Latin America

Venezuela's Market Counterrevolution

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Some interesting results from the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey. Bloomberg reports:

Latin Americans increasingly support free markets as economic growth boosts income across the continent, a survey by the Pew Research Center showed.

Market support is greatest in Venezuela, where 72 percent of respondents agreed "most people are better off in a free market economy," up from 63 percent in 2002, as President Hugo Chavez deepens his socialist policies, the poll said. About 65 percent of Brazilians, 60 percent of Chileans and 55 percent of Mexicans also said most people benefit from free markets.

Yup, you read that right: Support for the free market is highest in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Full story here.

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  1. Only “55 percent of Mexicans also said most people benefit from free markets.”

    The numbers for Mexico may be depressed because the ones who believe in free markets tend to move northward to work in freer markets.

  2. You mean Pat Buchanan lied to me when he said that Latinos couldn’t understand markets and limited government enough to allow them to immigrate? There’s a shocker.

    Let people in other countries alone, they’ll come around.

    It’s screwing with them that makes them rally around Dear Leader.

  3. I wonder what the percentage of Americans would be who think that “most people are better off in a free market economy.” I bet it would be less than 72%…

  4. Do I need to remind you that Hugo Chavez was popularly elected? After that, anything goes. Sheesh.

  5. I wonder what the percentage of Americans would be who think that “most people are better off in a free market economy.” I bet it would be less than 72%

    agreed

  6. Honorable President Chavez;

    Ha Ha!

    -Nelson Muntz

  7. Maybe the way they heard the question was
    “People are better off if things are free at the market.”

  8. I had thought that most Latin Americans were against free markets, because their experience of it was that one time that the International Amalgamated United Fruit Corporation took over the government back in ’15. Good to see that’s changing.

  9. Now what could prevent a libertarian fanatic who is incapable of making a rational assessment of Ron Paul’s electoral chances from jumping to the conclusion that because most Latin Americans think that free markets are good, they will also think that completely unregulated markets with minimal government and no taxation will be even a better? My guess is aboslutely nada.

  10. Nothing brings about a love and respect for free markets like a few decades of socialist policies…

  11. Edward,

    Maybe you should make a mat that had libertarian conclusions on it. Then we could jump on said mat.

  12. Market support is greatest in Venezuela, where 72 percent of respondents agreed “most people are better off in a free market economy,” up from 63 percent in 2002, as President Hugo Chavez deepens his socialist policies, the poll said.

    there’s nothing like eating chickenfeet to focus the mind.

  13. Edward,

    Free markets are unregulated markets. Do you think regulated speech is free speech?

    That said, there’s certainly the possibility that something’s lost in translation.

  14. Sal, that’s the worst idea I have ever heard. Yes, it’s horrible.

  15. Sal,

    One doesn’t jump on a conclusion, one jumps to it. Libertarians have had so much practice jumping to conclusions that you don’t need a mat. Are you planning to attend Ron Paul’s anauguration ball?

  16. I see fyodor. So we don’t have free markets then.

  17. I see fyodor. So we don’t have free markets then.

    That’s correct. We have freeer markets here in the U.S. than in a lot of places (a major reason for our wealth in comparison to the rest of the world), but we still do have plenty of regulation and too much government intrustion. You’re beginning to understand! 🙂

  18. Fyodor,

    What are the Interstate Commerce Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and antitrust laws for?

  19. Sorry, Fyodor, my I posted my last post before I read yours. How do you know that no regulation of markets would make things better?

  20. I’ll bet if you ask the same group of people the question: “Should the government control the high costs of healthcare, gasoline, housing, clothing, food and water?”, you’d get similar poll results (i.e. a majority would be for it in every country…including the U.S.)

    Polls like this are so sensitive to the wording of the question(s) that the results are essentially meaningless.

  21. The numbers for Mexico may be depressed because the ones who believe in free markets tend to move northward to work in freer markets.

    Or, they open shop on the underground markets, the last ones to be truly free in Mexico 😉

    The only people in Latin American countries that do not believe in free markets are either intellectuals (called “Sentimentals” by Octavio Paz) and politicians, for the same reason their counterparts in developed countries do not believe either – because they are afraid of a free people.

  22. What are the Interstate Commerce Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and antitrust laws for?

    Ooh! Ooh! Pick me!! To keep Edward from getting pop-culture-based jokes?

  23. Now what could prevent a libertarian fanatic who is incapable of making a rational assessment of Ron Paul’s electoral chances from jumping to the conclusion that because most Latin Americans think that free markets are good, they will also think that completely unregulated markets with minimal government and no taxation will be even a better?

    Edward, your question is loaded. Try to rephrase it…

  24. How do you know that no regulation of markets would make things better?

    I don’t “know” it with quite the certainty that I “know” the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, but I think Reason and experience show it to be the most likely case.

