The article is mostly accurate describing the causes of the problems in Argentina although it does keep in mind to forget to mention a key element such as the role of the IMF and the same old multinational corporations that always seem to float around when countries fall apart. With a bit of bigotry it pokes fun at how Argentines cook food, and takes a few shots at Spain and Italy while failing to mention the serious economic and sociopolitical problems Britain has itself.
Argentina should serve as an example of what not to do. Still, many developed nations are repeating the same model, and because of a few “cosmetic” differences here and there most don’t seem to realize they are being dragged down the same miserable path. After all, in which country is it that 14 year olds keep get pregnant so as to get a council flat and benefits? And lets better not mention lying politicians blaming the weather for decades flood protection infrastructure neglect.
The parable of Argentina
There are lessons for many
governments from one country’s 100 years of decline
A CENTURY ago, when Harrods decided to set up its first overseas
emporium, it chose Buenos Aires. In 1914 Argentina stood out as the
country of the future. Its economy had grown faster than America’s over
the previous four decades. Its GDP per head was higher than Germany’s,
France’s or Italy’s. It boasted wonderfully fertile agricultural land, a
sunny climate, a new democracy (universal male suffrage was introduced
in 1912), an educated population and the world’s most erotic dance.
Immigrants tangoed in from everywhere. For the young and ambitious, the
choice between Argentina and California was a hard one.
There are still many things to love about Argentina, from the glorious wilds of Patagonia to the world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi. The Argentines remain perhaps the best-looking people on the planet. But their country is a wreck. Harrods closed in 1998. Argentina is once again at the centre of an emerging-market crisis. This one can be blamed on the incompetence of the president, Cristina Fernández, but she is merely the latest in a succession of economically illiterate populists, stretching back to Juan and Eva (Evita) Perón, and before. Forget about competing with the Germans. The Chileans and Uruguayans, the locals Argentines used to look down on, are now richer. Children from both those countries—and Brazil and Mexico too—do better in international education tests.
Why dwell on a single national tragedy? When people consider the worst that could happen to their country, they think of totalitarianism. Given communism’s failure, that fate no longer seems likely. If Indonesia were to boil over, its citizens would hardly turn to North Korea as a model; the governments in Madrid or Athens are not citing Lenin as the answer to their euro travails. The real danger is inadvertently becoming the Argentina of the 21st century. Slipping casually into steady decline would not be hard. Extremism is not a necessary ingredient, at least not much of it: weak institutions, nativist politicians, lazy dependence on a few assets and a persistent refusal to confront reality will do the trick.