The introductory verse of a South American country’s national anthem reads, “Hear, mortals, the sacred cry: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” This country has one of the biggest surface areas in the world, thundering rivers and falls, mountains and valleys, endless forests and jungles, cattle and wheat fields in abundance, beaches, spring water, oil, and wind energy. Can you guess the country? It’s República Argentina!
Once among the 10 wealthiest countries in the world, Argentina has been declining for decades due to the lack of economic freedom. Dictatorships under the appearance of democracy have made Argentina’s economy one of the world’s most oppressed ones. According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2013 Index of Economic Freedom, Argentina ranks 160th out of 177 countries.
But why should Americans care?
Last February in the Washington Times, Nita Ghei called Argentina a textbook example of what a country’s economy shouldn’t be like. With the following passage, Ghei warned that the United States could be following Argentina’s footsteps:
Here in the United States, the problem is eerily similar. We enjoy great abundance of natural resources and a historic dominance over rival economies. Yet our government is squandering this bounty, headed on a course of reduced economic freedom. At least we still have time to learn from the mistakes of others before we share the Argentine fate.
The Argentinian government even tries to hide its damage to the economy. For instance, the government redefined “inflation” to hide actual inflation. Also, the government impairs Argentineans from traveling abroad. As Argentinean pesos are almost useless in foreign countries, an Argentinean citizen planning to visit the United States usually needs to purchase U.S. dollars for his or her trip. However, according to the rules of Argentina’s Federal Administration of Public Income, citizens can no longer purchase U.S. dollars. This policy is tantamount to saying “You’re banned from leaving Argentina!”
U.S. citizens working in Argentina face a similar situation, as the Argentinean government is banning them from converting their earnings in pesos to U.S. dollars. This policy prevents workers from controlling their legitimate income. It’s now the Argentinean government that decides how workers, whether Argentinean or American, can spend their income. As an American, can you imagine not having the liberty to travel beyond U.S. borders with your own money?
Recently, Argentineans have made some amazing achievements, such as Argentinean Cardinal Mario Bergoglio becoming the new Pope and Princess Máxima Zorreguieta Cerruti becoming the next Queen of the Netherlands. However, the Argentinean administration’s socialist tendency remains a burden for the country’s economy, which unfortunately has few stories of successful entrepreneurs, investors, and small business owners.
As with many other European and Latin American countries, Argentina is following a socialist path. But rather than producing a state of equality where everybody has the best opportunities to progress, this social path makes everyone equally poor. Well, maybe not everyone is equally poor, as the political leaders progressively increase their wealth.
Could the South American trend toward socialism reach the United States? While many Americans value civil liberties, watch out! Economic freedom in America is also under fire, and economic freedom is necessary for personal freedom. Nevertheless, Americans shouldn’t be hopeless. Not at all! Let’s go liberty, let’s go property! Hear, Americans, the sacred cry: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!