- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Lies, damn lies and...

Posted by: Darcy Carter ( UK ) on September 17, 1999 at 20:29:39:

In Reply to: Has capitalism? posted by Farinata on September 16, 1999 at 22:43:23:

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: : India. Yes. What a thoroughly well organised and prosperous state, the socialist dream has eradicated poverty, children are all well clothed, healthy and educated, there is universal education and health care and everyone glows with a sense of general well being. Get a grip.

: Funny you should say that. I've been to India as well. I saw starving people. I saw some inequality. But I never saw anyone who looked down on their fellow Indian because of their poverty. I was treated with kindliness by rich and poor alike while travelling there; which is more than can be said about our mean-spirited and shabby country, Darcy.

---I see - so when the Hindus say a certain class of people are "untouchable", and refuse to even let the shadow of that person fall on them, are they just having a laugh? These statements are, in any case, pure conjecture based on your own prejudice. How can you say that the average Indian has a more humane and egalitarian outlook than a British person? Becuase you've been on holiday there and people were nice to you? I have been to USA and people were nice to me - this doesn't prove anything. And to say that our countries are "mean - spirited and shabby" presumably means that the people in them are mean - spirited. I am not mean spirited. Are you? How can you call an entire nation of people "mean - spirited". This is racism. I bet a left - wing type such as yourself would be the first to denounce someone who said "Africans are naturally lazy". Where's the difference? If you hate your own people so much, I don't understand why you put up with it - you should leave immediately.

: Oh, and for your information, India is self-sufficient. It can feed itself. Can the US or UK say that? No.

I do not have the clutch of lies, er, I mean statistics, to hand that a lot of contributors seem to so cannot put a figure on the number of people starving in India. However, according to the Oxfam (a UK Charity) leaflets that I receive it's a lot. I am sure they will be thrilled to know that their country is self-sufficient. Self-sufficiently allowing large sections of the population to starve and drink polluted water. That's just super.

: So when it becomes economically impractical to transport foodstuffs intercontinentally due to rising fuel prices (give it 20 years), India will still be able to feed itself; where the UK and US will not. India is self-sustaining; we aren't.

---You really think that the populations of UK and USA will begin to starve in 20 years? I really can't take that seriously. We are not self-sufficient in things like coffee and bananas that we are unable to grow because of the climate (in the UK), or in things that we can grow but which are cheaper to buy in the sufficient quantities from abroad. However, even if food imports became more expensive, they would still be available - it might mean that I would have to give up on oranges or something. I would hardly starve. In terms of starvation, I am sure either the UK or USA could easily russell up enough staple foods using modern farming techniques to fend off general starvation. Doesn't America have huge plains of crops that stretch for 100s of miles? I'm sure that stuff would keep them going if the chips were down. You are mistaking the fact that some nations consume more food than they grow (for variety / economic reasons) for situation where a nation would actually starve if the imports stopped.

---This is even if food imports did become impossible. This is just not going to happen. I don't have a raft of figures to hand, but shipping seems a fairly economic way to transport goods. I can't see a day, 20 years from now, when we'll all say "right - that's it, shipping is too expensive so we're all going to have to starve."

: Oh, and as for education, you might want to ask Nikhil about the literacy rate in Kerala, one of the Communist states.

---That's just terrific, and a great consolation I'm sure to those who live in Indian poverty. Besides, I find all this naming of regions within India a bit dubious. Just because one state of India has comparitively good literacy, and happens to be communist, it is still a very large leap to make to say that communism is capable of working to provide prosperity to a general population.

: : : : You would observe that we who are lucky enough to live in Western democracies, even if we are poor by the standards of these societies, live a life of paradise compared to the vast majority of those from the rest of the world.

: : : Really? Were you perchance aware that a Cuban on average lives longer than an American, a Shanghainese longer than a New Yorker, and a black man from Sao Tome longer than a black man from Harlem. Or that starvation and destitution are rare in any genuine socialist / communist society?

