Milton Friedman and Chicago School Economics

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July 18, 2009 by libertymoonbeam

“I don’t think I was ever regarded as evil”
~Milton Friedman

I don’t know if there’s any school as mysterious and myth laden than the University of Chicago’s Economics Department in the 1950’s. It was not simply a school, it was a new way of thinking and it did not exist to merely to teach students, it was the evil brainchild of a select group of Conservative intellectuals who were dead set on changing the dominant way of thinking at that time.

The energetic and charismatic man who was ambitious enough to run such a place could only have been Milton Friedman himself. Friedman believed in an extreme form of laissezfaire. He spent his days dreaming of a state of perfect balance, a natural state of health, a clean slate, a system free of all human interferences. Friedman believed that we needed a return to pure capitalism, capitalism free from interruptions, regulations, trade barriers, and entrenched interests. But sadly before this perfect Utopian capitalism could reign, society had to be deprogrammed and the only way to do that was to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
At the Chicago School of Economics, they did not just teach theories, they taught sacred principles, this was not a school, it was a religion. The economic forces such as supply and demand, unemployment, and inflation were viewed as fixed and never changing. All these forces were in equilibrium with each other, a perfect harmonious balance. According to Friedman, if anything went wrong, if unemployment rates or inflation skyrocketed, this was because us humans tampered with the perfect system inevitably leading to an imbalance. If the system goes awry the answer is always the same, a more severe and all encompassing application of the fundamental principles of Friedman’s Chicago School theories. Just as the human body self regulates keeping itself in homeostasis, the market, when left to it’s own devices, will naturally produce the right number of products at exactly the right price, created by employees who are paid just the right wage to buy those products. A utopia of zero unemployment, no inflation and unfettered creativity.

The only thing standing in Milton Friedman’s way was now proving to the world that his dream of radical free market economics could actually change things for the good of all people. Friedman was a scientific man who believed strongly that economics was no different than chemistry or physics. Everything in economics needed to be put through the scientific method to be rigorously tested and proved. But Friedman’s theory of perfect laissezfaire economy had never been tested. There wasn’t a single economy on earth that had ever been free of all human “contamination”. Unable to prove his theory, Friedman had his colleagues create elaborate equations and computer models, cooking numbers and rigging charts, whatever it took to prove that his dream for the future would and could become reality.

One of the biggest draws to Chicago School Economics was that, at a time when Marxism was promising freedom and protection for workers, Friedman’s ideas offered a conservative way to keep the status quo for entrepreneurs. Both schools of thought claimed that theirs was the way to an Eden of perfection and balance. In contrast to Marxism’s demands of replacing the current economic systems with socialism, Friedman showed that we needed to purify our version of capitalism. Friedman “proved” that government interference with the free market was actually doing obscene amounts of harm by throwing off the market’s natural balance. Only by purging our system of sanctions such as a minimum wages, public education and price caps – which had always been viewed as protecting people – could our economy reach it’s perfect state.
In the 1950s memories of the Great Depression were still fresh in people’s minds: the terrible unemployment, shelters, decimation of savings and homelessness. As John Maynard Keynes predicted, laissezfaire was gone due to the peoples demand for a hand’s on form of government. Between the 1930s and the 1950s America’s politicians gave in to the people’s demands for security with public works and social welfare programs as well as Roosevelt’s launch of the New Deal. These efforts against poverty were reinforced when the world saw impoverished Germany turn to fascism to solve it’s economic problems, as Keynes had warned they would. Only by guaranteeing basic protections could disillusioned citizens be protected from converting to other extreme ideologies such as communism and fascism.

At the same time developing countries came up with their own economic theory called developmentalism. By nationalizing all their natural resources, such as oil and minerals, and keeping them within their own country, rather than exporting it all to the Western first world, they would be able to climb out of their despondency. Developmentalism succeeded in all of it’s endeavors and most successful of all was the southern cone of Latin America, which includes Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil. With the money their governments made by keeping their natural resources local they were able to fund public works projects, such as roads and highways, offer subsidies to local businesses and farmers, and build new factories that produced cars and appliances to protect their country from foreign imports which imposed high tariffs.In the following years the Southern Cone became a beacon for all third world countries. Their factory workers had labor unions and middle class salaries, their children were able to attend cutting edge public universities and the gap between the upper and lower class narrowed dramatically. Uruguay was able to provide free health care to every citizen and sported a 95% literacy rate, and Argentina had the largest middle class on the entire continent, proving to the world that developing nations could rise up to the same level as the first world.

