With their Economy in the Toilet Argentina looks once again to the Falkland Islands

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 5th, 2013

Week in Review

The Argentine economy is a basket case.  Annual inflation is estimated to be at 20-25%.  Their currency is worthless outside of Argentina.  They have strict currency controls to keep foreign currency out of the hands of their people.  The economy is depressed.  And they’re defaulting on their foreign sovereign debt obligations.  So with your nation in such a mess what is a president to do?  Why, address a burning national interest.  The Falkland Islands (see David Cameron must return Falklands to Argentina, Cristina Kirchner demands in open letter by Christopher Hope posted 1/2/2013 on The Telegraph).

In an emotional open letter to the British prime minister, Cristina Kirchner, Argentina’s president, has called on him to honour a United Nations resolution dating from 1965 and start negotiations about handing over the islands.

The letter, which was due to be published in the British national newspaper The Guardian on Thursday, is timed to mark the anniversary of when on January 3 1833, Britain took control of the islands from the Argentinians.,,

The 3000-strong population of the Falklands are overwhelmingly pro-British. The islanders are due to be asked if they want to continue to be an overseas territory of the United Kingdom at a referendum in March this year. Mr Cameron has said the UK would “respect and defend” the result of the plebiscite…

A spokesman said: “The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter.

“This is a fundamental human right for all peoples. There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The Islanders can’t just be written out of history.

The same thing happened in 1982.  When bad governing oppressed the Argentine people.  An economic crisis and an unhappy population caused the ruling junta to look to the Falklands to rally the people behind the government.  And to help the people forget how miserable their lives were so they wouldn’t rise up and over throw the ruling dictatorship.  About the only difference between now and 1982 is that the Argentines invaded the Falklands and went to war with the British.  The only difference so far, that is.  Well, that.  And the possibility of oil in the waters around the Falklands.  Which would come in real handy for a country whose economy is a basket case.

If the Argentine government got their way what would happen to the British in the Falklands?  Would they deport them?  Seize their property?  Would they install an Argentine governor to rule over the British people?  Like the Islanders say, they are a third party in this debate.   So the question is what is Argentina’s plan for them?  Perhaps the UN would be interested in hearing that.

The Argentine people will probably rally around their president for they are a proud people.  And no doubt resent past British colonialism.  But they would probably be happier with economic prosperity.  A little laissez-faire capitalism.  So they can unleash the great potential of the middle class.  To work hard and enjoy the fruit of their labors.  Instead of just working hard only to see the fruit of all their labors disappear by runaway inflation.

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President Obama transforming America into Socialist Argentina

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 11th, 2012

Week in Review

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has won two landslide presidential elections.  One could say she is more popular in Argentina than President Obama is in the United States.  Well, she was more popular than the American president.  That may be changing (see Argentina protests: up to 1.5 million rally against Fernández de Kirchner by Uki Goni and Jonathan Watts posted 11/9/2012 on the guardian).

The broad avenues of Buenos Aires were crowded on Thursday night by Argentina’s biggest and noisiest anti-government demonstration in a decade, as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched or banged pots to express frustration at President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

After a smaller rally in September, the noisy but peaceful protest – estimated at between 250,000 to 500,000 people – marks an escalation of opposition to the Argentinian leader, particularly among a middle class that is upset at inflation, corruption, media controls and suggestions Fernández may want to amend the constitution so she can serve a third term…

There was no single cause of discontent. Many in the middle class are angry at the highest inflation in a decade, estimated at a yearly 25% by private economists, currency controls that have created a black market in dollars, and one of the slowest economic growth rates in Latin America.

Banners and chants also took aim at recent corruption cases and Fernández’s efforts to limit the power of big newspaper and TV conglomerates…

… it marks a political low in Fernández’s decade in the presidential palace. Since succeeding her husband, Néstor Kirchner, in 2007, she has won two landslide election victories and pursued a policy marked by wealth redistribution, greater investment in education, confrontation with Britain over the Falklands and the nationalisation of the Argentinian assets owned by the Spanish oil group YPF.

With the economy faltering, Fernández’s approval rating has fallen below 40%, according to a poll this week, and many of those who joined Thursday’s protest have lost faith in her.

“I voted for Cristina but now I feel let down,” said one middle-aged marcher. “We need more security, more jobs; the government needs to stop lying to us.”

High inflation and slow economic growth.  Kind of sounds like the Carter presidency.  Where we called his high inflation and slow economic growth stagflation.  And measured it by the misery index.  Of course President Carter didn’t suffer any of these humiliating protests in his second term.  For he suffered a humiliating defeat in 1980 that made him a one-term president.

