Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sorry Ricky

You may recall that a couple of months ago America's Quarterly published a review I wrote of Ricardo Lagos' new book, Southern Tiger. You can reread it here.

Now the Economist has put out its own review, and it is probably even harsher than mine. In both cases, we find that the book, as a memoir, is very light on details. It is not really a memoir, but a kind of review of recent Chilean history and the very important role that Lagos played in it.

All in all it seems like a missed opportunity. What a shame.

Monday, 16 April 2012

More on The Economist's view of the Piñera government

I don't know why Chileans care so much about what the rest of the world thinks about them, but somehow when The Economist says what everyone else in Chile is thinking, it's a big deal.

So here's my latest column on what The Economist says.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Economist slams Chile, again

The Chilean model is, presumably, a model because a) other countries have decided to model themselves after it (some countries, like Russia, have attempted to copy Chile's private pension system, for example) and b) because international business and policy elites have decided that there was something in the Chilean case to be emulated.

The Economist -- a fairly good barometer of these elites -- has for some time been wary of where the Chilean model was going, and this week devotes a long essay to the current state of things. And it ain't pretty.

There are lots of interesting data in the piece, but I suspect that what it comes down to is Carlos Peña's final quote -- it's a crisis of expectations. 

I have long felt that the Chilean model was built on a kind of Chilean Dream, analogous to the American Dream, where the citizen-consumer accepted a kind of Faustian pact of neoliberalism in exchange for improving living standards. When Peña speaks of a crisis of expectations, he is referring to how Chileans perceive those standards of living. It is no longer enough to have a fridge or a flat screen TV, if you feel the cable company is ripping you off. It is not enough to get a university degree if your family goes into debt for years to fund a degree which will not offer much in terms of employment.

That's the current model, and The Economist doesn't seem so eager to have others emulate it.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Kayaking in Chile

Ok, so this post is not about politics. But this short film is very beautiful, and shows Chile at its best (I'm afraid many of my posts do quite the contrary). And apparently it won some prize for Best Short Film of 2012.


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Alcohol, Aysen and Zamudio: No enforcement

The recent implementation of new and draconian blood alcohol levels is, on the one hand, a sign that, as far as personal conduct and public safety, Chile is making efforts to move into the 21st century. However, as my column published today in La Segunda points out, there are many laws on the books which are barely enforced at all. It is illegal to ride one's bicycle on the highway, but people do it all the time.

So reducing the legal blood alcohol limit will be meaningless unless it is properly enforced.

So far, it must be said, at least the people I know are observing the new law. Social gatherings have got much more boring, either because people aren't drinking, or they are leaving early in order to catch a cab.

Underdevelopment had its privileges.