Sunday, November 9, 2008

Socialism = Lawful Plunder

Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes a column on Latin America for The Wall Street Journal. Her column this week is entitled "Argentina Impoverishes Itself Again."

This blog has noted the puzzle of Argentina's poverty before; how a nation with wonderful natural resources, an educated population, benign climate, and varied terrain that should be rich is in fact poor. We've blamed Peronism - Argentine socialism.

O'Grady is worth quoting at some length:

Argentina is a constitutional republic with many historical similarities to the U.S. It has a rich immigrant heritage and an abundance of natural resources. But the U.S. is a rich, advanced country and Argentina is poor.

How did the breadbasket of South America fall so far behind? One explanation goes back some 90 years, when the Argentine Supreme Court began chipping away at property rights as a way of addressing economic inequality. Argentine politicians quickly learned that lawful plunder was their path to power.

Juan Peron and wife Evita accelerated the socialist thrust in Argentina, and gave it their name. The moral of the Argentinian story is this: socialism is not a way to share the wealth, it is a way to share the poverty.

Today, everybody in Argentina wants to share the wealth earned by others, nobody much wants to earn any wealth that they then will have to share with others. Argentina still awaits its Margaret Thatcher; a politician who will reverse the socialism and revitalize the economy.

Beyond this blog's interest in Latin American affairs, we emphasize this redistributive issue here is as a object lesson for what we must not do here in the United States.