People have often wondered what a second Carter term would have been like.  Some say we saw in President Obama’s first term.  But perhaps it will be his second term that will be more like President Carter’s first term.  Or, perhaps, more like President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s second term.  For apart from confronting the British over the Falklands and nationalizing a Spanish oil group (though President Obama would like to nationalize health care) his policies are eerily similar to hers.  The middle class has suffered in the US under President Obama just as they have suffered in Argentina.  And someone in the Obama administration is lying to the American people about Fast and Furious.  And Benghazi.  They both also have low approval ratings despite their ability to win elections.  Of course if that was the other way around in the United States (Republicans winning reelection despite low approval ratings) there would be massive legal actions contesting those election results.

So if you want to see what the future of President Obama’s second term will be like you can look at what’s happening in Argentina.  Which the president is making us look more like with his record spending that have given us record deficits in each of his four years in office.  And a record amount of debt.  Perhaps this is the president’s own way to reform immigration.  Make the economy so bad that there are no jobs here to encourage people to come to this country.  In fact, some of the flow of immigration has reversed as Mexicans are heading back home for better jobs.  As the president has destroyed the US job market with his economic policies.

So if you hear a loud banging sound in Washington DC don’t worry.  It’s just the Argentine-style protest against our anti-capitalist president.

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Argentina adds 15% Tax on all Out of Country Credit Purchases

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

Argentina has a problem.  They have depreciated their currency so much that no one wants to hold on to it.  And they are taking aggressive measures to that end (see Argentine tax agents to track all credit card buys by MICHAEL WARREN, Associated Press, posted 8/31/2012 on Yahoo! News).

Argentina just made it more expensive for its people to use credit cards outside the country, and more dangerous for cardholders who aren’t paying all the taxes they should.

One measure published in Friday’s official bulletin adds a 15 percent tax every time people make a purchase outside the country using a card issued by an Argentine bank. Another requires the banks to report every credit card purchase, home or abroad, to the tax agency.

The moves target Argentines who have discovered that by using credit cards outside the country, they can get around increasingly tight currency controls and shelter their money from soaring inflation. Purchases outside Argentina using peso-denominated cards soared 48 percent in June compared to the year before, obligating the central bank to send $289 million out of the country in just one month. Overall capital flight soared to $23 billion in 2011.

Argentina likes to print money.  Which means Argentine pesos don’t hold their value.  If you don’t spend them this week they will buy less next week.  So Argentines don’t want to hold on to them for long.  They’d rather buy stuff while the buying is good (before their pesos loose too much of their purchasing power).  Or quickly exchange their pesos for a currency that holds its value longer.  Like U.S. dollars.  And out of country credit purchases help Argentines minimize the effects of runaway inflation on their earnings.   But when Argentine banks have to settle these international accounts it takes a lot of a depreciated currency to do that.  Hence the soaring capital flight.

If printing so much money causes so many problems why do they print so much money?  Because Argentina governments like to use class warfare.  They like to tax the rich.  And give to the poor.  As well as pay for a lot of big government projects to employ highly compensated union workers.  All to help their shirtless.  Their descamisados.  The poor laborers who work so hard that they must remove their shirts.  But they have so little because of the evil rich people running companies.  And their foreign investors.  So the Argentines gear their whole economic system to favor the unions. And the descamisados.

Argentines don’t have to declare their income unless they are salaried and make more than $20,000 a year or are self-employed and make more than $30,000, so many register with the tax authorities as if they make less than the limit, dealing in cash and trying to keep their income and purchases off the books.

But Argentina also taxes accumulated wealth, giving the government license to scrutinize people’s private property to an extent that foreigners are ill-accustomed to. People whose incomes don’t match their lifestyles can find themselves closed out of the financial system until they come clean.

Since November 2011, Argentina’s government has sought to stem capital flight by closing down nearly every avenue people have to legally trade their inflationary pesos for U.S. dollars. The black-market peso price has spiked as a result, trading now at 6.37 pesos to the dollar, compared to the official rate of 4.65. That 37 percent gap represents what people with undeclared pesos have to lose in order to convert their cash to dollars inside Argentina.

Credit cards, meanwhile, are paid at the official rate, and many cardholders have figured out ways to use them to avoid this loss. The 15 percent tax raises the effective cost of purchases to 5.35, reducing the gap by nearly half.

