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Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?

April 25, 2011
En route from Santa Cruz, Boliva

Anyone who has any doubt that central planning and corruption destroys an economy should head to Bolivia. The country is a classic example of a resource-rich nation whose economic potential has been squandered by socialism.

It wasn’t always this way.  Bolivia has had several periods of prosperity in its relatively brief history; in the late 1800s, for example, the price of gold began to rise dramatically against silver which was backing many currencies at the time such as the US dollar.

gold chart1 Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?

Bolivia’s mining industry dates back to the 16th century, and as the country was rich with gold, its economy prospered. The good times lasted until the global depression in the 1930s when Bolivia and Paraguay went to war over the Chaco, each side thinking there was oil underneath the ground.

Following a terrible defeat and a resurgence of tough times, a number of revolutionary movements sprouted around the country. These took hold for several decades, eventually leading to a series of failed military dictatorships that were finally abandoned in the 1980s.

With an inflation rate of roughly 25,000%, Bolivia’s new market-oriented government took immediate steps to liberalize the economy, reduce capital and trade barriers, privatize state-owned companies, and attract foreign investment.

By 1985, the economy was heading back on track, and the prosperity lasted through the early 2000s when nationwide turmoil broke out over the fate of Bolivia’s massive natural gas reserves.

In light of new gas discoveries near Santa Cruz, the government provided concessions to a group of foreign companies who were willing to invest the necessary intellectual and financial capital to exploit the reserves.  This move was widely opposed by many Bolivians and resulted in violent protests.

Ultimately, socialist presidential candidate Evo Morales was elected in 2006 and began his tradition of May Day nationalization decrees, starting with the natural gas reserves.

Morales considers himself a champion of the poor, and his stated aim is to distribute the profit from Bolivia’s resources among the people. Certainly, there is a large contingent of the population within Bolivia that lives in abject poverty, and their prospects have changed little over the years.

Socialists like Morales think that you can cure poverty by throwing money at the problem. They believe that by confiscating profits from evil capitalists and sprinkling them among the poor, they can lift people out of poverty.

This is a logical failure. Poverty isn’t caused by a lack of money… it’s caused by the lack of ability or opportunity to create value. Showering poor people with money does not address this problem, just ask any millionaire lottery winner who’s ended up back in the trailer park.

Like an incompetent physician who routinely misdiagnoses an ailment, socialism tries to treat the symptoms of poverty rather than address its root cause. Consequently, these measures ultimately end up as catastrophic failures.

The most common play is to vastly expand the size of government and hire legions of new workers. To give you an example, there is a network of toll roads outside of Santa Cruz. You pay the toll, not for the upkeep of the roads (which are in terrible condition), but to pay the salary of the guy who collects the toll.

cow road Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?

Army bases are everywhere in Bolivia. You can’t drive 30 kilometers without passing some sort of military installation where a bunch of jackbooted monkeys are parading around waiting for the Brazilians to invade.

DSCN0907 Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?

Perhaps the best example is at the airport.

When you want to leave Bolivia, there is first a three-step check-in procedure. Following that, you have to stand in another line to pay the airport departure tax. Needless to say, this revenue doesn’t go to improve the airport, but to pay the salaries of the people who collect the tax.

DSCN0941 Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?

Following that is the passport border control, another line. Following that is an INTERPOL check, yet another line. Following that is narco-trafficking checkpoint, where they go through your carry-on baggage looking for drugs.

In my case, the inspecting officer actually sniffed my iPad, leading me to believe he was either heeding New York Fed President Bill Dudley’s culinary advice, or honestly thought that I could manage to pack the circuitry full of cocaine without damaging the touch screen functionality.

After that is yet another line for final customs clearing. The whole process takes 2-hours on a good day.
boy Did I pack my iPad full of cocaine?
Each of these people along the way has a job… yet not a single one of them is adding any value or gaining any valuable experience.  The net effect of such policies cascading across the entire economy has been unmitigated wealth destruction.

Deep down, Bolivia is a nice country. It’s incredibly cheap, the people are friendly, the women are attractive, and the weather is quite nice. But it truly takes a special person to be able to deal with the constant misgivings and inefficiencies in this centrally planned state.

When I compare Bolivia to it’s southern neighbor Chile– clean, modern, developed, civilized, market-oriented– it’s a night and day difference.

Fundamentally, these are the same people who have taken two completely different paths. One leads to wealth and is a great example of how a pro-market, limited government can benefit society. The other leads to poverty, and is the clearest example of what happens when politicians drive an economy.

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rdow

    “The women are attractive.”
    You’re good Simon but how is this comment appropriate?

    • Idaho Joe

      A factual or opinionated statement is appropriate if its your blog me thinks!

      • Tom

        Idaho Joe, amen! Some of you people (you know who you are) need to lighten up.

    • Tom

      rdow, some readers might care whether the women are attractive. How is that “inappropriate”?

    • IMW

      Interesting and insightful article on Bolivia – I think I would give it a miss though when there are other more attractive options in the region. Attractive women is not a negative….
      aesthetics are important. This is coming from a woman….
      Keep up the good work Simon – I look forward to your observations and hope to be able to attend one of your workshops/meetings one day when and if it coincides with my own sojourning.

    • joe

      It is very appropriate if you appreciate attractive women as I do.

    • Smithfield2000

      What is wrong with it?

    • rj

      Who wants to travel to a place where the women are unattractive? Thanks for the the heads up Simon.

    • Normal Person

      I’m also baffled why anyone would think this is “inappropriate?” Why? It’s an observation. A fact. Probably important to many. So why is it “inappropriate?”

      In other words, what is YOUR problem?

    • Top Cop

      I am single and like the company of attractive women…. even just for a coffee and conversation NSA.
      Thanks for the detail, Simon

    • Guest3222

      It is very appropriate for me. I am 31 year old single financially successful man living in the US. I just want to let you know that, most men/women don’t want to stay single for the rest of their lives.
      I want to work hard, build a family and find a BEAUTIFUL wife. Any questions?

  • J.E.

    Hello Simon,

    Regarding money for free, all of us have personal acquaintances in our lives who developed strong competencies and self-confidence under parents and other mentors with limited funds, and as well we know others simply ruined by easy money. The same holds true for countries.

    We are seriously exploring Chile.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Jerry L

  • Gloria

    Same problem in Argentina! Redistribution works until the money runs out.

  • Terry_braverman

    Socialism saps the people of an incentive to produce. Corporate capitalism is an elaborate form of theft upon people who do produce. It seems that a system is only as good as the ethics and efficiency of those who implement it.

    • Top Cop

      So true.
      Work ethic cannot be gained through hand-outs. Look at Canada where we have 2nd and 3rd generation welfare recipients. Why work if the Gov will pay your way…. disgusting attitude, and that’s in a country where education is available.

