Sobremesa Chronicles

0

huevoschimbos_jpg_525_0This has been a rough week for us Venezuelans.

Each new day brought with it a new embarassment, most of it having to do with the government. Each day a new raya.

Whether it’s the harassment of ex-Presidents and political prisoners, the revelations of drug smuggling in high places, the orders to shoot protesters, the death of media outlets, the nonsense spewed by chavista talking heads, the government’s notion of a “tourism campaign,” or their inappropriate use of private images, it seems as if we are governed by lunatics.

Chavismo is a problem, but not one related to policy choice. It is a problem of individuals, of the kind of people we have in power. It goes beyond actions. It’s about who these people are.

If it is true that we are governed by murderers, thieves, drug smugglers, goons, idiots, and unrepentant propagandists, then I think it’s high time we started talking about the character of the people we elect. It’s high time we started looking at our leaders’ moral compass … so that we don’t end up governmend by murderers, thieves, drug smugglers, goons, idiots, and unrepentant propagandists.

I’ve been mulling over this issue for a while. It was brought home a few weeks ago when I wrote that post about David Smolansky focusing on the virtue of humility. To me it’s obvious that asking questions about the values system of a politician is a useful thing to do. Many disagreed.

“Bah,” many of you seemed to be saying, “I don’t care what values a politician brings to the table, I just wanna know what he plans to do. Talk about a politician’s virtues is sanctimonious crap.”

When we size up politicians, we look at a lot of things: how he looks, how he speaks, whether he or she has labia, whether or not he connects with people. But … have you ever wondered if we don’t give enough importance to the person’s core values?

Time and again we seem to elect people without really questioning their moral fiber. For example, what did we know about Nicolás Maduro before electing him? Aside from hugging every statue of the Virgin he comes across with, what do we know about Henrique Capriles’ values? How did jail change him, exactly? What does Maria Corina stand for? Do Carlos Ocariz’s private affairs inform us of who he is? What is jail doing to Leopoldo’s beliefs?

I’m not talking about religion, or family life, or their background, their education, whether or not they cheat at poker, whether or not they read, whether or not they drink too much, or take drugs, or have mistresses, or cheat on their taxes, or have a house that’s simply too expensive for them to afford.

I’m talking … about all of that put together. I’m talking about finding out who these people really are, what forces shape their souls.

Venezuelans tend to be very relaxed about their leaders’ private lives.

Cecilia Matos? Not important. Let’s look at CAP’s policies.

Jaime Lusinchi’s drinking problem? Not important. Let’s focus on what he intends to do, on how many votes he brings us.

Diosdado Cabello’s strange wealth? Who cares!

It’s not about being prurient or holier-than-thou. It’s about going beyond the superficial in examining a person’s record. It involves putting the issue of character and moral fiber in its rightful place, and not ignoring it altogether.

I don’t know about you, but after looking at Luisa Ortega, Vladimir Padrino, Diosdado Cabello, Nicolás Maduro, Andrés Izarra, and the rest of the lot in charge, I think a little bit of vetting … wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Have a great weekend everyone!

1 COMMENT

  1. You know what? I think you’ve hit the basic bottom line. I understand and agree that people that we elect must have the academic preparation, clarity of ideas, and experience needed for good governance. But at the base of all these traits, there must be a structure of values that allows them to be honest, hardworking, and responsible. Often we have elected crooks, knowing beforehand that they were crooks. What we could expect then?

  2. I think a little bit of vetting … wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    No, vetting is not a bad thing. In 1998 Venezuela elected a failed coupster. It wasn’t all that necessary to vet him, just to realize that if you are electing a failed coupster, you are electing someone who has already demonstrated a a tendency towards violent authoritarianism and a disregard for law. As President, Hugo Chavez showed both, though his successor resorted more to violence.

    • I prefer to think instead of voting for a failed coupster we, they rather, voted for a known criminal with blood on his hands.
      I suspect we need to look at ourselves rather than our public figures.

      • Yup. But we need to look at both components: ourselves and the candidates. As well, voters need to start demanding that candidates present none of this guabineo, but well-prepared, well-enunciated talking points and proposals that are clear, direct and cohesive. Those qualities were limited in 1998.

      • Yet you are with even less options at all, because your rotting wax doll was a coupster who ordered the slaughter of more than 100 civilians in less than a day, his second-in command is a fascist creep drug dealer who just ordered to have the slaughter legalized, and the other imbecile who now sits at chimpanflores, is an agent of the castro invasion that came to devour and steal all of Venezuela’s resources, a spineless imbecile and a thug who paralyzed Caracas to allow his cronies to spread chaos in the city trying to overthrow the current government (Transport strikes added to police and security forces strikes controlled by freddy infernal).

        Every red in any position of power is directly tied or openly support the most disgusting and fascist practices and atrocities, and have also a bunch of traitors who stabbed Venezuela in the back during the infamous sixties when castro tried to invade this country with his armed terrorists.

        Yeah, pusistas are all golden and immaculate, sure, dude.

        • I’m not interested in defending which group has less coup supporters. You need to stop approaching every comment as an opportunity to promote a particular party.

          • Says that who claims that those who don’t agree with him “hate the poor because they are fascists”, and starts blabbering that stupidity about a coup in april 11.
            Yeah, sure, dude, coup with unarmed people, keep dreaming.

          • … so we disagree on two fronts: whether or not Carmona ’02 qualifies as a coup and HCR/LL/MCM’s involvement?

            I can’t tell if the “unarmed people” quip is intentioned to settle such a controversial topic.

          • I just say you’re trying to latch in the only excuse you have remaining: The so-called “coup” of 2002 to justify staying with the trash that destroys the country, on the grounds that they are “better than the mean coupsters”.

            And yet you fail to see the hypocrisy of accussing other people of a supossed coup (TSJ said it wasn’t, by the way, hence the “pusieron la PLASTA” hissy fit from the wax doll) as the sole reason to forever and ever defend your side, who was lead by a traitor who not only directed an actual coup, but also slaughtered more than a hundred civilians that day.

            Again, whatever, dude, people slaughter full-plated guards and circles of death with whistles and posters.

          • El Carmonazo, no fue un golpe de Estado sensu strictu por dos razones:
            1) El presidente en ejercicio renunció, lo cual fue público y notorio de acuerdo a la alocución dada por el General Lucas Rincón (entonces Ministro de Defensa y hoy Embajador en Portugal) evento jamás desmentido ni siquiera por el propio Hugo Chávez, y
            2) El Parlamento no se instaló como acto seguido para designar a su Presidente (William Lara), figura llamada a ejercer provisionalmente la presidencia en ausencia del Vicepresidente (Diosdado Cabello), ni para juramentar a Cabello.
            Las razones por las cuales ni el uno ni el otro atendieron su responsabilidad no las sé (pudiéramos especular que Cabello no podía salir de su casa en Cumbres de Curumo porque unas viejas locas caceroleaban en frente de su edificio y que le cayeron a coscorrones), ni las discutiré; pero en el momento de los sucesos del 11 y 12A, los chaviztas estaban más preocupados por salvar su pellejo huyendo en desbandada (algunos fugándose inclusive por La Carlota) que de instalar el gobierno, aún a pesar de poder el Ministerio de la Defensa y el Comando Unificado de las FAN (Gral. José Rosendo) imponer el orden, e instalar el Parlamento.
            Como ninguno de los actores llamados actuó se generó el famoso “vacío de poder” según dictaminó el propio Tribunal al no haberse instalado el gobierno tras la renuncia del presidente en ejercicio.
            La Constitución del 1999 no prevé qué ocurre ante una ausencia de gobierno, de modo que si el vedel se hubiera juramentado y hubiera sido reconocido por los Estamentos del Estado, hubiera sido un acto legítimo.
            Es curioso que los actores clave de la imposición del orden en el momento estén ambos trabajando en el cuerpo diplomático venezolano, en Portugal. De modo que la teoría de que el golpe fue tapado por el Tribunal se cae, más, siendo hoy el ala militarista radical la que detenta el poder y quiénes estaban llamados a cortar cabezas en todo caso si realmente hubiera sido un golpe de Estado orquestado con anuencia del Ministro de la Defensa y el CUFAN.

          • Very good for Ralph/Polluxccs. Of course there was no “coup”, in spite of the Govt./Intl.Leftists’ spin, much less planned by HCR/LL/MCM. There was a slaughter of innocent unarmed marchers ordered by Chavez/et.al., including some Chavista victims (since free red shirts weren’t de riguer in those days), especially by snipers on rooftops in the heavily Govt.-controlled “Zona De Seguridad” around Miraflores, as well as by Govt.-armed thugs (later called “Heros of The Revolution with some infamous ones promoted to public office) on Puente LLaguno, and by assorted GNB and Govt.-armed street people.The greater slaughter of innocents was avoided by Rosendo, et. al. refusing to enable Chavez-ordered Plan Avila (with the new Min. Defense Resolution, there won’t be a problem in enabling this type of slaughter in the future, at least in theory). Lucas Rincon was promoted by Chavismo, since he has Chavez’s resignation letter “a buen resguardo.”

    • Any government with a splinter of decency would have the wax doll vetted and disabled from any public administration post, for like 50 years, just for the 4f.

      But, what else could be expected from the spineless greedy bastard that was Caldera? I heard a couple of times that the chump was the wax doll’s godfather, nepotism ahoy!

