I was reflecting recently on some differences between Chile and the United States. This is an election year in the Land of the Free, and the candidates are so unpopular that the Libertarian Party is even getting considerable support. I should be overjoyed but, alas, even as a libertarian, I cannot get behind the libertarian ticket since Gary Johnson is in favor of abortion–a common American malady. There is no more egregious tyranny than killing innocent human beings on account of their underdevelopment, their inconvenience or because human reproduction requires the use of a womb. Yet, this sort of hypocrisy among American libertarians is widespread. At least one-half of American libertarians are willing to kill an unborn human being if the womb-provider objects to his existence.
This sort of irony traces back to great American libertarians like Thomas Jefferson, who enslaved people and even engendered children by some of his slaves. Then there were even greater American tyrants, albeit non-libertarians of course, like Abraham Lincoln, who feigned an anti-slavery posture to promote his own power at the expense of over 660,000 lives.
Chile’s libertarian element is not so calloused or brutal. Indeed, I find most of them to be far more consistent libertarians than their American counterparts.
Nevertheless, Chileans are also great hypocrites. Abortion is illegal in nearly all cases here and yet abortion still occurs. They say one thing and do another in this respect, so long as their unblemished image can be upheld. Chileans are so preoccupied about their public image that they go to great lengths to dress up in public, so as not to appear, for instance, as a day-laborer or maid en route. Plus, they try to get a home (even if poorly-built) in one of the best sections of town. Then they can boast of living among the upper classes. They buy image and status through acquiring a respectable address.
If you examine the construction quality of upper class apartments, you will usually find that the front door and foyer are lavish, well-built items; the landscaping and manicured lawn outside are often subpurb, too. However, true to Chilean hypocritical imagery, the quality of windows, doors, flooring, kitchen and bathrooms (among other things) inside each apartment is mediocre.
Socially, however, most Chileans are not virtuous. The great majority secretly applaud lying, cheating and even stealing at times, often making jokes about how artful and adroit Chilean thieves are. Everyone laughs at those jokes since they know the substance to be true. Surely, the upper classes do not like being robbed, but loss by theft is sort of taken for granted in Chilean society.
Chilean “justice” is a joke for the most part, as I have commented on previously. People have to fend for themselves if they want justice and protection. Maybe laughing at the degraded level of their fellow Chileans is a way of coping with the reality of living in a dishonest society. It is a sad state of affairs.
Yet, people here get offended when I or others point out the foibles of Chilean culture. They do not want to hang out their dirty laundry for the world to see, and especially immigrants like me should never violate this sanctum of Chilean culture. They want the world to see Chile at its best as the most prosperous nation in Latin America and sophisticated enough to rescue its 33 trapped miners in 2010. For this reason, they all come together to support their soccer team when it wins international championships. They love to bask in favorable international limelight. Hence, there is an odd unity and solidarity here in terms of sports even if people do not trust each other.
The difference, then, between cultures up yonder and Chilean culture is that Chileans are desconfiados. While most Americans truly believe what others say or that the “system” works, Chileans do not. Ironically, one reason that Chile does not have an institutionalized welfare state like the United States, Canada, Australia or Europe is precisely because Chileans do not trust others; they know that their fellow countrymen will game the system. Thus, Chilean welfare benefits are not as widespread or lavish.
In Chile, no one is surprised when a politician gets his hand stuck in the cookie jar or is found to be corrupt. Such behavior is expected. On the one hand, in the “Land of the Free,” people still tend to be shocked or at least believe that such problems are confined to an elite political class of Clintons or Bushes. Some believe that a man like Trump will really be different since he is an “outsider.” When he turns out to be just as bad or worse, then these true believers will be temporarily disheartened. However, memories are short and in just four more years they will be ripe pickings for the next demagogue that comes along.
On the other hand, Chileans do not see things the way Americans do. They know that most candidates are running more for their personal gain than to serve the public interest or principles. They are used to people trying to beguile them and thus are not as easily beguiled.
Nevertheless, when it comes to successful policies of the Right, Chileans tend to be frequently tricked. In a recent interview on public television with José Piñera, the founder of the private Chilean pension system (AFP), that is now used in thirty countries, the leftist commentator and interviewer tried to paint the AFP system as a bad thing. He showed anecdotal evidence where a few pensioners interviewed claimed that they were only earning pensions of 200,000 pesos (US$300) per month. No one inquired if they had paid in to their plan for all years or if there were large gaps in payments (lagunas). Private social security only works if one saves. Like José Piñera said, the system may be a fabulous Mercedes Benz but if you do not put fuel into the tank then it will not serve you well. Moreover, one pension provider released data showing that the average pension for many thousands of men that had contributed for over 30 years is 650,000 pesos (US$1,000) per month, which is 6% more than the targeted 70% of replacement income sought by the system. Thus, the system is working, even with imperfections, but the Left will simply lie and discount this fact, which can be very frustrating for rightists and libertarians once the crafty leftists convince disgruntled voters. The Left is a constant problem. Even the best parts of Chilean economic life are being rattled, just like the Left continues to rattle countries in the Northern Hemisphere.
But let us be candid: while Chile has its problems, America has much greater problems (and so does Europe). Moreover, America does not have benefits like AFP that Chile established. It still is beleaguered by socialism. Whether Trump or Hillary wins, Americans will still pay far more taxes than Chileans do (perhaps four times more); their government will still kill innocent people at home or abroad (directly or indirectly); they will still have a raging, violent society, with brutal cops; they will still be affected by an ignorant populace, dumbed-down by the public school and media addictions; they will still face the hardships of political correctness and the undue burdens of over-regulation or property confiscations (either Kelo-style or by customs agents); they will face horrific danger from family court scoundrels and child services division thugs; they will still face a declining standard of living and egregious manipulations of the currency by the central bank; they will suffer from the fallout of pressure groups seeking privileges: homosexual activists, radical feminists, anti-religious people, radical ecologists and welfare cadets; they will have to face increasing socialism, Obamacare and welfare Ponzi schemes like Social Security.
Therefore, for all the negative things that one can says about Chile, America is far worse. All of the bad things just listed are prevalent and growing in America but have yet to take a foothold in Chile. I am not saying that Chile will never have such maladies, but for now we have mercifully fewer of them. Indeed, if you are living in America, you should be more scared than ever before! Chileans have little to fear from the civil authority, as bad as things might be here. But in America (and Europe) one faces a real and growing threat. Denying this fact will not make it go away.
Are you sick and tired of putting up with it in America or Europe? Why not consider Chile as a freer, saner alternative? It is not a perfect place, but you can more easily cope with social evils here than those common throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere. You can live in relative peace, and have a beautiful ocean view in Viña del Mar like I do, at a reasonable price.
Until next time,
This article originally appeared on Escape America Now.