Monday, June 15, 2009

Will America learn from Argentina?

Mary O'Grady gives a dire warning in this article "Kirchner vs. The Press" saying "give government 'crisis' power and you won't get it back." She gives the example of Argentina:
In the wake of the country's 2002 economic collapse, the Argentine Congress gave the executive immense powers on the grounds that the circumstances called for extraordinary government action.
Seven years later those powers have not been rescinded and the state dominates the economy as an owner and regulator. Argentina now faces the threat of a further consolidation of control by President Cristina Kirchner through means similar to those employed by Hugo Chávez. As in Venezuela, free speech and the free press are being targeted for increased repression.
Let this be a lesson to any modern democracy that cedes broad power to government in a time of crisis: Granting power to the executive is easy; getting it back isn't.
Today in America there are similarities which should alarm anybody not wanting America to go follow Argentina's authoritarian path. A little bit more from WSJ on Argentina:
Argentina has moved from democratic capitalism -- no matter how weak -- to an increasingly repressive and isolated state-controlled economic system. Property-rights protection has been eviscerated. Entrepreneurs have been cowed into silence by state threats of tax investigations and regulatory harassment. State-sponsored street thugs target businesses that resist the presidency's agenda.
We have already seen the shape of things to come with Banking sector and now with Auto sector. The way Chrysler's secured debt holders were treated can only be called fascist tactics. One of the debt holders was threatened by the White House to back off. WSJ further reports:
From his earliest days as president, Mr. Kirchner tried to keep media critics quiet by using the government's publicity budget to reward supporters and starve those outlets that dared to print criticism.
We have seen the reports of selective closing down of GM dealerships who had supported the Republicans in the elections. With bailouts in fashion and its arbitrary distribution, one financial institution is rescued and other is not. The financial regulations cause the chaos in the markets and then those very regulators decide who stays and who goes. The article also talks about Argentinian government's drafting of a new radio and television law that, if approved, seems sure to quash media freedom. With Obama having made his position clear on media consolidation it's not going to be long before he makes his move in this direction.


Mike said...

The United States seems to be ignoring the Argentinian precedent on multiple issues. The Leviathan that has come about in the wake of Argentina's 2001 economic armageddon ought to get Americans' attention, but more than that, the 2001 collapse itself is not so far-fetched in a world where the U.S. government just prints money to hand to whomever.

Among bloggers and message boards that are into survivalism and self-sustaining lifestyles, Argentina is providing a valuable cautionary example and road map to the potentially bad times ahead. Want to constantly be scanning the horizon for bandits, carry a gun at all times, and lock down your house and property hinge-and-chain? That's how it is in the Pampas, and that's how it could become in the Great Plains...