The Misiones have to go

And that's why we don't like him.
And that’s why I don’t like him.

The Misiones, Hugo Chávez’s trademark social programs, have become the proverbial third rail in Venezuelan politics – nobody dares touch them because they are so damn popular.

But since we are unelectable, it’s about time we speak the truth and come out of the closet: “I’m Juan, and I hate the Misiones.”

Before you get into a frenzy and paint me as some sort of plutocratic, squash-the-poor reactionary, please note this isn’t some wholesale rejection of social policy or call for a return to Dickensian laissez-faire.

Instead, this is a call to get real about the fact that the Misiones are catastrophically bad social policy: half-baked, bloated, corrupt monstrousities nobody properly thought through, and hardly anyone dares question.

If this is now the consensus way of distributing the oil rents, we’re screwed. The misiones are teaching a generation of Venezuelans terrible lessons about what social policy can and ought to be. If we are not even allowed to question their “wisdom,” and criticizing them amounts to political suicide, we simply have no future.

We must fight this.

The first thing I hate about the Misiones is that they are haphazardly put together. Quick – can you tell me the name of the person in charge of Misión Mercal? Misión Robinson? Misión Barrio Adentro? Their numerical targets? Performance indicators?

You can’t, because they don’t exist. Misiones exist in the ether, courtesy of the whim of the President, thanks to the largesse of the Miraflores checkbook. They don’t have a formal budget. We don’t know how many people they employ, nor how many people benefit from them.

We don’t know their numerical objectives, nor the techniques employed to measure its success. They don’t quantify their goals, nor do they have any space for monitoring or evaluation, any standards at all to judge how much of the money they spend is well spent, and how much of it is waste. They have no mechanisms in place to fight corruption or systems to find it out and root it out when it happens. They’re social policy a la Eudomar Santos

These crucial shortcoming perpetuate the idea of rentism. One of the principal moral shortcomings oil has helped metastasize is this idea that there is a free lunch, that money will simply fall out of the sky because we are a rich country, that there is no opportunity cost. This permeates everything in Venezuela – from our attitudes toward education to our alarmingly low levels of savings.

All of this is facilitated by the quick spurts of oil rents, but also by the policies put in place to distribute them for political gain. Once the absurdly high oil prices revert to their mean, these policies invariably collapse, and we learn nothing. This is not to say that oil per se is bad. What’s bad is the way we have let it infiltrate our culture and twist our values into something that prevents us from thinking about scarcity, productivity, technology, and education. They call it “the devil’s excrement” for a reason.

With no formal structures, with no single person calling the shots, it’s hard to even say in what sense misiones exist, or what they really are. Ultimately, they become a festering cauldron of corruption, even though they manage to help a few people. That’s not policy – you might as well hop on a helicopter and start throwing bills into the slums of Caracas. You’d probably have a larger impact.

Another reason the Misiones constitute terrible policy is their shoddy targeting. Anyone, no matter how rich, can walk into a Mercal and buy highly subsidized food from the government – hell, even we tried doing that. Anybody can benefit from a Barrio Adentro doctor, whether you’re in Carapita or in Chuao. And even though certain Misiones – such as Misión Ribas – are focused on the barrios, do we actually know if everyone benefitting from them are actually in need of help? And as great as it would be if the government could provide everyone in Venezuela with affordable housing, it can’t and it won’t. Regardless, there is a Misión Gran Vivienda Venezuela that aspires to do just that, and does a crappy job at it. Impossible goals, meet total opacity – I hope you two get along snappily.

As it happens, there is great income diversity within Venezuelan barrios. In the same street, you may find truly indigent people coexisting with lower-middle-class bureaucrats for some government institution. Clearly, the needs of those two groups are different, and money that goes to one necessarily is not available for other people in need. Resources are scarce, and you want the biggest bang for your buck.

Simply targeting neighborhoods, like Barrio Adentro does, is not enough. Put together this way, some money always ends up where it is not needed. Modern social policy is data-driven, evidence-based, and outcome-oriented. The misiones are none of those things.

None of this is exactly rocket science – governments all over have gradually converged on a series of best practice standards to make sure they’re getting the most impact for their social spending.

You can get a sense for how it’s done looking at the extensive work done to document the impact of Colombia’s Familas en Acción program, or the cottage industry of policy analysis that has grown up around Mexico’s Oportunidades-Progresa initiative. In each case, policy goals are stated explicitly and outcomes are evaluated on an ongoing basis, with research into what works continuously looping back into the design of the policy.