  • Tomonori67

    New money would only fix PART of the problem. One, it should be interest-free, and not connected to the IMF, the UN, or any monolithic bank run by greedy multibillionaires, and TWO: the people still need to create value somehow, through goods, services, information and social networks.

  • Gregorion

    well, unbridled, corporate-sponsored corrupt capitlalist-idealogy ‘democracy’ doesn’t work either; either extreme, socialist or capitalist, leads to failure; a government needs to protect the interests of the people while not stifling their opportunities to create their own success with suffocating bureaucracy and dictatorial market controls; but, without some controls, the markets quickly become monopolized by the wealthy and politically connected, leading to a similar position…

  • Laurenwilder

    I’m unsubscribing. You’re clueless about big business. I work in the heart of it, and unfettered access to a country’s resources is a recipe for disaster. You don’t know what you are looking at in Chile, much less how any of that would apply to Bolivia. And the comments about the relative attractiveness of women, wtf?

    • Guest123


      Young men especially choose the country they immigrate to based on both economics, both financial and sexual.

      Young men choose where to move in part to give them an edge in finding a mate. How is that any different from a woman putting her best foot forward by looking for a potential husband in a young professionals networking event than a dive bar next to a trailer park?

    • Robert


    • Top Cop

      “Working in the heart of big business” does not immediately indicate that you are competent at it… merely where you pull a paycheck.
      I did not get the impression that “unfettered access” was the goal of the message… merely that a govenmental monopoly is not the way to go. I agree – Ontario hydro was privatized due to the colossal failure as a provincial government cash cow. In fact, current bills for electricity include a (hefty) percentage of your bill (for consumption) added in to pay down the “former Ontario Hydro debt”. A government runs the monopoly into bankruptcy and future users (who have no alternative source) pay off the back-debt. yes, of course – trust the duly elected.
      That particular CEO was also working “in the heart of big business” and would no doubt support 100 % governmental management of all resources. Why not? Her golden prachute was a cool 5 Mil for running the place incompetently.

      • lordkoos

        Read a book called “Economic Hitman” and you might discover how multinational banking and capitalism really work. The ruthless exploitation of other countries’ natural resources has been US foreign policy for over a century, and has enabled Americans to live better than 90% of the people on the planet.

    • Domlanic

      Well said, Laurenwilder

      Simon’s attitude seems more and more like the criminal bastards at Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac et al whose greed and cunning has been allowed to bring the country to the edge of bankruptcy… and the solution is more of the same???

      Apparently if every American taxpayer were slugged 100% of his earnings it would still not be enough to pay the interest on the country’s debt. Yet any regulation he considers ‘socialism’ and unacceptable- go figure!

  • Mwcmd3

    It’s not possible to eradicate poverty by giving free money away. My Dad used to tell me when I was quite young that, “You can’t give people anything because they won’t have it if you give it to the.” I didn’t understand this, thinking of course they’ll have it if you give it to them. What he meant became obvious as I grew older. Giving free money to people doesn’t correct the problems that led to the poverty to begin with. It also prevents people from changing their behaviors that would lead to improvements. This is evident in the multigenerational entitlement groups in the U.S. that have digressed in personal achievement, and now believe they are entitled to compensation just to exist.

  • Jo Ke

    Nothing free is valued as much as something you worked to acquire.

  • G.E.

    Simon. If you think that Bolivia is bad you have to see Venezuela where I live. I am still here because, as bad as it is, the US is worse as far as limiting your freedoms. At least here you can fix almost any problem, not by paying off, but by knowing the system and how people react. Even Chavez, while insufferable, is easier for me to take than the US president. Am thinking of moving to somewhere farther south to get a little more fresh air. Regards


  • Francesca

    It seems like the government expansion strategy in action is the good old Ponzi scheme.

  • Ctoci17055

    Giving money to poor people is like giving drugs to an addict. The obvious result is still self-centered, about the high of the drug or the high from shopping. Until the thought changes into “what VALUE can I bring to a large amount of people” -either by meeting some basic need – OR – creating a need not yet discovered (cell phones, iPads, etc.) By benefiting others, I will ALWAYS benefit myself. This is the basis of capitalism and a free market economy. Unfortunately, most employees don’t realize this until it is too late – usually the “downsized” middle management. Unless you have scrapped in your own business, and been responsible for bringing the paycheck in, I don’t think this can be taught. The yearning for independence can be coaxed out of people, so that they might take the leap into business, but the throwing of money at a problem becomes more and more ingrained into people (in America, at least) through the government taking from the producers and giving to the non-producers. This class-envy is destroying the country. Who is John Gault????????

    • lordkoos

      It is unrealistic to think that there is room for everyone to be an entrepreneur, not everyone is suited to it, and the world certainly needs workers.

      “creating a need not yet discovered (cell phones, iPads, etc.)” Really, I now “need” an ipad? I need food, water, and shelter — many consumer goods are nice to have, but need? I think not. That’s part of the problem… how long can we keep manufacturing all this crap before we run out of resources? I’m sure we’ll find out fairly soon.

  • Spinner

    I disagree with your simplistic view of Bolivia’s history. I think it’s more the kind of history of an aristocracy passing the power between the 5% of whites that ruled the country ignoring any rights or needs of the 95% of local indigenous tribes who, being kept in a primitive state didn’t quite know there was other ways to go about it.

    I won’t discuss Morales, yet I get the impression that at least, from now on there will be another option for the Bolivians. Of course, being just born into politics they will make a million mistakes and create jobs that are not needed, etc, etc, but at least it’s a job and they will keep on making you wait at the airport for reasons that are quite evident.

    At this stage of history, taking the side or oligarchs and multinationals that ignore/ exploit people is not necessary to make business or money. On the contrary if these guys had helped create a consumers market inside the country they would not be where they are now.

    This was the case of Chile, where the dictators left a country on the go.

    Cheers Spinner

  • JeffA

    All societies need some form of a social safety net. Granted the US’s net is too large for us to sustain long term. Governments can minimize poverty, not eradicate it. So the answer in any society may be to communicate to the population that they are going to gradually reduce each social safety net by a small percentage each year for the next say 10 years. That way the people know it’s coming, can plan for it, and have no excuse not change their behavior. Both sides of political parties can get behind this sort of an idea.

