Argentina has serious economic problems: that is nothing new. But in addition to all the complications in a country with rapid currency devaluation, high unemployment, low productivity, and economic isolation, Argentina’s curious and unique characteristics make it a place that has long been economically inhospitable.
Entrepreneurship is almost non-existent, and there is no desire to improve economic prospects for most people. Argentines, who are lucky enough to have a job with some peace of mind, have as their primary objective to keep what they currently have.
An increasingly squalid private sector and a state that has continued to grow in power constitute a vicious circle that threatens the desire to progress economically. In Argentina, the necessary conditions are not in place for ideas or innovation to flourish. The soil is arid and hostile. The little that sprouts and grows, in spite of all odds, is insufficient to turn around a gloomy present.
While in most cases Argentines have been satisfied with “showing up” in their work, families from Bolivia are showing a level of drive that locals lost more than a generation ago. It would be necessary to go back to the arrivals of the ships from Europe to find that enterprising spirit and that ambition; even though this generation of immigrants was starting from most humble beginnings.
The greengrocers, seen in Buenos Aires and the rest of the country, are an example of this. Not only because of the role that couples play in the stores, but because of the place they give to their children, at an early age. Progressivism and politically correct thinking have made it unseemly for a child to have work experience early on. It completely confused the misfortune that some children have to work to eat, or the shameful cases of child exploitation, with the virtuous examples of a child accompanying their parents to work.
Of course, work should not be the main thing or a concern for any child, but there is nothing wrong with helping out your family, and reaching the age of majority with experience, knowing what adult life will bring. Many Argentines are writing their résumés at age 18 and arrive late, without marketable skills, to a world with fewer and fewer possibilities. The early experience with work, no doubt, will give Bolivian children who are today helping their parents in their business an advantage compared to those who have no work experience.
These behaviors are worthy of recognition, yet sadly, in many cases, instead of imitating the virtuous behavior of foreigners, locals respond with xenophobia. Although this receives more and more repudiation in modern societies, there is no shortage of stupid people who are outraged by different customs or by the threat that immigrants pose to “their jobs.”
Of course, Argentina needs a resounding change of its economic model. But while changes are being made, or attempted, we should recognize the virtue and industriousness of the Bolivian immigrants who are once again demonstrating that entrepreneurial spirit that once made Argentina the wealthiest land in the world.