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Republican/conservative economic theory proven wrong

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by superdave, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. American Brummie

    American Brummie Member+

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    Can we shut this thread down and replace it with "Study suggests that trickle-down, supply-side economics not effective at stimulating economic growth?"

    Jesus, people, the study didn't PROVE shit.
     


  2. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

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    We do have 32 years of real-world experience that's pretty damn conclusive.
     
  3. American Brummie

    American Brummie Member+

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    I'm not saying the study's bad, or trickle-down works. I'm saying no scientific study could ever, using regression analysis, come to such a finite conclusion that it would never work. The study only goes back 65 years in one country. It's possible that it would work in the future, or worked in the past. Who knows.
     
  4. dapip

    dapip Member+

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    Well, that sounds pretty much like CEPAL economics which was deemed ineffective during the 1980s, despite having consistently provided decent rates of growth for almost 3 decades in most of Latin America... I remember Colombia having pretty much the same policies and being a good place to live despite some inefficiency, corruption and other externalities... Protectionism allowed the local industry to thrive and while probably we didn't get a lot of toys or the ones we got were very expensive, I don't recall people wanting a lot of things simply because they were in practical terms unavailable.

    During the 1980s we were told that CEPAL policies didn’t work anymore and that the borders should open so Colombia should specialize and produce only what we were good at. 20 years later you know which is Colombia’s major export and the local industry is diminished. Corruption is rampant, the social-safety net was squandered and the infrastructure is neglected. Wealth is as concentrated as in Haiti and 80% of the population lives in poverty. But look at the bright side: we can get cheap LCD screens at Walmart…

    So, in light of all this I cannot help but think that what happened in Argentina was very similar to what happened in Colombia and I also recall hearing that Menem privatized pretty much everything. Am I correct? When did Argentina go astray and what were the reasons for it?
     


  5. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    In relative terms you are kind of correct, same with Mexico, when a country has a closed economy and everyone (well most) is poor then relatively people feel ok, sure they do not have money to buy nice things but the neighbor also has the same issue.

    When economies open up there is more opportunity and more material items become available, some people do better and the middle class grows, so relatively some people can not afford the new products (LCD screens like you said) but not the neighbor can, so you feel poorer even if you are a little better off.

    I heard someone said that under communism every one is poor under capitalism most are poor and some are rich.

    Is the same when countries open up for trade, in real terms most Latin American countries are better off now than they were in the 1980’s, the middle class is much bigger and poverty is at an all time low.

    But in relative terms some upper middle and the very rich have done much better than the middle class so in relative terms many people feel worst off. Think of the generation that grew up with a servant then they get married and they see that even when they can buy more stuff than their parents they can no longer afford a live in nanny, which makes them feel like they are not as rich as their parents.

    In another article in the economist they talk about getting maids in Brazil compared to maids in England at the turn of the century, as the poor have more economic opportunities the middle class can no longer afford cheap domestic labor, that makes them feel that they are worst off than their parents.

    http://colombiareports.com/colombia...iddle-class-doubled-in-past-decade-study.html

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/26/world/la-fg-colombia-housing-20110926
    http://www.latintelligence.com/2011/05/27/latin-america’s-growing-middle-class/

     
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  6. dapip

    dapip Member+

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    The issue here being what are they buying… LCD prices are going down while food prices are going up. I might be mistaken but when I was 10 or 12 or 15 there was only one or maybe two TVs at your house and you bought clothes once or twice a year, but your future felt safer: You knew that your parents were doing OK and they were able to pay for your education and health and food, not a lot of shinny stuff…



    That is assuming that you are in the right field with the right skills. If you are an import/export guy or have access to resources that can be traded, yes; if you are a salaried employee in a factory that will not be competitive, definitely NO. And that has happened here too…



    And this should make me feel better how? Shouldn’t we be working so everyone or at least more people are better off?



    I beg to differ. Latin America still shows high disparities and the growth has less to do with opening to free trade. Brazil is doing very well by basically exploiting is size and the global thirst for raw materials. Colombia is pretty much following the same path: Selling raw materials and capitalizing in a rather large population.


    This is true to some extent. But it also has to do with your expectations in terms not only of a nanny or a maid, but in terms of having enough money to retire or to pay for your kids’ education. On the other hand shinny stuff is enticing if your parents did not have much and you still don’t expect to retire ever or pay for your kids education.

    http://colombiareports.com/colombia...iddle-class-doubled-in-past-decade-study.html


    Allow me to cast some doubt on the study. Colombian Statistics are regularly tampered with by government to show better results and that was especially true during the last decade. On the other hand we still are as unequal as Haiti.