With the booming success in South America and of Keynesian in North America few people gave any heed to the Chicago School’s rhetoric. As America’s economy blossomed corporations were forced to redistribute their rocketing profits to their workers and the government via taxes. A select minority of powerful individuals recognized that through Friedman’s fundamentalism the wealth that was being spread about could be redirected into their own hands.

The Keynesian revolution was burning large holes in the pockets of big business, the necessary solution was a counter revolution – not just to capitalism as it had been, but to a more pure form that would help protect their profits from the working class. Since they could not come out against the overwhelming success America was experiencing they found their perfect champion in Milton Friedman. As a mathematical genius and prestigious scholar he was able to fiercely debate the issues and charm people to his way of thinking, as well as produce Chicago School boys who would carry his message worldwide.The biggest pain in Friedman’s ass was the New Deal, he saw it as America’s ticket to hell in a hand basket. To pull his country back from the brink of destruction he published his first book “Capitalism and Freedom” which would subsequently become the rulebook for the agenda of the neo-conservative movement. He outlined three basic rules: 1) governments must abolish all regulations interfering with the accumulation of profits. 2) governments must sell off any asset that could be used by companies to make money. 3) all social programs should have their funding cut back – in essence deregulation, privatization and cutbacks. Additionally he taught that taxes should be minimal, that any taxes should flat regardless of income, that products should be sold worldwide and that local economies should receive no protection. He believed that minimum wages and price caps must be abolished and that every conceivable industry – from health care to mail service to national parks – needed to be sold off to private interests.

Furthermore, the socialized assets such as schools and public works which had been created using public funds, must necessarily be privatized. In other words he believed that all shared wealth and assets should be turned over to private interests. Disguised in a costume of mathematics and science Friedman’s dream of unregulated capitalism played right into the hands of multinationals, who search desperately for new markets. The first stage of capitalism, colonialism, claimed land we had no right to and stripped it of it’s natural resources, creating pure profit. Similarly Friedman’s second stage of capitalism would create untold wealth by draining the government and the welfare state. The state became a new frontier to be conquered, it’s resources sold to private companies for pennies on the dollar.

Join me over the weeks to come as we follow Milton Friedman and his Chicago Boys in their attempts to prove their theories by experimenting on various countries. Watch as the Chicago School ideals rape Poland and Russia, destroy Asia and bring the southern cone to it’s knees. Democratically elected leaders will be assassinated by the CIA in order to have ferocious dictators put in their place, millions of people will find themselves without food, homes or jobs, demonstrators will be arrested for protesting their victimization and individuals will be taken from their homes in the night to be tortured and killed. No, this isn’t a Tom Clancy novel or a horror movie, it’s the legacy of a man named Milton Friedman.

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23 thoughts on “Milton Friedman and Chicago School Economics

  1. Forest Simmons says:

    “this was not a school, it was a religion.”

    in Book of Mormon language, “a church built up to get gain.”

  2. Forest Simmons says:

    All governments are susceptible to hijacking by the rich and powerful elites. Capitalism is a system in which government takeover by oligarchy is especially inevitable because the driving principle of capitalism is that everything is up for sale, so why not influence in government?

    Read this lucid analysis of our current economic crises and see if “the secret combinations built up to get power and gain that we have allowed to get above us” are not a predictable result of Milton Friedman style capitalism:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts07162009.html

  3. Jason Steed says:

    Boy, I’m sure glad to have found the Mormon Worker. Thanks for the work you’re doing here. Nice to know I’m not the only one trying to explain/expose this stuff to my fellow Mormons.

    I’m often told by my right-wing friends that, in the latter days, “good will be called evil, and evil good.” They say this with the implication that lefty-collectivism is (of course!) evil, and righty-capitalism is (of course!) good, and that I am falling into that latter-day trap of “calling good evil, and evil good,” when I try to expose the evils of capitalism, or the virtues of collectivism.

    Funny. “Capitalist” used to be a hiss and a byword right here in the U.S., during the early 20th century. The oil barons, the monopolists, the Wall Street tycoons and the bankers — they were widely recognized by many as creating poverty, oppression, exploitation, and misery. Teddy Roosevelt fought them as a progressive and was wildly popular. FDR came along later and fought them, and was wildly popular (elected four times!). A stronger sense of collectivism was good (and, I might add, had been considered good and true by the early leaders of the Church). “Capitalism” was suspect.