  3. ¡Es la VIVEZA CRIOLLA, estúpido!

    El Chigüire bipolar lo dijo de tal forma que debería ser algo que pasara a los libros de historia y que se le grabara a la gente con un fierro caliente en el cerebro:

    “Todo el mundo creía que la Viveza Criolla era distinto a Ser un Mamagüevo, pero resulta que no: es la misma cosa. Parecía que antes queríamos ponerle otro nombre a ser horribles personas, creerse mejor que los demás y poner los intereses propios sobre las bases de la convivencia.”

    http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/22-10-2013/descubren-que-el-gen-de-la-viveza-criolla-en-realidad-es-el-gen-de-ser-un-mamaguevo/

    ¿Qué tienen en común TODOS los corruptos, TODOS los malandros, TODOS los ladrones, es decir, TODO el asqueroso detritus de esta sociedad?

    Que son unos VIVOS, o como dijo el Chigüire, unos mamagüevos, que en el caso venezolano la palabra se usa para describir a un miserable desgraciado sociópata que sólo ve a las demás personas como escalones para pisar, desde el fiscalucho que te matraquea pidiéndote papeles que en ningún lado deberías estar llevando contigo, pasando por los bastardos que meten controles de precios con el único fin de crearse ellos un mercado negro y explotar a la gente, hasta terminar con basuras malnacidas como el choro que asesina a la gente cuando la está robando.

    Todos ellos tienen un nauseabundo complejo de superioridad que les hace creerse con derecho a joder a todo el mundo porque ellos son la gran cosa.

    Para la mentalidad del vivo, el que trabaje no es más que un pendejo estúpido, que debido a su estupidez debe ser explotado y darle al vivo todo lo que quiera, el que estudia es un nerd imbécil, que está obligado a hacerle el trabajo a los vivos, complejo de superioridad que desemboca en cualquier clase de malandro que termina robando, violando o matando sin parar.

    ¿Por qué los japoneses progresaron y son capaces de reconstruir una ciudad más grande que cualquiera de Vargas en TRES meses luego que un tsunami la borrase del mapa? ¿Por qué en otros países están en condiciones mucho mejores que las nuestras? Porque la cultura de esa gente desprecia esa asquerosa porquería que es la viveza mientras que le da su justo lugar al trabajo y su recompensa.

    El chavismo es el cénit maloliente de la viveza criolla, el “dame pa’ ca eso porque sí”, el “quítate tú pa’ ponerme yo”, el “cuánto hay pa’ eso” y el “porque me da la puta gana”, cuando se le enseñe a la gente de este país que la viveza criolla es una mierda y debe ser tratada como tal, no importa cuántas catedrales le haya mandado masburro a montar al fiambre, el chavismo (y el fidelismo que lo creó) será borrado de la existencia.

  4. However much we prize the personal morals, lofty ideals and oratorical ablities of an individual , when choosing a leader we must also look at the expertise , knowhow, organizational competence which such individual has accummulated to see if he is up the demands of the job he he is seeking and also to those personality qualitities which make him a balanced strong willed, sane person . All too often we are dazzled by that individuals lofty moral ideals and rethorical abilities and forget about the rest of the qualities which make for a good leader

    Also we should think not of the qualtities of an individual but of the working team which he is a part of . We idealize too much the great individual and forget that nowadays he must have an organized group of talented strong willed individuals to do anything . When you buy a car of XYZ make you are not thinking of the CEO of the car company that makes it but of the organization which has proven itself capable of producing the car that you want .

    Sometimes people who arent so admirably moral do great worth while things , think of LBJ,of what has become known of his life as a cunning not so honest politician but of the talents and energy he brought to achieve the civil rights legislation . Something which in the US of the times was very very difficult to achieve .
    The private moral life , spoused lofty ideals and rethorical skills of a leader can make him dazzling and yet thats only part of what you want in a leader ., other things count too .

    The problem with Chavez was that he was more than a bit unhinged by a troubled narcicistic thuggish personality while having little sense of the limits that bind the activity of a balanced leader . He lacked balance , he lacked humility , he thought the world of himself and how he was capable of achieving anything he fantasized througt the power of his vociferous exhuberant personality!! and worse of all he infected his followers with the same self delusions as afflicted him.

    • I think, in the case of politicians which kinda set up the rules of the game, you need them to be both just and skilled. Otherwise, if they are just but not skilled, the rules will be fair but weak and ineffective. If they are unjust and skilled, they will likely skew the rules in their favor.

      You need both.

      • Bolivar used to say ‘el talento sin probidad es un azote’ but forgot to add that ‘la probidad sin talento tambien es un azote’ , leaders who are incompetent and disorganized and ignorant , who are ineffectual as managers of public affairs but sincerely embrace delusional dreams of perfect justice and are able to histrionically and inspiringly project their love of lofty abstract ideals to the general public can be as harmful to a society as crooked and personally unprincipled individuals who are able to rise to positions of power .

        The thing is that we are so dazzled and thrilled at a leader that projects sincerity and honesty and charismatic passions and is eloquent at expressing them forcefully and convincingly that we dont think much of that persons skill or competence for getting things done in a sane practical and effective manner , We love circus performers but take for granted that such a person can have the qualities and talents to in practice achieve the tasks they are elected to perform.

        Also we forget how multidimensional and multilayerd people are in their beliefs , personality and behaviour . We take for granted that people who embrace lofty charismatic ideals for that sole reason will behave according to the dictates of those ideals and that doenst happen in real life , Human capacity for cognitive dissonance , for incongruity between honestly identifying with certain beliefs and then displaying inconsistent personal passions and behaviour , for believing one thing in the abstract and doing the opposite in real life without discerning the inconsistency is well near endless. We should judge a person not by the ideals it purports to profess with theatrical passion but by its track record in getting worth while things done through the use of managerial and organizational skills . You need to judge a person by getting him to slowly prove himself as an effective balanced and credible public manager along a career path which has such person assumme step by step ever more demanding public responsibilities . You need a meritocratic system to wheedle out the florid tongued incompetent and megalomaniacs and identify those with the personal wherewithal to deserve rising to positions of authority .

        • bb,

          The skill a leader most needs is the wisdom to find appropriate people….to delegate tasks..not execute them himself.The wisdom to know others and honor them requires humility….which is the cornerstone of goodness, not perfection.

          Arrogance and aggressive competition among leaders has eliminated humility.

  5. In a United States election cycle these would all get vetted, very much in detail… and still there are some lemons. The US media and people talk this shit to death.
    “I’m not talking about religion, or family life, or their background, their education, whether or not they cheat at poker, whether or not they read, whether or not they drink too much, or take drugs, or have mistresses, or cheat on their taxes, or have a house that’s simply too expensive for them to afford.”
    If all of this does nothing and with the internet and social media that Venezuelan people love they should start maybe taking a look at it all. I understand the culture is more private and forgiving, but hold your represented officials to a higher standard….even if they do but their way out of it like many have in the US.

      • LBJ was in many ways a crook and yet he had political skills and the willingness to use to them to achieve magnificent things , personal morals are important but sometimes they arent as important as having other abilities and private strenghts . Of course DDC ( as his reputation has it) is an extreme case of personal dishonesty . But the self righteous moral snobishness of expecting all public officials to be quasi saints models of puritan perfection in all aspects of their personal lives is quite ridiculous !!

        • magnificent things like Vietnam? Lady Bird and LBJ where corrupt. But things where different back then, politicians had a lot more power. Jackie O in her recordings fingered LBJ. There where a lot more shady people around LBJ than Nixon. The questionable characters around Nixon where CIA and Cubans. The ones arouns LBJ where lower level thugs like Bobby Baker

        • Lady Bird benefitted from a lot of Vietnam contracts. THis is a fact. She owned many businesses. When they built bases and infrastructure in Vietnam for the US military, Lady BIrds companies had a piece of that action. My neighbor the engineer did this work for Lady Bird and then researched this going back to 1964.

  6. I think the week overall was highlighted by all the ex military that showed up in New York, there could have been a convention. First the Bodyguard, then General Rivero, then 8 more with this story. http://bit.ly/1JWekzB. Seems like a pretty good intelligence squad when the USMC does decide to show up with hopefully some food and diaper boats not far behind. Then who will the people follow?

    Not saying the US is the answer, but seems to have a great deal of interest, and seems to be the gathering point of the information and intelligence. May be telling Raul to have his 20,000 boys that Rivero mentioned to stand down too in the name Cuban tourism is part of the new program. Then the VE tourism poster picture… It has been a banner week for Maduro, Cabello and the clown club.

  7. Venezuelan society holds no real values. If you were to list “values” there, you would be better off listing “traits” like:

    – No appreciation of hard work.
    – Having money earns you respect, no matter where or how did you got it.
    – You can always solve these pesky differences a tiros.
    – Victims ALWAYS *no matter which political side you chose*, deserve whatever disgrace happened to them. “Quien lo manda a “.
    – Be sumptuous, even if it means living beyond your means. You are what you show and wear.
    – End justifies any means, ANY.SINGLE.OF.THEM. Look at Chavez as some sort of “mean”. Pun unavoidable.
    – Politeness is a flaw of “maricones”, to put it in criollo slang. Strongmen are preferred over “Patiquines/jevitas/mariquitos”.
    – Venenecos don’t care about what you have to say, they measure your worth on how many decibels you can pull yelling straight. Bonus points for insults or clever innuendo jokes against adversaries, ahem… enemies.
    – Venezuelan politics mimic war. You have “adversaries” in your own party ranks and enemies everywhere else.
    – Venequia’s long winded traditions include “Not having a father / having a failure of a father”. Hence this people’s admiration for all things military, doctrinal and vertical in nature. More than half venezuelans believe strongly on leaders to adress their own faults. “Aqui hace falta uno que ponga ORDEN”
    – Venezuelans hate everyone not directly related to them via family / friendship or misc interests. Go outside and feel it, venezuelan “kindness” only works when alcohol gets involved.

