Free Markets, Free People

Why governments are dangerous

When government doesn’t want to pay a bill, you have little recourse except the courts in most law abiding countries.

In the dictatorship that is Venezuela, not only does the government not pay the bill, but it takes you means of livelihood to boot for daring to attempt to collect what you’re owed. Such is the fate of one American owned country which tried to collect on its debt.

Venezuela will nationalize a fleet of oil rigs belonging to U.S. company Helmerich and Payne, the latest takeover in a push to socialism as President Hugo Chavez struggles with lower oil output and a recession.


The 11 drilling rigs have been idled for months following a dispute over pending payments by the OPEC member’s state oil company PDVSA. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday the rigs, the Oklahoma-based company’s entire Venezuelan fleet, were being nationalized to bring them back into production.

The reason they weren’t presently in production is the Venezuelan government refuses to pay them for $49 million for past services.

Of course the government of Venezuela has devised an excuse for what would be grand theft in any other law abiding society:

Ramirez said companies that refused to put their rigs into production were part of a plan to weaken Chavez’s government,

“There is a group of drill owners that has refused to discuss tariffs and services with PDVSA and have preferred to keep this equipment stored for a year,” Ramirez told reporters in the oil producing state of Zulia. “That is the specific case with U.S. multinational Helmerich and Payne.”

Interestingly, we here have the opposite problem. Venezuela’s government is trying to get drilling rigs into production and has resorted to nationalized theft to do it.

We have a government trying to take drilling rigs out of production, and is prepared to ignore court rulings to the contrary and do so by executive fiat.



22 Responses to Why governments are dangerous

  • Their state run television stations will no doubt explain the situation to the Venezuelan people and highlight how what’s happening is an outrageous act against the rights of private prop…er…ty….

  • Sigh.  Venezuela is so screwed.

  • Nationalization of foreign companies is legal under international law if and only if those companies are given fair compensation for their property.   It sounds like that won’t happen here.  However, another example of corruption is when a judge heavily invested in oil stocks tries to lift a government order stopping oil rig production until we can be sure something like the BP disaster is unlikely to recur.

    • You really are a COMPLETE idiot.  Judge Feldman is a universally admired jurist WHO HAPPENS to be part of a sophisticated selection system (computerized) that assigns cases randomly AFTER checking for conflicts.
      The BP disaster WAS EXTREMELY unlikely to occur, idiot.
      What “fair compensation” did stock and bond holders in GM and Chrysler get, asp-hole?

      • @Ragspierre: You can actually use more of your brain than just the amygdala. Try it sometime.
        Your contention: “Judge Feldman is a universally admired jurist”
        My comment: If he were universally admired, judicial ethicists would not be questioning his decision.
        Your contentions: The 5th Circuit actually owns and uses a computer system for conflict management, and that this system assigns judges to cases.
        My comment: Such systems do exist, and, yes, I’ve seen that BayouBuzz editorial as well. Whether the 5th Circuit owns and uses one is something I can’t get anybody to substantiate. I’m a software development consultant who has worked with many federal agencies over the past 20 years, so I’m very skeptical. I doubt that they own such a system, and if they do, I doubt that it is being used correctly. I also doubt that anyone is bothering to do the massive amount of data entry that is required to enable it to run the rules that would find real conflicts of interest beyond simple name matching. And no federal agency would trust a piece of software to “randomly” assign federal judges to cases.
        Your contention: The BP spill was extremely unlikely to occur.
        My comment: On what statistical analysis do you base this brilliant conclusion? Go apply an unused portion of your frontal lobe to the statistical study of disasters. It was in fact extremely likely to occur. The development of drilling technology is driven soley by revenue potential. No oil company has had any motiviation to ensure that equally expensive safety technology kept pace. Safety regulations and compliance were given lip service and minimal budget to create the appearance of compliance. The spill was just a matter of time, and there is no way to predict whether the next one will happen tomorrow or five years from now. The only certainty is that, if the status quo is maintained, it will happen again.

        If you want to discuss this, respond like you’re older than 8. Unless you aren’t. It’s hard to tell. Respond like you did above, and I’ll just forget you completely, which is more consideration than you gave Mr. Erb, and much more than you deserve.

    • BTW, after Salazar ADMITTED LYING (a felony, BTW)…AFTER his panel of experts publicly accused him of LYING, on what pretext…GIVEN THE EXPERTS SAID IT WAS LESS SAFE…would you extend a moratorium PAST the time to run a safety review?