    But with the rise of the Cold War and the resurgence of the right-wing movement — and thanks to the bad name that totalitarian Communism gave the left — over the past 40 years collectivism has become increasingly suspect while radical individualism and its compatriot, capitalism, have risen to glory.

    In other words, it is perfectly true that “good will be called evil, and evil good,” in the latter days. But I think our right-wing brothers and sisters are confused about the nature of that reversal.

  4. I once agreed completely with such articles after reading much of nibley, Marx, korten, chaomsky, et tal. Further studies, on my own, have since changed the way I see things. I continue to read the Mormon Worker because I try to keep a balanced literary diet, and I like the sincerity. I am convinced that two people can read the same thing (capitalism and freedom) and interpret it two entirely different ways, both well-intentioned.
    I will be looking forward to the succeeding posts. I will leave my counter-arguments in the sheath cuz we all know what they are, and nearly anyone else out there could articulate them much better (fee.org for starters). But yes I would like to assure readers that not all of us here are in agreement.
    Carry on…

  5. Joseph says:

    When I was taking a business reference class for my Library Science degree, the teacher recommended old “Uncle” Milton. I tried. Really I did. I was a returned missionary with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and working on a Library Science degree, neither of which are known for their money-making potential. I and my wife were new parents of a toddler with another baby on the way, and I figured if I could just get the whole business thing, I would not only be a better Mormon, but I would be able to feed my family as well. Well, I did “get” it, and realized it was a bunch of crap! Milton Friedman’s “The Ethical Responsibility of Business is to Make Money” has Korihor written all over it!

    Like mormonbastiard I went through a phase of questioning Nibley and my earlier “youthful” idealism. But life experience and observation of the world have actually confirmed my earlier commitments ideals. Hugh Nibley and his condemnation of the overzealousness of the LDS people for capitalism was an important call to repentance. While some of Nibley’s apologetics had holes in it and has in many cases been surpassed by current scholarship, his social criticism and philosophies have ended up being as prophetic as anything we have had in 20th Century Mormonism!

    This article is right on! It’s interesting to see capitalists and the libertarian right blaming “socialism” for our current economic crisis when it is plain as day for anyone to see that it is in reality too much trust in capitalism that led to where we are right now. Reaganomics (aka Milton Friedman’s ideas in action) have ruled the roost for 30 years, especially under Clinton and Bush jr., and we’re seeing those fruits. So go ahead mormonbastiard, let’s see what rhetorical backflips and other acrobatics you can pull off to blind us to the truth!

    • Brooks W. Wilson says:

      And I thought I was a voice crying in the wilderness. I’ve been a card-carrying bleeding heart liberal for most of my adult and an active LDS.

      I was beginning to think I was mad. Capitalism is a direct appeal to selfishness and is nothing more than social Darwinism. The only excuse for it’s existence is that, with government regulation, it works.

      If we are to ever establish Zion, our LDS brothers and sisters are going to have to get used to the idea that “socialism” is not evil.

  6. Joseph says:

    Oh, and thanks Forrest for a great link!

  7. Joseph says:

    Oh, and thanks Forest for a great link!

  8. Joseph says:

    Hmmm…Well, I finished the article at counterpunch and while I agree with much (though not all) of Paul Craig Roberts’ assessment of the current situation, it seems pretty clear to me he’s another Milton Freedmonite that still doesn’t get that capitalism failed! Where’s the sense of responsibility? So far Greenspan is the only Freedmonite I’m aware of that has at least partially admitted that the problem isn’t that we didn’t trust the market enough, we trusted it too much!

  9. Joseph says:

    Correction: the Friedman title I tried to quote previously was actually “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” Same thing. Still sounds like Korihor to me.

  10. Well done. I’ve a couple posts on related topics planned.

    I agree that the conventional neoliberal capitalist thought (whether Chicago school or Austrian school) is a religion. I love the term for it which I believe came from Pope John-Paul III: “Free Market Idolatry.”

  11. Forest Simmons says:

    And its holy ghost is the invisible hand.

  12. Forest Simmons says:

    And blasphemy against this holy ghost is unforgiveable in certain circles.

