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Mon Dec 15, 2014, 03:08 PM

Chile’s Plantation Economy

December 15, 2014

The Brutal Truth

Chile’s Plantation Economy


The developed world is just crazy in love with the “miracle of Chile,” as expressed by Milton Friedman some years ago. The accolades are everywhere, ranked as a “high-income economy” by the World Bank. The country has the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. It is a role model for neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism is the Milton Friedman school of thought that the best government is the least government. After all, people can take care of themselves and make much more money when they are free to make decisions in a deregulated free marketplace. The operative formula is: Less government equals more profits for the private sector. As such, Chile represents the epitome of neoliberalism, and the likely future direction of America.

The “miracle of Chile” is absolutely true, if you are already wealthy.

However, once the curtain is pulled back, Chile’s complexities defy the blaring of trumpets for neoliberalism’s goddess of capitalism.

Chile is a “plantation economy,” similar in many respects to the plantation economy in the U.S. South during the 19th century. At its peak, there were 4-5 million slaves owned by only 3.8% of the people. The slave owners bought slaves, housed them and fed them.

Whereas today, in Chile, the moniker “slave” has been changed to “worker,” and rather than provide room and board like 19th century slave owners did, they now provide a stipend of $500 per month for the workers to provide their own room and board. Thus, removing the stigma of slave ownership. It is estimated that one-half of all Chileans make less than $500 per month. Thus, the slave market is rather sizeable, measurably more so than in the United States of America in 1850.


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