    • “However, another example of corruption is when- ”
      An intellectually bankrupt professor is given charge of educating students in a state university because he has the ‘correct’ viewpoints for academia.

    • “Heavily Invested”… Huh, have you actually looked at his financial report Erb?  The judge reported something like 100+ different investments.  You’re slandering him over 5 out of those 100+ where his position on 4 of them was less than 15k and on the other somewhere 50k?
      You’re saying that what likely amounts to no more than 5% of his TOTAL investment portfolio happens to be diversified into the Oil industry, that he is going to risk his career and potentially greater consequences on a ruling he had to know would be appealed?
      Yeesh… Do you come up with these on your own or get your talking points directly from the Administration?

      • It’s also not true:

        Much of the sensational reporting on Feldman’s investments was based on outdated information. The Judge was blasted for owning stock in Transocean, Ltd and Halliburton, two of the major companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Feldman owned those stocks in 2008; however, he sold those shares long before issuing his ruling this week. In fact, this updated information will be released in the next report on his stock holdings.

        If Feldman held financial interests in any of companies involved in the lawsuit or the Deepwater Horizon rig, he would not have been allowed the take the case. The 5th District Court uses a sophisticated computer system to check whether judges have a conflict of interest in any legal proceeding. This system automatically determines whether a judge needs to be recused from a particular case. In this lawsuit, Feldman was allowed to take the case because he did not own any stock related to the parties involved.

        • You people are incredible. You just copy other unverified information as though it were authoritative, then make the rest up as you go. You have quite a little self congratulatory fiesta going on here. I hope you’ve noticed by now that Judge Feldman’s latest disclosure lists investments in 21 oil and gas stocks, half of which have financial interests in the Gulf. One example: Allis-Chalmers Energy, whose CFO has stated “We do expect that our business in the offshore is going to suffer.” Thus this is just one of many clear conflicts of interest.

          A journalistically responsible article on the matter can be found here:

          Go read the Code of Judicial Conduct: 

          Not that any of this information will make any difference; this site is clearly all about fear mongering and keeping opinions polarized.

          By the way, have any of you bothered to read the draft report the “scientists” endorsed, and compared the differences to the final report they complained about? The two reports say exactly the same thing, except that, while in the the draft the moratorium was xompletely open-ended (which the scientists approved), while the final version limited it to six months.

          Bye bye kiddos. You play nice now.

    • The scientists whose views were misrepresented reportedly received an apology from the evidence-doctoring Salazar, but where are the consequences?  Salazar violated 18 USC 1001, but Eric “Sleepy” Holder is busy ignoring so many laws that it must make his brain hurt.

    • Ka-CHING!!!!  30 more pieces of silver for the Erb-ster!

    • As I said yesterday, “To be sure, you are a moron”.
      Also a slanderous gossip monger.

  • Erb,

    After reading so many of your posts over the years, I can only conclude that you actually don’t believe anything that your write. You’re just aware of the rise that you can get out of the regular posters here and you just really, really enjoy that attention. 

    Because noone with half a brain or an ounce of common sense could write what you write without:
    a) going insane
    b) laughing uncontrollably
    c) taking lots and lots of psychotropic drugs

    Personally, I think it’s all three, but that’s just me.

    • “I can only conclude that you actually don’t believe anything that your write.”

      You’re in a tricky area. Belief, for Scott, is often a transient matter, so he “experiments” with what he believes, in case he wants to continue to believe it, or not.

      If you take the therapeutic path in trying to understand Erb (i.e., there’s a clinical problem) some will say that’s unfair. I would contend that while it’s something that one can in fairness consider, that it is by far the safer route.

      The more dangerous route is the epistemological analysis, which is the real snake pit, because the confusion is so deep and so broad that a huge conflict sets itself up with Scott’s shallow affect. How does something so deep co-exist with something so flat? Really quite a mystery.

  • Anyone who was hoping against hope that The Great Recession was over…your hope is effectively dead.  Obama and the Deemocrats have taken Cloward-Piven out of being a demand-side concept, and are targeting the supply-side, as well.

  • Ah well, no pun intended, if I were Helmerich and Payne, at just the right time all those oil rigs would look like baby “Little Boys” (gadgets) and all Hugo would have is ashes. 

    But that’s just me.

    • Not just you.  My thinking was running along similar lines, though I was inclined more toward ‘strip out everything that’s not welded put.’