  • Charlestsummers

    ¡Hola, Simon! Been reading your posts for a few months now. I’ve just finished up a 5-month project in Iquique, Chile, a d am heading back to San Diego (reluctantly) by way of Cusco. I’ve pretty much been a ‘Sovereign Man’ all my life, although
    I’ve made a home and own property in California. And of course, I totally agree with you about creating value and keeping as much of it as possible out of the clutches of the wastrel, war-mongering, tax-and-spend dunderheads as possible.
    In regards to today’s post; I’m becoming interested in these border skirmishes and lingering rivalries between thes south American countries. Also wondering how they affect the marketplace. For instance, I’m a VW freak. My plan when I came to Chile was to get an old VW to play around with and see some of the continent. Imagine my surprise to discover hardly any VWs in Chile. Peru on on the other hand is loaded with them (from Brazil, of course). I’m assuming these rivalries have an effect on how trade is conducted among the South American countries.
    Maybe this is a point worthy of touching on, as it must be an area where entrepreneurs have an interest. Also, is Peru in your travel plans? I fly from Lima to Panama for a few daya to catch up with old friends. thanks for your insights and for a chance to comment. Tom Summers, in the field at Cusco.

  • Maldek

    100% spot on correct Simon!

    Poverty is a state of mind, rather than the lack of money.

    If you let people from a shank living in a “nice house” the house will look like a shank within 3 years, because the shank is the best they can handle.

    Socialists in europe tested this in the 80s (nice example is the movie series: “flodder trilogy”).

    • MikeyrInFL

      You are so right. Even though it’s a shack, not a shank, which is a home made knife such as found in prison, etc.

      I lived in the Phoenix, AZ area in the ’80s and saw the federal government provided housing for the “Native Americans.” These were upscale, middle class homes that were rapidly being reduced to junk houses with cars on blocks and old refrigerators in the front yards. Tires were burned in the fireplaces of the living rooms. A real mess.

      All this brings to mind a phrase I don’t hear much anymore…pride of ownership. Just try to explain pride of ownership to a socialist. Really.

    • Domlanic

      Possibly the most cynical, offensive, brainless statement I have seen in my lifetime. The rural poor in India and many other places might also take issue with it??

  • Timmid1

    The short answer to the question posed is the old “Teach a man to fish…” rather than just throw money at the problem. It is possible to go a step further. My charity dollars go to Kiva, an organization which provides loans of small amounts of start up capital to people who want to start their own businesses primarily in third world countries. In most cases, within a few years, these start ups pay back the loans and I get to re-invest my charity dollars in a new business.

  • Charlestyrrell

    One of your better essays. Asking for your advice. I opened an account at Caye. I’m starting the Qualified Retirement Person process in Belize. Will visit there shortly possibly to buy a small condo, that can be rented. Then I think of the core reasons for your community search, i.e. sustainability,( water, food, good people) Would they be there in Belize if the s–t hit the fan? Your gut comments please. Yes I know it’s up to me.
    Saw “Atlas Shrugged,” last weekend. Worth seeing. Thanks.

    Charlie Tyrrell

  • Mrjimmie

    How about somewhere in-between. A private company cannot take a natrual resource and keep all the money – I don’t care how much they invest. Natural resouces belong to the country – the people. If there is a demand for the resource someone will harvest it but major royalities should be paid to the real owners – not stockholders. Governments need money – Norway could be a model on how to use it wisely – and can create opportunities for it’s people to lift themselves to a higher level. Creating public servants positions is not the way to go – education is!

  • GALE

    OK Simon you kept talking about the beautiful women in Bolivia…where are the pictures

  • Diogenes_

    re: This is a logical failure. Poverty isn’t caused by a lack of money… it’s caused by the lack of ability or opportunity to create value. Showering poor people with money does not address this problem, just ask any millionaire lottery winner who’s ended up back in the trailer park.

    Most Americans no longer understand that essential paragraph, and as a result America will soon have a massive economic collapse. Money and wealth are tools, and not knowing how to use them means both will soon be dissipated.

    Poverty is caused by a lack of 2 skills:
    1. the ability to create value
    2. the ability to save value in an interest baring investment by spending less than one earns.

    Both of those things were enabled to happen on a cultural scale in the west by 3 factors, which are now all being destroyed:
    -the protestant work ethic
    -the freedom and education to innovate technologically
    -an understanding of and commitment to free market principles.

    • lordkoos

      This is the second time the meme of the lottery winner returning to the trailer park has appeared in this thread. I’ll bet that the vast majority of lottery winners are infinitely better off 10 years after winning their prize.

      There is a lot of talk about poverty on here… lack of opportunity is the biggest problem. How many people posting here have ever known acquainted with any really poor people? Most would LOVE to have an honest job. In the US currently there aren’t enough jobs to go around… so I guess we should cut off food stamps and just let them starve? Is that the libertarian idea of civilization?

      The problem with the so-called “free market” is that it’s not free, it’s manipulated, and there is nothing big time capitalists hate more than real competition, regardless of how much lip service they pay to it. I don’t see how it is possible to have a truly free market without some kind of control of the moral corruption that normally takes place with people that love to make a lot of money.

  • Bernice Starrett

    Two questions: Are the men attractive as well? Secondly,as a diehard capitalist, I’m wondering how you stop the government-corporate complex, which in my opinion, is ruining the success of free market capitalism?

    • jaf

      If you are a man you could care less if the men are attractive. Santa Cruz is a producer of many beautiful women (google las magnificas)

    • Gibby

      There is only one solution to stopping the corporate-government-military-media complex and that is to outlaw corporations once & for all.

  • Trader

    Maybe we should pay for a one way ticket for Congress to Bolivia, not to visit, but to live!!!

  • Tom Beach

    Free money for the poor usually ends up in the hands that gave it out. The old adage about giving a man a fish feeds him for a day vs give him a means to fish apply here. Bolivia is not producing value (just like much of the US). The result will be poverty in both cases. We have been dodging the bullet for so long that we thing we are all Matrix warriors. The bullet will find its mark soon. Smart people learn ways to create value. They get educated and then they make things that work and are needed.
    If Bolivia and the US did that we would not have the problems with debt that we do and they do.
    Take a look at Denmark. They educate their people and they are engineers to the world. They learn languages and build bridges and create power stations. Everyone wants their skills and know how.
    Money lasts until it is spent. Then what?

    • Mikael

      Hey Tom, being a Dane I feel proud reading your post. But honestly… Denmark isn’t really anything special. People become lazy and blame the government for their problems (just like everywhere else). Yes we can get education for free, but we’re also paying 60% in income taxes. Does that attract anyone brilliant? Nope… :)


  • Deandra

    Eradicate poverty by handing out money? You are so funny. In the 50′s in Massachusetts we had something called “The poor farm”. Entire families could go there until they could get back on their feet. Some worked the gardens, some helped with other chores. The farm provided shelter and food and clothing as needed. Most did not stay very long. The parents found work, the kids went to school. Yes, there was a bit of “shame” attached; however, it was a motivator to reach out and get on with ones life. It seems the fees for this were paid by each individual town–not sure. I do know there were a lot fewer regulations/laws and regulators and lawyers. Remember Simon….when/if we end the handouts here in the states, numerous bureaucrats will have to find real jobs. I find your idea of leaving might work for many of us.

