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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.’’

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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

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