: : That says more about the American diet and Harlem drug / gang culture amongst young males than it does about socialism.

: You really think Harlem is a statistically significant part of the US?

---I've no idea. Nikhil used it as an example of the superior nature of communist states over capitalist ones. I am entitled to point out factors that might have affected those "statistics".

: As for the American diet; well, if it weren't for the capitalists in government keeping the price of meat artificially low, meat and dairy produce would approach a "real" value reflecting their environmental cost; such a rise would typically make meat cost between 25 and 50 times what it costs today.

---How casn government keep prices "artificially" low except by subisides? Are you suggesting that for every 1 worth of meat I eat, the government is giving 25 to meat porducers? This is an absurd idea. What you base you're idea of "real" cost on I don't know. If the "real" cost was so high, capitalist companies would not be able to make a profit selling it at a fraction of this (that is - without the phantom subsidies mentioned above) and so would not do so.

---Anyway, you can't blame capitalism for diet. People are free to choose what they want to eat. Many people in America choose to eat healthily, as they do in capitalist Europe, where fast food consumption is a fraction of its US levels. This is a cultural problem, not an economic one.

: (Of course, the capitalist meat companies would have apopleptic fits if you suggested that meat obey the real laws of production cost; so they market their product at the public constantly and use the developing world as sources of cheap meat.)

---Most of the meat we eat in the UK comes from either Britain or France, certainly within the EU. You make it sound as if we creep over to Africa in the middle of the hight and steal all of their cows.

: : Have you ever been to Cuba? THE PEOPLE IN CUBA HAVE NOTHING. They are very, very poor. And China - well, overalls and political repression. Wonderful. If I lived there, I don't think i'd want to live that long.

: Would you rather live in Burma, where they just gaoled a UK national for 7 years - for singing a song in a public place?

---Not really. Sounds awful. Burmah is not democratic, however. I believe that any state requires democracy to succeed, whether capitalist or socialist. Democracy is a fundamental plank of capitalism. With socialism, the reverse often seems true. The capitalist states have come to grips with democracy a lot better than their socialist counterparts.

: (The SLORC in Burma are supported by Total Oil, Dragon Oil, Siemens, Philips and sundry arms companies; it is also tacitly supported by the UK, French, German and US governments.)

: Or Ogoniland in Nigeria; where Mobil and Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell are doing their best to wipe out the local people?

---What motive have companies for attempting to "wipe out local people"? This sounds like emotive, left wing ranting to me.

: Or Colombia, where BP and Chevron are funding state-trained paramilitary groups?

: Or Indonesia, where the military regime has been committing genocide of one sort or another for the last 30 years.

: (The sad fact is that East Timor is the rare exception; a capitalist-funded genocide that got noticed; what about the genocide in West Papua?)

---There are a lot of bad things happening in the world, I never denied that. Not all of these are perpetrated by communists, of course. Few, however, are due to capitalist democracies. When you say evil regimes are "tacitly supported" by the West, you presumably mean becuase we do not intervene with force. I believe that we should intervene to end repression wherever practical. Sadly, it is oftne not practical (we could not start telling China what to do, for instance), but as more and more nations come into the capitalist, democratic fold, more and more people will have the liberty and affluence we take for granted.

: : These silly examples are to do with diet etc. Of course someone who lives on rice and fish is likely to live to a ripe old age even without top-class medical care. So what?

: So, a nation which overeats as a default is likely to suffer poor health. Why do they overeat? Because they can. Why can they? Because others are not eating.