  • Silver

    Oh my dear Simon, what ever did you lost in Bolivia to go there? :) I was living in Bolivia for over a year and I was exploring gold mines and different industrial minerals and it was all the same like it is in the airport. The worst part of it is that it changes the minds of people. They become the airport. Also it is very hard to convince Bolivians to trust in foreign companies because over the history they have milked the country dry thanks to massive corruption. And Bolivians are eager to search for payback. It is a very unfortunate situation for Bolivia and personally I do not see the way out. The country has massive amounts of minerals and wealth but it is just sitting there thanks to stupidity. I DO NOT recommend to anyone to go to Bolivia to do business… but I would be very interested to hear any thoughts about the situation of real estate in Santa Cruz. As far as I know the prices are very high compared to the construction costs and as I know most of the condos are sold before the construction even starts. I would love to hear something positive because I am very disappointed in this country.

    What you certainly can do in Bolivia is to go on an adventures vacation. Rent a car, go drive far into the mountains (if you are a good driver) and all around them to amazon, you will be amazed of the diversity of nature and people. There are places where people are living exactly the same as it was 1000 years ago, its just amazing. Bolivia has a very natural culture. And the food… when I returned to Europe I just could not eat chicken because it just didn’t have any taste. In Bolivia it costs more to inject different chemicals into the food to make it last longer than to throw the rotten away.
    It’s also quite safe, during this year I didn’t have any problems although I would recommend to be careful in Santa Cruz. In La Paz they will hang you if you steal something witch makes it a very safe place. I had an experience when an old lady ran across the other side of the town to give me back 10 pesos (lunch in a cheap diners costs about 4 pesos) just because she accidentally told me the wrong price!!! This is something that you do not see in any other Latin-American country… or any other part of the world.

    In conclusion I came back with big losses but with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience that you do not get in any university :)

  • Tom

    I forgot to comment on the women are attractive.
    Simon is a man and he (and I ) notice attrative women.
    It is not necessarily to exploit them because they are attractive.
    The mountains are also beautiful, but one does not need to climb them to appreciate them.
    Aloha, Tom

  • joe in buenos aires

    Terry_braverman, Gregorion & Jo Ke all made outstanding remarks on this. For our own (US) example of this problem, look no farther than the welfare program. We need to remember, “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish & you feed him for life.”
    joe in buenos aires

  • GMT

    You missed a little detail about Bolivia. The poverty and other big problems were created before 2006. In fact the responsibles for the big decline of this country, just like others in South America, were the dictators. They applied anti-communist, anti-socialist and pro-capitalist policies during the 1970s. The democratic governments during 1980s and 1990s were in the same line.
    Evo was elected in 2006 and nobody can say Bolivia is now worst than before. Education and health are thousand times better now. If you want to see people working and making business, you must teach them and keep them healthy first. Do you know that before Evo was elected black people had no right to receive basic education? Bolivia was an extreme racist country with all the power in “white” hands, leaving something to indians and nothing to blacks.
    I’m sorry but I think you are talking with the wrong people there.

    • Gibby

      Of course he’s talking to the wrong people. Simon is a capitalist-elitist. He has no interest in the indigenous folks who are the victims of the capitalists he hobnobs with.

    • NP3

      “In fact the responsibles for the big decline of this country, just like others in South America, were the dictators. They applied anti-communist, anti-socialist and pro-capitalist policies during the 1970s.”

      Wow! That’s just a TAD bit misleading, GMT. Really, if you’re going to sit there and tell us that Hugo Banzer was a follower of Mises and Rand, you need a drug test…immediately!

      It’s important, really important, for people like you, GMT, to learn that ALL authoritarian styled government–facist or socialist–is detrimental to the overall well-being of a nation’s people. In fact, only an authoritarian regime has the necessary power to implement corporate OR social welfare policy. So, that which you so ardently despise is but a result of the very system you advocate. Get it?

  • Page

    Gov’t wellfare and a great deal of private welfare is nothing but the distruction of wealth. Destruction of wealth is an automatic increase in poverty. Welfare increases the idea that I am worthless and others should take care of me.

    • lordkoos

      All the welfare from the last 50 years added together wouldn’t equal even a fraction of what evaporated in the 2008 crash

  • JBam

    I like knowing about the women too. However having spent 4 months in Bolivia, i need to disagree that they are NOT attractive in general. Not even close to the south eastern neighbors in Argentina

    • jaf

      The women in Santa Cruz are beautiful (e.g Raquel Welch). The women in Western Bolivia (LaPaz, etc) are ugly to most Westerners (short like fireplugs).

      • Misfit

        If I’m correct, Welch was from Cochabamba

    • Guest

      And when do we ever get to know if there are aesthetically pleasing men anywhere on this planet? I’m excited for the day when women will identify a country with the attractiveness of their sperm donors…Please tell me why, in the animal kingdom, the males are the attractive ones, and for us humans, women get shafted by having to care for a home, family AND maintain her physical prowess to gain a males attention? No more I say!

      Females are the most precious resource a society has and males have known and exploited this for too long. It’s time that women realize their worth, and a mans uselessness, and bring back the Matriarchs! We’ll have less war and produce only healthy offspring by breeding with strong viable males.

    • Misfit

      Go to Santa Cruz bud. Women in La paz (where I was born) are not that attractive indeed. But woman in Santa Cruz will make you want to stay there.

  • Mrpom

    You always get what you pay for. If you pay for welfare you will get more of it.

  • Bonnie MacGregor

    As usual, thank you for your commentary. Bolivia’s roads sound similar to many of California’s where I reside. Also, as much as I would love to visit Lake Titicaca, I’ve had enough of the socialist program here. Think I’ll stick to Chile’s Valparaiso and Patagonia, Argentina’s wine country and Uruguay’s Montevideo and its beach towns where there is a much happier feeling in the air. – AND, I do believe the concepts of capitalism can be taught in high school if not sooner. I did it. It starts with examining the Constitution and applying it in the classroom. Where is John Galt?


  • jaf

    Nice post Simon. You did not say much about Paraguay. Is Asuncion a place that you would consider living? I myself am making a scouting trip in September.

  • The WiggMan

    I really am not a fan of free money. I don’t think getting something for free motivates anyone to improve their lives. Welfare is a prime example. I live in California (for now), one of the biggest welfare states in the US. A life style plan for some is to start having babies as soon as possible so the Government will pay you to stay home. Need a raise? Have more babies (that are mostly ignored). There is no impetus for these welfare recipients to ever improve their job skills and get an actual job. I am for setting restrictions to receive supplements. For instance, going to school, learning a trade, maybe receiving a subsidy to help with food and/or housing. But with a time limit, not unlimited.