  13. mike says:

    Even Adam Smith recognized there were serious limitations to the free market. First, it requires moral individuals. Second, “merchants” (or “dealers”), i.e., those in the business class, ought to be kept out of the legislative process as their interests almost never coincide with that of the public. Without these two provisos, any market that starts out free rapidly deteriorates into exploitative capitalistic fascism.

    Or as Matt Taibbi states in a great piece in Rolling Stone on Goldman Sachs: “What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw (although Smith foresaw it to a degree) that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.”

    The entire piece can be found here:

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/28816321/inside_the_great_american_bubble_machine

  14. J. Madson says:

    I received an email from someone I know after reading they read this article. Im curious as to anyone’s response. Their critique consisted of finding curious the praise for the southern cone of South America.

    They assumed you were referring to Juan Peron whose success was based on taking the money that Argentina made during the war and handing it out to the descamiasados. They also asserted that the miseries visited on Argentina’s economy are so well known that it seems silly for him to hold them up as an example without more specifics. Every middle class person they knew in Argentina complained of the damage Peronism was doing to the economy.

    As for Uruguay, they asserted:
    “it was known for having a social security system long before any other country in the Western Hemispehere. However, the public sector grew quickly to over 50 % of the economy. Eventually, private taxation could not support the public spending. The economy tanked, giving rise to turbulent political crisis characterized by the success of the Tupamaro guerilla movement. Urugauy went from a great democracy to a state in crisis because of ignoring free market principles.”

    As a contrast, they noted that Chile now “is one of the only countries in the world whose economy is healthy, mainly because of the reforms encouraged by Friedman and the strict aversion to debt that their recent president enforced at the risk of great political pressures from the labor unions and those who wanted to spend government surpluses. The president foresaw a day when the surpluses would be needed and refused to give in.”

  15. theradicalmormon says:

    Ha! The miracle of Chile rears it’s ugly head here on the Mormon Worker. Greg Palast wrote a great article 3 years ago which blasted the myth of the miracle of Chile with all of the praise lavished in Friedman. He points out that it was the socialist policies of Allende and Keynsian theory that pulled Chile together after the boys from Chicago failed miserably. Here is an excerpt from the article, which is a beautiful piece of work, that I have posted in full here:

    http://theradicalmormon.wordpress.com/2007/09/25/pinochet-worked-economic-magic-not-so-fast-revisionist-historians/

    “Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, Tinker Bell and General Augusto Pinochet had much in common.

    All three performed magical good deeds. In the case of Pinochet, he was universally credited with the Miracle of Chile, the wildly successful experiment in free markets, privatization, de-regulation and union-free economic expansion whose laissez-faire seeds spread from Valparaiso to Virginia.

    But Cinderella’s pumpkin did not really turn into a coach. The Miracle of Chile, too, was just another fairy tale. The claim that General Pinochet begat an economic powerhouse was one of those utterances whose truth rested entirely on its repetition.

    Chile could boast some economic success. But that was the work of Salvador Allende – who saved his nation, miraculously, a decade after his death.

    In 1973, the year General Pinochet brutally seized the government, Chile’s unemployment rate was 4.3%. In 1983, after ten years of free-market modernization, unemployment reached 22%. Real wages declined by 40% under military rule.

    In 1970, 20% of Chile’s population lived in poverty. By 1990, the year “President” Pinochet left office, the number of destitute had doubled to 40%. Quite a miracle.

    Pinochet did not destroy Chile’s economy all alone. It took nine years of hard work by the most brilliant minds in world academia, a gaggle of Milton Friedman’s trainees, the Chicago Boys. Under the spell of their theories, the General abolished the minimum wage, outlawed trade union bargaining rights, privatized the pension system, abolished all taxes on wealth and on business profits, slashed public employment, privatized 212 state industries and 66 banks and ran a fiscal surplus.

    Freed of the dead hand of bureaucracy, taxes and union rules, the country took a giant leap forward … into bankruptcy and depression. After nine years of economics Chicago style, Chile’s industry keeled over and died. In 1982 and 1983, GDP dropped 19%. The free-market experiment was kaput, the test tubes shattered. Blood and glass littered the laboratory floor. Yet, with remarkable chutzpah, the mad scientists of Chicago declared success. In the US, President Ronald Reagan’s State Department issued a report concluding, “Chile is a casebook study in sound economic management.” Milton Friedman himself coined the phrase, “The Miracle of Chile.” Friedman’s sidekick, economist Art Laffer, preened that Pinochet’s Chile was, “a showcase of what supply-side economics can do.”

