[Editor's Note: Our Chile correspondent Dr. John Cobin is filling in for Simon today]
You’ve probably heard that old saying– ‘if you’re not a socialist by the time you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re still one by the time you’re 30, you have no brain.’
This is true everywhere in the world. Even in capitalist bastions like Hong Kong, there is a misguided minority that believes they should prosper from others’ labor.
Usually this attitude fades with age and career progression, right around the time someone strokes his/her first check to the local tax authority. After all, it’s much easier to be a socialist when you’re on the receiving end of benefits, not the one footing the bill.
Here in Chile, my adopted home for many years, it’s no different. A market-oriented society with a thriving economy, Chile has had remarkable growth over the last 20-years. Its economic expansion has been no doubt due to this market-based model, as well as surging demand for copper, Chile’s prime export.
People in Chile recognize that their standard of living is much higher than it has ever been, especially compared to their neighbors who still dabble in socialism.
Just over the mountains, for example, Argentina is a hopeless basket case whose government makes a sport of fleecing its people and maintaining the elitist mafia-like plutocracy.
Now– the last few weeks in Chile have showcased student protests over the cost of their university education; they demanded that the government provide free tuition to all students, and they weren’t going to take NO for an answer.
At first, most of the country supported them. Local polls showed that Chileans were proud of their kids standing up to the government and letting their voices be heard… even if they didn’t agree with the politics.