    • lordkoos

      If you don’t like free money, you must really hate banks.

  • Gibby

    Uh-oh, Simon’s been reading that sociopath Ayn Rand again. He constantly rants about welfare but never mentions the obscene welfare (there’s no other word for it) that corporations receive compared to the indigenous poor who are left to deal with the destruction & pollution (and soaring cancer rates) of their home environment long after the corporations have moved on to another place to turn into their private sewer.

    I absolutely do NOT believe that the natural resources of any country should be “owned” by private interests.

    • NP3

      Gibby, in your almost instantaneous rejection of Simon’s article, you’ve failed to read the true essence of his missive. He’s not advocating corporate welfare any more than he’s advocating a Chilean takeover. Read again, my friend, this time with an OBJECTIVE mind. Your type of mind needs to quit equating “pro-business” with “corporate welfare”; they’re just not one in the same.

    • R.

      1) Ayn Rand was a woman.
      2) You have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Guest

    First of all, Simon, get yourself a Xoom.

    Now, as to whether it’s possible to eradicate poverty by handing out money: That’s like trying to eradicate AIDS by handing out condoms and preaching abstinence.

  • Brentm57

    To look at the present situation in Bolivia is to glimpse the future of America. Just look at the rhetoric Obama and his ilk are still spewing to an adoring public.

  • Johnwjohnson

    i’m no expert, but there are some important historical facts that you seem to leave out. I get the sense that you are going in to the country and looking at it through your perspective as a white middle class person from a developed country.
    The indigenous people in Bolivia and most of South America had their resources and their religion taken away by colonialism. That has continued to this day.
    My limited knowledge is that the indigenous people have been left out of the system. They lost their land and their basic ways of being. The wealth of the country resides in outside corporations, and the reason the “socialists” as you call them came in to power is because almost all the people in the country have had no say in the way they get to live their lives. They have been denied what we here in the US consider major rights. Like education ( i can’t say health care because that seems to be considered a privilege here, even by intelligent people like yourself).
    Enough for now. I really recommend you hook up with a person who has historical knowledge of the places you go. I love what you report, but i always have to realize there are major prejudices and filters that your responses are based on.
    i appreciate you asking for feedback. i’m curious if you ever change your opinions based on considerate feedback.

    • Strobe

      So the question then becomes..Can the soul of a people (collective consciousness ) ever return ? Can it be restitched once riped asunder by any force , natural or political ?

      • Chickasaw

        Can the soul of the people ever return? Probably not. All you have to do is take a look at what happened here in the good old U.S.A. when the white folks decimated the Native American tribes. There is no way to “re-stitch” the collective consciousness of indigenous peoples when their entire lives have been turned upside down and sideways, and their livlihoods decimated along with their fellows. I speak from family hostory. My mother was Native American, or American Indians, as our family has always called ourselves. I read a really wonderful book a few years ago titled “1491: New revelations of the Americas before Columbus”, by Charles C. Mann. Very interesting new archaeological discoveries about all the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere, and what their societies were like before the white man arrived. When a group of people has their whole society destroyed, their means of livlihood destroyed, and the vast majority of the individuals destroyed, how can it be “re-stitched”?

  • AmzOil

    I’ve worked in the oil and gas fields all over the world. In my experience, what I’ve seen with my own eyes, the communities with oil and gas corporations to have a better quality of life. Example: (1) Anchorage, Alaska – possibly the wealthiest blue collar community in the world. (2) Balikpapan, Indonesia – has a much higher quality of life than other parts of Indonesia, and its roads are built by Chevron and Telkomcell (sp?).
    When a country or community is NOT better off because of its resources (again, I’ve seen this with my own eyes) it’s because of its corrupt government, NOT the corporations. Example: (1) Equatorial Guinea, West Africa. That country has the potential to be much better off than it is. Is it ExxonMobil’s fault that EG’s dictator, Obiang is an evil, paranoid, piece of crap who got his job by whacking his uncle, and now does everything he can to keep his people dumb, drunk, and living by candle light? That man will shut the power off in Malabo, so that 3 days later when he turns it back on everyone will celebrate him as a hero.
    (2) Chevron paid alot of money out to Ecuador! Where was the Ecuadorian government though? If the people were pissed about not being compensated, they had no farther to look than their own government!

    No. It’s governments who are doing the real damage around the world. “Big, evil corporations” are simply playing by the systems put forth by those governments, and so make wonderful scapegoats.

    The people of the world don’t need handouts. They need the freedom to make lives for themselves.

    • lordkoos

      Private corporations are happy to do business with corrupt governments, as it makes appropriating the wealth of the country much easier and more efficient.

      Examples: Burma, Nigeria, etc etc etc

  • Strobe

    Simon , your “boots on the ground” sensitivity and experience are invaluable . Thank You

  • Rlmaier

    “Socialists like Morales think that you can cure poverty by throwing money at the problem. They believe that by confiscating profits from evil capitalists and sprinkling them among the poor, they can lift people out of poverty.”
    To make myself perfectly clear, I believe very much in the fishing metaphor; attaining your own wealth is better than taking someone else’s.
    At some point in his life, Morales may have been altruistic; however it’s no longer part of his character. I think “sprinkling” is too generous for what Evo and his cronies give to the poor. The majority of their stealing (and that is all that it is) goes into their private reserves. Evo’s vice president is the worse of the lot.
    Is the stealing more or less than before Evo? At first it was about the same, just a different set of hands was taking the money. Now, it’s much worse, more and more government workers have their hand in the till. If you think the airport was bad, try getting something in and out of aduana (customs). One feels positively violated by the ordeal and I don’t mean in a good way!
    Another note, the people here have lost any sense of a future, most everyone believes in only the now. To save or to work for some future goal are concepts unthinkable to the majority of citizens here. A recent trip to Buenos Aires made this most evident. The vibrancy and joie de vivre of the Argentinians stood in stark contrast of the hopelessness of the Bolivianos.
    And racism is alive and thriving regardless of what’s written in the new constitution.
    To whomever was asking about real estate, here in Santa Cruz it is booming. One must have a strong constitution, great humor and infinite patience.

  • The GreenMan

    While it is true that Bolivia has some problems, as you mentioned above, I am a believer that, “by confiscating profits from evil capitalists and sprinkling them among the poor, they can lift people out of poverty.” After all, isn’t that what poverty is…the lack of money in order to afford basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter? There country is being raped of its natural resources, so surely the people need some compensation for that in order to recover from any potential environmental hazards such as, destruction of water supply, air pollution, soil erosion, loss of farmland (which creates income and food for a village), etc. So by compensating the Bolivian people, that can eradicate poverty, pure and simple. The government has also been able to provide for their people… schools, hospitals, fire departments, free medical care, etc. like never before in Bolivia. How do I know all of this? I know some people who are from Bolivia.

