By Jan Oravec, President, Entrepreneurs Association of Slovakia
(SME, Slovak daily, September 2, 2008).
José Piñera, father of the first successful pension reform in the world, will be on a short visit to Slovakia next week. If the 20th century was dominated by the state run pension system created by Bismarck, Piñera in 1980 proposed and later implemented its de facto elimination. By this he reserved his place in the Pantheon of those living forever.
Since then there are almost 30 countries in the world inspired by his reform. I am glad that Slovakia is among them, and that I was able to contribute to this by first inviting José Piñera to Bratislava in 2002. At that time he made a great impression on all of us and his presentations contributed to the fact that our pension system was finally reformed more fundamentally than it was originally intended by our politicians. Even though not as fundamentally as it would be possible. For example, while in our case politicians decided to keep PAYGO system and created an option of individual pension saving accounts, Piñera went much further, he eliminated PAYGO system completely and replaced it by private savings.
His critics are frequently trying to minimise his reform performance by referring to the military junta that was ruling the country at the time of implementation of the reform. It is absolutely inapropriate. Even under a junta you still need one „small thing“ for successful implementation of the change: to convince. To convince the generals and admirals. And that was for sure not easier than to convince elected politicians in democratic countries.
For his „privatisation“ of pension system system, Piñera not only deserves to be mentioned in textbooks. He also became a subject of everlasting hatred of socialists of all countries. When you reinforce citizen‘s control over their own life, the strong state is redundant.
Thus Piñera contributed to financial security of employees and dignity of life in their pension age much more than all talks on paternalistic state of all leftist politicians and trade unions bosses of the world altogether. You definitely should not miss the public appearances of this special guy.
Note. Here is the original Slovak version.