    [​IMG]

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/26/world/la-fg-colombia-housing-20110926


    True, access to cheap credit is part of what is moving the economy now in Latin America.

    I think that it is a good thing but we are not immune to housing bubbles, which have happened as recently as 1997. As the US had learned the hard way, easy access to credit icould be a bad thing if the bubble pops.
     
  7. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    Awesome, I get to link to my favorite music video about the International Monetary Fund.

    NSFW



    PS...I'll bet y'all are surprised it's not a Billy Bragg song.
     
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  8. ceezmad

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    Your parents maybe, but not everyone could (not everyone can), Is kind of like the Walmart effect, the small store owner is doing ok selling his goods, but the goods are expensive for the village to buy so the poor people suffer and the small middle class does ok, Walmart destroys the small store owner, but now more people in the village can buy the good for a cheaper price. IF the small store owner can move on to a different job or if they were able to train their children on some other proffecion then they will be ok, if not they will be not.

    So the opening of the economies in Latin America is similar, the people that had factories were hurt by the imports from overseas, they are like the small store owners, but the people now have cheaper goods to buy so the poor can afford more material items. The problem is what do the replaced small factory owner going to do? will he go under or move on to some other productive sector? And if products are cheaper that frees capital from the masses to invest in other items (some times creating inflation).

    This is a big argument in economics, because it does hurt some people like local industries that can not compete with the overwhelming capital of foreign companies.

    Regarding health care, people now have more access to health care than ever before, the problem is like you say escalating costs, and the argument of who should pay for the cost. All you have to see are the birth survival rates, the life expectancies and the discrepancy between rural and urban death rates do to lack of health care to see how economies that grow do benefit (not all equally).

    But more people are being employed, the middle class is growing that is the point, as the middle class grows their demand will grow, now can locals compete with international suppliers that is the issue growing economies do have.

    The problem like I said is can local industries move to new more productive operations or not. Many can't, some can, the balance is what is key IMO.


    Well again relative vs. reality, is it better when everyone is poor but equally poor? Or is it better to be slightly better off but feel worst off because people around you are better off than you?

    Well they need free trade to export the raw materials right?

    And yes as the export more and more people have jobs, they have more money the middle class grows and local demand increases for both local and international products. Sure in a perfect world a country would exports lots of stuff and import relative small quantity of stuff creating a trade surplus. But this is hardly possible even China who get away with this is being pushed to open up not only to USA/EU but to also open up to BRIC countries.

    The sad part is that Latin Amercica still has issues trading with each other, Mercosur has not fixed many of the trade issues in the region.

    Ah but poor people before could not even think about college education for their kids, they had bigger worries just feeding their kids and having their kids at least survive to make it to the labor force, College education is a middle class problem, as the middle class gets bigger in Latin America this becomes a bigger problem and relatively speaking it is a better problem to have than having half of you population hungry.

    The demand for education is growing and the supply is not keeping up in Latin American that is a problem for sure.



    Oh inequality is growing that is for sure, the problem is that a lifting tide does raise all boats, but not all boats go up equally, that creates problems for sure. Brazil has some of the higher inequalities in the world, it happens the problem is correcting them, but the solution is not to close down trade so every one becomes poor again.

    Is not easy as Argentina showed, populist policies that destroy the economy are no good, Brazil has done a better job and balancing their need for a more fair economy and the needs to allow the economy to grow, is not perfect, capitalist complain they have too much regulation and ties their hands, socialist complain they are not doing enough, a very familiar argument for sure. The problem is that there is no magic balance it is all trial and error.

    Do you slow down economic growth to make the economy more balanced or you allow the economy to grow when that creates inequality, is very hard to get both, we should try to balance them out as much as possible.

    Well the problem is that while the bubble grows politicians do not want to pop it because it looks good when they run for elections.

    But yes is hard to tell people you should not borrow money to buy a house, healthcare, cars, college education when people are convinced that is what they want.

    We people as a mass are not the most rational animals, we usually want more than we have, not all some are good savers, the only have what they need, I wish I was more like that for sure.
     
  9. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

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    I've said it before. Billy Bragg sucks almost as much as Florence + The Machine.
     