    Oh, it seems to me we do something similar to this in Alaska. Don’t people who live in Alaska get an “oil check,” every month?

    • NP3

      GreenMan, did you READ the article??? Your argument is refuted in it. Try again.

    • andy

      Last time I was in Alaska, the people who were getting an “oil check” were spending it buying as many drinks as the “oil check” would allow. How’s that for money given to a worthy cause?

    • better way is inevitable

      Turning the resource wealth of a nation (or a state) over to a foreign corporation to exploit generally has one result: the wealth is converted to money, the money is removed from the country, and the people who actually live in that country never benefit – except for a few corrupt elites who sold out their people’s natural wealth to line their own pockets. The Alaska model is one exception.

  • robert

    What I will never understand about socialist is that there is no country that can ever pointed to as a model of their beliefs yet they continue to believe in this system???? Good Article

    • better way is inevitable

      Norway seems to do pretty well, at least as an example of how a nation’s resource wealth should be managed to benefit its citizens. Observing the current state of both nations, I’ll take the ‘socialism’ of Norway over the ‘free marketcapitalism’ of Dubai any day.

  • Tjo50511

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” while it’s not from the bible, it is wisdom for the ages. Socialists do not teach people how to fish, they merely provide fish for the people in order to keep them dependent on the government. It’s like the Founding Fathers intended the US to be. That’s is why we were called “citizens” instead of “subjects” like the British.

  • Mark Meador

    You nailed it Simon. Centralized planning is THE money pit.

    And “populist” leaders, from Washington D.C. to Buenos Aires, understand that the public teat is the reins of power and aren’t likely to change anytime soon.

    In Bolivia, however, we hold out hope as Morales’ approval ratings are plummeting. Elected with a mid-50% majority a bit over a year ago, he’s down below 30% in most polls.

    So, we can expect more theatrics – like suing Chile for ocean access – to distract the masses.

    Can’t wait to see what this year’s May Day surprise might be.

  • Stevewhosaysni!

    I’m in total agreement, Simon. But I’m curious about something. America has been moving toward socialism and bankruptcy for quite a few years, now. Do you foresee us ending up like Bolivia, a nation of major poverty? How soon do you think before we get there?

  • Donal

    I’ve been reading the SM blog for a little over a month and expected solid, unanimous free market libertarian comments. It was good to see alternative points of view. Having just read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which much of its history and analysis is on South America, I can only say Go Evo, take back the country. Libertarians never seem to talk about the anti-free market monopolistic attitudes of the giant multi-nationals. Perhaps what the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is doing is creating an actual free market, rather than an anti-democratic, Milton Friedmanite fascist playpen. Most people are not obsessed with the accumulation of power and money, but just trying to live a comfortable life with some dignity and pleasure. There will be potholes along the way in Bolivia and SoAmer in general. But maybe not so many of the “disappeared” that Friedman’s Chicago School philosophy encouraged. And what other country on the planet has the deep wisdom to consider a law that gives the natural environment the same rights as people. The Law of Mother Earth. Check it out.

    • lordkoos

      Good post Donal. People here seem to forget that South and Central America were nothing more than the ruthlessly exploited bitches of foreign corporations for the last 100 years. Having that history it is only natural that these nations would experiment with different approaches.

  • Paul H

    Please give my address to everyone who believes in giving out money so they will know where to send it.

  • gpo200

    @GreenMan: My friend, you forget that INDIVIDUALS/BUSINESSES provide the taxes/income that “the government” hands out. Yes? Thus, I’ll semi-agree with you that what you describe as poverty IS poverty – but you think the long-term answer is to BRING DOWN EVERBODY to poverty – or close to it – through redistribution? I think not. If I remember correctly, Simon mentioned recently that NOW the Bolivian gov’t. is begging foreign oil/gas companies to come in (to RETURN after their assets were CONFISCATED) and “help them res-establish their infrastructure.” Would YOU? I think not.

  • gpo200

    Thank you, Simon – excellent commentary as usual. I have a HUGE REQUEST, though: when the opponent or opponents to the current prez are officially known next year, PLEASE make it a point to get this into their hands so they can have the knowledge as talking points and, more importantly, to use in DEBATES with the great orator. Your concrete observations very clearly tell the DIFFERENCES between long-term failure (socialism/communism) and much more success for a country (as close to capitalism as a country can get despite government involvement). Especially telling is the story about how the Bolivian government is now begging the companies they confiscated or kicked out to return as their “partners”. Rich!

    BTW, if all goes well I will be voting “absentee” next year from my new “2nd citizenship” home! ;)

  • Wayne

    I don’t think any government can accomplish any desirable goals by confiscating from those ‘greedy’ entrepreneurs and giving to some other ‘deserving’ individuals or causes.

    However: I would ask the question, Is there room for an ethical component of entrepreneurship? Do/should those entrepreneurs who are conducting extractive processes, ‘raping and pillaging!’, have an ethical (notice, I didn’t say legal) obligation to minimize their environmental and social impact, and give back something to the society they are disrupting?

    How might this be accomplished?

  • Johnlloydk

    I don’t think it’s fare to equate socialism with central planning. Socialism, mixed with free market principles has proven to be very sucessful in Scandinavia. As long as private enterprise isn’t bullied, I’m all for a more egalitarian society.

    • Andy

      It seems you haven’t been to “Scandinavia” any time recently.

    • Libertarian

      Respectfully, Johnlloydk, I have close personal friends from Sweden. FROM Sweden. The reason they became American citizens decades ago was because they felt that Socialism destroyed the will of their people to actually work and produce anything. Taxation was, and is, so high that those who actually managed to produce, or add value, had nothing left after the government took through taxation everything they managed to produce. Stealing from Peter to pay Paul does nothing but mess up the books, and make everyone poorer. There is no such thing as an “egalitarian” society. Human nature being what it is, there will always be greedy people, lazy people, and a few who have the guts to work hard.

      • lordkoos

        Anecdotal evidence from three of your friends hardly constitutes a major trend of Sweden-to-USA immigration. I’m sure the majority of Swedes, while realizing their system isn’t perfect (which one is?) prefer to stay there as opposed to becoming a US citizen.

  • guest

    Sounds just like the USA. I guess politicians are trained in a “global school”

  • Quartermaster

    Government money = Trickle up poverty

    Funny how this blog attracts socialist moonbat trolls.

    Bolivia has been a basket case for many years. She lost her Pacific coastline in a war with Chile because of some self aggrandizing tin pot thought he could get a chunk of Chile. Some Evo Morales pops up every now and again and is able to scam the people who think they’re going to get some of that free money and, instead, end up deepening the hole they found themselves in when the tin pot started.

