I have been reading your blog for weeks now. I know my country (USA) is in danger of soon becoming a third world country from our outlandish spending and wasteful practices of both our citizens and our government. There are a couple of differences in my country and Argentina that I would like to hear from you about. I think it could change the way things turn out here. I don't know if it would be for the better or for the worse but I don't feel it will be the same.
First, in Argentina, there was massive debt created by both the government and the people as your economy began its' stronger growth period. This debt was issued in Euros or American dollars instead of the Peso. From what I understand, many people mortgaged their homes and banked in these currency. Here, we borrowed and bank in our own currency since we are fortunate enough to have convinced the rest of the world that our currency is the one that they can secure assets with worldwide. In almost any country, prior to this debacle, people would accept US currency as if it were even more valuable than their own. Almost as if the US dollar replaced gold as a standard to base other forms of money on. (A stretch I know, but hopefully you get my point)
Second, there were many government businesses Argentina had that the government was able to privatize to generate revenue. I realize the corrupt government stole most of the money received but they were there to sell nonetheless. My government has no such assets. The airlines, water companies, electrical companies, oil companies, railroads, etc. are already private corporations and most are already heavily subsidized by the government. The government still controls the lower education schools (prior to college), the military, the police, and, strangely enough to me, the mail delivery system, and the libraries. What does my government have that it could sell to use to repay debt? I think in place of selling assets, my government will just create higher taxes, both directly to the citizens and indirectly through taxing imports and purchases.
Third and finally, I think the people in Argentina were less greedy and selfish even during the growth period than they are here in the United States. I have never been to Argentina but from the things I have read and heard, it seems that people have/had a higher respect for family and experience. Here it has become a game of kill or be killed (figuratively speaking). It is common to hear of children suing their parents in court, mothers killing their children so she could run away with a lover, fathers killing the entire family and then commit suicide. This has extended from the cruel society where it is applauded to frame a co worker so he is fired, steal from the rich, etc. We have TV shows that exploit spouses that cheat on each other and people that try to humiliate each other for the watchers' entertainment. It seems like we are the Romans sending the Christians out to be eaten by the lions!
June 21, 2009 9:13 AM
If it keeps getting worse, it certainly wont be the same, there will be some variations due to the differences in gov. structure, society, geography, etc.
About 1, In Argentina the greatest debt was by the government, certainly not the average people. It’s been decades since Argentina had real lines of credit. There's very little credit and interest rate is usually too high.
Credit is something most of us just never got used to. Its not common, at its certainly very expensive in terms of interest rate. As surprising as it may seem only rich people and big companies can afford credit and getting into huge amounts of debt. The poor guy buying his home with credit? That’s USA; not Argentina. Here a bank wouldn’t have loaned you money if you weren’t rich enough in the first place, even before the 2001. Hence the catch phrase in Argentina, “ No, I’m not rich enough to afford credit”.
About 2, you are right. Unfortunately as you point out our corrupt gov. lost more money in corrupt deal ( who in his right mind sells a country’s public oil resources.
I also think you are right on about taxes in USA. Expect a huge wave of them in the most various forms, both visible and hidden. Get ready for this fight! An accountant and lawyer are you main weapons here, even for the little guy just living on an ordinary salary. A well written presentation by a lawyer can save you thousands on these type of taxes.
About 3, while people in Argentina are more used to these inconveniences , living with a corrupt government, politicians that are equal or worse than mafia, high crime, rampant inflation, troubled public sevices , poor infrastructure, etc, etc, in temrs of compassion and people’s quality, I’d take the average American instead of the average Argentine any day.
While there are many exceptions, the average Argentine has been hardened to the point of insensibility. Argentines have an overall bad reputation as always trying to get the upper hand on everything, screwing others. It’s a reputation that is unfortunately well deserved given how the average person here behaves.
In terms of family values, etc, I think we’ve gone down seriously since 2000. Again, it will depend a lot on were you are and the kind of people you get along with, but in average, and specially among the poor which make the majority of the population, single teen mothers (16 years old average, according to recent studies), broken families, even incest and specially the drug problem (Paco), I’d say USA is better off.
Then again you guys have other problems as well such as racial and religious struggles, gangs and illegal immigrants.
What I’m certain of is that America has a more spoiled population, mostly due to prosperous times and a nanny state that almost blows people’s noses.
But people adapt when there’s no other choice and life slaps them in the face, even if it takes a bit more whining and crying.