Friday, April 4, 2008

Kleptocrats on Tractors: There Will Be Hunger In Argentina

That was fast. The post below which mentioned, in passing, Mugabe's expropriation of the farms, hadn't been up for twenty minutes when this Investors Business Daily editorial shows up in an email.
From IBD:

Americas: As sure the sun will rise, Argentina will fall into crisis. It's not just the tax hike that has led to a farm strike. It's a government that still expects much of an economy at all after killing off any reason to farm.

It may sound like common sense to us, but we aren't Argentina's irrational new president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who suddenly hiked taxes to 44% on soy and sunflower exports just as crops were about to be harvested. It was the third tax hike on farmers in six months, but she denounced Argentine farmers' protests as the acts of "coup plotters" in a "protest of plenty."...

...It knows it can get away with this squeeze and eventually win. Its fascistic concentration of power, the likelihood of hungry citizens in the cities wearing down and the presence of violent government-paid enforcers known as "piqueteros" are all likely to work against the farmers.

After that, the farmers' only means of communicating will be to vote with their feet. That bodes ill both for Argentina's reputation as a global breadbasket of commodities and for government finances, which rely heavily on these taxes....

I'm trying to picture the piqueteros jockeying a combine 16 hours a day or eating beans with the gauchos but I get brain-lock. Instead, we read:

...It's gotten so bad that Argentina's world-famous beef exports are virtually halted, while its market-friendly neighbor, Uruguay, has snapped up what had been Argentina's markets. Tiny Uruguay sells more beef overseas than Argentina now.