Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pinochet went to England for healthcare?

I was reading today a number of different accounts of chronologies of Pinochet and came across this in a Washington Post story:

In October 1998, the 83-year-old Pinochet traveled to England for back surgery. He was arrested on a warrant issued by Spanish prosecutors...

This England?

The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system in England. The NHS provides healthcare to anyone normally resident in the UK with most services free at the point of use for the patient though there are charges associated with eye tests, dental care, prescriptions, and many aspects of personal care. The NHS provides the majority of healthcare in England, including primary care, in-patient care, long-term healthcare, ophthalmology and dentistry. The National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect on 5 July 1948. (Wikipedia)

Mr. Jose Pinera, architect of Chile's healthcare system under Pinochet, please tell me why that would be when Chile has a simply wonderful privatized system that you yourself helped to spawn? Did he believe the "socialized" healthcare was better?

And don't we hear it said that in the USA, maybe the system has problems but without a doubt, they have the top specialists anywhere? If you can afford it, that's where you want to go to get treated...yet, Pinochet(who could afford it ) went to England where you have one of the largest and oldest "socialized" systems. Oh, I see, that "socialized" tag not completely correct. Though the public system dominates healthcare provision in England, private health care and a wide variety of alternative and complementary treatments are available for those willing to pay.

But why England and not the say, the USA? Oh, here it is

Even before the former Chilean dictator offered his country's tacit support to the UK during the 1982 Falklands War, Margaret Thatcher had long been an admirer of his radical free market economic policies.

General Pinochet was detained in London on 17 October following a request for his arrest and extradition by two Spanish judges investigating some of the 4,000-plus political murders believed to have been committed during his 1973-1990 rule.

Well, all those atrocities under Pinochet but the economy-he and Milton Friedman saved it right? Given that we are talking about the price of lives and freedom now by exchanging a "good" economy for a "bad" one(which I find horrifying), I contend those policies didn't give Chile a good economy. Here's one take on it(a portion follows):

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.

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.

So, why is Chile in great shape economically? Copper revenues of course-Allende nationalized and Pinochet didn't privatize(mainly because the military was guaranteed a percentage) and the Concertation rule has meant every President has saved money, lots of it. When the bad times came, they were able to spend quite easily. Save in the good times and spend in the bad times-John Maynard Keynes must be smiling in his grave.

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