---Not all people overeat "because they can". Many people in the US and UK are still fit and healthy desite the blandishments of fast food companies. We are not goldfish, who will eat until we burst, we are individuals who will decide what we eat and how much. This notion of freedom is what socialists really find hard to accept. You want to tell people how much to eat (presumably, by rationing the food supply), because you know better than them. Even in these apparently innocent comments, we can see the seeds of a state like the "not really communist" Societ Union. I believe people shoule eat well and think McDonalds food is, on the whole, bad for you. But I would assert people's right to to that which is bad for them as long as it does not harm anyone else. This concept is called freedom. In your ideas of limiting choice, you can see in embryo the link between communism and political repression that I mentioned above, and why it all goes pear-shaped in Socialist states.

---Also, to say we are overaeting becuase others don't eat is, again, simply emotive nonsense. If we gave up overeating tomorrow, this wouldn't make crops in Africa grow or end the civil wars and corruption that inflict so much depravation. Our food doesn't, on the whole come from the 3rd world and if it does, it is not because some 3rd world farmers are growing profitable crops for export that there is starvation.

: Let's make this nice and simple; there is a fixed physical amount of "food" in the world at any one time; regardless of money. If a power bloc like the West is overeating systematically, it is because there is another area which is not consuming.

--This is logically fallacious. Of course, food is a physical substance and there is only a finite amount at any one time. But it is not, like gold, really finite. This is because food grows, using the infinite (for human purposes) supply of energy from the sun. There is not a store of food somewhere that we have raided, leaving it empty when the truck from Burkina Faso pitches up to collect their share. Of course there is also a finite amount that can be grown, but there is no suggestion that this point has been reached. Often, enough food is grown in a country but people still starve because corrpution / war / poor infrastrcuture does not allow it reach those who need it. For your argument to be true, people would have to be in the poisition of having the food, but it being taken away from them to produce chicken McNuggets or something. This is simply not true - blaming the West for all the ill of the world is left wing "we're so terrible, we should all hate ourselves" political correctness. No-one system is responsible for everything bad that has ever happened.

: : Where are these "genuine communist societies" that offer such living conditions? I might go and live there.

: Try the Exodus collective; they're just outside Luton. There are also any number of LETS (local exchange trading schemes); there are about 10 to 15 in London and others elsewhere; they operate perfectly well without money, as they have been for 30 years. These are good examples of small-scale collectivism working.

---Hardly a society in my book. Small groups of committed, like-minded people can of course live in ways that represent collectivity. This is a million miles away from saying that these practices could ever work for a general population. Communities like exodus also exist in a rich, free, capitalist state, without which they would not be able to function. I am glad that capitalism allows people to pursue alternatuve lifestyles of their choosing. This "opting out" of society is something that would never be allowed under socialism (at least of the tyoe that has thus far existed)

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: : : Most of those experiments weren't genuine communism, the ones that did make an effort at democratic communism generally succeeded.

: : Like where? Like so many socialists, it's the "but it wasn't genuine communism" line. Doesn't this tell you anything? - "genuine communism" as you probably imagine it is impossible.

: Perhaps you'd care to point to anywhere that genuine Adam Smith-style deregulated capitalism has been implemented

---I don't need to. I never insisted Cpaitalism has to be of that particular form. I can however point to capitalist democracies (ie - the West) where people are free, don't starve, have clean water, are generally affluent and in which there is the social mobility to allow people to fulfil their potential. The success stories of capitalist democracy are evident - we live in them.

: The nearest thing to the promised state of unfettered capitalism we've seen is the last decade in Somalia (that haven of peace and serenity!); where any fast lad with an AK-47 and some ammo can make it to the top.

---Unfettered capitalism? That was an anarchy controled, to the extent that there was control, by regional (undemocratic) warlords. Lawless anarchy is not capitalism any more than it is socialsim or any other kind of "ism".

: : There's been enough attempts. If it was going to work, it would have worked by now.

: What? Let's see, it's less than 150 years since Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital.

: Now, Plato wrote The Republic in 450 B.C. or thereabouts. How long was it between Plato's writing and any sort of modern democracy?

: Does this mean that someone in 100 A.D., observing the flourishing Roman Empire, would be correct in saying "well, it was a very nice idea, but completely impractical in the real world..."?