Of course if you try to implement massive transfers of wealth those with wealth will do everything within their power to keep what is theirs.  So the government has to do everything within their power to let as few as possible to escape their wealth-destroying policies.  Hence the clampdown on out of country credit card purchases.  While the government clamps down it’s the simple workers who ultimate suffer.  The descamisados.  For it is their savings that are made worthless over time.  Making their retirement more difficult.  And less enjoyable.

Argentina has pursued the same polices since Juan Peron in the Forties and Fifties.  And little has changed over time.  Other than a great debt default.  Meanwhile their neighbor, Chile, is doing quite well.  Thanks to a different set of economic policies implemented by a dictator.  Who had help from a great economist.  Milton Friedman.  Who worked with the brilliant Chilean economists known as the Chicago Boys.  Who did things very un-Argentina-like.  And how did that work out for their retirees?  Suffice it to say their pension plan is a better model than the U.S. Social Security program.

Argentina is a great country.  Filled with people just waiting to exploit their human capital.  And the only thing in their way are the bad policies of their government.  Which must be so frustrating for Argentineans.  Because they could explode their economy if only they were allowed to.  And the only thing preventing them are the class warfare policies of their government.  As the class warfare polices of so many previous governments have denied previous generations lives of comfort and plenty.  Lives that were just out of reach.  Of the middle class.  And the descamisados.

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The U.S. and Japan assailed Argentina’s Mercantilist Trade Policies at the World Trade Organization

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2012

Week in Review

International trade can be a funny thing.  For mercantilist ways of the past are hard to give up.  Especially the misguided belief that a trade deficit is a bad thing.  Some nations are better at some things than other nations.  And have a comparative advantage.  And it would be foolish to try and produce something another nation can produce better.  It would be better for nations to do the things they are best at.  And import the things that others are better at.  Just as David Ricardo proved with his law of comparative advantage.  Still everyone still wants to export more than they import.  Still believing that their mercantilist policies are superior to the capitalistic policies that are characteristic of advanced economies.  While mercantilist policies can rarely advance beyond emerging economies.  Case in point Argentina (see Argentina says to file WTO complaint against U.S by Tom Miles and Hugh Bronstein posted 8/21/2012 on Reuters).

The United States and Japan assailed Argentina’s import rules as protectionist at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, putting more pressure on the country to revamp policies that many trading partners say violate global norms.

The two complaints mirrored litigation brought by the European Union in May and triggered a swift reaction from Argentina’s center-left government, which vowed to challenge U.S. rules on lemon and beef imports.

Argentina is seen by many fellow Group of 20 nations as a chronic rule-breaker since it staged the world’s biggest sovereign debt default in 2002. It remains locked out of global credit markets and relies on export revenue for hard currency.

They have inflated their currency so much that it is nearly worthless.  They can get little of foreign currency in exchange for it.  So they depend on the foreign currency buying their exports for their money needs.  For they can’t destroy foreign currency with their inflationary policies.  Only the wealth and savings of those in Argentina who don’t have access to these foreign currencies.

In the old days the mercantilist empires brought gold and silver into their countries.  They had their colonies ship raw material back to the mother country.  The mother country manufactured them into a higher valued good.  Then exported it for gold and silver.   Today we don’t use gold and silver anymore.  So Argentina just substituted foreign currency into the formula.  While keeping the rest of it in place.

Argentina began requiring prior state approval for nearly all purchases abroad in February. Imports have since fallen compared with last year’s levels, boosting the prized trade surplus but causing some shortages of goods and parts and sharply reducing capital goods imports.

EU and U.S. officials say Argentina has effectively restricted all imports since the new system came into place…

On Monday, Argentina hit the EU with a separate WTO complaint, alleging discriminatory treatment by Spain against Argentine shipments of biodiesel.

“This measure, like others taken by the European Union and other developed countries for decades, effectively aims to keep our industries from rising along the value chain, limiting the role of developing countries to the provision of raw materials,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement…

Latin America’s No. 3 economy relies heavily on a robust trade surplus, which is used to help fatten central bank foreign reserves tapped to pay government debt. The government has also moved to curb imports to protect local jobs, while imposing capital and currency controls to keep dollars in the country.

“Import growth has halted, which we should have done long before,” Foreign Trade Secretary Beatriz Paglieri was quoted as saying on the presidential website last weekend…

Argentina has also been criticized for a policy of “trade balancing,” which forces an importer to guarantee an equal value of exports. That has spawned offbeat deals whereby a car producer, for example, must ship a large amount of rice out of the country in return for a consignment of vehicle components.