But the people running the misiones are too busy handing out T-shirts to think about this. Wallowing in a mudpit of petrodollars, nobody cares if half (or a third…or three fourths) of the money they get is wasted, or leaks out to people who aren’t even vaguely within the target demographic, or even if there is a target demographic. They’re just throwing money in the general direction of the problem, hoping that maybe some of it will stick – but lacking any mechanism able to tell how much (if any) actually does.

The problem with these, and other failures, is that they can’t really be fixed. You can’t take a Misión and simply say you’re going to make it better by, say, making it accountable or smart. The Misión is, by definition, a program that targets everyone, where nobody is held accountable, and no specific criteria for meeting a target. This leads to a different problem – one having to do with branding.

Some people will say that the opposition understands all of what I have said, but they pledge to keep the Misiones as a matter of protecting a popular brand and survival. “The Misiones are popular,” goes the thinking, “but I must say that I will support them in order to get elected. Even though I want to dramatically overhaul them to make them better, I downplay that … because people wouldn’t understand.”

My problem with that approach is that loyalty to a faulty brand leads to a basic insincerity, whereby politicians are forced to defend programs that, by all accounts, desperately need to be radically changed.

You can eliminate all the problems with the Misiones and continue to call them such, but if you do things right you will end up with a completely different animal, and by continuing to call them Misiones you begin treading in the path of insincerity. That is why, no matter how much they promise, voters always believe opposition politicians are going to take away the Misiones.

What is the point, then, of protecting the “Misión” brand by promising not to touch them? Do people actually believe we love them?

Of course not, because deep down, we don’t. We understand how radically they need to change.

Are we really naive enough to think that Misiones constitute valid social policy? Or are we tricking people into thinking that they won’t be touched, when in fact they will be completely made over while their “name brand” remains intact?

Naming issue aside, we would do well to come clean and admit the Misiones are terrible social policy. They can and must be replaced by something much, much better, and a lot of it involves targeted cash transfers.

Keep the name if you must, but make sure people understand they will be an entirely different beast. When chavismo finally comes to its dramatic end, people need to understand things will have to change in order to make our country a better place.

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    • You mean, to the many thieves who manage to get their hands in the till? Yeah, they must be very happy for this free-for-all (the connected), from the one cashing in several million greenbacks to the one directly stealing stuff for his home.

  1. Totally spot on. The problem is what to do and how to do it…the person who figures that out deserves a gold medal, or perhaps Nobel Prize, or maybe title of Supreme Leader of the Universe.

  2. JCN: “They can and must be replaced by something much, much better, …”

    JCN: “…and a lot of it involves targeted cash transfers.”

    FC: “the more targeted the social benefits, the bigger the work disincentives”
    FC: “the more exquisitely you want to aim your social spending at only the people who need it most, the more you need to go poking your big fat government nose into poor people’s household finances to assess just how much they’re making”

    extorres: unconditional, untargetted beats conditional, targetted, respectively.

  3. You’re at least going to need to follow the path Republicans have tread in the US, something like “We will restore the promise of the MIssiones (Medicare),” to Venezuelans by making sure more money gets to you. The same message, but couched in a way that makes it clear the goal is to increase dividends to the Venezuelan people of oil wealth.

  4. I somehow agree that the wishy-washy position on Misiones hurt Capriles and I also think that there is a perversity built-in the misiones system that added to their inefficiency made Capriles´ promise ring hollow. This also applies to the promise of not firing any government employees. It didn’t ring hollow because Capriles was lying and he actually doesn’t believe in social programs, but supporting something as inefficient as misiones cannot be supported by a rational centre-right o centre-left politician.
    Misiones are entitlements given for allegedly doing some job or getting some education, or meeting some requisites. But in the reality most of them are just disguised cash transfers , and that dishonesty built into the system explain partially Chavez’ victory. I mean if I´m allegedly receiving money to learn how to read (Mision Robinson), but actually, as the Francisco Rodriguez study proves, I do know hot to read and not learning anything. Or as another study proved that most women receiving mission madre del barrio benefits do not qualify to do so according to the programs rule. What rational person would think that a President promising efficiency is going to keep up programs like these ones?
    The same rational applies to government workers. In state companies and government agencies there is a percentage of workers who are receiving a salary in exchange of doing nothing.Or people holding jobs that they know they are not qualified for. Can this people could rationally believe that they wouldn’t be fired under any circumstance if Capriles won?
    In hindsigh,t the only viable proposal to counter this would be unconditional cash transfers, that people can actually believe that the money transfer that they are getting through the misiones wont disappear and would be now channeled more efficiently through this mechanism

    • “It didn’t ring hollow because Capriles was lying and he actually doesn’t believe in social programs, but”

      Do your research and get back to us. I forgive you in advance.

    • In my opinion, if you give cash transfers, 90% of people will go out and upgrade their cell phones, get their nails done, buy a bottle of Something Special or a flatscreen tv, some barbies for their kid, and they will be back in a crappy situation the next day.

      I think Barrio Adentro is a good idea in theory – it was developed by some smart people who are gone now of course- but nothing is managed properly. I agree, these are just nodes for corruption. Que lastima.

      • Canucklehead, several points regarding your first paragraph.

        First and foremost, we’re not talking cash handouts, as in charity; we’re talking giving people cash that belongs to them, as in the constitution so dictates.

        Secondly, it is elitist to claim that only the rich get to waste their money. It’s unconditional, and it’s theirs. Regardless on the spending category, they won’t be able to claim income poverty.

        Thirdly, the plan I support does not give enough money out to upgrade cellphones unless they are disciplined enough to save for it, mainly because it’s a daily cash transfer of small amounts, rather than infrequent lump sums.

        Fourthly, even if they do spend it on cellphones or alcohol, the money doesn’t disappear. It changes hands to someone with the business of providing whatever goods or services they choose. Which means that the business expands, and provides jobs, which is what we want, right?

        Fifthly, think of all the natural resources cash deposited in banks. Banks would have to lower their lending interest rates, which helps businesses expand, which creates jobs.

        Sixthly, many cash distribution programs have not only discovered that most people do not mispend their money. Quite the contrary, they have surprised the researchers in how savvy they are with money. Also, they have found that people do not work less, nor quite their jobs, nor cease searching for jobs.

        It’s just a paradigm that people have in their heads not to give money for nothing. But it’s a paradigm that has to change because science and technology are pushing the world in a direction where fewer and fewer will provide more and more, making jobs less and less available. We need to start getting in the mindset that a few will provide for the rest, and be fine with that.

        I recommend a video by senator Hugh Segal from Canada on tax credits, not exactly what I support, but many of his points apply to what I do support.

        • I can’t get the video but it is nice to know that one of our senators is still active and thinking.

          Cash transfers will not build infrastructure, a health care system or an education system. Nowhere in the world has this been done on a mass scale with any success predominantly through the private sector.

          Where I am wrong actually is that cash transfers in the form of micro-financing may work, in certain circumstances. But that is different from simply paying people and relegating a population to a future of doing nothing in a passive state. And I think studies have shown that women tend to be better at managing finances than men (less drinking, less money on prostitution). What you will probably get with small handouts over time is corruption at a level that sucks those small handouts away immediately in any event. There are forms of unofficial “taxation” in poor areas that would capture this sort of thing. Why not, as Gordo below says, focus on good governance.

          • On the elitist thing, the difference between rich people and poor people is that rich people can waste their money and still get by…because they are rich.

          • True, but the key is that it’s each adult’s right to decide on what to spend his own money. Being poor does not give the government the right to become one’s parent. If it’s a legal spenditure, it’s a legal spenditure for all.

          • Besides, how else do you expect them to learn how to handle money if they never have money to handle freely?

          • Canucklehead,

            Did you try searching for the video? The title of Segal’s talk is Fighting Poverty. It’s worth it if you can find it.

            Regarding building infrastructure, why do you think cash transfers don’t build infrastructure? Here’s how it does: Cash is spent on consumer goods and services, providers recieve it the cash in exchange for the goods and services, providers and their providers pay taxes, the taxes are spent on building infrastructure. If we contrast it to the current method: Cash gets spent on building infrastructure, hopefully the infrastructure will help providers of goods and services make more money from non poor consumers, hopefully their extra money is spent on expanding business, hopefully the business expansion creates sufficient jobs for all the poor, hopefully the employed poor are no longer poor thanks to their salaries.

            The current method has too much wishful thinking, and is unsustainable because jobs are not always created for those who need it most. Cash tranfers attack the problem directly, while infrastructure building attacks it indirectly. Also, Cash Transfers give the government the incentive to really get market results so that they can really collect taxes, whereas the infrastructure building gives them the incentive to keep bleeding the budget and pocketing the huge lumps of cash.

