Outgoing President of Chile is a smart guy. He reminds us that even when right, we must still persuade. And we might fail. Don’t give up.
He also reaffirms the need for equal education and jobs to end extreme inequality. Things we know but are vigorously opposed by too many in this nation.
Monocle:What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as president?
Sebastián Piñera: You learn to be more humble, more patient. You realise that you cannot get everything done immediately. That you have to negotiate and compromise. Even if you’re right, you have to spend a lot of time convincing people, arguing and trying to create majority support for your measures. And that’s something you don’t do in the private sector.
M:What level of sacrifice do you think the wealthy can make in Chile?
SP: More than what we have today. I am convinced that the real cause of poverty and extreme inequality is basically two [things]: lack of quality of education for everybody and lack of opportunities for good employment for everybody. That is why we have put our main efforts in those two areas.
The poor have to do their part too and not only rely on government policies. On top of that, of course, the people who have had better opportunities in life have to be more generous in terms of sharing those opportunities with other people who don’t have the same opportunities.
M:What’s the biggest national risk in Chile today?
SP: We might lose our will. I worry that people might start thinking they have a right to everything and start asking the government for everything. Freedom comes with responsibilities. If you teach everyone that they deserve everything for free, we won’t make it.