  10. argentine soccer fan

    argentine soccer fan Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I think there are many similarities between Argentina and Colombia, although I don't think it ever got as bad in Colombia at least in the same way Argentina did, certainly Colombia had other different and painful challenges that it had to face. But in Argentina they took Neo-Keynesian policies to an extreme and we payed the price. I think John Maynar Keynes is he saw what Argentina was doing must have been rolling over in his grave.

    It's difficult to post about Argentina's economy over the years because it would take probably a six month course just to begin to scratch the surface, and there has been so much misinformation and self-serving revisionist history. But i can give you in very simple terms my perspective of what I lived through since I was a child until today.

    As I said, when I was growing up there was already a huge public sector, a majority of Argentines worked in the public sector. The government promised everything to the working class, and indeed provided lots of services like free health care, generous pensions and all kinds of other benefits. They believed fervently in "tax the rich", had very high taxes on businesses and on the high earners and on property and made it very difficult to import. In fact, the borders were virtually closed to imports when I was a kid, and to have something imported was a novelty.

    What happened was not that local industry thrived, as you indicated in your post was the case in Colombia. How could it thrive, when they made it so difficult to do business? Foreign corporations left and local businesses closed. There was no incentive to go into business. Hiring was prohibitively expensive and making a profit was all but impossible. So, a huge black market developed, and everything had to be obtained "underground". Would-be entrepreneurs became speculators, buying and selling dollars or smuggled imported goods. Any money made was taken out of the country to keep the government from taking it, what we called "fuga de divisas". Whatever domestic industry was left was very poor and inefficient. "Industria Argentina" became synonymous with "bad quality".

    As far as jobs went, every young person's goal was to "get one of those jobs where you don't have to do anything". Trade unions -especially the public ones- ruled supreme. The government kept hiring and hiring to make up for the deficit in the private sector and to keep unemployment from getting out of hand. You had for example over three hundred workers assigned to clean one public restroom at a train station -but the restroom of course was always dirty-. Nobody could be fired, nobody could be touched. It was common that people would come, clock in, and leave. Then come back to clock out in the evening. It was truly it what we might call a Peronist "Workers Paradise".

    Of course the situation was untenable. What I remember well as a kid -and I think it happened to a lesser extent in Colombia- was that in a rich country as Argentina we started to have shortages of everything. There was no rice, no sugar, no toilet paper, even shortages of flour and beef. In Argentina! You would think that it's impossible, but I lived through it. In the land of the wheat, we were eating "pan de mijo" because there was no flour to be found anywhere! That was going on right before the time of the military coup of 1976.

    What the military Junta did was open the borders to imports. Even though they left the duties very high, since the domestic industry had already been beaten so much, everything became Imported from one day to the next. For a time this brought some economic relief. We had products again, although mostly from overseas, and there was some semblance of business coming back. But unlike Pinochet in Chile, the Argentine Junta never cracked down on the Labor Unions and never dismantled the welfare state. The Junta and the Public Unions both had their power territories, and while they were not exactly in good terms, they tolerated each other and respected each other's power base. What the Junta did to be able to keep the Unions happy and keep up with the very expensive promises that the government had made to the workers was to keep printing money. Lots of money. Needless to say, we got hyperinflation.

    This continued after the return to Democracy. While the Peronists were defeated in the first post-Junta free election, another leftist party -La Union Civica Radical- won. President Alfonsin continued pandering to the Trade Unions and they became even more powerful. The Unions made life difficult for him by threatening and calling for strikes whenever he didn't do 100 percent of their bidding. So, the poor guy continued printing money, and hyperinflation got worse and worse. Whatever semblance of industry that had been left after the disastrous time of the Junta ended up completely destroyed by the time Alfonsin was done.

    Then came Menem. He was a Peronist but he realized he needed to stand up to the Trade Unions. He stopped printing money and began cutting some benefits, and for a time the inflation was tamed and the economy came back. Domestic industry began to emerge again and Argentina started exporting. But in his desire for economic stability, and in order to tame inflation faster, Menem decided to peg the currency to the US dollar. This was great for stability in the short term, but ended up having disastrous consequences. You can't have an economy as large as Argentina having its currency basically dependent on a foreign nation with different goals, and Argentina's currency could not keep up with the dollar.