---I don't deny that socialism might one day be possible and, indeed, that it is in principle desirable. Marxism is a Eutopian idea, and I think everyone would like to live in a Eutopia if this could be achieved. The problem is, depsite interesting statistics on literacy in obscure Indian provinces, moden socialism has a terrible track record. There is no capitalist democracy that has so utterly failed its people as have the century's great socialsit experiments. Also, it;s not the age of the ideas of Marxism that make me sceptical; it's the long catalogue of failure in which their attempted implementation has resulted.

: : You don't hear capitalists bemoaning the ruin of a string of countries by their system and then saying "oh, but that wasn't genuine capitalism."

: Oh yes you do. In fact, examine the current state of Russia. The quality of everyday life of the Russian citizen has suffered a dramatic drop over the last ten years. Ask a member of the Chicago School and they'll tell you it was because Russia was engaging in crony capitalism; despite the fact that the West and the IMF have been involved in Russia's economic policy for the last seven years. Point to the battleground that is Africa and capitalists will tell you that it's because they haven't implemented "pure" capitalism.

---Russia's present day problems are because communism has ravaged the nation for the best part of this century. If people were content under communism, why did the eastern block rid itself of the communists as soon as it got the chance? Why did many risk, and loose, their lives crossing the Berlin Wall? If communism's so great, surely it should have been the other way round?

---Africa's problems are a little more complicated. They are largely undemocratic, corrupt states. Their poverty is systemic and will take a long time to remedy. Democracy and capitalism are the way forward, though. I certainly would never talk of "pure" capitalism. Democratic capitalist government, such as that of the UK and the USA, indulges in redistributive and progressive taxation, does have public services and a body of laws that regulate not only individuals' behaviour but the ambit of permissable trade practices. I also offers rights and protection against unacceptable exploitation of capital - I support a certain level of redistricbution. This is entirely consistent with the Western, democratic model. Pure capitalism has never been implemented, but who'd want it to be. It works well in its tempered form. What African states need is not "pure" anything. It is a democratic, capitalist, accountable government.

: Observe the trade wars going on between the US and the EU; they exist due to "impure capitalism" (a.k.a. "protectionism") if you ask the free-marketeers.

: Let's take a specific example; bananas.

: As we all know, Chiquita has vast banana plantations in Mesoamerica; they treat their staff appallingly and churn out bananas and other fruit by the tonne, dominating the world banana market to the point of monopoly. They also donate money to the US government. A lot of money.

: Now let's take the West Indies. They produce some bananas; but are subsidized by the EU, who are their major market for the bananas. Bananas are their one major cash crop. Because of these subsidies, they can stay afloat in the EU banana market. Chiquita observes these subsidies as unfair and contrary to the principles of free trade; for they want to dominate the EU market completely as well. So they complain to the US Government and point to the funds they donate to the Government saying "look, we give you money, support us". The US duly complains to the WTO, which rules that the subsidies are unfair according to the principles of "free trade".

: Without the money from those bananas, the economy of the West Indies will be devastated; they will turn to their one other viable cash crop; illegal narcotics; which has a deleterious effect on the life of the average West Indian, but benefits the few crime lords who profit from the capitalist trade in drugs. Widespread suffering to the average West Indian, heaps of money to a few privileged West Indians and a whole new headache for the US in the form of a boom in the supply of illegal narcotics.

---you have no idea whether the economy of the West Indies will "collapse". you have no idea that there will be an increased trade in drugs or that this trade war will have any affect at all on the lives of the avcerage West Indian person. You are making it up as you go along. I might as well say "the West Indies will realise that to base one's economy solely on one crop, which you sell at a price that is only profitable because of subsidies from EU tax payers, is an extremely risky business. The economy therefore diversifies, bringing increased wealth, and an improved infrastrcuture. The banana growers adopt more efficient working practices that allow them to compete on equal terms with the other growers. A more modern system of plantations develop. The average West Indian's standard of living increases, the price of bananas falls due to genuine competition and everybody's happy.