Mercantilist to the core.  Which will forever trap them into being an emerging economy.  For they’ve been doing this for decades.  And they’re still an emerging economy.  Juan Peron rose to power with the same mercantilist arguments.  He was a Justicialist.  Today’s president is a Justicialist.  President Cristina Fernandez.  And little has changed since World War II.  Argentina is still an emerging economy.  Thanks to their mercantilist policies.  If they’d only give capitalism a chance their economy would explode with economic activity.  At least, based on history.  For the most advanced economies today are NOT based on the current Argentine model.  They’re based on the free trade of capitalism.  And David Ricardo’s comparative advantage.

In countries with free trade people enjoy higher standards of living.  Their governments give them this good life by doing as little for them as possible.  Letting the free market shower them with wealth and happiness.  Which brings us back to the funny part about international trade.  The countries that try to do the most for their people by restricting free trade give their people a lower standard of living.  Except, of course, for the few in power.  Or for those connected to power.

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Argentina’s Keynesian Policies have given them the Weakest Economy in the Hemisphere

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

The Argentines are strong advocates of Keynesian economics.  And they’ll embrace it till the bitter end.  Even as their economy goes into the crapper (see WRAPUP 3-Argentina economy shrinks in May for first time since 2009 by Hilary Burke posted 7/21/2012 on Reuters).

Latin America’s No. 3 economy is decelerating sharply after posting China-like growth rates for much of the past nine years. High inflation, a sluggish global economy, waning demand from neighboring Brazil, falling grains production as well as new trade and currency controls have prompted the slowdown.

“Stagflation arrived with a vengeance. Argentina now has the weakest economy and the highest inflation in the hemisphere,” wrote Alberto Ramos, a senior economist at Goldman Sachs, adding that private estimates put inflation at closer to 24 percent a year…

Argentina’s unorthodox economic approach centers on heavy state participation in the economy to foment high growth, job creation and domestic demand. The government does not publicly acknowledge the cost of this, which is double-digit inflation.

“We are taking active policies, using our own resources, to generate the virtuous cycle of spending, consumption, investment. You have more demand, more production and that feeds back into more spending, more production, more consumption.”

This is pure Keynesian economics.  Like in the Carter years.  But even Jimmy Carter didn’t have an inflation rate as high as 24%.  So the Argentine stagflation may outdo the Carter stagflation.  No doubt beating Carter on the misery index, too (the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate).  Proving once again that Keynesian economics doesn’t work.

Still this is exactly what President Obama wants to do with the U.S. economy.  And it’s what the leading Keynesian economists are advising him to do.  Invest.  Spend.  To stimulate the economy the only way the federal government can.  By deficit spending.  Financed with more borrowing.  Taking the federal debt to new heights.  Or simply by printing money.  As in another round of quantitative easing.  Even though none of this has worked in the last three and half years under President Obama.  Or in the Seventies during the Carter years.  Or even in Argentina today.

So when will they learn?  When will they abandon Keynesian economics?  Never.  Because governments love to spend money.  And Keynesian economics is all about spending money.  Why, some even call this spending virtuous.  But there is a price in being virtuous.  Asset bubbles (as in Japan resulting in their Lost Decade or in America during their subprime mortgage crisis resulting in their Great Recession).  A sluggish economy.  And double digit-inflation.  Things that never end well.  Just ask the Japanese.  The Americans.  Or the Argentines.

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Argentine Truckers go on Strike, Demand a 30% Pay Raise to offset 25% Inflation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2012

Week in Review

If you want to understand what’s happening in Argentina listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita.  It’ll give you a little bit of the flavor of the current political picture there.  A populist president.  High inflation.  High taxes.  Strong unions.  Class warfare.  And there are some who even compare Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner, Argentine president, to Eva Perón herself.  A comparison she’s not overly pleased with.  But she doesn’t mind when people compare her to the strong defiant side of Eva Perón. 

But there are reasons for these comparisons.  For her political party, the Justicialist Party, was founded by Juan and Eva Perón.  And her policies are not that far away from their policies.  Which is basically a welfare state that taxes the rich to pay for it.  And prints a lot of money.  Hence the high inflation.  Which causes a bit of a problem.  To survive during high inflation means wages have to rise just as fast.  So they can pay those high taxes.  And afford the high prices that result from inflation.  Which isn’t apparently happening for the truckers (see Argentina deploys military police in fuel strike by Hilary Burke and Jorge Otaola posted 6/20/2012 on Reuters).

