Glaeser ignores brutality of Pinochet

EDWARD L. GLAESER suggests that Deval Patrick has a lot to learn from economists and from the recent history of Chile, which the governor visited last month (“In economists’ paradise, lessons for US,’’ Op-ed, Dec. 19). Unfortunately, Glaeser begins by distorting Chilean history, and thus misses the lessons that should have been drawn from it.

“After Pinochet took power in 1973’’, Glaeser writes, “he eventually turned to a cadre of free-market economists, the ‘Chicago Boys,’ ’’ who, like Glaeser, received their PhDs at the University of Chicago. “Chile’s subsequent rapid growth allowed economists to retain some influence.’’

Pinochet didn’t just take over. He violently overthrew Salvador Allende, a socialist who had nationalized Chilean corporations. Pinochet then implemented the Chicago Boys’ privatization and deregulation plan. Rapid growth followed. But that was a bubble, and in 1982 the economy tanked and unemployment reached 30 percent - ten times what it had been under Allende.


Jerry H. Meldon