    Don’t ask for morals to people lacking even basic good manners.

    • Although many things you have listed here are true (albeit not to be generalized), I don’t think Venezuelan society has no values. Solidarity is a very strong value in Venezuelan society, maybe not important to you, but present across the board. Same with generosity.

      Many of the things listed in your list are present in more develop societies. Those societies merely created a system of incentives and institutions that enhance the effect of the good things and minimize the effect of the later.

      • I basically agree but solidarity is only as good as the values you are faithful to.Having solidarity with others only because you are personally identified and not because in your core you agree creates very negative consequences.Without a developed individuality solidarity with others is mindless and dangerous..
        This type of solidarity creates the kind of person who is not consistent in his own values.

  8. And who gets to draw the line of what moral and what’s not?
    A lot of people don’t see a problem with taking home supplies from their offices, for example, but they will quickly point a finger callin inmoral to somebody that is, for example, gay.
    The scale of the venezuelan values needs to be deeply reevaluated, code of ethics should be the very first thing to be taught in schools, instead of so much bolivarian history of caudillos.
    Empecemos por erradicar la cultura del “pongame donde “haiga”. Mientras la gente no vea problema en eso, pues tendremos los dirigentes que una sociedad asi se merece.

      • I am a philosopher and I can tell you, Rodrigo, that we don’t belong to the brotherhood of moral lines “drawers”. Ask preachers and politicians for that role…

        Anyway, I have read the other comments you have posted here and you are so right, Rodrigo… really, so right… that you are wrong.

  9. “Chavismo is a problem, but not one related to policy choice. It is a problem of individuals, of the kind of people we have in power. It goes beyond actions. It’s about who these people are.”

    Hahaha!! Amazing how when you can’t understand the structural reasons for why things happen, people always end up going down this road of individual characteristics. This is the same ideological exercise that tries to explain why black people are generally poorer by focusing on the “black” individual, what is wrong with the “black person” that makes them poor? This is precisely where racism comes from. Its an ideological construction that seeks to explain a phenomenon when a better structural explanation is missing.

    This is just as bankrupt an ideology when discussing black people as it is when discussing why a certain government does what it does, or why a certain country continually fails to progress. By focusing on the people IN the government, or country, instead of understanding the structural causes behind what is happening, you’ll get it wrong every time (which, by the way, explains why JC and Toro have been getting it wrong for more than a decade).

        • Am reminded of one favourite Mecken saying : ” In a democracy people get the government they deserve…and they get it good and hard !!”

          • This is nonsense. People can only vote for the options that are available to them. Many times none of the options are good (like in Venezuela), and so they are stuck with one of the only bad options available to them.

          • No option is ever perfect , but there are usually people who are bound to be better at ruling a country than others and even some who – if you are sufficiently informed or aware – you know will likely bring a country to absolute ruin.

            The choice is not between certain dream candidates and certain nightmare candidates but between different candidates which fall within an spectrum that goes from the tolerable to the bad to the very worst .

            The perfect candidate is seldom ever on the cards

            This country (same as many others) has for many years chosen the very worst and is now paying the consequences . If people knew then what we know now I wonder whether who they would have voted for in the past .?? With the benefit of hindsight I suspect they would have chosen a different group of people to govern Venezuela , and whatever their flaws we would be in a much better situation than we are now.

          • The people who are chosen to run only reflect the level of development of the people in the first place…..otherwise they could never win.

          • Yes, you heard it guys. All of you Venezuelans here are just not very “developed”. If you all could just “grow up” then Venezuela wouldn’t have the problems it does. Maybe firepigtte could show you all how to grow up and better your level of development…. but, then again, he/she is probably also a poor Venezuelan, which means he/she doesn’t have a very high level of development….. sad isn’t it?

          • Firepigette, I note your latest platitude and wonder, if it applies to Richard Milhouse Nixon, as a reflection of the base level of development among US citizens?

      • “And what is the structural problem? If not the people in government.”

        Well, first of all, Chavismo is/was a movement that included millions of people, who were all attracted to the movement or the ideology for one reason or another. To say that Chavismo is a problem of individuals would be to point to some individual characteristic that all those millions of people who make up Chavismo have in common, as if it were a disease or something… or as JC puts it, as if they are all “murderers, thieves, drug smugglers, goons, idiots, and unrepentant propagandists”.

        To try to explain the collective action of a very large and diverse group of people by labeling them all as murders, theives, idiots, or whatever is an extremely infantile and unsophisticated explanation… the same kind of explanation that seeks to explain poverty by labeling the poor as lazy, uneducated, and stupid. You would get laughed out of any social science department with such a stupid explanation.

        The policies of Chavismo are a product of structural problems in Venezuela (underdevelopment, primary export dependence, inequality, poverty, etc.) , to which Chavismo as an ideology posits certain policies as possible solutions. Of course, it is clear that Chavismo’s solutions are wrong, inadequate, counterproductive, etc. etc.

        But here is the kicker. In order to actually UNDERSTAND why Chavismo does what it does, why it has adopted the policies it has adopted, you have to actually understand what Chavismo sees as the major sources of the problems they are seeking to solve. Of course, they are (mostly) wrong about the causes of those problems, and that is why they have been unable to solve them. But trying to understand what they do by focusing on WHO they are as individuals is like trying to understand why Africa is poor by looking at WHO Africans are as individuals. In the end, it leads to racism…(just look down below at A Patriot saying that the solution for Venezuela is to bring in foreigners to civilize the country)

        • The notion that why Chavismo does what it does is connected to the problems they are trying to solve is remarkably naive, particularly for someone who has identified the problem with Venezuelan politics as “structural”. I think if you want to understand why Chavismo does what it does, you have to pass through a process of clarification and disabusing yourself that it is an ideology in search of solutions.

    • Nice to see you are as racist and zealous as ever, mario, never change, because for people like you is why chavismo will become the absolute lowest detritus in venezuelan history.

        • The moron talks exactly like the infamous media attack hound mario silva, aka “perico silva” due to his liking of that particular drug.

          His trolling style is really close th what the gutter called “la hojilla” was, the only thing he hasn’t spewed yet is trying to call somebody “gay” or “fag” to try to invalidate an argument.

  10. First rule would be to exclude all Venezuelan men from reaching high office. Yes I know we have a few vile women in the upper echelons but, on balance, they are the lesser of two evils.

  11. The narrative is that for 20 years before Chavez came to power the immoral opposition stole the oil wealth and chose to close their eyes to the sufferings of the Venezuelan poor.
    The narrative conveniently omits that for 20 years before Chavez came to power median oil price in 2010 dollars was $20.53. Imagine what would happen today if prices crashed that low.
    After 20 years of stagnation, the middle classes came to believe in the narrative too and voted for Chavez.
    Now the narrative has been fixed as a sort of Gibraltar. It’s going to be practically impossible for the poor to elect the immoral opposition in Venezuela ever again. Who will debunk this narrative?

    • That’s why the red sociopaths stuck into people’s minds that “anything non-chavista is automatically 4th republican”

      It’s the antipolitics gangrene, that eats away people’s brains.

    • I agree that the path of no return started when the song “Ese hombre si camina va de frente y da la cara…CAP” became popular…Chavismo is the consequence of past populism, but since Chavez decided he will be in power for ever…all the hell broke loose!

    • First paragraph is absolutely true, same way that, afterwards, boligarchs and team also stoled immensely, despite the fact that there was a substantial use of funds directed towards the needs of the poor classes, at least for a period of time. However, stealing+mismanagement+lack of planning+lunatic view of the world led to the current disaster.
      About “impossible for the poor to elect the immoral opposition in Vzla ever again” yet to be proved. Problem with Chavismo is that it made people believe that they could have more than was made available before, even at the basic level. This is being gradually taken away from them but the “brain washing” that they have been subjected to, is deep and still there. Furthermore, for the first time ever, plenty of guns – and paramilitary training – are in the hands of groups theoretically structured to “protect” the poor. A tertius way will show-up sometime as a solution. I guess those who you call the poor are now fed up with the two existing group of players and the output of their respective propositions.In my view, no political group developed and communicated a proposal capable of galvanizing attention and support of the the majority of the population.

    • This narrative is in the process of self-debunking/disintegrating. In a recent statistically-significant sample study, the UCV/UCAB/USB found that in 2014 48% of Venezuelan households were in poverty, compared to 45% in 1998 (yes, I know of the lower statistical INE Govt./Cepal lie).

  12. I lived in CCS in the early eighties when puntofijismo was the ruling paradigm and the goal of accumulating wealth went in lockstep with the electoral cycle. Six fat years and six lean years which meant that in the fat years you made as much hay as possible without regard to the bigger picture. Chavez had the opportunity to break that cycle but by playing the class card he only made everyone poorer in the long run.