    Ecuador and Venezuela are going down the same path. Socialists depend on people not thinking for themselves. They got a lot of that type in Latin America. We’ve got a bunch here as well, alas.

  • Craig Chitty

    Great post and great comments, interesting to see how people lean each way. No one system has all the answers, or operates without any problems, a centralised gov that teaches the people a form of leaned helplessness isn’t the answer, and letting big business do as it pleases without any ethics or oversight isn’t the answer either. People need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, which I though was the whole point of us reading Simon’s posts so we could make well informed decisions

  • Angelo

    “Where do you stand– is it possible to eradicate poverty by giving out money for free?”

    I’m surprised you even asked this question. I have to assume it’s a subtle joke.. right?

  • Andy

    “Where do you stand– is it possible to eradicate poverty by giving out money for free?”

    NO. It’s the old feed a man to fish… philosophy that works. If you give out money for free, you breed dependence and more poverty. It’s like putting a bandage on a gaping flesh wound and saying now you’ll be just fine. It will be a short lived temporary solution that will have unintended consequences soon thereafter.

    Them’s my two cents.


  • Ou812beal

    to late for the US,its simple,when enough people are on the govt dole they vote for the person who keeps the free stuff flowing,polititions cynically know this,so its see who can win the free loaders.ive had bussiness in us before,years ago,would like to do it again,hire people,etc.If someone said theyd GIVE me a small buisness in US id say no because i dont wish to work for the govt

  • Photinacook

    My Dad slowly trained a squirrel to eat right out of his hand. He was delight for a few days until hed didn’t have any more food for the squirrel–and it bit him. People “think” the same way.

    You nailed it Simon–these people need opportunities not handouts.

  • Myway

    Social Programs intended to uplift a people rarely reach those of its intended target. And of those that may benefit from the redistributed wealth many find themselves seduced by, then dependent upon said program(s).

    I make my own way. Always have and always will. Everyone deserves an opportunity but no one deserves a handout! PERIOD!

    As a black American male of 48 years of age I am old enough to remember the pride and determination my father and grandfather’s generation exuded at ALL times…despite a lack of opportunity.

    Ever since the social programs of the 1960′s and 1970′s far too many of my people have succumbed to an expectation of entitlement, while grumbling about the slightest perception of mistreatment. Agggh!!

    • Ivan

      “Ever since the social programs of the 1960′s and 1970′s far too many of my people have succumbed to an expectation of entitlement, while grumbling about the slightest perception of mistreatment. Agggh!! ”

      I think that the government “helps” blacks precisely to destroy the black race. “Make them weak, and they will perish”. It’s just too sad that most blacks do not see it the way you do. Easy things are easy to accept and hard to question.

      • lordkoos

        Well before they were “helping them” they were enslaving them.

    • Tygre1420

      Too many people have become dependent rather than independent. Too many people are depending on social welfare programs rather than depending on themselves. We should not the forget the immortal words of JFK, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

  • Camsevy

    Excellent observations, Simon.

    Wayne asked: “Is there room for an ethical component of entrepreneurship? Do/should those entrepreneurs who are conducting extractive processes, ‘raping and pillaging!’, have an ethical … obligation to … give back something to the society they are disrupting?”

    The answer is: Of Course!

    Simon points out regularly, and did in this post, that wealth is made by ADDING VALUE.

    I say it like this: Each person has a responsibility to labor consistently throughout life to create new value to trade with others, trade for barter or currency. Each person’s responsibility is to take care of not only self but others as well. Some say give back 10%, a tithe, to a good cause that lifts the less fortunate. I agree. We all have the opportunity to lift and be lifted from time to time.

    Consistent productive labor to create added value coupled with Compassion evidenced by giving and Gratitude when receiving make for an economy and life full of abundance and joy.

    • lordkoos

      Then we can ask the question — who is creats the value? Workers, or shareholders?

  • Derek

    hi simon, i am a fairly new subscriber. i feel that so called democracy in the west is finished. with government workers and welfare recipients in general voting for the left the only way forward as i see it is only tax payers and pensioners should be able to vote. i cannot see the logic of letting someone who does not contribute having a say. i am with ayn rand. tax is theft. all left wing governments rely on the lazy and the useless voting them in. before i am howled down as an uncaring person i am, like most tax payers perfectly happy to help those in need but any fool can see the system is out of control in the west. bolivia is a terrible example of left wing policies failing.

  • Naf

    unfortunately it appears LOTS of people in the US think taking from one for the other is just “keen”, providing you take from the other guy and give to me…

    I am also somewhat amazed at the comments here by those who seem to that think Evo is a really great leader, taking from those greedy capitalists and giving to the poor…these thoughts really frighten me….I to have been in Bolivia, and most of the native citizens are not educated enough to join the modern world….maybe Evo should start with educating the folks????


  • K. William Spencer

    Hi Simon:

    Per your question in the email about throwing money at the poor, I think you answered it quite well with the millionaire lottery winner who ends up back in the trailer park – or “you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him HOW to fish and feed him for a lifetime!”

    Education – how to live, would do it best!

    My opinion…

  • Hiday_happy

    i stand at my home

  • Phat Phreddy

    “Poverty isn’t caused by a lack of money… it’s caused by the lack of ability or opportunity to create value”

    That right there, is a masterful summarization.

  • zamboni

    I just want to thank the staff of sovereignman for making sure my comments aren’t posted under this article ;-)

    They obviously are filtering comments to this article to eliminate any intelligent discussion coming from the opposing point of view from the so-called “mr. black”.

    …of course the dumber comments from socialists or leftists are posted to this thread for obvious reasons. This only shows what a pile of shit lie this website is LOl :-D

    Dear Mr. Black: now go back to your room and curl up with your rag eared copy of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ ;-)

    • zamboni

      Thank you mr. black for posting my comments regarding your censorship of well thought out counter arguments to yours. The fact remains: if anybody from the other side of the aisle pokes holes in mr. blacks libertarian cliches and straw man arguments, rest assured your comment won’t be posted here.

      this site can best be summed up as a bunch of libertarians talking to libertarians. nobody else welcome here if you think differently. Pathetic, what a bunch of pussies! Waste of time posting to this thread, won’t be coming back.

      • JD2040

        Zamboni voted for Obama! And will again!

      • Dana Seilhan

        And what a stunning show of misogyny from Mr. zamboni here.

        BTW, not everyone who espouses what the resident set here calls “socialism” (you keep using that word…) voted for Barack Obama.

  • stevesteve

    No, its not possible to eradicate poverty by giving out money for free, it creates a “criminal exchange” mind set. From then on one is always looking for or expecting something for nothing. Its basically rewarding “no statistic” or down statistics, so one continually get down statistics.

