"A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."
History records that the moneychangers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means
possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance.
- James Madison
Don't Cry for Me, Argentina / America
for the position of the world's second-most powerful economy.
It was blessed with abundant agriculture, vast swaths of rich farmland laced with navigable rivers and an accessible port system. Its level of industrialization was higher than many European countries: railroads, automobiles and telephones were commonplace.
In 1916, a new president was elected. Hipólito Irigoyen had formed a party called The Radicals
under the banner of "fundamental change" with an appeal to the middle class.
Among Irigoyen's changes: mandatory pension insurance, mandatory health insurance,
and support for low-income housing construction to stimulate the economy.
and began assessing new payroll taxes to fund its efforts.
With an increasing flow of funds into these entitlement programs, the government's payouts soon became overly generous. Before long its outlays surpassed the value of the taxpayers' contributions.
The death knell for the Argentine economy, however, came with the election of Juan Perón.
This targeted group "swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes,
who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated."
of social spending and by encouraging the growth of labor unions.
High taxes and economic mismanagement took their inevitable toll even after Perón had
been driven from office. But his populist rhetoric and "contempt for economic realities"
lived on. Argentina's federal government continued to spend far beyond its means.
Hyperinflation exploded in 1989, the final stage of a process characterized by "industrial protectionism, redistribution of income based on increased wages, and growing state intervention in the economy..."
The Argentinean government's practice of printing money to pay off its public debts had crushed the economy. Inflation hit 3000%, reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. Food riots were rampant; stores were looted; the country descended into chaos.
And by 1994, Argentina's public pensions -- the equivalent of Social Security -- had imploded.
A government-controlled "privatization" effort to rescue seniors' pensions was attempted.
But, by 2001, those funds had also been raided by the government, the monies replaced by Argentina's defaulted government bonds.
By 2002, "...government fiscal irresponsibility... induced a national economic crisis as severe as America's Great Depression."
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