16 dezembro 2006

Friedman e Chile

Achei este texto na Reason sobre o relacionamento de Milton Friedman e Pinochet:

While there, Friedman did have one meeting with Pinochet, for less than an hour. Pinochet asked Friedman to write him a letter about his judgments on what Chilean economic policy should be, which Friedman did . He advocated quick and severe cuts in government spending and inflation, as well as instituting more open international trade policies—and to “provide for the relief of any cases of real hardship and severe distress among the poorest classes.” He did not choose this as an opportunity to upbraid Pinochet for any of his repressive policies, and many of Friedman’s admirers, including me, would have felt better if he had.

But that was the extent of his involvement with the Chilean regime—and it fit with a recurring pattern in Friedman’s career of advising with an even hand all who would listen to him. It was not a sign of approval of military authoritarianism. Friedman, in defending himself against accusations of complicity with or approval of Pinochet, noted in a 1975 letter to the University of Chicago school newspaper that he “has never heard complaints” about giving aid and comfort to the communist governments to which he had spoken, and that “I approve of none of these authoritarian regimes—neither the Communist regimes of Russia and Yugoslavia nor the military juntas of Chile and Brazil. But I believe I can learn from observing them and that, insofar as my personal analysis of their economic situation enables them to improve their economic performance, that is likely to promote not retard a movement toward greater liberalism and freedom.”

Acho que o trecho final tem um pouco a ver com o que eu disse sobre nos agarrarmos às idéias sem levarmos em conta as conseqüências que elas causam no mundo real (grifos meus):

Nothing about Chile’s economic successes excuses or mollifies Pinochet’s crimes. Even Friedman’s staunch libertarian fans can wonder about the ultimate propriety of his association, however brief or tenuous, with the dictator. As Austrian economist Peter Boettke once told me, many economists in his tradition—most of whom are hardcore libertarians—find the notion of working in even something as innocuous as public finance distasteful—like “bean counting for the mafia.” Friedman didn’t harbor such visceral disgust for government or those who govern. He was a policy realist, and tried to deal with the world as it was--to mesh his policy radicalism with the gears of power as they existed.

Friedman was ready and willing to tell the people responsible for all the wrong policies of the world what they needed to do to set things right, which meant he had to talk to them, making open assaults on their crimes ill-advised. He tried to move the world in a freer direction from the point reality presented him with.

I have nothing good to say about the political regime that Pinochet imposed,” Friedman said in 1991. “It was a terrible political regime. The real miracle of Chile is not how well it has done economically; the real miracle of Chile is that a military junta was willing to go against its principles and support a free-market regime designed by principled believers in a free market….In Chile, the drive for political freedom that was generated by economic freedom and the resulting economic success ultimately resulted in a referendum that introduced political democracy.”

It may have been more morally satisfying to have no relationship with Pinochet, merely condemn him from afar. But in choosing to let his economic advice rise above political revulsion, Friedman almost certainly helped Chile in the long term--though it’s important to remember that the “Chicago boys” were more responsible than Friedman himself, and that they were not following his prescriptions relentlessly or in any way under his direct instruction.

Undoubtedly, Friedman’s decision to interact with officials of repressive governments creates uncomfortable tensions for his libertarian admirers; I could, and often do, wish he hadn’t done it. But given what it probably meant for economic wealth and liberty in the long term for the people of Chile, that’s a selfish reaction. Pinochet’s economic policies do not ameliorate his crimes, despite what his right-wing admirers say. But Friedman, as an economic advisor to all who’d listen, neither committed his crimes, nor admired the criminal.