    Is viveza criolla the ruling paradigm still? Is that what brings admiration?

  13. Every country has assholes in power. This country has assholes in power with no rule of law or system of checks and balances. Which not only gives the assholes free reign to impose their will on others, it attracts more to positions of authority. That’s the problem. That’s why the regime is such a potent concentration of sociopaths, criminals, the corrupt and the deluded.

  14. yes, good people are having a rough time but, come on, look at the other side:

    Maduro world tour was a fiasco.

    A Maduro family album, with their world adentures, was published online… by themselves!

    Oil is below forty

    There is no cash now.

    Except in the case or a dark miracle, there will be no cash to spend come the elections.

    The inner circle that protected the President defected en masse to the US

    Queues everywhere

    Crimes everywhere

    Diosdado involved by his bodyguard in the kind of business the US never forgets or forgives

    The face of this collapse is Maduro’s.

    Cuba just said it accepts Visa and Master Card like a modern whorehouse. Cuba’s socialism is effectively a dead parrot.

    A general just said it is ok to shoot to kill IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, putting the chavista high command on the indictment list forever, if soldiers follow orders.

    A bit of Schadenfreude is in order, I think.

  15. Kennedy has a disastrous personal life.

    Eisenhower had a lover while he defeated Nazism.

    Mitterrand had two families.

    Clinton, well, we know how Clinton was while he was at the helm of the biggest economic expansion in the last forty years.

    Churchill was a racist and a class warrior who directed the public force against striking workers.

    I don’t know what to say, personal morality seems less important to me than other qualities.

    • You mention a list of prominent politicians who committed offenses against morality. Except for Churchill, adultery was their fault. If these politicians had acted in other societies, with all respect, Muslims or Mormons, there would have been no problem or fault. They may have had several wives and / or concubines simultaneously. Maybe they did not commit major faults apart from that. Such fault very seems to belong mainly to the private sphere of those involved, and is related to feelings and emotions very difficult to be judged by others. Besides, those faults seem not to have affected, in principle, the management of public affairs.

      It is different when considering systematic, persistent faults in the management of public affairs, such as theft of public assets, participating and / or concealing other crimes, such as imprisonment, torture or death of others, especially of political opponents, the manipulation of law and justice, drug trafficking, the systematic extortion of citizens in their daily lives and every day affairs. As for the mistresses, going out of the couple´s private sphere by allowing them political, military and economic power, such as the cases of CAP y Lusinchi.

  16. I actually thing Vetting, American style, has turned the best out of politics.

    Why should brilliant people be willing to expose their private life to scrutiny? they would rather be doing something else.

    Politics are full of morally impeccable incompetents.

    Except in Venezuela, of course.

    • My first reaction to that article, was the same as yours, “Oh boy, …”

      My second reaction was to think, “Well, of course…” Narco-criminals and terrorists have a common need to launder money. It would be only natural for them to find ways to work together in this. It doesn’t mean that they share any ideology.

      My third thought was to question whether the U.S. would mount some sort of intervention because of this. I have always maintained that the U.S. absolutely would never involve itself in Venezuela’s political problems. The terrorist link does change the equation somewhat, but I still find it highly improbable that the U.S. would insert itself into the mix other than through diplomatic means.

      • The US has known of this for some time, but still has done nothing, presumably to allow Chavismo time to fall flat on its face as an example for all other Wannabe LA nations (except maybe Nicaragua) not to follow….

    • I agree with your recommendations, especially the promotion in the general population of both analytical thinking and ethics. The morality card is often fraught with phoney-ness.

      The religious mumbo-jumbos used by politicians as a way to frame their goodness (similar to the kissing-babies schtick) and as a way to reach out to the supposed moral masses, when these politicians cannot clearly present their points, no longer has currency. In fact, I think most people have wisened up and will not trust another Capriles redux of the virgin-kissing ploy without demanding a lot more than they did before.

      I think that the only way to start promoting in the general population both analytical thinking and ethics is through a leader (chain of command) with whom the vast majority connects, prior to voting for that person. That will be a litmus test as to whether the Venezuelan voter has matured after over 15 years of a political experiment on a criminal foundation.

      • add to that idealized wish list, a leader who knows how to assemble a well-trained/experienced team and how to delegate with clarity and directness, based on a previously well-thought out platform. Trouble is, will the general population be able to suss out that capacity, before elections?

        • The general Venezuelan population has lost decades of educational quality, and is far from being able to exercise either adequate analytical thinking or ethics.

          • You’re right, Net. But know what? I think there’s been a wee improvement in analytical thinking among Vz women. Not good enough, of course, to counterbalance the ‘en equipo’ rote thinking that was imposed on 51% of the population, for more than just decades. But at least it’s something. If truer democracy is ever allowed to take root over the ashes of this political disaster, in Vzla, it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of the new paradigm in analytical thought process. As for the morality card, that will be a lot harder to rectify, I think.

  17. Go to http://www.dominicantoday.com/venezuelanoildebtpaidatdiscount. 98% of oil bill since 2005 paid at 50% discount paid by R.D. thru bond sale last week. Possibly timed after Citgo debt sale problems arise to deliver quick cash to Vz. This article and some last minute snarls in Citgo debt sale indicate how the cash flow wheels are still turning albeit just barely inside the Palace. R.D. Makes smart move here getting huge discount off Petrocaribe bill and guarantee of cont’d delivery. Gas right now on R.D. side of island around $3.90 a gallon. $4.75+ in Haiti. Anything going on now with future Citgo sale/ debt offerings may be very slow in future due to requirements for insuring bond/debt offerings that involve public offerings cannot have a whiff of impropriety I.e. DEA/Federal investigations etc. Not much Tommy Boggs can do about that.

    • Marisol, the border stuff is not relevant. The Venezuela-Hezbollah connection goes back to circa 2006 and the peninsula guajira and some nut head who later planted a pipebomb outside the US embassy. The real connection I cannot talk about because I don’t know but it has to do with narcotics.

    • Well, yes, it must be considered a fact, since one guys says so… That’s how most things are established as fact. One guy says it is so…. and everyone accepts it as fact….

      • Betty, your team’s reputation for telling the truth has been severely tarnished, not to say rusted right through. It should not come as any surprise that first-person testimony by an individual who has every motivation to be completely truthful is accepted as fact over the claims of a corrupt government that has every motivation to lie and has been caught lying repeatedly.

        • Yes, he has every motivation to be completely truthful, except for the fact that he is now working with an organization that has a long history of animosity toward the current government in Venezuela.

          Do you have a functioning brain?

          Oh, and I don’t have a “team” here. I am critical of Chavismo and the opposition, as I’ve said numerous times.

          • Yes, of course… The whole thing is a CIA conspiracy. They can get to anyone, anytime. If I were you, I would be sleeping with one eye open. Sweet dreams.

      • Lemme see.

        Salazar who does not act under anonymity, who was the closest aid to Chávez for 12 years, and who was more than likely very close to inside information about his death, reports through a Honduran newspaper, that the date ascribed to Chávez’s death was manipulated by the regime, so that the death would appear to have occurred weeks later.

        The anonymous “Betty” in “her’ glass-half-empty fashion disputes anything “she” reads in any press, except in that which frames the “drug-infested revolution” to which “she” has submitted intellectually.

        Meaning, anything appearing in Granma, or AlbaCiudad is the absolute truth, relying on peer ethics the world over. Any report appearing in any news journal that does not slant its coverage to a twisted version of facts (in order to serve as cover for more covert and criminalistic behaviour) is suspect

        • Actually Syd, I prefer to believe things that can actually be confirmed by independent reports. This is how facts tend to be established.

          As for the AlbaCiudad articles I have linked to, most of what is said in those articles can be confirmed by other independent news reports (which are often linked to in the very article itself).

          If they cannot, then we must question whether or not it is true. The opposition in Venezuela might learn a lesson about that.

          • Yes, there’s nothing more independent of partisan thought than AlbaCiudad. I can see now how your *facts* get established. And as for your one AlbaCiudad article link, most of its inside links are to other AlbaCiudad postings, or government announcements. Beauuutiful. Such independence. Right. It’s no wonder you’re incapable of establishing a moral base that is not built on trumped up indignation of others, in order to pursue nefarious interests.

          • Syd, if you can show how the articles that I posted are factually wrong, please do so. Otherwise, criticizing the source of information is the oldest trick in the book…. known as ad hominen…. a logical fallacy.

            Thanks for playing anyway!

          • Betty: your response is typical of a lazy ass who gravitates to a movement that excuses hard work, then pedals as fast as he/she can to validate it and deflect any criticism! Thank you for proving my concept of your ilk.

            As you’re perfectly aware, you’ve only provided one Albaciudad link in this blog, in spite your prior bombastic statement, and that was yesterday under the post “When in doubt…shoot to kill”. Hint for the numerically challenged: you posted your comment on January 30th, 2015 at 3:47pm (eastern std time). Now go fetch, you lazy piece of trash and re-read your excuses.

          • Oh, and Betty, since you cannot follow a logical thread, preferring to divert in order to escape any critique, you were bragging about “things that can actually be confirmed by independent reports. This is how facts tend to be established.”

            So the issue dear is independent reports. And there’s nothing terribly independent about the sources in the link that you provided to the little article in AlbaCiudad. Unless now you call government releases independent.

            And here I thought that numbers were your weakness. No wonder you got sucked into a movement that excuses neurons from doing any work.