Argentina’s government sent military police to take control of fuel plants and get trucks back on the road on Wednesday, the first day of a truckers’ pay strike that could cause widespread shortages in Latin America’s third-biggest economy…

Labor disputes are common in Argentina due to double-digit inflation, but the Labor Ministry normally intervenes to avoid major disruption to the economy. In this case, the truckers flouted the ministry’s order for compulsory conciliation…

Pablo Moyano’s [head of the truckers’ union] father, Hugo, used to be a close ally of the president’s but their strategic alliance has all but collapsed, increasing the threat of labor unrest as inflation seen at roughly 25 percent fuels wage demands while economic growth slows sharply…

The truckers, who have threatened to stage a series of protests, want a 30-percent pay rise as well as lower taxes.

This is the same problem all welfare states have.  High public spending requires high taxes.  High taxes reduce economic activity.  With less economic activity to tax there is less tax revenue.  So states turn to borrowing (often giving themselves excessive debt that leads to debt crises like currently in Europe).  And printing money which unleashes inflation.  Increasing prices.  Making it harder and harder for the people to make ends meet.  Which is why these truckers are on strike.

They’re asking for a 30% pay raise.  Which sounds outrageous.  But when inflation is at 25% they are only asking for a net 5% raise.  Which isn’t all that unreasonable.  But their pay raise won’t fix the economy.  Higher wages will only increase prices further.  Requiring further demands for higher wages.  Which is the viscous cycle of high inflation.  Wages chase prices.  And higher wages increase prices.

Unless they enact a little austerity things aren’t likely to improve.  Perhaps this is the reason President Kirchner is bringing up the issue of sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.  To distract from her poor economy.  Much like the ruling junta did when they invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982 to distract their people away from an even worse economy.  But there’s another thing in play today.  The possibility of oil in the waters around the Falklands.  Which is something else they could nationalize.  And pour that oil revenue into their government coffers.  Give more stuff to the people.  And be even more popular.  As long as the oil lasts.  If there is oil.  And if there isn’t, nothing changes.  Except things will probably be worse on the Falklands once they start living under that Argentine inflation.

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Argentines prefer having U.S. Dollars Under the Mattress over having Argentine Pesos in the Bank

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 16th, 2012

Week in Review

No one likes austerity.  The Greeks hate it so much they may vote to leave the Euro.  So they can keep printing money.  To pay for a bloated public sector and generous state benefits.  For it is the easy way out.  It’ll put people back to work on the government payroll.  And solve all of their problems.  Well, not all of their problems (see Argentina loses a third of its dollar deposits by Jorge Otaola posted 6/8/2012 on Reuters Africa).

Argentine banks have seen a third of their U.S. dollar deposits withdrawn since November as savers chase greenbacks in response to stiffening foreign exchange restrictions, local banking sources said on Friday.

Depositors withdrew a total of about $100 million per day over the last month in a safe-haven bid fueled by uncertainty over policies that might be adopted as pressure grows to keep U.S. currency in the country.

The chase for dollars is motivated by fear that the government may further toughen its clamp down on access to the U.S. currency as high inflation and lack of faith in government policy erode the local peso…

Feisty populist leader Fernandez was re-elected in October vowing to “deepen the model” of the interventionist policies associated with her predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, who is also her late husband.

Since then she has limited imports, imposed capital controls and seized a majority stake in top energy company YPF…

Many are taking what dollars they can get their hands on and stashing them under the mattress or in safety deposit boxes, fearing moves by the government to forcibly “de-dollarize” the economy. Officials have strongly denied any such plan…

She wants Argentines to end their love affair with the greenback and start saving in pesos despite inflation clocked by private economists at about 25 percent per year…

But savers in crisis-prone Argentina are notoriously jittery. Memories of tight limits on bank withdrawals and a sharp currency devaluation remain fresh a decade after the country’s massive sovereign debt default.

To put this another way, if you have an inflation rate of 25% you’d have to have an interest rate on your bank savings account of at least 25% just to break even.  But you’re probably not going to get 25%.  Let’s say you only get 5%.  With this information you now have to make a choice.  You can buy a $1,000 wide-screen television now even though you don’t have the room for it.  Or you can wait 4 years to buy it when you will have the room for it.  Well, your savings will only earn about $200 interest in those 4 years.  Bringing your account balance to about $1,200.  But at a 25% annual inflation rate that television will cost about $2,500 after 4 years (increase the price of the television 25% each year).  So the smart choice is to buy the set now because your savings will lose so much of their purchasing power in 4 years that you won’t be able to buy it then.