    The big problem was that government was still bloated and even with industry starting to come back, it was impossible to feed the monster. What President Menem did in order to make it work in the short term was to start selling public assets, including all the huge government controlled monopolies. Phone, Airlines, Oil company etc. While Menem -who was not above corruption- did profit immensely himself from the privatization, the reality is that unless he was willing to cut all the public benefits -which he wasn't- he had to sell the public assets to raise the money to keep the benefits flowing. These sales enabled him not only to cut the public payroll, but also to sort of balance the books in the short term and tame inflation, while it enabled Argentina to continue providing generous benefits to the citizens. The economy improved in the short term. But inevitably the public assets for sale had to run out, and it became impossible to continue the charade.

    That's around the time De La Rua became president. A member of the Radical party, like Alfonsin, he is sort of a tragic figure. He was an old politician who had always been a leftist and a neo-keynesian and believed almost religiously in Big Government -a Superdave of sorts- and I never agreed with his ideology. But by most accounts he was one of the few honest politicians the nation ever produced. Unfortunately for him, by the time he came to power, there was nothing left for the country give, and he was left with the unenviable task of having to be the one to say no to the working class that had become so dependent on their government over the years.

    Because of timing, he had to do exactly the opposite of what he had always stood for. He was the one who had to make all the tough cuts. As a man of integrity, he did not take the short term easy way out by printing more money. He also made the controversial decision to unpeg the currency from the dollar, even though he knew it would be a disaster in the short term. I believe he did what had to be done, but it was too late, and maybe he did it too fast in the end. What happened is that it resulted in a long overdue economic meltdown, and he resigned in disgrace. But at least he left the nation in a place where they finally could start over. I believe that if they'd started over the right way, with good economic policies and an environment friendly to businesses, entrepreneurs and job creators, Argentina would have finally been able to build a decent economy.

    There really was a chance. I really believed Argentina was finally starting to do things the right way. Business was emerging, and with the public sector no longer bloated, true growth built on solid foundations might have been achieved. I personally even started to do a little business with Argentina, developing some partnerships with Argentine entrepreneurs who thought the climate was finally changing.

    But, I guess we are doomed to make the same mistakes generation after generation, and we voted Nestor Kirchner as president, followed by his wife Cristina. Now we're getting back to square one. The policies of Peron that ruined the nation have returned. The shortages and the black market are back, the deep social divisions, the self-serving populist agenda, everything ugly that we had to live through is happening again.

    I weep for my beloved country of my birth. Such a beautiful place, a rich place, and we are missing the chance we finally had to make it work. It breaks my heart.
     
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  11. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    WHERE THE ******** IS THE GODDAMN NEGATIVE REP BUTTON!

    Unless you're being really clever and saying they're both awesome.
     
  12. American Brummie

    American Brummie Member+

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    I had to look Billy Bragg up. Does it show my musical naivete that I've never heard of the guy?
     
  13. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    Who the eff is Billy Bragg?
     
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  14. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

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    Bragg got his first real exposure when he was listening to the incomparable John Peel mention that he was hungry on-air. Bragg ran to a kebab joint and brought some take-out to the BBC, along with his demo, which Peel then played ... at the wrong speed.
     
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  15. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    IIRC he's the British version of Woody Guthrie, with just as many fans
     
  16. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    That has to be a huge exaggeration or one huge bathroom. ;)
     
  17. ratdog

    ratdog Member+

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    Here's what I don't understand - you've got a proven successful model of development in East Asia that has worked in every country that's tried it despite the very different resources and circumstances of each country over several decades of differing global economic conditions. A partnership of government-led economic strategy working with the private sector to build a domestic middle class (rather than destroying it like right wing economics tells them to do) so that eventually you're not overly dependent on shaky export markets has worked time and time again over there. How hard is it to look at Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and now China, etc. and just do what they're doing? Even the Vietnamese are joining in. Hell, you can learn from the examples of the few mistakes they've made (like don't load up on overpriced American real estate when you have a hard time recycling all the money you've made by cleaning America's clock) and possibly do it even better than they did.
     
  18. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    We the west are too selfish with our individual rights and shit, it is about the community (East Asia example).

    The Chinese people in the economist comment section do make the point that state control is better than democracy.

    You can add Chile to the list, Pinochet may have been a murdering asshole that ruled with an iron fist, but he did help the Chile Economy.
     
  19. argentine soccer fan

    argentine soccer fan Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, not all is well in East Asia, but there is indeed a lot we can learn from them. My experience working in China is that it is a very corrupt place, and the government -in particular the local government- can be very intrusive and restrictive in many ways. On the other hand, the Chinese government at every level today does seem to understand the importance of business and private enterprise and they provide a lot of pro-business incentives in an attempt to establish an environment of growth and job creation. I don't think the Peronists in Argentina today grasp that concept anymore than they did during the time of Peron. They are still stuck in the old "business is evil" mentality.

