"I distinctly recall the Chilean coup of September 11, 1973 very clearly. I was attending a graduate economics course at Harvard University that was taught by a protégé of the University of Chicago’s Professor Milton Friedman. One of my fellow students was Sebastian Pinera, a member of one of Chile’s oldest families, a future billionaire owner of Chile’s airline LanChile, and since December 2009, the President of Chile.
Back then, Sebastian had somehow gotten word halfway through our class that President Allende had been overthrown. He was jubilant — “We won!,” he cheered.
Our economics professor apparently shared Sebastian’s delight. Like many other American economists, he viewed Pinochet’s overthrow as a great victory for the neoliberal economic doctrines that had been preached by for decades by leading Chicago economists like Professor Friedman and Arnold Harberger — at that point, still without much acceptance in First World countries. Both of them later consulted actively for General Pinochet’s junta — just like neoliberal Harvard Professor Michael Porter recently did for Libya’s equally horrendous Colonel Gaddafi.
Over the next twenty years, these “Los Chicago Boys” came to excert a strong influence on Chilean economic policy. The label was perhaps a little un-fair to Chicago — there was certainly no shortage of Harvard disciples of their brutilitarian free-market doctrines.
For example, Jose Pinera, Sebastian’s classmate’s brother, was also Harvard- trained. He became one of the main architects of Pinochet’s labor policies, which included a ban on strikes and closed shops, the privatization of all pension funds, and sharp cuts in real wages, jobs, and unemployment benefits.
In hindsight, General Pinochet’s little laboratory actually conducted the very first in a series of experiments by the New Right that culminated in the neoliberal programs of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the First World and a lengthy list of Third World imitators.
Among First World democracies, these programs were at first somewhat moderated by the need for popular support. But in countries like Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, where the lines between rich and poor were starker and the political systems were basically rigged, much less time was wasted on democratic niceties.
More recently, we’ve lately seen calls on the New Right, and some actual examples, of yet another round of experiments with such “tough neoliberal medicine” in many First World countries. It may be helpful to remember how much their in extremis versions really depend on dictatorship for implementation — and how often these policies have completely back-fired, in practice."
Read the entire article here...on Forbes no less.