Archive for category Peru

Cairo – I was very, very drunk

I was in a coffee shop today checking out the internet and I came across this video clip (H/T Captain Ranty).  Over here in Lima there has been a growth in coffee shops with good internet connections.  It was a place called Gloria Jeans, which has a faster internet connection than Starbucks and so is full of earnest university students discussing their group projects over laptops.  Do you get that in the UK?

Anyway it made me laugh:


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On Washing Machines, Peru and Presidential Elections

Today I was introduced to someone and shaking her hand couldn’t help but notice how dry and calloused it was.  This is not unusual for women in Peru, most of who spend their lives hand-washing clothes.  But it did get me thinking.

Over three hundred years ago Adam Smith wrote (H/T Daniel J Mitchell):

“Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice.”

Here in Peru for the last 10 years we have been a testament to that truth.  When Fujimori’s Government imploded in 2000 as the public revolted against the systematic corruption of his regime, the level of poverty was 54%.  That’s to say more than 15 million people living in absolute and grinding penury.  For the next 10 years successive governments maintained his free market reforms, which had turned Peru around from the total disaster it was in at the beginning of the 90’s, but at the same time pushed through transparency of government, freedom of the press and rule of law.  The economy thrived and investment surged, causing the poverty level to decline to 49% in 2004, accelerating through to 34% in 2009.  That’s 20%, or more than 5.5 million people lifted out of poverty in less than 10 years. 

And that’s why it is so depressing that all this progress could be thrown away in June when the second round of the Presidential elections takes place.  For we have a very good chance that a National Socialist will be elected who wants to throw out the free market model with its vibrancy and rule of law, in favour of central planning, nationalization and arbitrary rule by fiat. (I shall write a detailed post about this on Thursday). 

Which is what got me thinking.  Not about the cronyism and corruption that always accompanies Big Government but the stultifying effect that central planning has on society.  Professor Nutter writing about the Soviet Union in 1957 said (H/T Adam Smith Blog):

All this in an economy that apparently has not yet discovered the wheelbarrow – sledges and two-man litters are used instead – where the scythe is far more in evidence than the mower, where brooms are mostly bundles of twigs without handles, where the mop is a handless rag, etc.  In the drive for modernism, the Soviet system has apparently ignored the multitude of simple yet dramatic inventions so important in the economic development of other countries.

Innovation, that vital part of increasing productivity, does not depend upon large and grand inventions. It depends upon the myriad of small changes which are made to this and that which in general make all of the peoples’ time more productive. Inventing Sputnik is all very well, but just think of the time in aggregate that could be saved by the deployment of the simple Fuller Brush to babushkas across the country!

Free markets and rule of law create the means whereby society can innovate and evolve and are vastly more successful at alleviating poverty than anything a central-planning bureaucrat sitting in his airless office in downtown Lima can hope to achieve.  Which takes me back to that woman with the calloused hands.  Hans Rosling did a brilliant presentation on the washing machine (H/T Cafe Hayek) and how that has revolutionized women’s lives around the world. The free market is transforming the lives of millions of people in Peru.  Like a 1970’s movie re-run, National Socialism will take us back to the days of bad haircuts and officials setting soap production targets for the nation’s women scrubbing away at the sinks and river banks around Peru.  Let’s hope the voters choose a different future.

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Man, it feels good to be a gangsta – Evo Morales remix

Gangster governments abound in Latin America.  Demagoging utopia to the poor and uneducated, they achieve power using democracy (or for the guy in the middle of the picture, the gun), only to undermine it to stay in power.  Whether it be restrictions on the freedom of press, setting the tax authorities on rivals, stacking the justice system with favourable judges, nationalization or undermining  state institutions with a corrupting network of placemen and cronies, anything goes to further their wealth and power.  It revolts me to see how western lefties fawn over thugs like Castro of Cuba, Chavez of Venezuela  or Evo Morales of Bolivia.   It seems that wearing a green combat shirt or ethnic clothing gives these people a free pass to impoverish millions of the people they are supposed to be championing.

 Evo Morales is a case in point.  He rose to power as a trade union agitator, was instrumental in toppling a centre-right government through fomenting street protests and blockades and has then set about changing the constitution in his favour.  Juan Carlos Hidalgo over at Cato has the detail.  In the video below you can see him kneeing an opposing football player, and from the way he does it, you can tell he’s got previous.

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Municipal elections in Peru

 UPDATE: 10.25pm Susana Villaran, the left-wing candidate has won by just 1% according to the  first ‘quick count’.  This is the first result coming out after 100% of the votes have been counted.  We are still waiting for the verified results from ONPE the Voting Oversite Agency. It’s very close and so the situation could change.  However it looks like Susana has just squeeked in as Mayor of Lima.  Her party hasn’t done so well in the district contests which may help to provide a counterweight to her in the future.

Millions go to vote today in the Municipal elections in Peru. These will help provide political factions with the power bases they need to win the Presidential elections next year.
In Lima, the economic heart of Peru, there is a clear choice between a flawed right of center candidate and a socialist with dubious marxist connections.  All the usual marxist and national socialist suspects, as well as Chavez,  are circling around seeing this as their stepping stone to forcing Peru sharp left next year.   Let’s hope enough Peruvians reject the siren call of the populist and vote to keep Peru on it’s upwards path out of poverty.  There is a great article on the canditates over at Big Peace, if anyone is interested.


Al Gore heats up Peru

As you know how much I appreciate Al Gore’s contribution to human development, you will be pleased to hear that he is coming to Peru to attend a big three-day conference on the environment .  It costs 30 Peruvian Soles per day, unless you want to attend the big man’s speech itself which will then set you back 1800 soles.  That’s about two months average wages, (the minimum wage here is 550 soles or $200 a month). 

 I have it on good authority (H/T to Alex), that his list of requirements includes no time allowed for questions, no press interviews and only 100 photographs allowed.  I guess he has an aid counting the number of flashes – and no time for inconvienent questions on the increasing Polar bear population .  He flies in, gives his ‘we are all destroying the planet’ spiel and then ka-ching he’s gone.

Now I am all in favour of not wasting resources and protecting the pristine Peruvian forest from over-logging.  However, there is a certain irony in someone who’s own lifestyle emits copious amounts of carbon dioxide, ……

According to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR), “Gore’s home consumes more electricity every month than the average household uses in an entire year.”  “Gore’s heated pool house alone uses more than $500 in electricity every month.”

 ….flying in on his private jet to lecture my maintenance man, who hadn’t even experienced electricity until he was 18, to switch of his lights.

 With Al Gore’s extensive investments in the Green Industry, I hope this has nothing to do with the latest environmental boondoggle.