            Pobrecit@

          • Poor syd, he can’t prove what I posted wrong, so he just keeps attacking it and me. Sure sign of a pathetic idiot.

  18. How about we analyze the morality of the people on this blog? The fact that they have often been supportive of violent groups that have resulted in dozens of people being killed in the last year alone? The fact that they have been supportive of a campaign of lies that has tried to paint elections in Venezuela as a fraud. The fact that they are supportive of politicians who have constantly sought an undemocratic road to power. The fact that they were completely uncritical of Capriles’ manipulative and dishonest claims of fraud after the last elections, which have had extremely negative results for people’s perceptions of the democratic process.

    And on and on and on. Attack the morality of Chavismo all you want, but its only an exercise in hypocrisy when you all are also morally bankrupt.

    • Yes Betty. Totally right as usual.

      If there is one thing you could never accuse chavismo is of being associated to violent groups seeking for an undemocratic way to power.

      Chaivismo NEVER attempted to reach power through violence.

      Chavismo NEVER tried to make Venezuela look like something it wasn’t.

      Chavismo NEVER made manipulative or dishonest claims. Never. Always 100% honest about everything.

      You are always spot on dear. The rest of the people here are just liars, but not you, you are as truthful as a13 dollar bill.

      • Alejandro,

        I said nothing about Chavismo. You’ve just demonstrated my point of how morally bankrupt you are by using the defense “But Chavismo does it too!”

        That’s hypocrisy my friend. Plain and simple.

        • hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère !

          I am not defending anyone, darling. I am just saying that Chavismo is a moral paradigm, a light of rectitude in a country of evil hearted oppositionists.

          • Yes, you aren’t defending anyone. Its just that when someone points to how morally bankrupt the opposition is, you respond by attacking Chavismo.

            In other words, you are now a liar too. Thanks for playing.

          • You’re welcome. It wouldn’t half as fun without you.

            In effect, I have been lying all the time. Only you have the truth. That is why everyone here accepts your opinions as a standard.

            the opposition may be morally bankrupt but at least they didn’t bankrupt the country. You have to give them that, don’t you think?

          • No my dear, I just remembered that in 1998 a dollar could be bought with 550 bolivars, now it can be bought with 6300,11000, 51000 or 200000.

            My incorrigible memory also told me that the debt to GDP ratio in 1998 was 35%, now we actually don’t know, but suspect is above 50% according to the Fed.

            Another thing I seem to remember is that in 1998 there were no scarcity, no queues to buy tampons and toilet paper and no bachaqueros.

            The last my defective memory tells me is that murders per 100000 inhabitants in 1998 were 25. Today they are 83.

            And all that happened with the barrel at 10 Usd. I mean, these guys had it at 100 and look: there is no chicken in the supermarket.

            We can both have opinions, love, but numbers are on my side. Don’t go there because I will mistreat your self-esteem rather roughly.

          • Boy, you got that right, Ale. Betty-disaster-with-numbers is genetically and educationally impoverished to deal with quantitative issues. Hence, Betty can’t question with a critical mind and as such is a perfect dupe for the snake-oil panaceas sold by chavista charlatans.

          • “I just remembered that in 1998 a dollar could be bought with 550 bolivars, now it can be bought with 6300,11000, 51000 or 200000.”

            This is a measure of inflation, not bankruptcy, and I’ll remind you that inflation reached the thousand percents in the 1990s, so that’s probably not your strong suit.

            “My incorrigible memory also told me that the debt to GDP ratio in 1998 was 35%, now we actually don’t know, but suspect is above 50% according to the Fed.”

            Uh, yeah, you don’t know, which means you are talking out of your ass.

            “Another thing I seem to remember is that in 1998 there were no scarcity, no queues to buy tampons and toilet paper and no bachaqueros.”

            Also not a measure of bankruptcy. Venezuelans today consume MORE of these goods, not less, than they did in 1998. But wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to the good ol’ days of 1998 when the poor consumed 50% less and poverty was much higher?

          • Oh, exchange rate is a measure of inflation. Your talents know no limits, you are inventing economics now.

            The rest of us measure inflation with a price inflation index. Right now Venezuela is world leader and in route to overdo ourselves.

            The debt to GDP ratio is above 50% and increasing, we don’t know the exact number because, well, the government will not publish its deals with the Chinese.

            Yeah, Venezuelans do consume more. They consume so much, there are queues everywhere. They are all rich, you see, that’s why they can spend the whole day shopping for the things they love.

            Normally, the sign of bankruptcy is the inability to pay debt. As of today the Venezuelan government has defaulted on 3 billion USD, owed to airlines, around 2 billion, owed to medical providers and has an outstanding debt with the Brazilian private sector of around 5 billion.

            Moreover, the debt with China is paid “en especie”, with crude oil, because there is no cash to pay. And the imbeciles denominated that debt in dollars, so now Venezuela has to produce more oil to pay the same amount. They rather calculate like you do, darling.

            May I remind you, PDVSA bonds reach maturity this year, so they emitted a new bond to pay for this one. That is bankruptcy dear, there is no other way to see it.

          • Alejandro,

            You have a problem with understanding basic arguments. I never said Chavismo did not bankrupt the country. I said that the opposition did so too when they were in power. Do you remember the 1990s at all? What did you think all that structural adjustment was about? Was that because Venezuela was so rich back then? Seriously, learn how to understand basic arguments before engaging in one.

    • How about we analyze the morality of the people on this blog? The fact that they have often been supportive of violent groups that have resulted in dozens of people being killed in the last year alone?

      Decime de los motorizados, pues,

  19. On vetting and personal morality:

    Jorge Giordani was a perfectly decent man, so were Izarra Sr and Luis Miquilena.

    Aristobulo was actually a symbol of decency and democracy.

    I believe Arias Cardenas was a seminarist (correct if wrong).

    Looking abroad, you may say George W Bush was a decent man, with an impeccable family.

    Take a close look at the Republican Party, it is full of decent people willing to destroy everything.

    Please look at vision, competence, ability and ideas. Not at if the guy is “decent” or not.

    • Good guys often make poor leaders, and bad guys often make good leaders. Lincoln said (more or less) “show me a man with few vices and I will show you a man with few virtues.” The relative success of any governmental system comes with a fanatical devotion to a set of principals (constitution) which, in turn, necessitates an equally fanatical adherence to an independent judiciary (rule of law) and fanatical protection of freedom of expression/press (fourth estate). All unrestrained politicians will become villains since power corrupts. If the populace worships the constitution more than the politicians/parties, however, corruption and abuse can be constrained and the government can, when fallen, be redeemed. Supremacy of the constitutional institutions over political ideology in the minds of the populace is the best defense against descent into dictatorship (and attendant corruption). Vetting the personal morality of prospective leaders is not likely to be a fruitful avenue to successful governance.

      • Suggest people interested in the subject of private morals in the life of professional politicians read Ortega y Gassets brilliant essay “Mirabeau o el Politico’ . Its an old piece but still quite worth the read.

  20. There are a lot of interesting and insightful comments in this thread. Well, done folks! Juan, I think that the Sobremesa Chronicles experiment is a success.

    On the subject, a few years ago some studies (sorry, I could not find links) were done using game theory that suggested that in a democratic selection of leaders it is inevitable that the population will select mediocre leaders instead of the best that the population has to offer. It turns out that people are good at judging the work of their inferiors, but not so good at judging the work of their superiors. So, the problem is not unique to Venezuela, but it has been amplified here by the oil wealth and government’s control of that wealth. Why do criminals want to get into government in Venezuela? It is the same famous answer as a bank robber once gave when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.”

    The lesson is that Venezuela’s oil wealth and income HAS to be removed from the hands of the government and managed by a totally independent board of governors. It should be run as a corporation in which all Venezuelans are shareholders. The profits should be provided to the shareholders in the form of dividends.

    The funding of the government must come from collecting taxes. The paying of taxes by the citizens does provide a level of accountability that does not exist in Venezuela today. And, of course, power must be decentralized. States and municipalities must raise their own taxes to provide services and not be beholden to the federal government.

    I do not buy into the idea that Venezuelans are just naturally greedy, avaricious, short-sighted fools. Every culture has its share of such people. What has happened is that the current political system has allowed the “vivos criollos” to succeed and thrive and has penalized those who work hard and plan and save for the future. Change the rules of the game and you will change the results.

      • Most ordinary people specially in places with very low educational levels- have neither the information nor the studies , nor the knowledge nor the analytical skills nor the intellectual discipline nor the critical mindset needed to understand much less judge on the complex issues of public life in todays world . Instead they carry a heavy load of illusions , resentments , superstitions, conceits, greeds and cheap batter fried passions that allow them to feel enthralled and excited with their self importance. Many Pols know this and play to the latter to become popular , get elected and maintain themselves in power . Many Pols have become circus performers , snakeoil salesmen and too often peddlers of glamorous and corrupting delusions .

        Democracy is a superb system in the right hands , but in the wrong hands , its like giving a monkey a razor blade or a blind 10 year old the fastest racing car , something very dangerous and self destructive.. Proof of this, how an ignorant narcicistic megalomaniac like Chavez and company could keep so many decent humble people enthralled with his cheap candified pseudo epic rethoric and petty freebies for so long and bring the country to its current state of disaster . The sweet tender notion that most ordinary people are naturallywise and knowing and noble hearted and capable of judging where their interests lie is pure hokum . The best thing about democracy is not that it makes for good governance but that where it works well it helps a society avoid the worse abuses and despotism of the ruler , using the racing car methaphor it doesnt help the driver win the race , only to avoid flying off tracks . Where it doesnt work well …you have something like Venezuela. !!

