18 February 2010

Is Argentina the Best Place in the World?

Anyway, I asked myself, “Where is the best place to live, in order to enjoy life to the max, be freest, and enjoy the highest standard of living with the least amount of aggravation?” I looked at all the countries around the world, their pluses and minuses, and came to the conclusion that Argentina offers the best risk/reward and cost/benefit ratios of any country on the planet at this time...at this point, Argentina is more European than Europe is. You know what they say: an Argentine is an Italian who speaks Spanish, thinks he’s British, and lives in a French house. _DougCasey
The most recent conversation with Doug Casey -- international investor and advisor -- discusses Casey's favourite place in the world: Argentina. Casey and his interviewer rove the entire world, discussing the pros and cons of various locations from the standpoint of a free marketeer. Casey has finally settled -- for now -- on Argentina as the best place in the world to spend his free time.
Doug: Well, I’ve been to 175 countries, most of them several times. I’ve lived in 12, defined as having spent enough time in the country to have rented a place to live or bought real estate and set up housekeeping. The thing is, technology has now progressed to the point at which any sufficiently motivated person can pretty much live wherever he or she wants. But most people still have a medieval serf mentality in this area, and tend to live in or near the place where they were born and grew up. And they tend to think that the country they were born in is the best country in the world…I guess because they were born there.

...I like its wide-open spaces. It’s like the western U.S. Argentina is the size of the eastern U.S., but it has only 40 million people, and about 40% of those are centered around Buenos Aires. So, once you get out of BA – which is one of the great cities of the world: sophisticated, marvelous, you can get everything and anything you want there, just one of my favorites – you really are in the countryside. In most places, you can drive for hours through incredible scenery, and not see another car. I like that.

Sometimes people, who haven’t been there, look at me in a questioning way when I mention Argentina, because they’ve heard of the government. But it’s not evil, or dangerous, like many. It’s just corrupt, incompetent, and inefficient – which is actually much better than the alternatives, when we’re talking about governments. But there are disadvantages, too. Through one of the most impressive acts of government stupidity I’ve ever seen, Argentina, a country world-renown for its beef, might actually end up having to import beef this year. It’s insane. Like Saudi Arabia importing oil. But, that’s what governments do. _ConversationwithCasey
Okay, he has looked at both the strengths and weaknesses of Argentina. But is he looking at the country through rose coloured glasses, just a bit? Is he overestimating the chances that the government of Argentina will someday become sane?
I think there’s a chance that the place will reform for the better, much the way New Zealand did in the mid-1980s. In other words, you can be so stupid, for so long, that eventually you have to throw in the towel and try being less stupid. There are several candidates running in the next presidential election, which will take place in 2011, who are reasonably market-oriented. If the same thing happens in Argentina as happened in New Zealand in the 1980s, it will boom.
Ah. Comparing Argentina to New Zealand. This betrays an ignorance of history and culture -- something a financial advisor cannot afford. Argentina, as a Catholic culture of Spanish and Italian origin, has very little in common culture-wise with New Zealand, a protestant culture of British and Scottish origins.

Up until that point in the dialogue, Casey was making a great deal of sense. Argentina sounds very attractive on almost all points -- except for its insane government. But Argentina's government has been insane for many decades. What chance is there for a sudden awakening into sanity? Virtually none, all wishful thinking aside.

Revolution in Argentina makes little sense. There is always the aftermath, when a worse government than the one before is invariably formed. Regime change would only lead to further turmoil. No, if you want to create a free environment in the southern part of South America, you will need to populate and secede from the central government -- which is concentrated within a single city -- Buenos Aires. Yes, I agree that Buenos Aires is the only place in Argentina with enough culture to provide an enjoyable lifestyle, but it is the people of Buenos Aires who continue to allow all of those idiotic governments. Something is wrong with them, and it is unrealistic to expect them to wake up -- so long after the closure of their critical developmental windows.

Casey bought a large parcel of land in Cafayate (in the wine country near Salta), moved some friends down, and is building a luxury resort. Casey is also encouraging wealthy Europeans and North Americans to move to Argentina -- perhaps hoping to influence the political culture in a more rational direction. Not exactly the same thing as populating and seceding from a corrupt country, but perhaps a step in the right direction. The government of Argentina is unpredictable, but a smart person might find some locations and loopholes that allow him to live relatively free from interference.

But clearly the answer to the question "Is Argentina the best place in the world?" for most people would have to be no. Not unless you could get enough people together to buy and populate a large section of the country, to create the kind of government that would allow you to live and trade freely. Not a good prospect, unless you have some extremely sophisticated weapons of defense that could neutralise the Argentinian military.

I suppose it is back to the seastead idea. And if you live in the US, you had best start rooting for the Tea Partyers, if you enjoy the ever-dwindling freedoms you have left. The Obama - Pelosi reich does not intend to leave you very much at all.

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Blogger Redneck said...

Hmmm... Free State Project, Argentina?

Thursday, 18 February, 2010  
Blogger Scott Freeman Sitecore MVP said...

Argentina can't be the best place in the world. That would be Netherlands. My wife would answer Ireland. My kids would answer Outer Banks NC. I think that sometimes the traveler falls in love with a particular destination and becomes bias.

PA Wedding photographer, NJ Wedding photographer

Thursday, 18 February, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Argentina has a lot of potential. Its government is its chief drawback, besides being so isolated from the Northern Hemispheric centers of technology and civilisation.

Chile has apparently learned lessons of economics and government that Argentina is still slow in learning. Chile has some nice locations.

As for the rest of South America except perhaps for Colombia -- fuggiduhbowdet! Venezuela stinks up half the continent. Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador will never offer decent possibilities as long as Chavez reigns in Caracas.

Sunday, 21 February, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being in the Southern Hemisphere isn't as much of a liability as you make it out to be. Apartheid Souht Africa was able to develop nuclear weapons and have a functional society despite being near Antarctica. Even the modern integrated SA is still pretty advanced considering its full of Africans. And now with the internet and jet travel distance is nothing.

Since you brought up Catholicism, let me draw a parallel with English history. During the reign of Elizabeth I the Pope directed Spain to invade England. The invasion fleet was duly repulsed and England went on to have several good centuries. In the modern era another Spanish speaking Catholic country has been directed to invade a Protestant country, only this time using cheap labor.

As far as I can tell no parallel can be drawn between any of our modern politicians and Elizabeth. Many pretend that such an invasion is not happening, or else secretly sympathize with it, possibly for religious reasons.

Monday, 22 February, 2010  
Blogger james said...

I met a few Chilean intellectuals at a wake a few years ago. They had moved to Australia during the Pinochet era. One man shook his head and told me that South America will never develop as the Spanish rather than the British had colonised the continent. He rather crudely said that Spanish speakers tend to be lazy while English speakers tend not to be. To him this was self-evident and there was a general consensus among his family and friends that this was not a controversial point of view. It was interesting to hear it come from the mouths of Spanish speakers.

Wednesday, 24 February, 2010  

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