An industry that requires subsidy in order to sell its goods at a competitive price should not be in operation. An economy based on subsidy is not sustainable in the long term as it will lead to complacency, stagnation and backwardness of working techniques. This has been shown to be the case in the EU, who are busy thinking up ways to loosten the strangelhold of the Common Agricultural Policy. This little trade squabble shows nothing except that world capitalism is successfully regulating itself.

: This is one example of what "free trade" does. Yet any good capitalist will tell you that imposing the free market on the West Indies is infinitely preferable to the subsidies and protectionism that went on beforehand. I don't think the average West Indian would agree, somehow.

: : : Look at what social indicators like life expectancy, infant mortality, education, as well as things like inequality and satisfaction with the government, did during genuine democratic-communist or socialist revolutions. Such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, the parliamentary communism in Kerala or Bengal, the Sankaraist Revolution in Burkina Faso, or the Marxists in Namibia or Zimbabwe. Invariably conditions becme better in every regard. Even some states which are not fully democratic, like Cuba and Laos, still have made immense steps forward that put teh rest of teh world to shame.

---I don't have six months to trawl through figures on "improvements" in these countries. The plain fact is, they are all extremely poor. Even if a corner of India has as good a literacy rate as the US, this doesn't show anything - after all, nobody is claiming that all communist citizens are iliterate. I had to smile, though, at the reference to "satisfaction ratings". I am sure the citizens of a totalitarian state are very well placed to give their true feelings on the matter, particularly as information about what life is like in the West is strictly controlled.

: : Cuba? Laos? Namimbia? Burkina Faso? Are you mad? The latter is the poorest country in the world. Namibia is currently a very frightening war zone patrolled by very unfriendly men with big guns. The people of Cuba are extremely poor, even if they are educated to a sufficient standard to read state propoganda and Loas - well, if that's an improvement I'd hate to have seen what it was like before. If that's the best you can come up with I really do think you're badly struggling.

: You haven't actually provided any rebuttal to his arguments; merely pooh-poohed them. This is a Debating Room; we work on points of fact and evidenced arguments here. Nikhil has repeatedly cited evidence in the many previous posts he has made to this room; time for you to back up your claims, I feel.

----Statistics can be made to say almost anything of the person producing them has an agenda. My only claim is that communist countries are poorer and less free than capitalist ones, and don't show any liklihood of catching up any time soon. If you need figures to back that up, you will never listen to any sort of reason on the subject. Frankly, the sort of statistics Nikhil dragged up about literacy rates in Sao Tome etc are obscure to the point of invisibility. That is not to say I don't believe him. I do. I just can't see that these figures (and if you couldn't find some positive statistics from all those communist states over the years then socialism would be an even worse system than I believe it is) mean that communism has worked. I accept that Cuba has high literacy rates. But is it still poor. I accept that the communist provinces of India are "some of the wealthiest" (hardly much competition there, I fear) but they are still poor. Any advancements they have made are of the apalling to merely awful variety - still incredibly tiny compared with the huge leaps forward made by the West in the last 100 years.

: : I was talking about what people's own governments had done to them.

: Oh, like Burma, Indonesia, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba (Batista-era), Haiti, Malaysia, Thailand.

---Hardly capitalist democracies. What these fetid little dictatorships (Chile and Argentina have recently moved out of this category) have to do with the successes of Western liberal states I can't imagine. At this level of squalor and corruption, I don't think it matters much whether they are purportedly communist, purportedly capitalist or governed by the Moonster Raving Loony party.

: (That's deaths, of course. We won't mention things like forcible sterilisation, as practised by Canada and Australia, or "racial profiling", as practised by the US.)

