If only we could be as efficient as the soviets…


The new “efficiency” drive recently announced by the comandante presidente was looking for a symbol to recognize and represent the excellence that the Chavernment wants its workers to embody. Soon, inspiration struck…via the U.S.S.R.

In one of his final decisions before stepping down, Vice-President Elias Jaua created the “Bicentennial Button for Socialist Efficiency”, an award for those public sector employees and workers (domestic or foreign) that “…stand out in their labor, not just in terms of results, but by following socialist principles and values”.

Based on the description alone, this button is the Bolivarian Revolution’s version of the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (pictured above) which was awarded to workers (and other members of civilian life) during Soviet times. The awards have some similarities in their statutes, though the Bicentennial Button is restricted to public sector workers.

So, if someone has performed feats of efficiency that don’t match the State’s ideology, even if it offers great results for the State and its citizens, could they even be considered?

Not likely.

Government agencies and State-owned enterprises will have the chance to compete for the “Bicentennial Banner”. The rules are more or less the same as those for the button, and the idea is that winning entities will proudly put it on display. One thing for sure is that someone’s gonna make big money by either making them or importing them from China, like a lot of the stuff we’re bringing here right now. Fondo Chino con eso...

The presentation of this award left an interesting detail in the open: its funding will come from the Socialist Efficiency Fund created in April 2010. Wait, wait… the whole efficiency pledge is recent but there was an efficiency fund up and running for more than two years? The fund has some serious bucks but it hasn’t shown any bang at all so far.

The new “efficiency” narrative is starting to look more and more like the same old story of years past: keep ordinary folks under the illusion of Venezuela becoming a powerhouse, while ordinary problems are swept under the rug with a little help of the petro-checkbook. Neither a nice shiny medal or creating an oversight ministry will change all that.

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  1. As irresistibly easy it is to make merciless fun of this, I have to say it represents a BIG advance in what you might call chavista microeconomics (for lack of a better term).

    To boot, at least the old USSR had some notion that if you were going to unhinge effort from reward at the workplace, you needed to put SOMETHING in place of the old pay-nexus to incentivize workers. Medals and awards and such were a lame substitute, for sure, but they demonstrated at least some level of awareness that asking people to work in return for no marginal reward was problematic on some level.

    It took the chavistocracy 14 years to come around to grasping this. It will fail, of course, but it’s a step forward in some way.

    • “It will fail, of course, but it’s a step forward in some way.”

      “It will fail, of course” is another way of saying: of course, regardless of whether or not it actually fails (and here’s hoping that it does), this will be the opposition line.

    • The funny fact is, in 2008 Chávez repealed the 1954 law and had it rewritten to his own liking. Basically all categories were changed: instead of gold, silver and bronze now they’re named after late Venezuelan leftists and are doubled to six: three specifically for men and other three for women.

      To create a parallel award is just part of their twisted nature. They can’t help it.

  2. “Neither a nice shiny medal or creating an oversight ministry will change all that.”

    And if it does, the opposition will deny it anyway so what’s the point?

    • Exactly PCV, the opposition will say state enterprises are wasteful no matter what, so why shouldn’t brave communists such as yourself embezzle money? Afterall, the entire point of the revolution was to satisfy the opposition, since that’s obviously now impossible people have lost all incentive! THAT is the cause of all the problems!

  3. Even communists employ ridiculous human resources techniques to build brand loyalty and incentivize productivity without having to pay for it. Employee of the month no joda!

  4. In the old USSR, they did offer token “carrots”, as well as real ones (bigger apartments, cars, etc.). But they also used the “stick”, one of the biggest being sent to Siberia.

    So, where will Venezuela’s Siberia be?


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