The Workers vs. Their Paradise


My latest for the What’s Next Venezuela? Blog. Key bit:

Under private ownership, any complaint the unions take to State Labor Inspectorates tend to be heard sympathetically. The socialist party appointed inspectors are, after all, mostly convinced of the horrors of capitalism and minded to be tough on private owners, demanding that Collective Barganing agreements and labor laws be adhered to absolutely to the letter.

When a firm passes into state ownership, however, that dynamic is reversed. A worker who protests an abuse by the “workers’ government” is seen as, at the very least, a walking contradiction and, more usually, as a dangerous, unreliable element: possibly a saboteur, certainly a counter-revolutionary. And so, the same complaint that will mobilize the state to your defense if you make it against a private employer can easily get you placed on a Black List of counterrevolutionary fifth-columns if you make it against a nationalized firm.

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  1. It was that way, the sympathetic response of the Labor Inspectorate towards the worker vs. the owner, long before Chavez took over.

    What is amazing though, is to see how a government that thoeretically should bolster Labor actually behaves worse than any SOB capitalist business owner ever did. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot.

    But the bigger threat towards business owners come in the form of the local version of OSHA (Industrial Safety). Those bastards can shut a plant down in a heartbeat over perceived safety issues, real or imagined. They are mostly composed of very radical idiots that are blind to reason and use their power to aggressively harass the manufacturing sector. Like many in power these days, they can be bought off, but some just want to shut factories down in order to get as many black marks against them.

  2. It will get to the point where everyone is controlled by a union and the union is controlled by the state and nobody can really complain.

  3. Awesome piece, Quico.

    One small niggle, though:

    from the yolk capitalist exploitation

    What have eggs got to do with anything? 😉

    “from the yoke of capitalist exploitation” might work better.

    Sorry, I may not be an English teacher anymore, but old habits are hard to break.

    • I’m surprised you didn’t catch this one:

      “In the wake of President Chávez’s to nationalize the Venezuelan operations of U.S. bottle-maker Owens-Illinois…”

      It’s the very first sentence!

  4. OT
    What’s Next Venezuela? Blog does not have clear statement of who is behind it, even though it asks people to join in. Could you please enlighten us in the goals and people behind the site?

  5. Completely Off Topic

    Wife and I are watching “Oprah,’ me only because Bush is on promoting his book. Oprah asked him how it felt being called so many bad names during his tenure as president. Paraphrasing, he said “well the one that called me Satin was Hugo Chavez. You have to consider the source” and he chuckled. Priceless.

  6. When will we EVER learn?

    Unlimited power does a world of hurt, except when you are the one directly (and I mean directly, such as giving orders or doing things yourself) wielding it. Then you get a chance to do a world of hurt.

    And in a Socialist State, guess what? The State OWNS YOU, along with everything and everyone else, including the courts you go to to have redress. Unlimited power, not in your hands, really. Game over. You lose. Always. In every confrontation with it.

    The workers/citizens/persons/intellectuals that hitch their wagon to a totalitarian or wannabe totalitarian State (or want to create one) are probably not utter idiots or ignorant, not all of them at any rate. But in doing such things they are probably worse than any mentally challenged, or ignorant (or both) person able and interested enough to follow a line of reasoning, however slowly. Because they do not want to, they can be called complete IDIOTS and willful IGNORANTS.

  7. I have this not so funny story about a mid sized (700 employees) aluminum cosmetic cans maker call Alentuy. It is located in Barquisimeto. The workers has collective contract which has numerous perks such as cestaticket, free cafeteria, 4 months utilidades, more vacation than the laws says, very well paid overtime, etc. Some years ago a chavista union won the elections in the plant and problems began to happen. Until one day in 2008 the plant was shut down and taken by a group of radical pro union workers. The plant stayed closed for about 2 months until a constitutional amparo was issued in favor of the others workers who want to continue working. The owner sued the union directives for all the destruction that ocurred during the time the plant was occupied. In april 2010 a judge sentenced that the union directives could not come near the plant and that they would face some jail time. In june the plant was expropiated. The reason: laboral harrasment. Today worker work every other week. They also collect their wages in a very irregular basis. This plant can only make cosmetic and chemicals spray cans (think deodorants, hair spray, etc). Almost all the production was sold in other countries. Today all lines are shut down. They sold all the scrap aluminum, they sold a lot of tools and machines, and what has not been sold it has been stolen. Chavista interventors charge between 10% to 30% to collect any debt from the previous administration. Sad very sad.

    • I think there are drones that are more intelligent than these workers you mention. The ones that went along with the “extreme prejudice” takeover.

      As for definitions of drone, take your pick: One use only, disposable males of the hymenoptera family (ant/bees). One use only, disposable pilot-less targets for military use.

      These workers share characteristics with the above, they are one use only and disposable, guided at best by blind instinct or Radio Control. Sad to see persons descend to the level of insects or RC planes. I suppose the analogies of Socialism and ants were not so off.

  8. I like this one almost as much as the one you posted here…

    “…usually when the accumulation of such state-owned money-pits sets off a fiscal crisis – government’s are forced to sell them on again, typically at bargain basement prices, and often to investors whose only return path to profitability involves massive layoffs. It’s a cycles Venezuelans have suffered through before – and one Chávez, for reasons clear only to him, seems intent on re-editing.”

    Then the very people who ran the businesses to the ground, or their ideological godsons, can shovel all the blame on neo-liberals (in reality the social-somethings who were forced to sell said tumorous growth but have little choice, loans will not come) . So the vicious cycle can start again with a new generation.

    The real liberals, who are rare in Latin-America (almost as rare as self-consciousness and a sense of ridicule), get to feel all the while like they are watching the Three Stooges. Ridiculous, senseless, destructive, masochistic and funny as slapstick can be. Not wanting to suffer the consequences of living in a country in which Moe, Larry and Curly rampage, they decide to move to another country and continent.


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