    If that seems brief and vague, pay me 20K and I’ll teach you a college level course on the matter.

  25. Edward, serious question for you. Do you think Ron Paul has a chance of getting the Republican nomination?

  26. I had thought that most Latin Americans were against free markets, because their experience of it was that one time that the International Amalgamated United Fruit Corporation took over the government back in ’15.

    You’re thinking of Honduras and maybe Nicaragua… But those are in Central America only. Latin America spans almost all of America, from Mexico to Argentina, and those countries never heard of United Fruit.

  27. If you ask anybody a question that sounds vaugly positive, people will say “yes”. If you ask them something vaugly negative, people will say “no”.

  28. Fyodor,

    Could you cite some experience that makes you think completely unregulated markets would be better?

  29. How do you know that no regulation of markets would make things better?

    Edward, to what things are you referring, first? Because your question is vague. An unregulated market is a question of principles, that of human liberty and freedom (in that it is unethical or immoral to place restrictions on voluntary transactions done by rational people), and not a pragmatic one.

  30. JasonC

    Of course not. Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?

  31. Francisco,

    I take it that English is not your native language.

  32. Another serious question for you, Edward. What is it like going through life not being able to detect sarcasm?

  33. Sorry, Jason. I’ve been reading so much ernest nonsense on this blog that my sarcasm detector is rusty.


  34. I take it that English is not your native language.

    I take it that such fact is irrelevant. What is your point?

  35. Francisco,

    I couldn’t make sense of your post and thought you might be more coherent in your native language. That’s all.

  36. Just a question: The article notes that support for free markets has grown alongside economic growth. But, hasn’t a lot of that economic growth happened under (more or less) socialist regimes?

    The article quotes a thinktank guy as saying, “The idea that there are two diametrically opposed options, support for the poor and support for free markets, is false.” But, doesn’t this just show that people support free markets as they get wealthier? (And, maybe, that they tend to support socialists when they are poorer?)

    I’m just kind of confused about the logic of the article. It seems to be: People in socialist countries are getting wealthier and turning away from socialism. That seems rather odd to me.

  37. “I couldn’t make sense of your post and thought you might be more coherent in your native language.”

    That may be the case…but are you gonna get anything out of what he says in his native tounge? He’s writing in English because it’s easier for people who speak English to understand English, even if it isn’t grammatically perfect, than it is for people who speak English to understand some other language.

    And yes, I am just assuming that you don’t speak/understand Francisco’s first language.

  38. Edward:

    I understood Francisco’s post fine. Way to intimidate foreigners, though. Just out of curiosity, how many languages do you speak?

  39. Just a question: The article notes that support for free markets has grown alongside economic growth. But, hasn’t a lot of that economic growth happened under (more or less) socialist regimes?

    No.

  40. Everyone pile on Edward!
    But seriously, Ed, it wasn’t that hard to understand. Maybe all of us here are too used to thinking in a libertarian mindset, but I got the message behind what Francisco is saying.
    I’ll “translate” for you, since you are evidently in dire need of assistance:
    Unregulated markets are a matter of morality, not of what works best for greatest number.

  41. Grand Chalupa,

    No.

    Maybe I misunderstood something, but I thought “economic growth boost[ing] income across the continent” included countries like Venezuela and Brazil, the most socialist countries that come to mind. Can you elaborate?

  42. Brazil is the most socialistic nation you can think of? That’s sad.
    Cuba anyone? Or how ’bout Sweden?

  43. And we all know what a booming economy Cuba has!

  44. It might be worth noting the Hugo Chavez was re-elected to office in 2004. Even during the period when that number was rising, Chavez continued to be extremely popular, and he hasn’t been terribly shy about describing his politics.

    Bottom line: Venezuelans saying they support free markets are not generally going to pass the libertarian purity test.

  45. No, Sweden is not one of the most socialist countries, from what I know (not much).
    Sweden does have a decently performing economy, dunnit?

  46. OK, fine, Cuba is more socialist than Brazil, but they weren’t included in the report (to my knowledge) so I didn’t include them. And Sweden isn’t in Latin America.

    I just want to know if the regional economic growth Latin America has been seeing has occured in socialist countries, and, if so, why the people living there would be supporting free markets if socialism has helped their economy.

  47. Unexpected nuance in discussing political classifications.

    Usually, they’re all just collectivists.

  48. Usually, they’re all just commies.

    Even the Nazis.

    OK, I’ll stop.

  49. Why do you hate freedom, Joe? 😉

  50. Could you cite some experience that makes you think completely unregulated markets would be better?

    I’m not fyodor. And none of us have experienced a completely unregulated market, except for black market transactions that we may or may not have participated in, but…

    … I work in the relatively unregulated computer industry. If you’re participating in this blog, then you are probably aware that the computing industry has had a pretty damned impressive run of innovation and wealth creation.