        • I think I acknowledged that the very system of democracy has the vital flaw of electing mediocre leaders much of the time, but most of the modern world somehow muddles along with it and makes it work. What would you propose in lieu of democracy for Venezuela?

          I have a pet idea that I have played with over the years of modifying the democratic charter to make it perform as more of a meritocracy by giving the vote of citizens who earn it more weight (I have several ways to accomplish this). I usually get shouted down by being told not that it wouldn’t work, but that it would never be accepted.

          • Roy I must say I rather like your idea , but doubt it will get much popular traction in todays Venezuela . The problems of course is not only that democracy usually produces mediochre leaders but that sometimes it produces deeply destructive leaders who poison and ruin the whole edifice of social and economic life . I do however share your belief that there may be room for improvement ,if we make bolder use of our imagination .

            Maybe the way to start is with the thought that effective govt is not linked necessarily with democracy but that both are complementary to each other protecting and advancing different but interrelated values .

            This is a point hard to understand but which Fukuyama explains quite well in his last two books . Hannah Arendt also wrote about it but didnt go too deeply in to the subject . A well ordered society rests on three institutional pillars: to wit an Effective Govt (one which does its job) , Rule of Law to contain the despotic excesses which people who wield power are prone to perpetrate (remember Lord Actons dictum ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’) and Democratic ACCOUNTABILITY . Now accountability means that its there to control and hold to account the irresponsible conduct of the ruler but not to run things , not to function in a managerial function . Harendt had the same idea: that Political players should avoid the temptation to think that they were entitled to manage and run the ordinary activities of govt, because they were hopeless at it . The administration of govt should be left to the experts and professional managers even if the pols representing the political sentiments of the voter might provide general guidelines and control (not do ) what the administration did in a general way, To Fukuyama and Arendt the realm of political life had to maintain a boundary with the realm of organizational or operational governance . Democracy was fine for the political realm but for the administrative realm only meritocracy will do.

            Underlying these ideas is John Adams view of how the human mind operated in his book “Reflexions on Davila ” where he developed the notion that the greatest spring of human action was not greed but a Passion for Distinction , which consumed people no end , specially in the world of politics and which could lead to the worst and the best of deeds , In other words people are driven by the need to support and aggrandize their self steem by deeds that elevated them above others . This Passion for disctinction is specially strong among Venezuelans as noted by Maclelland and Hoffstaders studies as mentioned in Alberto Rials ‘La Variable Independiente’. and if my recollection is right by Alex Capriles in one of his books.

            A ready example of how this relationship works is to be found in modern corporations whose shareholders are responsible for the most fundamental decisions but which are run by organizations of professional managers who must report to the shareholders committee but who otherwise run the corporations day to day acitvity with a great deal of autonomy,

            Of course here Im making short shrift of these ideas because of spatial constraints and my difficulties in expressing difficult to grasp ideas . I hope you will be indulgent and not be to fazed for daring to bring this sort of abstract topic to your attention .

          • Bill, Not at all phased. I enjoy tossing around ideas such as this. I like your concept of the separation between political leadership and administration. On a smaller scale, most cities elect their mayors, but have a professional City Manager who actually administrates and manages the services the city provides. Of course, even on a national level, mature countries have a professional bureaucracy which stays on, even as the political players change.

            I also think that salaries of elected leaders should be equivalent to those of equivalent positions in the private sector. If we want the best, we should be prepared to compensate them accordingly.

            I sometimes find that the need to be brief in a forum, such as this, forces me to simplify and streamline my ideas. On the democratic meritocracy concept, I will try to outline my concept in short form:

            Firstly, since the one of the powers of government is to tax and spend the money of its citizens, a portion of the vote should be allocated exactly in proportion to the amount of tax paid by voter. The more you pay, the more say you have in how it gets spent. This should ameliorate the tendency of the electorate to vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.

            But, a nation is more than just its economy. I would allocate another portion of the vote for anyone who earns it by serving their country for a minimum of two years in the military, or some other public service. Effectively, everyone is capable of earning a share of this vote, and the act of serving the country demonstrates ones commitment to the well-being of the country.

            Another portion of the vote could earned by earning a college degree, more shares for higher degrees, etc. The criteria should be reasonably objective. Other objective achievements could be added that the society deems valuable.

            So each citizen’s share of the vote would be calculated as the sum of the three categories. As for the proportion of the vote I was thinking something like:

            Taxation: 50%
            Service: 30%
            Achievement: 20%

            I think it may even be possible to develop computer models that would guide us to the optimum apportionment to achieve the political stability and competence we are seeking. Note that I do not want any citizens excluded. But, I do want the people who who contribute more to have a greater say in how the country is run. Using a system such as this, it would not be possible for demagogues to pander to the lowest common denominator and succeed.

          • In essence what you propose would sound very logical to an ancient roman of the Republic because they believed citizenship was more a burden , a charge , a duty to contribute to the common good than simply the enjoyment of civic privileges .

            The very word ‘Cives’ (nothing to do with the word city which in latin was urbis) from which the term citizen was derived designated the person who could be summoned (spanish ‘citacion’) in case of war to the camp of mars with his weapons to form part of the citizen army . The election of magistrates was based on a propportional representation per social class based in part on the ‘patrimony’ of the person ( meaning what is bequeateth by ones father) which in turn was related to what one could contribute to the upkeep of the army .

            To them citizenship was more related to how much a person or his ancestors had or could contribute to the common weal than to the enjoyment of automatic rights or privileges . In our times the whole sense of what it means to be a citizen has been turned around and is associated with what a person is entitled to recieve from the res publicae or commonwealth .

            The ancient romans valued each person according to what he could be asked to contribute to the needs of the city rather that what he might be entitled to recieve from the city . Your view of citizenship appears to be in line with this concept. A person who creates wealth is of course a person who pays taxes . only fair that if he pays taxes then should have greater voting right that someone who doesnt , Same thing for serving your country. In fact to be able to appear as candidate to an election you had to show that you had served in the Roman Army for at least 10 years . An in those days being in the army meant belonging to one of the most organized and developed military machines in the world .!!

            Of course we are not ancient romans but moderns venezuelans and perhaps these demanding notions of citizenship are difficult for us to accept , we have been pampered for too long. !! Also making money through your own labour or business is in Venezuelan seen as something somewhat untoward or ignoble , in this regard try and read Alexis Capriles notable book on the subject : ‘El Complejo del Dinero’ .!!

          • Bill,

            Wow! My ideas on this are sounding better and better! I had not considered the example of the Roman Empire when developing these ideas. Yet, Rome was one of the most stable and successful political creations in all of human history.

            Also, I was not thinking about the subject in terms of political philosophy. Rather, I was approaching it from a systems engineering perspective. In the U.S., our political systems has an unfortunate tendency to oscillate between political extremes. All indicators suggest that it will eventually oscillate out of control and eventually fail. My intention was to apply some aspects of negative feedback to the system that would dampen those oscillations by providing a system where even a light shift to one direction brings about a shift in electoral power towards the other direction (the economic portion). Thus, we can achieve true system stability, yet with the same flexibility of and agility of democracies.

            Also, I did not have Venezuela specifically in mind. But, I see no reason why Venezuela could not be the first to try it. After all… what do we have to lose? It is certain that what we have been doing is not working very well.

          • Guys, let’s first see how it works in Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Japan and England… With true results in hand we can decide to give it a try or not. Otherwise its plain wishful thinking.

  21. Sometimes this blog appears in my screen written in helvetica light (nice) and most others in an ugly font with serif.

    Someone knows how to keep the helvetica?

    • Alejandro, mine does the same. It happens when the internet is particularly slow. It appears that the font is one of that last things the page loads.

    • If you’re on Chrome, download an extension called Stylebot. It allows you to change the style of any website.

      Open Stylebot, click on Edit CSS, and paste the following:
      h1,h3,body,cite { font-family: “Helvetica”;}

  22. Personal morality…who defines it, Juan? What is moral for some, it is inmoral for others. In my years as a blogger and blog/tweet reader I have witnessed amazing lack of ethics in people that I would have otherwise considered of high morals.

    Was Caldera an inmoral President or an inmoral politician? Not at all, he was a christian man with a loving family but he was terrible for Venezuela. Why? Because he put his personal ambition first.

    I think that in politics, the criteria should be to elect people that are willing to sacrifice themselves for the common good. I always say that the best department chief is the one that does not want to be the department chief.

  23. We might not get the government we deserve but we get the one we create.Our leaders are the reflection of our strengths and weaknesses.People will not vote for what they don’t understand…they vote for people who talk to the people.

    The government is always on the level of the average person

    people change, government changes

    • Yes, democracies function perfectly so that those put into power always reflect the people they are supposed to represent. The solution to all the problems is to just “change the people”!

      Such a profound analysis!

      • Betty,
        Do you often go to Chavista blogs and forums to comment about their hypocrisy on the use of violence, corruption and the like?

        • Doing so would get him gang-banned in less than five seconds xD

          Just look at gonorrea’s forum boards, they are like noticiero digital boards, just that the zealous ball-pullers symbolically punch into exile anyone who dares to say a peep against the chavista regime, yet they claim to “respect other people’s opinions”.

