Argentine President Javier Milei delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week that made the “global elites” – including America’s political frontrunners – look very small. While many commentators compare the eccentric Milei, a TV star, to former president Donald Trump, the similarities are superficial and stylistic.
Milei, a self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” offered a thoughtful and devastating critique of socialism and collectivism that navigated waters far outside the depth of Trump or Biden.
“Today I’m here to tell you that the Western world is in danger,” Milei announced in his unflinching opening. “And it is in danger because those who are supposed to have to defend the values of the West are co-opted by a vision of the world that inexorably leads to socialism and thereby to poverty.”
He continued, “[F]ree enterprise capitalism is not just the only possible system to end world poverty, but also that it’s the only morally desirable system to achieve this … It should never be forgotten that socialism is always and everywhere an impoverishing phenomenon that has failed in all countries where it’s been tried out. It’s been a failure economically, socially, culturally and it also murdered over 100 million human beings.”
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Meanwhile, back in America, Trump said, “We are an institute in a powerful death penalty. We will put this on.”
With superior syntax and coherence, Trump said after winning in New Hampshire, “I don’t get too angry, I get even.”
While Milei was exposing the moral corruption of state sponsored violence and coercion, Trump was effectively saying we need more third world despotism in America to make America great again.
Back at Davos, Milei said, “The case of Argentina is an empirical demonstration that no matter how rich you may be, how much you may have in terms of natural resources, how skilled your population may be, how educated, or how many bars of gold you may have in the central bank – if measures are adopted that hinder the free functioning of markets, competition, price systems, trade and ownership of private property, the only possible fate is poverty.”
As Milei and other economists have noted, Argentina has a tragic economic history. The country was seen as a model economy 100 years ago before it turned to collectivist policies and declined.
As the Latin American Economic Review noted, “Argentina began the 20th century as one of the wealthiest places on the planet. In 1913, it was richer than France or Germany, almost twice as prosperous as Spain, and its per capita GDP was almost as high as that of Canada … The century’s golden beginning was followed by far less prosperous decades. Over the last 100 years, Argentina’s place in the hierarchy of nations dropped precipitously, falling behind not only Europe but also many of the growing countries in Asia.”
But, in America, President Biden, wants voters to celebrate his misplaced faith in central planning while being unserious in his own way. For instance, he wants people to believe Trump is a threat to democracy rather than Democrats, but recently joked, “Hello, Virginia … and the real governor, Terry McAuliffe!” McAuliffe, of course, lost to Glenn Youngkin. Who’s the election denier now?
At Davos, Milei was on point and soberly observed, “We have come here today to invite the Western world to get back on the path to prosperity. Economic freedom, limited government and unlimited respect for private property are essential elements for economic growth. The impoverishment produced by collectivism is not a fantasy, nor is it an inescapable fate. It’s a reality that we Argentines know very well.”
Milei is right that economic freedom works wonders in all areas, especially in energy and the environment. As C3 Solutions has shown, free economies are twice as clean as less free economies.
Unfortunately, Milei’s call to embrace economic freedom is too rare in a country that should be a beacon of freedom. Thus far in the election cycle Nikki Haley has shown that she is the only candidate still standing who understands Milei’s speech and delivered one of comparable quality.
In her 2023 speech on economic freedom, Haley said:
“Add it all up, and Joe Biden has created a political subsidy economy. That’s what Bidenomics really is. The government is taking money from the middle class and giving it to everyone else. The well-connected are getting wealthier through corporate welfare, while the poor get trapped in regular welfare. That’s called socialism. And as history shows, socialism kills the middle class.”
“This is the same federal government that can’t build a bridge or pipeline in under a decade. Do you really think Washington knows how to pick the right winners in the economy? Of course not. It picks losers – and the taxpayer is the one who loses the most.”
“And does anyone honestly believe that when Congress doles out trillions of dollars, they treat it like their own money? To them, it’s pretend money that makes them feel powerful.”
Neither Trump or Biden have offered a speech like Haley’s or Milei’s because they are Big Government statists and leaders of the Axis of Illiberalism who want to use state power for their ideological or personal ends.
To those who like to feel powerful by spending other people’s money, Milei dropped the hammer in his closing:
“Let no one tell you that your ambition is immoral. If you make money, it’s because you offer a better product at a better price, thereby contributing to general wellbeing.”
“Do not surrender to the advance of the state. The state is not the solution. The state is the problem itself. You are the true protagonists of this story and rest assured that as from today, Argentina is your staunch and unconditional ally.”
“Thank you very much and long live freedom, dammit!”