  51. Grr, no one’s answered my question yet, asked in all earnestness. But, here’s a follow-up, and potential answer to my own question:

    Could the economies of (again, more or less) socialist countries in Latin America have taken off because they were starting from shit? That might explain how a control freak like Chavez might have helped his country: it’s easy to experience high GDP growth if you don’t have any to begin with (eg, the early days of the Soviet Union).

  52. er, “might explain how a control freak like Chavez might have helped his country’s economy.”

  53. grab the first 50 people on the street in chavez-land, or for that matter, in the usa or any of the eu counties and ask them to define “free market economy.” if more than 5 of them can, i’ll eat every electron in this blog and floss with a floppy disk.

    these polls are less than useless. the vast majority of people everywhere are nearly totally ignorant of the basics of science, the basics of math, and the basics of economics.

  54. Could you cite some experience that makes you think completely unregulated markets would be better?

    “Completely” unregulated markets are, of course, difficult to find, as, human nature being what it is, people are so gung-ho to regulate their neighbors. But evidence is everywhere that overall, the freer the markets, the more prosperous the society that adopts them. One example is this country. No, the markets are not entirely free, but as I said already, they’re freer than in most places, and not uncoincidentally, this nation is more prosperous than most places.

    If a momentous shift to a “completely” unregulated economy is too scary for you, I’ll gladly move piecemeal in that direction rather than merely accept the status quo.

  55. I just want to make a point about “pragmatic” libertarianism. My end result I am hoping for is libery, thus anything that maximizes that, regardless of its affects on “efficiency” or “economy”, is pragmatic. The pragmatism measuring stick is liberty.

  56. Why do you hate freedom, Joe? 😉

    Freedom killed my puppy when I was eight! *sob*

    :-))

    edna,

    if more than 5 of them can, i’ll eat every electron in this blog and floss with a floppy disk.

    Can we watch?

    What are you wearing? 😉

  57. Costa Rica has the 2nd highest (at 12.5k behind Chile’s 12.7k) GDP-PPP in latin america and the highest # of elected Libertarians (notice the large L) in their parliament of any country (in the world?).

    It also has a 7.9% growth rate vs Chile’s 4.2% which means it should pass them soon.

    Discuss.

  58. Are Costa Rica’s Libertarians akin to the US LP? I ask because in a lot of the non-anglophone world “libertarian” means anarchist (as in, anti-state socialist).

    Probably they’re like US Libertarians, because I don’t think anarchists are in the habit of running for office anywhere. Some deluded anarcho-capitalists notwithstanding.

  59. fyodor

    Your libertairanism is actually a faith-based worldview. But hey, if it gives meaning to your life, why not?

  60. The Costa Ricans call themselves “Partido Movimiento Libertario”. They sound like they are somewhere between what we in the United States would call liberal and libertarian.

  61. Edward, fyodor gave you an answer and you came back with dismissing him as having a “faith-based worldview”. Sounds like you weren’t really interested in what he had to say.

  62. As I recall, Reason had a piece a while back on the Costa Rican libertarian party. The guy they interviewed said it was inspired by the writings of Ayn Rand. Sounds like a replica of U.S. libertarianism to me.

  63. BTS

    “Unregulated markets are a matter of morality, not of what works best for greatest number.”

    Whose morality?

    Mike

    Why do you think I was dismissing fyodor? Lots of people base their opinions on faith. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  64. What makes anyone assume Venezuela’s economy is doing well and people are becoming richer?

    My daughter just got a 30% raise. 25% to cover inflation.

  65. fyodor’s answer was kinda vague, but where did he ask anyone to accept anything about his view of free markets on faith? In fact, he referred to evidence, not faith.

  66. People, Edward is clearly a troll.

    I know that a lot of you actually come here exactly to fight with the trolls. I realize that this is fun for you. It ruins the comment threads for people like me, but I suppose I have no right to have it my way.

  67. What are you wearing? 😉

    floss. glide brand, it chafes less.

  68. Edward is less fun than joe, or even Jersey McJones. I demand interesting trolls.

  69. @NAL

    Polls like this are so sensitive to the wording of the question(s) that the results are essentially meaningless.

    Indeed. Without the context of “free market” being defined, these results are worse than useless. Even most left-liberals and social democrats are nominally supporters of a free market. They just believe in taxing the hell out of the profits earned thereof to provide for exhaustive social benefits. Free markets and the welfare state are hardly mutually exclusive.

    Socialism, at least as defined by state ownership of the means of production, has very few advocates these days.

  70. Free markets and the welfare state are hardly mutually exclusive.

    Ah, finally a sensible comment.

