October 28, 2008 12:22PM

Pension Nationalization: Peron vs. Kirchner

I just got back from a trip to Argentina, where Peronist President Cristina Kirchner announced a proposal to nationalize private pensions. This is theft on a grand scale—the assets are worth about $30 billion—at a time when government spending has skyrocketed and the possibility of yet another official default next year has increased. There is plenty to criticize about the populist regime’s latest moves, but in a 1973 speech, none other than Juan Perón emphatically condemns the nationalization of private pensions, calling it “theft” and referring to public pension systems as generally “inefficient” and “unsafe.” He describes a previous episode in Argentina when a government in need of money nationalized private pensions and depleted workers’ retirement funds, using them for other purposes. It was an “assault.” For those of you who understand Spanish, see the video that has caught Kirchner by surprise: