The assembly is usually qualified on the basis of the production of laws, regardless of quality or consequences, often harmful. Considering the appearances of assemblymen, it might be better to do the opposite: to limit their legislative impulses.

Presidents are usually evaluated according to two criteria which, broadly speaking, can be summarized as “public works” and/or “social spending” and “firm hand”. It does not matter that mega-projects are the main sources of corruption or that a large part of social spending remains in the hands of those who initiate and distribute, and the crumbs reach the intended beneficiaries. Nor does it usually matter that in the application of the “iron hand” there are abuses of power and violations of the rights of individuals.

These criteria reveal the values ​​that prevail in our society and are reflected in the behavior of our political class. We are addicted to magical thinking, we want short-term results without real change in behavior, and we do not prioritize respecting others or preserving our freedom.

Unfortunately, the values ​​that lead to long-term development are quite opposite. There are no magic solutions; progress is the result of long-term continuous effort. Development is not something that happens all at once, but happens gradually. Going from rags to riches is the result of a lot of trial and error, leading to innovation and radical changes in the way things work and incentives. The latter is crucial, because a society in which there is no respect for private property as a cornerstone will have no incentive to create and accumulate wealth.

Given these alternative values, what are examples of perhaps the best governments of the last 40 years? In my opinion, Sixto Durán-Ballén and Jamil Mahuad. Durán-Ballén abolished Central Bank controls on exchange and international trade and brought the country into the World Trade Organization, major structural reforms that allowed greater long-term growth and greater freedom of choice for Ecuadorians. Mahuad dollarized the economy and signed peace with Peru, and the first is perhaps the most important structural reform implemented in the last century.

…politicians usually make pacts to fulfill their main goal: to stay in power.

But according to at least a few surveys conducted in recent years, former President Rafael Correa, one of the most expendable and authoritarian presidents in our modern history, tops the list. Jamil Mahuad comes out among the worst.

What do you usually ask President Las and the candidates who are already forming pre-election platforms these days? More heavy handed and more spending on works with other people’s money. More of the same. Let’s not expect a big leap forward.

We should not be surprised. Politicians usually make pacts to fulfill their main goal: to stay in power. In addition, they are often happy to spend other people’s money. They, like many of us, are interested in the short-term and visible. For example, they will always prefer to build a sports field rather than a water treatment plant, even though the latter will have a much greater benefit. (OR)