            Specifically, since you mentioned them, education and healthcare can still be taken care of by taxation, as it should (not oil money). So, Cash Transfers does not mean draining the money from the government. The same amount of cash will still flow through the nation, only that the cash would go efficiently from bottom to top, rather than ineffectively from top to bottom.

            As to passivity, again, you need to change the paradigm regarding activity and passivity. With sufficient cash transfers, a person may be willing not to work and simply live at the poverty line (and that’s valid since it’s his oil money to do what he wants with it) but it’s not passive, at all. That person will ACTIVELY spend it. That spending is precisely what gets the economy going. It gets businesses to step on each other trying to get that person to buy their good or service over any other. That person’s vote with his few dollars is his responsibility as a citizen, and it is a good enough responsibility.

            As to women spending it better than men, I don’t believe in sexist programs, the same way I don’t believe you nor I have the right to impose our way of spending money on another adult. Besides, you sidestepped the first and foremost argument: it’s THEIR money.

            As to good governance, with a petrostate model in place, wishful thinking. With cash transfers in place, you may just get good governance from having to learn to live off of taxation alone, as a normal country does.

      • In an inflationary economy such as Venezuela, going to buy stuff whenever you get some money, instead of letting that money depreciate in a bank account is perfectly rational. I know we sometimes frown upon seeing people spend their utilidades at sambil rigth after they collect them, but the impulse to get rid of bolivares as soon as you have them in your hands is not crazy, and inflation has fueled that kind of reasoning in Venezuela, you might criticize the priorities or what they choose to spent their money on, but not the actions.

          • I suspect with a devaluation on the horizon, this is going to be the most frenetic Christmas season ever.

          • I understand that part of the idea is transferring small sums each day, as oppose to one year payments(which would trigger December like reactions when paid). I really don’t have the technical knowledge to ascertain if you could curve inflation while making cash transfers, but I think that the proposal as such could enable us to be more honest about what should happen to misiones in a post-Chavez government, while remaining electable at the same time.
            Its going to be a crazy Christmas season. What I wanted to point out is that there is a lot of criticism about Venezuelan consumers habits from both sides of the political spectrum, about their consumism and such. I think this is hypocritical considering that the economic policies, both pre and post Chavez, have made saving in Bs. almost a suicidal act. When Chavez tells people they should not spent their whole utilidades and save a little in the Bank, he might as well tell them to burn the cash.

          • I fully agree that it is important not to be judgmental about the famous Venezuelan consumer culture, and to understand the underlying economic reason for this. It is useful to be reminded.

          • Its hard even to be judgmental about why they spent this money in consumer goods, as most people don’t even have access to the banking system and financing, thus they are barred from investing in real state or even a car to save the value of their money. Consumers good are the only thing they have access to.

  5. Let’s be clear what purpose the misiones serve. If they were to act solely as a limited safety net, with bureaucracy to ration the benefits only to the most deserving, there would be no revolution at all.

    The real value of the misiones is that they are unlimited. They do prop up the least fortunate, but their design is to continually improve the lot of all — indefinitely. This is intended to eventually remove money from the economic equation once and for all.

    You can be assured that figures and accounts are maintained for each of the misiones, but the most important indicators for the government are maximum coverage and distribution. Sure, you get plenty of waste with such a liberal approach.

    • Here is where I get off the bus.
      “The real value of the misiones is that they are unlimited. They do prop up the least fortunate, but their design is to continually improve the lot of all — indefinitely. This is intended to eventually remove money from the economic equation once and for all.”

      In my mind, the misiones should serve to get folks, who for whatever reason, need help getting back on their feet and getting to a point where THERE IS NO NEED FOR THEIR PARTICIPATION IN A MISION. To serve as a permanent support is the same as depending on a machine to breathe, when it quits (and it is naive to believe it won’t quit), you die.

      We cannot be assured that any figures or accounts are maintained. Where are those figures and accounts? When are they released, and by whom? Who audits them?

      The answers are, nowhere, never and nobody.

  6. I think the main he issue is Politics vs. Good Governance. Ultimately, it’s not about values and getting elected. It’s not about motives and being true to constituents. It’s about getting things done that are effective, economic, and sustainable!

