Letters in the Buenos Aires Herald


Henry Whitney
Para Olo Hoy a las 11:17 A.M.
Some friends don’t receive the B.A. Herald. At their request, I´m going to send you my, and other, letters that might interest you….if I remember. Here is the letter printed 14 nov. I’d love some feedback.


Last week Noticia magazine made public a book by Dr. Nelson Castro on what up to now was only whispered: Cristina Kirchner is bipolar depressive and, for good measure, shows symptoms of narcissism and hubris. All this brings up some questions:

Should candidates for public office be pre-vetted the way companies evaluate candidates for employment?

In companies, all candidates for employment, even for the lowest levels, are given psychological, medical and IQ tests. They are checked for criminal backgrounds, financial responsibility, applicable skills. Compare that with the way authorities, worldwide, from presidents down to small town board members are elected. Nowhere in are politicians running for office vetted. Mrs. Kirchner is just one example of a person who would probably fail entrance exams for even a menial job in any decent company. Could Venezuela’s Maduro or the US’s Trump pass basic corporate employment examinations? Wouldn’t it make sense to require candidates for elected office everywhere to pass basic selection processes any company uses?

But, first, is Argentina a democracy?

In theory, the senators represent the province and the deputies represent the people. Right? Well, ask any Argentine who represents them in the chamber of deputies. Who selects the “diputado” candidates? Whom does the deputies political future depend on? The “diputados” are not beholden to the people they supposedly represent. They must be loyal to the party or they are through. Nobody can say “such and such is my deputy, the representative of the area in which I live.” So, who represents the people? Nobody!

Everybody is beholden to whoever pays their salary

Why are the salaries of members of congress paid by the national government? The salary of diplomats is not paid by the country they are in. It’s paid by their own country. By the same token, salesmen’s salaries are not paid by their clients. It’s done that way so that the first loyalty of diplomats and salesmen is to their employer, not to the people they are trying to influence. So wouldn’t it be reasonable for the salaries of senators and deputies be paid by the province or the people who sent them to hold public office?

Ballots that guarantee mediocrity

Have you studied any of those meter-long ballots used in the recent elections? I counted 182 names in one of them. How many of the names on any list does the average person even recognize, much less know? Where does one go for information on them? How can anybody make a truly sound vote if they don’t have a way to know, much less evaluate, the candidates? This takes us back to the beginning of this letter: there is no way to know if the people in these ballots meet minimum ethical, psychological or other criteria for selection.

Should lawyers be allowed to hold public office?

Lawyer Juan Ignacio Forlón, for two year president of the Banco Nación, will now take on the national audit office. There is nothing in his C.V. to suggest that he has any formal studies in management, finances or accounting. He got where he is only because he is a friend of Maximo Kirchner, the president’s son. Can he be expected to do more than follow instructions from the powers that be?

I have asked many lawyers what they studied in accounting, finances and economy when in law school. They all looked at me with surprise and answer “some”, “a little” “part of a semester.” One lawyer added, “Accountants are our natural enemy.”
They are proud of their knowledge of the law and their capability to design laws. But they make their living by twisting the law to get what their clients pay them for. One moment they use the law to get something for their client, they use the same law to stop somebody from taking something from their client. Their ethics and loyalty are bought by their client. No profession produces so many billionaires…by fudging the law.

Could it be that with their ethical standards and their limited knowledge of anything other than law would most of them could not pass the pre-employment exams mentioned at the beginning of this letter? Aren’t lawyers with political connections, such as Forlón, practically a guarantee of bad management, financial or accounting decisions? Going back to my initial comment, wouldn’t it be best to have lawyer tested before allowing them to hold public office? Should they be allowed to hold public office?


Maybe a couple of centuries ago, when things were simpler, anybody was as fit as the next person to hold public office. But, today, shouldn’t candidates meet minimum standards before being allowed to hold public office?

Henry Whitney
Tel 54-11-4795-4092
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