  • Stan

    Dear Simon, Giving money for nothing has never worked, it makes slaves and of course, getting money for nothing is what criminals do, so, in effect you criminalise the poor. Here in South Africa they want to try to give out “free” housing, free this, free that, so there is trouble ahead, where have you ever heard of such a thing. Anyway, for now,
    Thanks for your thoughts,

  • R.

    Wow, so many commies commenting on this board…

  • Julian

    I agree with those that say the west is out of control and Bolivia is a bad example of Robinhood at work. The idea that you can create a fiat currency which has no backing in any commodity, gold, silver, shoot, even wheat though volitile, might work, is crazy!! I’m no Princeton Economics PhD though apparently you learn less by studying more, but once you creat a fiat currency, just by definition you and your money are a slave to the laws and regulations of the government. Also, stealing money from investors and business owners and turning it over to the poor is definitely not the way to go either. It detours money inflow into said country or area and all growth slows, money that was going to the poor dries up. Then your left begging for investors to come back like Bolivia is currnetly.

    I say, invite businesses in with uncomplicated tax laws. Have a streamline income and coporate tax that is competitive or better than other booming economies. Use the gold standard for paper currencies and educate your people with the money brought in this way so they continue to be valuable in the market place.

    I’m currently taking votes for presidency, who’s with me? :-)

    • Dana Seilhan

      On the other hand, if you’re running a business that hires the poor and you pay the poor barely enough to survive, you are stealing from the poor too–stealing their labor and stealing hours of their life that they can never get back, and they hardly see anything out of it to improve their condition.

      You can either pay them on the front end or be taxed out the back end. Can you guess which option most businesses choose?

      Or you could just do your own work. No reason you should have to hire anyone. They don’t add value, after all, do they?

  • Ernie Hopkins

    Great piece! Loved your analogy of treating symptoms rather than disease. Too many think they are contributing to the economy by being given electronic blips for standing at a certain place every day. Sad.

  • bilejones

    Sounds a lot like the US, No?

  • Mac

    Usually they’re no good at even giving out free money. Even when they can manage that much, it breeds the kind of mediocrity and stagnation seen in Bolivia.

  • sdfsgf dsfsg

    2 hours for customs? I’m sorry but I have traveled dozens of times
    to Bolivia and never had to wait more than 15 minutes in or out.
    I can definitely say that Bolivia is better now economically than in the last 20 years and your comparison to chile is just unfair given the history of that country’s economic predatory practices toward Bolivia.

  • Montegoblueazul

    Hi Simon,
    I just read the article that you wrote about my country. And I agree at some point. After working for president morales during the last 5 years, I had a first hand approach to some of the problems you mentioned. And I came up to the conclusion that the problem is not only that the country is taking a dangerous rode to socialism, but it is taking the road based on hate. Our actual leaders want to improve the country economy by telling us that we have to chase the bad guys. And it results to be that the bad guys are all others who dont´think as the leaders. In this case, americans are the bad guys, opposition leaders are the evil, etc.
    There is not a sense of working for ourselves, we have to work to put in jail our friends, family, etc.

  • Andy

    Interesting comparison here between Bolivia and Chile, are you suggesting that the brutal dictatorship of Pinochet was all worth it? Economic development is greater than human rights? Interesting point there.

  • Jsummoleguy

    Giving money to eradicate poverty is akin to the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

    • Dana Seilhan

      Unless the man in question already knows how to fish but your “market” corporation is upstream catching all the fish with a net.

  • Mark

    Bolivia like many other Latin American countries was controlled by a small minority of white families. The failure of Bolivia white elite to integrate their Native American majority into the economic and political system lead to the raise of Evo Morales.

    • Dana Seilhan

      And Indians as a general rule are none too impressed by market capitalism arguments, unless they’re Indians running a casino, and then they’re expected (and may likely expect themselves) to contribute what they earn to their tribes. Tribes did not survive this long with the “I got mine, screw you” mentality.

  • Ag443

    was this bolivia or the current state of the united states?

  • Tin Hao


    “a bunch of jackbooted monkeys are parading”?

    Really? And how did Bolivia get this way, what is the strong surge in socialism a reaction to? Was everything in Bolivia just groovy until Evo Morales and his band of ravening populists came along?

    For those of you who’ve let Bolivia’s recent history escape down the memory hole, lets not forget the ruthless adoption of neoliberal economic policies suggested by the IMF, which sold things like the country’s water system to foreign multinationals. These same companies increased the price of water dramatically and tried to make it illegal for poor people to collect rainwater to drink.

    So we shouldn’t be surprised that the citizens of Bolivia aren’t that interested in hearing about the wonders of mythical free market capitalism.

  • Dana Seilhan

    No, poverty is pretty much a lack of money. Value is such an ephemeral thing. What’s valuable to you might not be valuable to someone else–it’s even more fiat than the currency.

    You could have a group of people busting their tushies and adding all sorts of value to society, but then the rich guys in charge decide they don’t want that kind of value anymore and poof, that group of people has suddenly become worthless.

    See also Detroit. Or Flint. Or anywhere in Michigan really.

    Also, there’s more to life than whether something is “properly economically exploited.” There’s this other stuff besides money called, you know, *life*… this other stuff called *family*… this other stuff called *friends*… you know? You’re talking about symptoms too. OK, everyone in Bolivia is not living in a mansion with 20 Filipino maids to do their bidding. What IS going on with them, though? How happy are they, for one thing? No one ever seems to notice how happy a population group is; they just look for ways to exploit the situation. (Oh wait, to you that’s “good.”) When Bolivia thinks it has a problem and decides it wants to solve that problem, it will. In the end, the “socialist oppression” it suffers from is at the hands of its own people. When a guy stands around whacking himself in the head with a baseball bat, it’s probably best to let him either knock himself out or come to the realization that his head hurts. Intervene and he’s likely to hit *you*.

    It’s not like the market economy solves all problems, anyway. Leave it too wide open, then it’s the CEOs running things instead of the government. Kind of like what we have here.

  • Him Again

    Actually, Simon’s comparisons here are very apt. As usual, though, any attempt to compare capitalist and socialist economies, is valueless (except to the opportunistic wealthy), unless the state of the population majority is taken into account as a priority.
    Interestingly, these two countries are the best example of apples and apples comparison in the whole world.

    The majority in both countries are in exactly, exactly the same terrible state.
    Despite these two extreme examples of social control.

    However, the next year will see something never done before – the technology simply wasn’t there for the total control needed.
    The USA is going to be “1984″.
    With UN resolution Agenda 21 , even the Patriot Act is eclipsed.

  • Harikartar

     simoni am a subscriber for 8 months. in several articles, you mention how women look in whatever country…is it possible for you to refrain from the objectifying comments? read ‘man to man’ by yogi bhajan. 

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