---A lot of bad things have happended in the West. I don't dispute it. Still, it doesn't make socialism right, or workable. Fortunately, the West has made progress in areas of morality and political freedom. We now know it is immoral to do these things, and they no longer occur.

: Or we could take a look at Amnesty International; which is currently campaigning againt the US's widespread disrespect and contravention of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

---Well, no-one said the USA was perfect. However, the citizens do have rights and freedom. I would rather live in the USA than Cuba. I think most peopl would agree with me (particularly the Cubans).

: : The reason it will not happen again between 2 capitalist states is that those states / citizens have too much to loose under capitalism.

: Oh good grief. Not this old chestnut again...

: Let's not mention Serbia and Croatia in 1992...

---Civil war. Was formerly the nation of Yugoslavia (a country banded together under communist rule since WWII. I have heard Britain and Argentina mentioned as well. Argentina was not a democracy at the time (1early 1980s).

: Nikhil's the expert on this; he had a list of 12 examples of such conflicts since 1945. Of course, it depends what you mean by "capitalist"; Gee's response was "well, they're not really capitalist"...

---I've no doubt that Nikhil could pull a rabbit out of a hat and call in Susan if you gave him a calculator and enough time.

: : The reason much of the world is so poor today is that the political systems governing many countries are too corrupt to initiate a proper capitalist democracy.

: Of course, this isn't helped by capitalist companies seeking to exploit the poor countries by propping up regimes which violate every human right in the book; can you say Burma, or Guatemala or Indonesia, or Turkey?

: As an example, see how many of these "corrupt" countries have first-class tickets to exhibitions like COPEX? (the Covert and anti-insurgency Procurement Exhibition; held this year in Epsom, I think.)

Socialists tend to think of profit itself as evil. It is therefore very satisfying for you I'm sure to blame the mutinationals for Africa's poverty. Unfortunately, Africa was poor before multi-nationals came along. Surely you can see that Africa's poverty is deeply embeded - it could not be cured by banning all multi-nationals from operations in Africa. Besides, without them ,how do you expect these countries to exploit their resources? Without these companies, Africa would get poorer, not more wealthy.

: The UK taxpayer funds representatives of these regimes to come over to the UK, where the "defence" industry tries to sell them instruments of torture and repression; such as stun batons, rubber handcuffs and nausea gases; the UK government knows that these weapons will be used in contravention of humanitarian codes against dissenters and protestors; in some cases, like that of R. Maudsley, a UK national gaoled a few weeks ago for 17 years because he handed out pro-democracy leaflets, it is entirely likely he was tortured with UK-made equipment.

---The UK has sold arms to oppresive right wing regimes. I accept this. This means that we ought to look at our foreign policy and perhaps adopt a more ethical approach - I would certainly favour this and believe that the West should do everything possible to prevent opression. It also means that regimes other than communist ones can be corrupt and oppresive. None of this is in dispute. It does not, though, prove that communism is a good or viable system. Democracy is the key to rights, freedom and affluence. Socialism may be able to work in tandem with democracy (though I doubt this) but has tended not to do so.

: The UK government persists with the arms industry because it insists that the defence industry creates jobs for Britain; in fact, as Vickers Ltd. informed the House of Commons, it can take up to 600,000 to create one job in some sectors of the defence industry; money that could fund 30 well-paid nurses.

---You're right - our reliance on the arms trade is very quaestionable. Unfortunately, pointing out detailed flaws in particular capitalist democracies does nothing to dispel the systemic flaws of socialism.

: : This will come with time - it is capitalism that will end poverty and, as discussed above, war.

: Such faith. Such blind faith.

---Strange that I, who can point to the long-term and widesrpead success of capitalism, the improvement in people's living standards and fruition of political liberty, have "blind faith" that the system works. As a socialist, who cannot point to these successes but is forced to look at improvements in the adult literacy rate in Sao Tome, while ignoring the largest country on earth and the behemoth that was the Soviet Union, you have concrete faith I suppose? Surely there's something wrong here?

