – #179 out of 180 countries measured. Basically, they did the opposite of everything that Chile did – transferring power away from parents, workers, business owners, churches and municipal governments to the powerful centralized federal government.

Wikipedia explains how Hugo Chavez took over in 1999 and enacted a communist revolution.

More:

Since the Bolivarian Revolution half-dismantled its PDVSA oil giant corporation in 2002 by firing most of its 20,000-strong dissident professional human capital and imposed stringent currency controls in 2003 in an attempt to prevent capital flight, there has been a steady decline in oil production and exports. Further yet, price controls, expropriation of numerous farmlands and various industries, among other government authoritarian policies… have resulted in severe shortages in Venezuela and steep price rises of all common goods, including food, water, household products, spare parts, tools and medical supplies; forcing many manufacturers to either cut production or close down, with many ultimately abandoning the country as has been the case with several technological firms and most automobile makers.

They confiscated private property, took over private sector businesses, implemented tariffs and price controls, redistributed wealth via massive welfare programs, and pushed all decision-making out of families and municipal governments up to the federal government. By depriving the producers of their earnings, the country caused massive shortages of goods and services, to the point where people are fleeing the country, consuming zoo animals, and selling their bodies as prostitutes in order to get food and water.

Application

In the next election, we are not picking a tribe because of how they make us feel about ourselves. We are not choosing in order to see ourselves as “nice” and “not nice”. We need to look at specific policies being proposed, and see what works and what doesn’t work. The examples of Chile (rags-to-riches) and Venezuela (riches-to-rags) are helpful for voters who want to get RESULTS instead of FEELINGS.

I’ll leave you with a list of links from previous posts so you can see how communism worked out for Venezuela.

Related posts

DeSantis: Florida schools will teach students about the historical record of communism

I have some exciting news! Everyone knows that conservatives are monitoring people who could run for President on the Republican ticket in 2024. Some people want Trump again, but he’s looking pretty old right now… Other people are looking for a governor who has a good record of advocating for conservatives. Ron DeSantis is at the top of that pile. And there is news about him!

Daily Wire reports:

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday morning at Miami’s Freedom Tower that will require “Victims of Communism Day” to be observed in the state’s public high schools.

The bill, HB 395, mandates that public schools instruct students on the horrors of communism each year on November 7 or a preceding school day. The “Victims of Communism Day” legislation passed the Florida House and Senate unanimously earlier this year.

“We want to make sure that every year folks in Florida, but particularly our students, will learn about the evils of communism, the dictators that have led communist regimes, and the hundreds of millions of individuals who suffered and continue to suffer under the weight of this discredited ideology,” DeSantis said at a press conference.

And don’t forget, DeSantis has already signed bills to:

Many cynical people like to say that there isn’t much difference between Republicans and Democrats on social issues. But those people aren’t following the legislation. If you watch the legislation, Republicans do a lot for social conservatives.

Communism in the Soviet Union

Let’s take a look at what Josef Stalin did during his rule of the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s.

The Library of Congress offers this in their “Soviet Archives exhibit”:

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.

Let’s see more from a peer-reviewed journal article authored by Crispin Paine of the University College, London:

Atheist propaganda and the struggle against religion began immediately after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. While social change would, under Marxist theory, bring religion to disappear, Leninists argued that the Party should actively help to eradicate religion as a vital step in creating ‘New Soviet Man’. The energy with which the Party struggled against religion, though, varied considerably from time to time and from place to place, as did its hostility to particular faith groups. The 1920s saw the closure of innumerable churches and synagogues (and to a lesser extent mosques) and the active persecution of clergy and harassment of believers.

I used to meet Christian women as an undergraduate who had learned how wonderful communism was in their non-STEM classes. Clearly, the professors were not teaching the truth about communism’s record to these Christian women. Communism is atheistic at its core, and that communism is totally hostile to Christians. To the point of mass murder.

The Ukraine Famine

Take a look at this UK Daily Mail article about a great achievement of the atheist Josef Stalin, which occurred in 1932-1933.

Excerpt:

Now, 75 years after one of the great forgotten crimes of modern times, Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932/3, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine is asking the world to classify it as a genocide.

The Ukrainians call it the Holodomor – the Hunger.

Millions starved as Soviet troops and secret policemen raided their villages, stole the harvest and all the food in villagers’ homes.

They dropped dead in the streets, lay dying and rotting in their houses, and some women became so desperate for food that they ate their own children.

If they managed to fend off starvation, they were deported and shot in their hundreds of thousands.

So terrible was the famine that Igor Yukhnovsky, director of the Institute of National Memory, the Ukrainian institution researching the Holodomor, believes as many as nine million may have died.

[…]Between four and five million died in Ukraine, a million died in Kazakhstan and another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga.

By 1933, 5.7 million households – somewhere between ten million and 15 million people – had vanished. They had been deported, shot or died of starvation.

And over in communist China, the death toll was 45 million in 4 years.

Communism in China

Story here in the left-wing UK Independent.

Excerpt:

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing “one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known”.

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

If you are ever debating with a communist, you should know about the book “The Black Book of Communism“, which puts the total death toll of communist regimes at over 100 million. And it’s published by Harvard University Press.

Can feminism be defended with reason and evidence? Jordan Peterson vs Cathy Newman

Can radical feminism be defended rationally and evidentially?
Can radical feminism be defended rationally and evidentially?

