The Luddite Syndrome in the Americas

The Americas are poised to experience several development blockers as some of its leaders believe that progress entails institutional destruction in lieu of institutional refurbishment.

The Americas are poised to experience several development blockers as some of its leaders believe that progress entails institutional destruction in lieu of institutional refurbishment.

As the world economy exacts yet another adjustment to fully liberate the creative might of digitalization, nation states need to change their approach to taxation, income generation, expenditures and value creation. This demands another revamp to procedures and practices that inevitably will create vacuums which will be exploited by those who have the abundant financial resources to become this century's Great Gatsbys.

Reward to their talent will certainly come from currency and security trade and from ventures that spot an economic vacuum before it happens and get the services and/or goods ready to fill that vacuum before market forces correct it. Most people however will probably experience a reduction in living standards.

Failing an educating leadership, these groups are beginning to organize and follow snake charmers that are all set to turn back the history clock. And while humanity can show throughout its evolution one relapse too many into folly, what concerns most analysts is the pervasiveness and simultaneity of the phenomenon. To be sure, its intensity could create an undesired shakeup in the Americas.

First among the countries about to experience a Luddite revolt is the U.S.A.

The acceptance speech by Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention amounted to an invitation to his fellow citizens to engage in job destruction and civic disharmony.

To portray NAFTA as the worse negotiation the U.S. has ever carried out is simply to ignore the numbers that show trade gains for the U.S. From 1994 to this date, trade with Canada and Mexico has nearly quadrupled to $1.3 trillion, and the two countries buy more than one-third of U.S. merchandise exports.

Further, according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, "Trade with Canada and Mexico supports nearly 14 million U.S. jobs, and nearly 5 million of these net jobs are supported by the increase in trade generated by NAFTA."

Should Mr Trump's proposal to renegotiate NAFTA become a reality, the agreement would simply unravel because both Canadian and Mexican Business establishments would rather be protected from competition by U.S. firms than have to invest in becoming efficient so as to be able to see the U.S. corporations in the eye.

Needless to even consider ratification of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) aiming at creating a powerful trading block to effectively compete with China. Without TPP, China will impose its economic weight on Asian nations to the detriment of the Americas.

And although it is not altogether guaranteed that Mr Trump will become the next White House tenant, his rhetoric will manage to poison the U.S. public mood against free trade and industrial redeployment in favor of turning back the clock to the 1950s. And this will limit the ability of the next U.S. President to face head on the economic transformation the U.S. needs.

Next comes Venezuela, whose leaders seem to be poised to become the poster boys of a new chapter of Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly."

The government seems to believe that by means of letting at least 1 million Venezuelans die of starvation and disease the country will atone its capitalist sins to become the flame of socialism.

This seems to follow past episodes in Venezuelan history when populist leaders led their followers to a similar destiny and took the country three generations to rebuild pre-conflict living standards.

Recent adoption of public policies placing in the hands of the military control over the country can only worsen a dire economic situation that denies the right to live to newborns in hospitals that cannot provide minimum care to them or their mothers.

The opposition, on the other hand, baffled by the government's contempt for the constitution, human rights and civility lacks vision and operating talents.

In spite of worldwide support for the liberation of political prisoners, the newly elected opposition dominated National Assembly has sent the fight for amnesty to the backburner in favor of a recall referendum that only the government can deploy.

Meanwhile about 200,000 Venezuelans managed to walk to Colombia in search of food and medicines before the border was closed. Similarly, 30,000 people are approaching Boa Vista the closest Brazilian city.

Perhaps when the numbers climb tenfold in the Colombian border and threefold in the Brazilian border the international community will finally step in to the matter to truly bolster a dialogue among Venezuelans that so far has been a sad comedy of errors. Unfortunately, by that time there will probably be nothing to save.

Laht |

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