  7. JC,

    This article (and your political thought in general) starts from some basic premises that are fundamentally flawed, thus rendering the conclusions you draw to also be fundamentally flawed. I will briefly list the most obvious ones:

    1. This whole idea that oil has created all these problems for Venezuela is a nonsense idea that makes no sense. Venezuela was a very poor country long before oil was ever discovered, and would look much like its even poorer neighbors today if it did not have oil. So you’ve got to stop linking all these problems back to the fact that the Venezuelan government has lots of cash. It isn’t the root of the problems. (DiJohn wrote a good book on this recently)

    2. This idea that if only the government could administer the wealth correctly, and “sow the oil” that Venezuela’s problems could be solved… If only the government could be more efficient in its spending, and build the right political climate so that investment would take place… Again, wrong. Not only wrong, but ahistorical. Venezuela has “sowed the oil” for decades, and has invested countless amounts of oil money in countless development projects under several different policy frameworks. Yet has consistently confronted the same problems of low productivity, corruption, low investment, etc.

    The question is not about how the government is investing the funds, or whether they are doing it “right” or “wrong” or “efficiently” etc. The question is, as a Venezuelan historian once said, “Por que cuando se siembra el petróleo da tan malas cosechas?” To answer that, you’ll have to look a few places that have always been a little uncomfortable for the children of the elite: the private sector and their rentier logic.

    • Your second point is soooo on target. Why do we keep investing oil money in steel mills, milk factories, PDVAL, Mercal, etc? Why not invested instead on infrastructure, services, etc?

      This government is continuing the same failed practices from the past and has not brought to the picture anything that has not been tried before in Vzla other that a compelling rhetoric and a whole lot more of political marketing.

      And no… the question is why do we keep designing programs that have no goals, no accountability and why do we keep thinking that the government has infinite amounts of dough.

      • You completely missed the point Rodrigo. Read the last paragraph again.

        Yes the government in many ways is continuing failed policies of the past, but in others is carrying out reforms that have never been carried out before. But that isn’t the point. The point is none of that matters as long as the logic of the private sector remains unchanged.

        • The private is to do what is supposed to do, which is to make money, efficiently and competitively. The government then is suppose to regulate it. Not compete with it.

          The private sector logic is fine. Is the government’s logic which is flawed. Venezuelan government has not yet understood what its role is in society.

          • Yes, because Venezuela’s private sector is so efficient and competitive….

            The government has changed policy frameworks, ideologies, logics, etc. dozens of times, just as it has in so many other Latin American (or African) countries that are in a similar situation to Venezuela.

            It is completely illogical to think that the problem is simply that none of these government have managed to get it “right” yet. Come on, you guys have to be smarter than that.

          • Ha! Now you’re going to argue that no private sector exists or has ever existed? Just another in a long list of bone-headed arguments.

          • The private sector is in the Caracas Stock Index which is at an historical high of 409,000 points. I know, I know, you will say that this does not exist or is too small to matter. Look – give me another objective measure and not references to articles in the fianncail pages of El Universal or El Nacional.

            BTW – no wonder you are unelectable with these stupid ideas. The Missions work for most people and they generate votes for Chavez. That’s what matters.

          • Just to give you an idea of how short-sighted this view is Rodrigo, remember that the Venezuelan state did not intervene in the economy in any significant ways until the second half of the 20th century. So if you think the problem is an over-bearing state that “competes with the private sector,” you’d have to explain why Venezuela was already a very poor country (much poorer than now) long before the state ever assumed that role.

          • That argument of no intervention does not correspond to our history of protectionism, currency exchange controls and price controls. Both used now and in the past.

            Brazil and Chile are great examples of a good regulatory framework that fosters efficient, responsible and competitive industries.

          • You seem to have a habit of responding to comments by saying exactly the thing the previous comment had already responded to. Did you not read my comment?

            The policies you cite really have only existed since the 1950s and later, and only inconsistently. You still have more than a century before that where Venezuela was even poorer than it is now, MUCH poorer, and where state interventions were practically non-existent.

            Your bogus neoliberal ideology simply can’t explain this huge span of time in which Venezuela was mired in poverty and underdevelopment.

          • Another good point, prior to the 1920s state interventions were practically non-existent. That’s not neo-liberalism! .