  71. It’s screwing with them that makes them rally around Dear Leader.

    Cool…so we can count on your support joe to eliminate the UN and stop all foreign aid?

  72. most Latin Americans think that free markets are good, they will also think that completely unregulated markets with minimal government and no taxation will be even a better?

    I imagine taxes in Venezuela are really low…government being funded by the federalized oil supplies.

  73. Unregulated markets are a matter of morality, not of what works best for greatest number.

    You forgot to add that morality is what works best for the greatest number.

    Kind of a circular argument….or are you going to tell us that morality is derived from god…or worse, science and reason?

  74. “Edward, I know trolls Dan T., and you, sir, are no Dan T.”

  75. joshua,

    Cool…so we can count on your support joe to eliminate the UN and stop all foreign aid?

    …and wear red clown shoes and name my parrot “Henry.” Because those have as much do with what I wrote as your suggestions.

  76. Just a question: The article notes that support for free markets has grown alongside economic growth. But, hasn’t a lot of that economic growth happened under (more or less) socialist regimes?

    The answer to your question is oil. Even morons can get rich when they’re swimming in black gold. See, e.g., Texas. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be even richer were they not morons.

  77. Joshua,

    “You forgot to add that morality is what works best for the greatest number.”

    Apparently your utilitarian assertion is more valid than claiming God or reason? I take it you don’t think highly of the Bill of Rights, being that the concept of individual rights is the antithesis of “what’s best for the greatest number” philosophy.

  78. regarding the popularity of markets in Venezuela – I don’t buy that this means what we would want it to mean. These are the same folks who hailed Chavez as he defined all his new powers in that great speech about a democracy of the people. I have this nasty feeling that “markets of freedom” and “democracy of the people” go hand in hand.

    Regarding the amount of faith required for a given political outlook, I submit that Edward has far more unchecked assumptions than the regulars hereabouts.

  79. Given the “success” of yesterday’s thread deconstructing the bumper sticker phrase “Taxes are legalized theft” maybe today should be the day to deconstruct the problems with the phrase “free markets.”

    As I read libertarian economic theory, it does not advocate a free market. It advocates that the state provide a regulated framework in which markets can operate (property rights anyone?). Evidence-based analysis of the economy certainly doesn’t provide an argument that totally free markets work, so the phrase “freer markets work better” is only accurate if you recognize that there is a limit beyond which its truth value begins to diminish.

    As for the moral argument for a totally free market… you can’t argue with an unanalyzed axiom, so it doesn’t make for a very interesting discussion.

    “It’s the moral choice”
    “no it’s not.”
    “Yes it is”
    “no it’s not.”
    “Yes it is”
    “no it’s not.”
    “Yes it is”
    “no it’s not.”
    “Yes it is”
    “no it’s not.”
    “Yes it is”

    Yawn.

  80. Kohlrabi,

    Apparently your utilitarian assertion is more valid than claiming God or reason? I take it you don’t think highly of the Bill of Rights, being that the concept of individual rights is the antithesis of “what’s best for the greatest number” philosophy.

    I don’t see your assertion here as being at all consistent. Given that individual rights benefit each and every individual, and that “every” individual is by definition the “greatest number” then individual rights are not the antithesis of a utilitarian argument. The bill of rights just help define what “best” means.

  81. Neu Mejican,

    I think you’ve defined away Utilitarianism.

  82. “every” individual is by definition the “greatest number”

    Huh? Do I need to read it as if it had no quotation marks?

    Basically, individual rights boil down to “you have the right to make your own choices which will lead you to succeed or fuck up.” It revolves around each person’s choice rather than some sort of “well, if these people do this, then they’re better off.” Frankly, I don’t care if someone’s better off, I care if they got to where they are by their own choices. Personally, I’d rather screw up my own way than experience controlled success. I know I’m in the minority on that point, though.

  83. Oh, and obviously my Libertarianism is very self-centered. I basically don’t care if the government is off your back, I just want it off mine. Yeah, I basically hate taxes and being told what to do, but why is that a less valid point of view to base my political views on than say, those kooks who want to institute a theocracy. Not to say they’re right, but they’re justified in their politics if they actually do believe all that hokum about the man upstairs.

  84. Given that individual rights benefit each and every individual…

    Easy there, big fella! Allowing individual A to pollute or drive on the wrong side of the yellow line – ie, expanding his rights – most certainly does not benefit individuals B,C, and D.

  85. Clearly I did not communicate my point clearly.

    No real time to clarify, but the point is that the bill of rights has utilitarian benefits.

    joe…
    If individual rights are codified in a way that they are applied to everyone, then everyone benefits from that codification. Doesn’t mean that there will be no conflict between individuals as they exercise those rights. You are conflating different kinds of benefits.

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