This is the cost of Keynesian economics and fiat money.  When governments can print money they do.  Some more than others.  But the more they print the more inflation they create.  And the more faith people lose in their currency.  Which is a very bad thing to happen with fiat money.  Because the only value fiat money has is the faith people put into it.  And when they lose that faith they put U.S. dollars under their mattresses.  Because they know those dollars will hold more of their purchasing power than Argentine Pesos.

Populist leaders are popular for a reason.  They appeal to the angry mob.  Blame their problems on others.  And enact popular policies that will lead a nation to their ruin.  The Argentines have seen it a few times.  One of their leaders even invaded the Falkland Islands once to distract the people from their horrible economy.  One wonders if their current leader may do the same.  Especially as they’re now looking for oil down there.

All the Keynesian economists belittle anyone who talks about austerity and spending cuts.  They say the answer is to spend more not less.  Despite the fact that every country in a financial crisis got into that crisis by spending more not less.  But Keynesians like inflation.  Because it’s a hidden tax.  And a great way to transfer more private wealth to the government.  They especially love that part about your savings losing their purchasing power.  Because they owe a lot of money.  And it’s easier to repay old loans in those highly depreciated dollars.  Especially when you can print them.

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John Waters ashamed of Britain’s Colonial Past, wants to force the British on the Falkland Islands to become Argentine

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 3rd, 2012

Week in Review

Once again the Falkland Islands are back in the news.  And the Argentines are calling the UK pig-dog colonialists.  Again.  Why, one could say that this ongoing dispute is just Another Brick in the Wall (see Roger Waters says Falkland Islands are Argentinian in reported comments by Uki Goni posted 2/28/2012 on The Guardian).

“I am as ashamed as I possibly could be of our colonial past,” Waters is reported to have said to TVN journalist Amaro Gómez-Pablos. When asked if the islands are British or Argentinian, Waters reportedly replied: “I think they should be Argentinian.”

Actually, as an American, I’m rather ecstatic about Britain’s colonial past.  As I’m sure the Canadians are (except, perhaps, the Francophile Quebeckers).  And the Australians.  The New Zealanders.  The South Africans.  The Indians.  Sure, we didn’t always see eye to eye but look at us now.  Some of the best places to live in the world were once part of the mighty British Empire.  So even though I’ll never bow to British Royalty, I gotta tip my hat to the British.  Their agricultural advances, representative government and capitalism sure made the world a better place.

And as far as Waters’ opinion on conflict resolution, suffice it to say I’ll listen to him when David Gilmour joins him on tour.

“My view is that certainly it saved Margaret Thatcher’s political career at the time at the cost of a great many Argentine and British lives, which disgusted me then and still does now. I was never a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher,” Waters told the press conference in Chile.

Waters arrived on the heels of the American actor Sean Penn, who sparked controversy two weeks ago when he lambasted Britain for what he termed “ludicrous and archaic colonialism” in the Falklands after meeting with President Kirchner in his role as special ambassador for Haiti.

Saved Margaret Thatcher’s political career?  So the Falklands War was a political diversion?  Funny.  Because it was the Argentines who were suffering under human rights violations under a military junta and economic despair at that time.  Who invaded the Falkland Islands to divert Argentines from their despair.  Thinking the British wouldn’t fight for these islands.  The problem was, though, that those living on the islands were for all intents and purposes British.  And they wanted to remain British.  Which they still do to this day. 

The Falkland Islands were uninhabited when the British first landed there.  They claimed the islands and left.  Then the French came in and did the same.  And built a settlement.  Then the British came back.  Then the French ceded their settlement to the Spanish.  And the Spanish kicked the British out.  Then the Argentines kicked the Spanish out of Argentina.  And claimed all Spanish territory around them.  Including the islands.  Which they took.  For about a decade.  Then the British came back in 1833 and have been there ever since. 

Argentina is as much a colonial power in the Falklands as the British, the French and the Spanish.  Something that Waters and Penn simply overlook.  And the only reason Argentina is interested once again in these islands is because the British have discovered oil deposits off their shores.  Something else Waters and Penn conveniently overlook.

Which just goes to show you when it comes to geopolitics perhaps we shouldn’t listen to actors and musicians.  As good as they are in their respective fields they seem to be a bit too eager to join in on the side of the underdog just to stick it to the big dog.

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