    It certainly was. More exactly, Chile was a showcase of de-regulation gone berserk.

    The Chicago Boys persuaded the junta that removing restrictions on the nation’s banks would free them to attract foreign capital to fund industrial expansion.

    Pinochet sold off the state banks – at a 40% discount from book value – and they quickly fell into the hands of two conglomerate empires controlled by speculators Javier Vial and Manuel Cruzat. From their captive banks, Vial and Cruzat siphoned cash to buy up manufacturers – then leveraged these assets with loans from foreign investors panting to get their piece of the state giveaways.

    The bank’s reserves filled with hollow securities from connected enterprises. Pinochet let the good times roll for the speculators. He was persuaded that Governments should not hinder the logic of the market.

    By 1982, the pyramid finance game was up. The Vial and Cruzat “Grupos” defaulted. Industry shut down, private pensions were worthless, the currency swooned. Riots and strikes by a population too hungry and desperate to fear bullets forced Pinochet to reverse course. He booted his beloved Chicago experimentalists. Reluctantly, the General restored the minimum wage and unions’ collective bargaining rights. Pinochet, who had previously decimated government ranks, authorized a program to create 500,000 jobs. In other words, Chile was pulled from depression by dull old Keynesian remedies, all Franklin Roosevelt, zero Reagan/Thatcher. New Deal tactics rescued Chile from the Panic of 1983, but the nation’s long-term recovery and growth since then is the result of – cover the children’s ears – a large dose of socialism.

    To save the nation’s pension system, Pinochet nationalized banks and industry on a scale unimagined by Communist Allende. The General expropriated at will, offering little or no compensation. While most of these businesses were eventually re-privatized, the state retained ownership of one industry: copper.

    For nearly a century, copper has meant Chile and Chile copper. University of Montana metals expert Dr. Janet Finn notes, “Its absurd to describe a nation as a miracle of free enterprise when the engine of the economy remains in government hands.” Copper has provided 30% to 70% of the nation’s export earnings. This is the hard currency which has built today’s Chile, the proceeds from the mines seized from Anaconda and Kennecott in 1973 – Allende’s posthumous gift to his nation.

    Agribusiness is the second locomotive of Chile’s economic growth. This also is a legacy of the Allende years. According to Professor Arturo Vasquez of Georgetown University, Washington DC, Allende’s land reform, the break-up of feudal estates (which Pinochet could not fully reverse), created a new class of productive tiller-owners, along with corporate and cooperative operators, who now bring in a stream of export earnings to rival copper. “In order to have an economic miracle,” says Dr. Vasquez, “maybe you need a socialist government first to commit agrarian reform.”

    So there we have it. Keynes and Marx, not Friedman, saved Chile.

    But the myth of the free-market Miracle persists because it serves a quasi-religious function. Within the faith of the Reaganauts and Thatcherites, Chile provides the necessary genesis fable, the ersatz Eden from which laissez-faire dogma sprang successful and shining.”

  16. libertymoonbeam says:

    The Chilean miracle indeed! Thanks for sharing that article,it was wonderful. It’s crazy to me how still to this day people are accrediting the “Chilean Miracle” to Milton Friedman, Augusto Pinochet and the Chicago Boys. When Pinochet died in 2006, the New York Times wrote that he had, “Transformed a bankrupt economy into the most prosperous in Latin America” and the Washington Post credited him for, “Introducing the free market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle”.

    Of the 17 years that Pinochet held political power, the first decade brought Chili literally to its knees,completely destroying the economy and leaving the country in ruins. By strictly following Friedman’s guidelines Chileans faced hyperinflation, a nationwide explosion of debt and an unemployment rate that was 10 times higher than it had been under Allende, over 30%.

    The economy was so decimated that Pinochet was forced to fire virtually all of the Chicago Boys and re-nationalize most of the countries natural resources. In fact the only thing that spared Chile from utter ruin was the fact that Pinochet had not privatized the states copper industry (to Friedman’s immense frustration), which had been nationalized by Allende.

    Instead of a truly free market economy, the Chicago Boys had created a system in which the government worked hand in hand with corporate interests to exploit the middle class and pour all the money into the hands of the ruling elite. By 1988 the Chilean economy had stabilized and was growing rapidly, the so called “Chilean miracle”. Only rather than than the average middle class Chilean citizen profiting from the countries new found wealth, 45% of the population had fallen below the poverty line, effectively eliminating the middle class all together. Not everyone was suffering however, the upper 10% of all Chileans had seen their incomes increase by over 83% and could wipe their butts with $100 bills. Just 2 years ago the United Nations listed the 123 most unequal societies in the world, with the widest gap between the ruling elite and the poverty stricken. Chile was ranked the 8th most unequal country on the list, a miracle, really?