            Neo-liberalism is the idea that the state should do the things it’s good at. With a few exceptions the Venezuelan state has failed to do that: Infrastructure, education and so forth. Venezuela was a poor country in the past because the government was unable to invest in either education or infrastructure. With good infrastructure, a reliable electricity supply and good education Venezuela could become a wealthy country. Without those things, there is no hope of an efficient private sector. Furthermore, the oil income before the 1970s for Venezuela was very limited, not even remotely comparable to the windfall Chavez has enjoyed.

            Venezuela has been an epic failure under Chavez at doing even the basic things a government should do. It has also failed at doing a large number of things the government shouldn’t do (such as building houses, running supermarkets, making cars). You seem to have confused neo-liberalism with anarchism or libertarian ideology.

            And why could the policies which have succeeded in other countries not succeed in Venezuela? Are Venezuelans inferior?

          • “prior to the 1920s state interventions were practically non-existent. That’s not neo-liberalism! ”

            You’re right, that was called classic liberalism… you know, that thing that neoliberalism takes as its inspiration… hence the name NEOliberalism.

    • I don’t think I said anywhere that oil is the problem. However, it is responsible for many of the vices that we suffer from. Overall oil is a blessing, not a curse, but it could be so much more than what it is.

      • By the way, JC, you didn’t say oil is the problem, you just said it:

        “infiltrates our culture and twists our values into something that prevents us from thinking about scarcity, productivity, technology, and education. They call it “the devil’s excrement” for a reason.”

        Sounds like you think it is a pretty big problem to me.

        • Certainly the way Venezuelans relate to oil and the way that oil shapes our political economy is what causes this.

          • Seems like you haven’t really made up your mind on this. Oil is not the problem, but the way oil shapes our political economy is the problem? Isn’t that just the same as saying oil is the problem?

            And if “the way oil shapes our political economy” is the problem, how do you explain the fact that Venezuela was much poorer before oil, and that its neighbors who do not have oil are also poorer than Venezuela.

            You can’t explain these things because you’ve built your political ideas up on these false premises.

          • Hey smart, Where can we trash your article from venezuelanalysis? you seem a little too comfortable trashing what other people write

          • It’s neighbors are rapidly catching up. After another ten years of Chavez, they would likely exceed Venezuela in GDP.

            And no, saying the way something is utilized is not the same thing as saying that thing’s existence is a problem. For example, the existence of pain killers is not the problem, the fact that some people become addicted to them and abuse them to escape reality is a problem.

    • Get a clue, your comment is based on patently wrong assumptions, too.

      1) The oil is there for the government to decide what to do with it. It doesn’t belong to the government. The only money that belongs to the government is taxed money. The oil belongs to each and every Venezuelan equally. Any use of it other than distributing its entire cash value to the citizens is graft.

      2) Even Marx accepted the unbeatable efficiency of a free, competitive market. A government that makes taxation its only source of income depends on the private sector to make lots of money.

      3) The key is not socialism or communism, but to make it sustainable for the least fortunate to live well in a society of a savage private sector, and that, key sir is cash distribution, even without oil. Oil just makes cash distribution a no brainer.

      • Haha, nice try Torres.

        I never said who the oil belongs to, nor anything about a free, competitive market, nor anything at all about communism or socialism. For the umpteenth time… you aren’t very bright are you?

        • Haha, Get a clue, I never said that my 3 points referred to you assumptions.

          You keep bringing up my lack of brightness, but keep showing up dimmer than me! I ‘d say “go figure”, but –heck, if I can’t, most surely you can’t.

          • Sure Torres, you didn’t say that your points referred to my assumptions, you just started your comment out by saying:

            “your comment is based on patently wrong assumptions, too.”

            Good god you are unbelievably idiotic.

          • It’s weird… Many of the commenters who I like the most for smart, original ideas are cranky assholes with little or no conversation discipline. What sets Torres apart from people like you is that he already knows what he has, thus doesn’t feel the need to put people under him.

            In any case, I deeply agree with your observation about the superficiality of politics in the third world (“developing” or “underdeveloped” are offensive euphemisms), considering that the reasons for their ass-backwardness is obviously structural and not accidental.

            In 100 years, historians will reproach us for neglecting the words “client state.”

          • Get a clue, I think my biggest fault is thinking you’re as unbright as I am.

            You told JCN that his comment was looking at the wrong root of the problem, then, instead of spelling out the root of the problem from your perspective, you simply pointed towards the direction we would need to look to find the root (i.e., private sector’s rentier logic).

