Election Boycotts in Chile and the Brigantine Pilgrim

I’m reading Two Years Before the Mast, an 1840 diary of life aboard the brigantine Pilgrim. Old books can transport me to another world, but most are burdened with excessive boring detail because people had too much leisure time and readers embraced verbose stories written by authors paid by the word.

The captain fires the second mate for sleeping on the job and failing to make the lives of the crew miserable, so he tries to fill the position:

At seven bells in the morning, all hands were called aft and told that Foster was no longer an officer on board, and that we might choose one of our own number for second mate. It is usual for the captain to make this offer, and it is very good policy, for the crew think themselves the choosers and are flattered by it, but have to obey, nevertheless. Our crew, as is usual, refused to take the responsibility of choosing a man of whom we would never be able to complain, and left it to the captain.

Why isn’t it customary to boycott shams as it was in 1840? It is a crime in Chile for a registered voter to boycott an election; the government manufactures an illusion of legitimacy. To repudiate the limited choices is expensive, illegal, or violent: organize demonstrations, throw rocks at police cars, or write blogs and newspaper editorials.

I enjoy buying food at Unimarc, Lider, Tottus, Jumbo, Ekono and others, and pleased that it’s not a government industry. I’d chafe at being limited to the same monopoly food supplier for 4 years, as during the Allende Presidency.

The USA is as bad as Chile. Where’s the meaningful choice when both candidates for President advocate robbing citizens to bail out incompetent bankers? Isn’t that like choosing at the airport between being zapped with radiation from an x-ray machine or having a stranger feel up your private parts?

Airport boycotts remain legal and voting with your feet is powerful and meaningful. I hope that Chile will attract migrants and become a beacon to freedom by reducing or abolishing:

  • fees on immigrants entering the country or working; and
  • commercial and investing restrictions on foreigners, especially in the banking industry; and
  • the RUT, the national ID card.

Related posts:
Why Apple and Facebook are Governed by Dictators
How Voting is Similar to Child Abuse
Resetting Government in the USA

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2 Responses to Election Boycotts in Chile and the Brigantine Pilgrim

  1. It’s illegal to boycott an election here? Very interesting. I think US citizens have been boycotting elections for the past bunch of elections, but not in an organized way. Only 50% of people vote in the biggest elections. I think it’s mostly because they don’t think they can change anything. Only 50% of our population votes for the two “opposite” choices. A third party seems out of the question.

    When I was last in London, I met a young chinese investment banker and asked him how he felt about his government/lack of freedom. He told me his day to day life in pretty much the same in London as it was in Bejing, but he had to watch a few things he said/did. He told me he would rather have a free system, like the uk/us, but felt powerless to make a change.

    I was struck by how similar it was to my view in the US. I don’t feel like I can change any of the big issues that are affecting the US. The power structure is too entrenched and the problems are too big. My small efforts at change don’t seem to have much of a chance.

    Unrelated questions:

    What fees are there for visitors besides the ones for US/UK visitors? I think the ones in Chile started because the US slapped fees on lots of countries after 9/11.

    Since I’m new, how is the RUT different from our Social Security number? Besides that they ask for it at the supermarket here?

    • Mark says:

      It’s illegal for a registered voter to boycott, but there is no registration requirement. In Chile and Argentina, polling places are segregated by sex, and the women are angry, except the former Chilean President, who is a woman, and the current Argentinian President, who is a woman.

      Most elections are boycotted in the USA, but voter turnout has increased dramatically in Presidential elections partly because the outcome has been close in the two Bush terms, and partly because the President has become a dictator, so the election is important. In a town or city election, only 10-30% will vote. Essentially state governments are administrative units of the feds, so boycotts are widespread, but not even in Texas or California is there a movement for independence, even though both would be viable independent nations.

      Chile uses the RUT more than the USA uses FICA. My wife bought a laptop and needed a RUT or passport. I couldn’t park my bike at Parque Arauco because they wanted a RUT. If you want to buy tickets online, you need a RUT, so it’s hard to go to a concert or tennis match.

      Chile bases their fees on reciprocity. They charge Brits $2000 because that’s what the Brits charge for Chileans. This is a lunatic policy because Britain is a much more tyrannical country than the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; the Chileans should have identified the Brits as a great target market for immigrants. Peru and Argentina should also be targeted. The fact that Chile doesn’t proves that Chile is terrified of immigrants. Don’t believe the propaganda you hear at SUC about the country being friendly to immigrants. Only 3% of the population of Santiago was born in another country.

      In Chile, who you know matters more than what you know. Since you’re a member of Start-Up Chile, you’ve been singled out for especially kind treatment. Nobody else can do something as simple as open a bank account or withdraw money from an ATM without paying onerous fees.