    But I don't think the business model I experienced in China would work in Argentina, and while government policy is a big factor, I think it goes way beyond government and directly into who we are as a people. I'm not saying people are better or worse, but there are huge cultural differences and differences in outlook that lead to differences in the behavior of people in a work environment, in terms of productivity, integrity and general attitude towards their jobs and their employers.
     
  20. Homa

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    Argentina, if what afs said is true, didn't suffer from a lack of state involvement but from too much. If I had to take anything from the stories it would be that you have to find a decent middle ground.
    Too much freedom and your internal markets and fledginling industries get crushed by foreign imports, too much state intervention and the economy suffocates under the bureaucratic burden.

    High tariffs seem to me an necessary tool. The US had them, Germany had them, China now has, Korea and Japan still have high barriers for foreign companies.

    I've read some articles that say the rapid developement in east Asia is only possible because of a fundamental change in transport costs. Before that you had to have your supply chain close proximity. F.e. when a country decided to promote its car industry it had to built up the whole supply chain, too, which is extremely costly and risky.
    In todays world with low shipping cost the proximity is no longer that important which allows countries to concentrate on certain products without the necessity and risk of developing the rest of the supply chain, too.
     
  21. argentine soccer fan

    argentine soccer fan Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, and in addition you don't need to have the raw materials nearby anymore either, for the same reason. You can transport raw materials from anywhere in the world at a low cost, so you can produce everything wherever the costs are low, the productivity is high, and the business environment is favorable. And that's how everything ends up getting manufactured in China.
     
  22. ceezmad

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    True that the argument in on the balance, there is no right answer and a fit all answer, the pull from one side or the other is about this balance.


    Well they are good to a point, eventually they need to be removed other wise you punish your own people because they have to pay higher prices for goods they could import for cheaper.

    Like you said above is a balance between protecting industry and workers and protecting customers.

    You mention the USA and tariffs, that was one of the issues between the north and the south pre-civil war, the North States wanted high Tariffs to protect the American industries, The south wanted more trade to buy the same goods for cheap from Europe.

    Like I said is a balancing act.
     
  23. ratdog

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    See, I don't buy that self-congratulatory "Asian Values"/"Confucian Values" crap from Asians any more than I buy the same kind of bullshit when American or European leaders spew it. There no mystical "volk" spirit that will magically create economic prosperity although that hasn't stopped even people who should know better from trying at least since Weber's "Protestant Ethic...".

    There are things "the state" (the political state, not the '90s comedy show) does better than markets and vice versa. Dogmatic stalinists and market fundamentalists hate it when that's pointed out but it's true.

    Funny you should mention Chile...

    The following is a decent basic primer on Chile even if it is from a leftist source and the language is as bit overbaked:

    http://www.zcommunications.org/tink...he-fairy-tale-miracle-of-chile-by-greg-palast

    The general view in the article above is, btw, shared by Armatya Sen (1998 winner of the Nobel prize in economics) and OECD economist and venture capitalist Javier Santiso among others so it's safe for non-leftists to admit that the "Chilean Miracle" was not what it's advertised by fanboys of the Chicago School to have been.

    Here's what the Beeb (the British media source, not the kid with the hair) has to say:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6167941.stm

    So again, the lesson is: Don't follow the "free market" rhetoric but instead implement an intelligent and balanced approach and focus on your domestic middle class. In other words, go with East Asia and not the Washington Consensus.
     
  24. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

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    Well the East Asia model should work better in say the middle east where they do not have elections to throw a wrench in the model.

    Latin America is more like India than China, at least they are trying to be more like India in that they are trying to get democracy, the thing about any right wing or left wing model in democracy is that sometimes they change governments and they stop the old model to implement the new model.

    Some of the better results have been when the left took power, they kept the basics of the rights free market model but put their spin on it to make it more fair and balanced like in Chile and Brazil. One thing for Chile was that they put to good use the Copper companies (well at least they got them to fund the defense budget).

    I mean there is no doubt Pinochet was a huge dick, maybe Allende is left in power would have done better balancing democracy, human rights and economic growth, one of the many shameful things we have done as a country in removing him that is for sure.

    http://voices.yahoo.com/the-chilean-miracle-free-market-economic-reforms-in-378580.html

    http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2007/0107reuss.html
     
  25. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    By huge dick you mean murderous dictator, right?
     

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