    Contrary to how it may look, the Chicago school plan had not failed, as a matter of fact, it succeeded beyond Milton Friedman’s wildest dreams. Despite all of its rhetoric Friedmanism was never designed to create a healthy free market economy that benefits a whole society. Friedmanism was designed to help a small elite group of citizens grow from wealthy to richer than God in a relatively short period of time. To do this, private interests were heavily subsidized and backed by debt that was later bailed out using public funds. So essentially is was socialism reversed, public wealth was used to pay off the debts of private corporations. Sound familiar?

  17. J. Madson says:

    thanks for the articles and info. I knew of the copper nationalization since I read Naomi Klein’s book but do any of you know about Argentina and Uruguay

  18. theradicalmormon says:

    I’d have to do some research on that.

  19. Forest Simmons says:

    My LDS mission in Argentina ended a few months before Juan Perón returned from his 18 year exile (during which Argentia was goverend by a sequence of military dictatorships (including two coups during my mission). Perón served nine months before his death, and was followed by his second wife, who didn’t last too long before the government went back to the military. After the “dirty war” period, “democracy” eventually returned and the neoliberals took charge complying with all of the structural adjustment policies of the IMF and World Bank, privatizing the public services, etc. … following all of the recommendations of Friedmann and his Chicago boys.

    These policies bankrupted Argentina, and the people took to the streets with their famous “caserolazos,” i.e. banging on pots and pans and shouting “que se vayan todos” (out with all of them). Here’s a Z-net link to a good article written at about that time:

    http://www.zmag.org/zmag/viewArticle/12696

    Since then Argentina has become famous for workers taking over abandoned factories to run them successfully by themselves. This grass roots socialism has saved many from starving to death.

  20. libertymoonbeam says:

    In late 2001 it became clear that Argentina would be unable to repay its debts. Foreign interests and local investors panicked and drained 140 billion dollars out of the country in an extremely short period of time. They left the country completely decimated.

    In response millions took to the street of Buenos Aires in protest crying “out with them all”. Former middle class citizens joined blue collar workers in demanding accountability for their lost access to their savings.Hundreds of jobless workers whose superiors had fled the country decided to re-open nearly 200 factories, resuming production and functioning as democratic cooperatives.

    Argentina’s politics stabilized with the election of President Néstor Kirchner in 2003. Kirchner broke ground by shutting out the IMF and playing hard ball with international creditors. Pissed off, the IMF responded by demanding higher interest rates and fiscal austerity. The Argentinian government recognizing that this would drive up unemployment and destroy social welfare programs, told the IMF to kiss off and threatened to default on all its payments.

    The IMF was terrified, they knew that if Argentina defaulted it would open the door for other countries to follow suit. Argentina was thus able to renegotiate over 100 billion dollars in debt, forcing creditors to accept 30 cents on the dollar for their outstanding debts.

  21. libertymoonbeam says:

    I don’t know as much about Uruguay either. In October of 2004 Tabare Vazquez was elected president of Uruguay, defeating the traditional political parties that had controlled the country for nearly 200 years. His party, the Frente Amplio, was made up of socialists, social democrats and former gorillas. Vasquez led a successful campaign against the privatization of Uruguay’s nationalized oil company.

    The factor that led to his election was ultimately the economic crises that hit Uruguay in 2002. One out of five people lost their jobs, the GDP dropped by 11% and rural poverty skyrocketed. As his first official act in office, Vasquez created a 100 million dollar social emergency plan focusing on jobs, food, health care and housing.

    In November 2005 his administration led a profound and significant victory in the investigation of human rights violations that had taken place during the military dictatorship. His government succeeded in unearthing remains of leftists who disappeared during the 1970s military rule. In recent years his approval rating has plummeted fro 77% to 45% but this is mainly due to his decision not to sign onto the free trade agreement with the United States which has the right wing conservatives of the country very angry.

  22. Titch says:

    Look at what happened to Zimbabwe for example because of the persuit of Milton friedmans laissez fair theories , i am a witness to the rape of the world, My world , Zimbabwe

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