            I used parallelism and told you that you were looking at the wrong root of the problem, then, instead of spelling out the root of the problem from my perspective, I simply pointed towards the direction you would need to look (i.e., oil money grafting, lack of government dependence on private sector success, lack of cash distribution).

            So, to your “I never said who the oil belongs to, nor anything about a free, competitive market, nor anything at all about communism or socialism” I again point out, I never said you did.

            Sorry, if I keep expecting more logic from someone so vociferous…

          • extorres,
            did you not think anyone would bother scrolling up, to read Get a Clue’s comment again, to confirm the accuracy of your description and determine whether your argument about merely using “parallelism” in writing your own comment was valid? as it turns out, you are wrong on both counts. but don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.

          • Torres has a long history of doing this… continuously trying to re-explain what he has said when he is shown that what he said was a crock of shit. Apparently he is dumb enough to think none of us will notice how incredibly dishonest he is, even while the evidence is just a few inches up the page for everyone to see. Oh well, at least its entertaining!

          • pvc, please quote me where I said that Get a clue said “who the oil belongs to, nor anything about a free, competitive market, nor anything at all about communism or socialism”.

            I know you won’t because I already scrolled up and checked. I didn’t.

          • extorres,

            i won’t (find those quotes) because i never claimed that you said those things (and nether did Get a Clue). you did, however, strongly imply that Get a Clue had made “patently wrong assumptions” regarding the topics you listed (and so kindly enumerated in your comment). it appears to me that you are either seriously disabled when it comes to recognizing the errors you are making in conversing with others, or you are so aggressively competitive that you don’t know when/how to call it quits.

          • Haha!! And the show continues!!! Believe me pcv, Torres can keep his dishonest bullshit up for a looooong time. Its a complete waste of time.

          • pcv, let me see if I got this straight. I made a statement regarding GAC making wrongful ASSUMPTIONS. Then I made three points. This makes you ASSUME that my three points make reference to assumptions of his which I never listed, nor said I would, nor followed with a colon like GAC did with JCN. Your ASSUMPTIONS are ironic enough but the irony gets even thicker when you point out how easy it is to scroll up to reread, but you don’t. Dude, see why (and I can’t believe I’m spelling this out for you):

            GAC’s first paragraph was claiming that JCN’s post was based on false premises. So I made my first paragraph stating that his comment was based on false assumptions.

            Then GAC mentioned oil as JCN’s first flawed premise, and exlained why it was flawed. So I made point 1 about oil in which I rebutted GAC’s explanation showing that GAC’s explanation was not quite right, because the oil money was something no Venezuelan government should be deciding how to spend because it belongs to the people.

            Then GAC mentioned that JCN’s thinking that efficient spending by the government was also a wrong way of thinking for a solution. So I made point 2 about the efficiency of the market which would be the right way of thinking for a solution.

            Then GAC concluded pointing us towards “the private sector and their rentier logic” as a means towards answering the question “Por que cuando se siembra el petróleo da tan malas cosechas?” So I made point 3 about the proper direction being zero poverty capitalism. A point that ties point 1 and 2 together: oil money with market with zero poverty.

            As you can see, I was replying to GAC paragraph by paragraph, though I did not expand on his assumptions. Just FYI, the biggest assumption that I had in mind when I wrote that is “GAC assumes he’s right about JCN being wrong.”

            Ironic. You two are a hoot. Learn some logic, then come talk to me.

  8. I doubt HCR’s stance on the Misiones hurt him (where did the anti-misiones vote go, then?)… But it has become an indefensible position, specially untenable given other measures by the stillborn government and its program.

    Where will we be in the next presidential cycle…?

  9. You are on teh wrong tack. Fact is, you would be thrilled to have functioning, sustainable, productive or even multiplicative misiones. So run with that, run with managing them well. If you realize that Chavez will be in power (or another NOT-YOU) for many years, than aim to be the guy that gets chosen to run some company. Be the one that Chavez trusts to run a program well. If you can’t beat them…

    • Good idea but it presupposes a meritocracy. Have you seen the Minister of Health lately? If you have any talent, you are relegated to shoveling coal in a dark room in this government.

  10. Audit them. Graft will be discovered. Then a new system can be implemented. Getting rid of them completely is a non-starter. It won’t work.

  11. I have been away for awhile, and just came back to see what this blog is up to. After reading the juvenile dialogue generated by Get a Clue, I am sorry I did. His goading is dragging the whole group down into the gutter with him. Arturo was bad enough, this is absurd.


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