: : Of Couse! Stalinism is not communism. Just like Thatcherism is not capitalism

: Funny; it was one of Thatcher's proud boasts that she fostered the Adam Smith Institute; she would claim herself to be one of the purest capitalists around; she formed much of her minimal-state policy from the writings of Robert Nozick; writings which even Nozick said he thought were wrong in hindsight.

---Thatcher based much of her political philosophy on Hayeck, a libertarian political philosopher. Under her government, Britain was pulled back from the socialist abyss that had destroyed much of its industry with strikes and inefficient working practices. She certainly was a capitalist but there was still welfare in Britain and public services. This is the liberal, democtratic capitalism that represents a good example of what I have been talking about.

: : : The valid comparison between communism and capitalism is that states which go from capitalism to social tend to do better in terms of standard of living while those that go from socialism to capitalism invariably see the standard of living fall.

---If that is true, strange that the capitalist states have much higher standards of living than the socialist ones. Something's going wrong somewhere. If you're right though, within a few years it will be America and Britain that are forced to go cap in hand to the Socialist super-economies of Burkia Faso and Laos. Economic migration will no doubt be rife, with a healthy black market in London and New York in forged Namibian entrance visas. I will cheerfully admit I am wrong, and fill out my application for Namibian citizenship...

: : Chile got rid of their communist lunatics in the 1970s and the standard of living has increased dramatically.

: Actually, if you examine the figures (which say that "Between 1972 and 1987, the GNP per capita fell 6.4 percent".), you'll see that the standard of living decreased with the accession of the dictator Pinochet. And the best that Friedman and his cronies could do was to bankrupt the country.

: The salient points; the Chilean economy became more unstable than any other Latin American country, the inflation-adjusted earnings of the average worker in 1989 were lower than they were in 1973, Chile's economic growth was in fact the lowest of any South American country and Chile became the most polluted country in South America. Nice one, Milton Friedman.

: ((Pinochet) "has supported a fully free-market economy as a matter of principle. Chile is an economic miracle." - Milton Friedman, Newsweek, 1982)

---That's all well and good, but the last I heard was that Chile was doing extremely well, with a GDP nearing Western levels and low unemployment / inflation. You can play about with statictics any way you like - Chile is now a much better place to live than it was 20 years ago. Every Chilean I have spoken to has confirmed this. This is a comment from Dr Robinson Rojas, professor of third world studies at Aalborg universtity in Denmark.

"it must be stated that the Chilean growth from the mid
eighties has been significant."

Dr Rojas is a "left wing" academic. This "significant growth" from the mid - 1980s startes around the time that the free-market economy in Chile was accompanied by a move towards democracy.

: See again my example of Russia above; they've suffered a decrease in average standard of living since the breakup of the USSR.

---again, that country's entire infrastructure and political culture is in ruins; it will take years to recover. Communism did this, along with the atrocities and environmental disasters that are well documented.

: (This is *despite* the fact that the USSR was spending 50% of its GDP on weapons during some parts of the Cold War.)

: :And Nicaragua - hardly a by word for political stability and prosperity. would you want to live there? I bloody know I wouldn't.

: Not with all those US-funded Contras, no. They're a terrorist menace. Almost as bad as the Guatemalan government, or that of Pinochet.

---No-one's saying Pinochet's a saint. But Chile is now a liberal democracy - perfectly safe. Shame they had to get there by a violent coup, but at least they got there.

: In fact, since the US sponsored and trained torture squads in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru,and Venezuela, Latin America isn't my idea of heaven.

---The Americans have done some very dodgy things in their time. At least we can say so - If the Soviet's had "Won" the cold war we wouldn't have that privilidge. But again, saying that some Westen countries have done immoral things does not make communism workable. Better to work to continue to refine the ethics of the west. At least then we know we have a solid foundation of wealth and core freedoms while we search for perfection.


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