Most Americans do not know that the IMF (International Monetary Fund), an organization implemented to help troubled economies stabilize themselves, has, since Ronald Reagan, been populated and dominated by economists from the Milton Friedman Chicago school of Economics. This group harbors what I think of as a radical view of economics, first espoused by Adam Smith, modernized by Friedrich Hayek, Nobelized by Milton Friedman and introduced into the world as the "free market economy" by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, both of whom saw the pro-business model as one that was advantageous over the "command economy" of FDR. This group is possessed by an ideology, an assumption that they must be right, buttressed by the modern approach to economics, that of developing mathematical models which they claim prove their conclusions. The first country to get a high dose of the free market economy was Chile following the overthrow of Allende and the installation of the brutal regime of Pinochet. Eventually most of the Southern Cone countries of South America came under free market dictatorships, with brutal repressive regimes that received high praise from Ronald Reagan. But the trouble with this economic model is that it institutionalizes high corporate profits, high corporate influence, privatization of government functions and generates leaders that like to go to war. We have a couple of free market war mongerers in office right now. Every country that has instituted the free market economy has experienced a dramatic increase in the economic disparity between the upper and lower income classes. And, in addition, they have witnessed their own home-grown companies get bought by foreign investors, usually at a small fraction of what the company is worth, based on earnings.
The Falkland Islands war is a classic example of a failing free market dictatorship, Argentina, whose leaders needed a war to distract and galvanize the public. On the other side of this artificial conflict was Margaret Thatcher, the free market British leader, who was losing ground in her battle with the striking coal miners; she too needed a galvanizing national experience to gain the upper hand as she was trying to do to the coal miners what Ronald Reagan did to the air traffic controllers in 1981….break the backs of unions. The result was predictable. A completely meaningless island to Britain became a two month battleground through which Thatcher got the public support she needed to win the 1983 election and gain the upper hand over the miners. In contrast, the dictatorship of Argentina’s military junta, led by General Leopoldo Galtier , collapsed as a result of the war. Galtier and many of his co-leaders spent time in prison and democracy in Argentina was restored, with continued bitterness to those rulers who perpetrated the "Dirty War" that involved brutal killing and disappearance of leftist leaders and sympathizers. It’s been estimated that as many as 30,000 citizens of Argentina were whisked off the streets and disappeared, a process that involved torture and murder. Pregnant women who were seized were kept in a secret prison until they delivered their baby. They were then thrown out from a plane over the ocean and their children were adopted by leaders in the military junta. All this brutality was highly praised by our Republicans who labeled it as brave "anti-communism."Print This Post