Socialism is the answer ... Posted by: McQ
on Friday, July 13, 2007
Or so claims Hugo Chavez, dictator of Venezuela. Amir Taheri gives us a progress report as to how that's working out south of the border.
Chavez now has unfettered access to Venezuela's oil wealth to the tune of 180 billion in net oil revenues. He's added 30 billion in borrowing, not to mention other revenues from taxes, customs duties, etc.
So life is good, eh? And poverty is on the run?
Yet, under Chavez, Venezuela's public debt (domestic and foreign) has risen from $21 to almost $47 billion. His own government's reports show a steady rise in the number of people below the poverty line. Despite a $5 billion bonanza from the seizure of foreign funds from the Venezuelan Central Bank, the government last year issued bonds worth $4 billion to cover a looming budget deficit.
What's going on? Well for one, those who can and have the means are leaving the country like rats deserting a sinking ship. Not only them but their money:
Over the last eight years, Venezuelans have transferred something like $70 billion to foreign (mostly American) banks.
I'm sure that problem is somewhere on Chavez's list to be stopped, by decree of course.
And then there's the apparent decision of Chavez to give priority and money to fighting the phantom of Yankee Imperialism than taking care of poverty like he promised.
That, of course, has him allied with the likes of Iran and Cuba. And Taheri points out that for a so-called "Bolivarian" revolutionary, that's not exactly the sort of company he should be keeping as Bolivar was a champion of the working class:
Ahmadinejad and Chavez traveled to southern Iran, where a giant petrochemical complex has been under construction for years. Walking hand-in-hand and exchanging sentimental phrases, the couple visited Asaluyeh - one of the most deprived areas of Iran's poverty-stricken Deep South. There, Chavez spoke of " the toiling masses' right to a better life."
Yet part of his visit had been cancelled to avoid construction workers who've been on strike since April. (One grievance: They hadn't been paid for six months.) Several of their leaders have been arrested by the secret police and shipped to unknown destinations.
Asaluyeh workers are frequently beaten up by thugs working for government owned companies and their French partners. The majority of Asaluyeh's 60,000 workers are poverty-stricken individuals who have come from all over Iran to earn a living for families left behind - families they often are not allowed to visit for months on end.
A recent Shiraz University study described conditions at Asaluyeh sites as "akin to slave labour camps." The average six-day working week can run into 70 hours; most workers, hired on a daily basis, get no paid holidays at all. They live in overcrowded huts provided by employers, who charge up to half of the average wage as rent. Food and other necessities are also available only in company-owned shops, often at prices twice higher than the average in the province.
He may know the revolutionary rhetoric, but it appears he doesn't understand that the laws of economics aren't impressed by that. And his fixation on battling mythical external enemies has caused him to take his eye off the ball at home. Like Zimbabwe, Venezuela is in for some very rough times. Unfortunately that's what happens when you give total power to an incompetent, tin-pot dictator with delusions of grandeur who thinks that Iran is a 'worker's paradise' and being like Fidel would be nirvana.
I think you make the mistake of giving Chavez too much credit. He doesn’t care about the economy. All he cares about is Hugo. As long as Hugo remains in control, Hugo will sleep in a palace, Hugo will eat fine food and keep his belly full, Hugo will have wine, women and song.
That’s what dictators do. Economics is not their concern outside of claiming ’socialism’ is best for the peasants so that money can continue to funnel into their coffers.
Whether it’s a Socialist like Chavez or a Royal Family like the House of Saud, the sad, sad truth of the oil rich states is that almost always corrupt dictators or bureaucrats control the oil wealth, line the pockets of a few, prance around on the world stage as if they’re important, and when in a few decades the oil is gone, the country will be worse off than before. Sickening.
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/14/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention updated throughout the day…so check back often. This is a weekend edition so updates are as time and family permits.