      • Betty we can’t change others ,we can only change ourselves and express to others our honest thoughts…that’s is why it takes time for a group to evolve…but I do believe that if each of us tries to improve ourself , be consistence with our values rather than aligning ourselves with friends , and contacts, things will begin to change.People need to stand for something.We need to have the courage to stand on our own ground….because aligning ourselves into a herd mentality creates authoritarianism and the rest is what we are seeing: .People who compromise vallues in order to obtain benefits, that are not earned…in a nutshell what is happening Venezuela..I do however think we have 2 good role models – people who are willing to risk their own welfares to stand on principle….LL and MCM…hope fully they can give us all a path to a less compromised existence…and a more ethical one.

  24. Roy (31/01 – 13:04) wrote “There are a lot of interesting and insightful comments in this thread.” and I fully agree with that if we accept that both comments that we agree with as well as those with which we don’t can be equally interesting and insightful because they contibute to a debate, and thus to a better understanding of underlying concepts and ideas.
    Now then, my opinion is that all the above facts must have, as everything in the Universe, a fundamental cause, an “original sin” so to speak. And I think this is well expressed in RALPH’s comment (30/01 – 19:07). Constructive values supporting the good of the whole, even if at certain times they may play against the desires of the individual, are absolutely essential to a strong society as described and wished by many in this blog. But you cannot “pedirle peras al horno” (somebody corrected me on this a few days ago. He evidently doesn’t know that Rosales actually said this in one of his campaign gatherings…). A society as ours that lives by the values described by Ralph and Axel Capriles cannot elect better governments. Ever since “la Colonia” we have been educated and trained to be as free flowing water, always following the path of least resistance. A society as ours should be governed by an aristocracy (“the government of the best” as defined by Plato; Aristoteles defined it as “the government of the few”), but then again, where are our aristocrats? Are there any? According to Aristoteles, the aristocrats are “the few that govern for the benefit of all”. Real and/or potential leaders in all sectors carry this FFW (Free Flowing Water) gene… So, what next, after this nightmare. Roy’s proposal, as utopian as it seems, would be a sound experiment to try. If only…

    Finally, BETTY (31/01 – 12:36) (she IS Betty, la fea, isn’t she?) gives us a perfect and beautiful example of the typical dialectic reasoning used by psuvians: the childish resort to “You did it first”, or “You did it too”…”Cachicamo diciéndole a morrocoy conchuo”… They have nothing better in their bag. This is as “brainish” as they can get, FGS! They even forget the fact (videoed millions of times) that in the beginning their eternal leader’s main discourse was that they would change all these maladies, revert the wrong to good, and lead us to the “sea of happiness”… He even created a MINISTRY for that purpose. And now we have what we have, and BTW, none of those queues are for boarding a plane or ship to that beautiful (I’ve no doubt) sea…

    A black swan is in order…

    • The black swan of chavismo: The slaughter of ten millions of venezuelans, spearheaded by the colectivos, the nazi guard, and orchestrated by padrino “genocidio” lópez himself, all due to the orders of diablodiado “el capo pimentón” cabello.

    • Thanks Edmundo Dantes, although I really don’t consider my proposals “utopian” or radical. Norway has a similar independent corporation to manage its oil wealth as does the State of Alaska. It keeps the money out of the hands of the politicians in the government. As for decentralizing, that is how healthy democracies all over the world work. There is nothing extreme or impractical about my proposals. As for the political problems of implementing them, I figure Venezuela is going to be reconstructing its government from zero, in any case. They may as well try to get it right this time.

      • Ralph, in the back of my mind I think I meant utopian considering our reality with such very low level of education and values that we Venezuelnas have as a social body (see Bill Blass; 31/01 – 16:26).

        “I figure Venezuela is going to be reconstructing its government from zero, in any case”. Hopefully, Dios te oiga. Buy my concern is WHO the constructors are going to be…? I used to exemplify the chavista move as a theatrical trouppe that changed the whole cast but kept the play. Same corruption (Fórmula mejorada…) but with new actors. Another “quítate tú pa’ ponerme yo”. And starting there a new cleptocracy has developed, also with improved formulation…

        Chespirito’s (RIP) famous pep call comes to my mind: “Y ahora? Quién podrá defendernos”? Nobody to undertake such a task, it’ll have to be us, all of us.

      • @roy The models of both Norway and Alaska work very well with the oil reserves. Norway may be more in tune with the current model of VE, but seem to provide great education, medical and retirement benefits too all citizens, Some of the happiest people in the world and generally get two months of vacation. Alaska provides a check to each citizen worth about a years wages in Venezuela terms, plus very low taxes.

        • Alaskanian model applied to Venezuela only will promote higher inflation by increasing the flowing money without a rise in productivity. Model in Venezuela should be one, which petrol/oil benefits would be invested in infrastructure, public health and public education from elementary to universitary and technical-skill oriented.

          One of the problems in Venezuela’s economy is that of the use of oil revenues to finance burocracy and public services like electricity, water, and goods like gasoline and gasoil. These elements should be funded by taxation, and they have to be adjusted to the economy’s capacity. Petrol should be use as a lever to push and resolve the structural needs of the economy, not to pay for redundant public workers, or to increase the money that run in the streets.

          Unlike Norge, as Venezuela’s demographic structure hasn’t reached yet and steady state, we need to invest in infrastructure to satisfy people’s basic need and to improve our capacities as an economy. After that, we can rely on a Savings Fund that multiplies the rent in a long term, but not before reaching that state.

          Venezuela did it well between 40’s and 60’s by investing in infrastructure having in mind the size of the economy and the sparse of the population. We have to change the populist model of giving people money, and restore the investment one. By investing we can promote employment, enhance the capacities of our industries by reducing cost in energy supply, transportation and logistics, and deconcentrate the urban pressure over the biggest cities by allowing the intermediate one to grow.

          Democratical access to services (and development) cannot be seek by free access only, it needs a more efficient and reachable distribution over the territory to be realistically democratic.

          • Give people their oil money… and then tax them if you want… as is there is no accountability… and oil money does not get well used anyhow… from what i deduct you are marketing yourself just like one other of the “quitate-tu-pa-ponerme yo”.

          • Mmm, no Sr. Kourowski, le respondo en español porque es articulista de El Universal, o lo fue.
            Lo que digo es que el modelo Alaska no es posible aplicarlo en Venezuela porque sólo sería otro fuelle más para la inflación, y de hecho es lo que el gobierno actual ha estado haciendo veladamente con los programas de asistencia directa o Misiones que inyectan liquidez inorgánica a la economía.

            El modelo noruego como Ud. sabe, es muy similar al modelo emiratí y catarí, que solo funciona bajo la premisa de una presión demográfica baja o nula, con poco incremento en la demanda de servicios y con una infraestructura existente satisfactoria. Premisas que no se cumplen en Venezuela.

            Pudiéramos considerar el entregar cheques y luego gravar la renta generada por ellos, pero, sacando números de verdad de cuánto creemos que será ese cheque? A quiénes se entrega el cheque a todos los habitantes, a los residentes legales o a los ciudadanos nada más? Puede el Estado venezolano que actualmente no satisface ni siquiera algo tan elemental como una pensión universal de supervivencia entregar la renta petrolera alegremente a todo el mundo y luego recogerla de nuevo por imposición fiscal?

            Si repartiéramos la ganancia petrolera, fuera del presupuesto ordinario y el funcionamiento e inversión en la industria, entre los casi 30 MM de habitantes de este país apenas nos daría para algo así como 1500 USD/año (siendo optimista). Con lo cual, en este país ni un seguro médico decente se puede adquirir. Hay un mito de que la renta petrolera es enorme y alcanzaría para todos como en Alaska donde son 4 gatos y por eso la mitad de ellos (los ciudadanos de Alaska, no todos sus residentes) reciben un cheque de 15-17 mil USD/año el cual además emplean para pagar servicios como sanidad pública y educación de su bolsillo, cosas que no cubre ni brinda el Estado de Alaska ni el Estado federal estadounidense.

          • Ah y acabo de sacar las cuentas, si repartiéramos lo que por excedentes al presupuesto ingresaría, digamos con un barril de petróleo a 60 USD/barr (corresponden en excedentes 20 USD/barr), y con el flujo de producción realmente pagado en efectivo (1,5 MM barr/día) apenas se alcanzaría a obtener un cheque de 360 USD/año para cada uno de los 30 MM de habitantes de este país.

            Si mi impresión no me falla, con eso ni una computadora decente se puede comprar. El modelo de repartir cheques no sirve en Venezuela.

            Si vendiera ese cheque libre de gravámenes a la tasa a la que especulo arrancará el dólar gris de las casas de bolsa (160 VEF/USD) apenas y logra comprarse una póliza de seguro para su carro con una cobertura de hasta 600 mil VEF. O de repente alcanza para un seguro médico aunque no para la póliza de Sanitas que supera ese monto al año.

        • A note of warning on the Norwegian Model we all admire so much , serious work has been done on how well it can be copied by other countries (see Energy Study “Exporting the ‘‘Norwegian Model’’: The effect of administrative design on oil sector performance” by Mark C. Thurber, David R. Hults and Patrick R.P. Heller). Apparently the model works where institutional framework is strong and there is a lot of political competition , otherwise it will just be colonized by the cannibalistic social forces that dominate that country. Do try and read the study !! This doesnt mean the model cant work but first you have to strenghten the institutions and ensure that no one political group exercices too much dominance over the political sphere.