There was a short discussion recently on UK Channel 4 between Canadian university professor named Jordan Peterson, and a radical feminist with an undergraduate degree in English named Cathy Newman. While you watch, imagine that she is teaching some non-STEM course that you’ve enrolled in. Would you dare to disagree with her?

First, the video, which has over 33 million views:

And here is an article from the UK Spectator: (paywalled)

Whatever else anybody might think of him, Professor Peterson is a man of remarkable learning and experience, and does not appear to have arrived at any of his views by the now common means of ‘I reckon’. Yet Newman, who approaches the interview with the trademark sourness she employs for everyone she expects to disagree with, treats this is just another chance to burnish her own social justice credentials and expose her guest as a bigot. Big mistake.

Storming straight in with the differences between the sexes, in the opening minutes it is clear that Professor Peterson is willing to back up all his views with references, data and calm analysis. 

By 11 minutes in she is saying ‘I think I take issue with (that)’, before demonstrating that she can’t. Soon she is reduced to dropping the bombshell observation that ‘all women are different’. By 16.45 there is a palpable win, as Peterson points out that Newman has exactly the disagreeable and aggressive qualities that allow certain types of people to succeed. By 19.30 she is having to throw out things to him that he hasn’t even said, such as ‘You’re saying women aren’t intelligent enough to run top companies’. A minute later and she is reduced to countering empirical evidence with anecdote. Peterson presents the data about men in general and Newman responds with the ‘I know plenty of men who aren’t (like that)’ card. Shortly after that (at 22.25) Newman is reduced to spluttering and then silence. She tries to pull herself together. But she can think of nothing to say.

To be honest, Cathy Newman is nothing like the women I’m friends with. All of my closest friends are Christian women. All of them are anti-feminist to some degree, with the most successful one professionally (Dina) being the wisest and most anti-feminist of all. When I think of my panel of wise Christian women advisors – each with one or more STEM degrees – I don’t recognize Cathy Newman in them. But Cathy Newman does remind me of the radical feminists I encountered when I was doing my BS and MS degrees in computer science at the university.

In my experience, radical feminists debate using six tactics:

  1. Deny facts or evidence because men were involved in researching them or discovering them
  2. Countering empirical data with anecdotes and personal experiences
  3. Taking arguments and evidence as if they are personal attacks
  4. Becoming hysterical and crying
  5. Claiming that disagreement with feminism will produce violence against women and women committing suicide, etc.
  6. Trying to get you expelled, fired or silenced – often by making false accusations or faking hate crimes against themselves

It’s important for everyone to understand the views of others in order to know how defensible our own views are. In order to get the best scholarly case for radical feminism, I like to read feminist academics like Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia, Jennifer Roback Morse, etc. who evaluate and critique radical feminist scholarship. That’s how I encounter the ideas of those I disagree with (as well as listening to and watching debates).

Here’s a short Factual Feminist video:

I understand the claims that are made by radical feminists, but I am also aware of what the evidence says. I don’t try to stop feminists from making claims, I just study how to refute their claims.

But what about the radical feminists? Do they do a good job of understanding those who disagree with them? Let’s take a look at an example which I think is representative of feminist tolerance and open-mindedness.

The Toronto Sun reports on a sociology professor who gave her students an assignment – an assignment with some very peculiar constraints.

Excerpt:

A Ryerson University student who wanted to write a paper on the “myth” of the male-female wage gap was told by her prof that not only was she wrong, she should only rely on feminist journals for her assignment instead of business sources which “blame women,” her sister says.

Josephine Mathias, 21, a fourth-year political science student at University of Toronto, took to YouTube Wednesday to criticize the assignment given her twin Jane for a sociology class.

[…]After Jane sent an email describing her intention to write about the wag gap, her instructor replied that her premise was wrong, Josephine said.

Here’s what the professor said:

“Perhaps you want to write your paper on the glass ceiling. You need to look at feminist sources on this issue…Do NOT use business sources. They blame women. The reality is patriarchy,” says the instructor’s email, posted online.

In a copy of the assignment provided to the Toronto Sun by Josephine, the instructor also notes that Ontario and Canada government websites and Statistics Canada will not be considered scholarly sources.

“Government websites state government policy that is devoid of analysis, and usually reproduces mainstream stereotypes, assumptions and misconceptions,” the assignment says.

What is interesting is that the professor makes about $167,000 a year – higher than the average professor’s salary. And she’s not teaching computer science or petroleum engineering. I find it interesting that another Canadian university reprimanded a grad student for showing a debate clip that offered both sides of the transgenderism debate. Leftist tolerance. Leftist open-mindedness.

Once you’ve paid your tuition, and the leftist has the grading pen, you lose every argument. Either you get an F, or you get expelled. If you’re in the workplace, you get fired. False charges are often made. Hate crimes are faked. Anything to play the victim, rather than address the arguments and evidence. This is how people on the left “debate”.

As I wrote previously, the more women embrace radical feminism, the more toxic they become to men. Not just in the classroom or the workplace, but in relationships. Who wants to marry someone whose only response to reason is fury? Men might be OK with temporary arrangements with abusive women. At least while those women have youth and beauty. But men don’t marry abusive women. At least, not if they have any wisdom.

(Image source: Independent Man)