          Given the conditions in Venezuela I am sympathetic to Polluxccs view that the money should go to politically isolated meritocratic institutions that administer the money produced by the resource channelling it to certain kind of social and economic programs entrusted with building infrastructure , improving education and health services etc using as much as possible private entities to run and administer the programs . A direct disbursement of the revenue produced by the resource to ordinary citizens poses disavantages which Polluxccs very realistically sets out .

          Maybe the political institutions can decide generally on what sectors and program the money is to be spent but the actual design and operation of the programs , and specific use of the money assigned to their implementation should be left to different meritocratic public bodies totally isolated from political interference. In short once the pols decide how to allocate the money between sectors via the issuance of general policies and guidelines , the money is never touched by them but instead given to professional managers to use and manage to carry out certain programs of benefit to all .

          The way private corporations work is that the management draws up plans and programs and a budget setting out how much is to be spent of each of them , the shareholders (pols) approve the budgets and plans , but their execution once approved is left to management which must work to obtain certain specific results which are measurable and qunatifiable using the resources they have been alloted.

          • Bill,

            As tempting as it is to use the oil wealth to “do good”, I believe it to be a mistake. I think that there should be such a strong firewall between between PDVSA and the government, that it would even be impossible for the government to borrow against it. The only way you can strengthen the institutions in the first place is to take away the free money and demand measurable performance. When people understand that they have to actually pay taxes to pay for the services the government provides (even if they are paying the taxes with their PDVSA dividends), they will show more interest in making sure that their money is being spent well.

          • Well we do agree on many fundamental questions, but lets turn to the details.

            1. Pdvsa’s function is to produce resources for the govt to use for the benefit of the country to which purpose it does the following :
            – it pays TAXES to the govt on its income and activities same as any other business would
            – it pays the govt a ROYALTY of 40% of the value of the oil produced same as any business would which exploits a resource it doesnt own ( the state is deemed to own the oil underground and as such is entitled to to receive the said royalty)
            – On govt instructions it covers the COST OF SUBSIDIES to domestic consumption of all kinds including gazoline
            – On govt instructions it funds all kind of political expenditures masked as social programs favouring .the govts populist agenda. (FUNDING OF SOCIAL PROGRAMS)
            – On Govt instructions it applies discounts and uncommercial payment terms to oil supplies sold to other foreign govts which are allies of the venezuelan govt (SUPPLY OIL ON PREFERENTIAL TERMS TO FOREIGN ALLIES) .
            – On govt instructions it enters into contract with govt chosen local and foreing parties to buy goods and services at a cost and under conditions which are grossly unfavourable to its own interests as a business.( EXCESS PAYMENTS TO REGIME FAVOURED SUPPLIERS AND CONTRATORS
            – it pays the govt dividends on any left over profits it obtains same as any other business pays to its shareholders .( DIVIDENDS ) Dividends usually only represent a small portion of Pdvsa s total expenses .

            2. If you look at the above you ll notice that a large chunk of what Pdvsa does at its expense to favour the govt has nothing to do with directly gving the govt money that instead can be given to ordinary citizens . taxes you say are for the govt to decide how to spend , subsidies , funding of social programs , preferential terms to foreign allies, overpayment of contracts with favoured suppliers and contractors are costs which are incurred before any money is paid directly to the govt . The only things you might try and have paid direct to ordinary citizens would be the royalty take and the dividends.( which might account for a minor part of the resource which Pdvsa give up or pays to favour the govt.

            once you do the math Roy youll see that the effect of paying the royalties and dividends to the citizenry isnt all that great and doesnt stop the govt from abusing its control of Pdvsa a hundred different ways .

            I once went through this exercise with another blogger about a year or so ago and the results where not as good as you might imagine . I think that the separation between the pols and the people who manage the oil business has to be much more drastic and strong .

            AS happens in most big western corporation ownership and management have to be kept separate from each other . Another idea I have is that each year the govt submit a detailed and clear budget of what its measures cost in terms of lost revenues and overpayments by public entities and that they require a special approval by a congressional supermayority , were talking about subsidies , preferential oil supply terms , contracts with third parties which costs exceed the market cost as determined by independent experts etc.

            Above all we have to think of an institutional structure were the political groups that decide on the most broad things have no authority to interfere or participate in the design and implementtion of specific public programs , nor any control over the day to day professional running of the business and operations that are performed for the public benefit .

            I have in general little faith in transforming our ordinary people into good and model citizens by having them pay taxes on money which the govt hands out to them without having to do any thing productive to earn it .

          • Bill,

            You are talking about how it works now. I was talking about how it should work. I am saying that NONE of the funding for the government should come from PDVSA. PDVSA’s sole function should be to manage the oil resources of the country to the benefit of its shareholders, the citizens of Venezuela, and produce a regular quarterly dividend that the citizens themselves can decide what to do with. Of course, since the price of oil is volatile, it will be in the interests of the citizens to build up a decent reserve fund to level out the spikes and valleys. But, in no way should the government have ANY say in the operation of PDVSA or in how it pays dividends. Of course, PDVSA would pay its share of taxes to the government proportional to its economic activity, just as any other corporation would.

            I am VERY adamant about this, because it is the access to this oil wealth and the power that entails that ends up corrupting the government. When a government has to rely on taxation for its operations, people understand how much they are paying. This forces the government to be more accountable to the citizens.

          • It is not the same when you talk about royalties and dividends.

            Royalties in the spanish world are by doctrine managed by the State, and we would expect the government executes programs in order to get, for the good of citizens and the country, the better benefit of those royalties. Dividends are a totally different issue, in Venezuela many economists proposed the possibility to allow people to invest in the industry in order to catch funds, but this idea, as it is related to a sort of control from the private world over the administration of PDVSA, has been never of the taste or our politicians (because they see PDVSA as a checks account extention).

            I’m of the idea that royalties should be invested in infrastructure modernization (airports, ports, higways, railways, etc); public education enhancement (both infrastructure and programs), and public hospitals and environmental sanitation; it should not be use to fund burocracy or the regular State’s budget.

            Also, the people, we, as natural persons or corporations, should be allowed to invest our capital in the best industry we have in order to get dividends, fund accessory retirement-rents, and promote a savings culture amongs the population. Of course i never will invest in a corporation that is managed by politicians, so, PDVSA should be settled apart from the political agenda of the government (having in mind State is not the same as goverment) and stay in its true rule as an industry.

          • Roy,

            Are you familiar with the “basic income” concept, a historically right wing public wealth redistribution system? It is exactly what you’re proposing.

          • Looking to what I wrote above I find that maybe people will not understand what I was trying to say . If you let pols control Pdvsa (invoking democracy) , even if you ration all that the govt recieves from Pdvsa to taxes , the problem will remain the same because the govt can channel Pdvsa income into its own pockets or that of its followers and allies by gaming the operation . They can do this without the general public even knowing that its happening or understanding how its been done , the degree of Pdvsa income which is lost to regime shenaniggans is lots worse than is known or even mentioned . The general public are dumb asses because they dont understand how a company like pdvsa or the oil business actualy works ( and Im not excluding most people with a university education) ..

            You have to be more radical and act in three fronts :
            1st Pdvsa is to be operated by a professional meritocracy and outside any political interference from elected officials , they can set general guidelines but must be absolutely transparent about what those general policy guidelines cost the company and the country . Preferably mixed companies with organizationally strong corporations are created to build up well run organizations using non politized standards of performance .
            2nd the money doenst go to politically controlled govt services but to apolitical institutions which act as professional managers of the money to design and instrumentalize certain programs which are of general benefict in the fields of health and education etc. Not to private parties or individuals who will spend the money irrationallly and on a personal basis not taking account of the general needs people who vote dumb dont know their interests on a social level , but also not to the govt except to the extent you need it to cover basic govt functions which cannot be assigned to public bodies where the govt political hacks can use it for their own corrupt purposes .
            3rd You create a system where the performance of these apolitical meritocratic bodies is monitored and assessed by independent experts as per the standards and goals that govern the activities of any rationally organized organization .

  25. Many decent politicians, with strong moral compass and integrity start their journey with the highest standards that they can abide by. Being in power is the true test; vetting is not the solution, it’s up to the individual to be aware that the threshold lies within their own hearts and souls, when the notion of serving those that got them elected ends and the greedy blindness begins.

    That, and in Venezuela’s case, la Viveza Criolla, as Ralph so eloquently puts it.

    • That was accomplished through the benevolent dictatorship of Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore got lucky in finding a benevolent and competent tyrant. I would not count on Venezuela having such luck.

      • Latin America’s track record with tyrants, usually of the military variety, has not been a good one. Very few of the tyrants have been competent.

  26. Chavismo at the Bamboo Lounge:

    Now the guy’s got Paulie for a
    partner. Any problems, he goes to
    Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He
    can go to Paulie. Trouble with the
    cops? Deliveries? Tommy? He can
    call Paulie.

    HENRY (V.O.)
    But now the guy has got to come up
    with Paulie ‘s money every week,
    no matter what. Business bad? Fuck
    you, pay me. You had a fire? Fuck
    you, pay ma. The place got hit by
    lighting? Fuck you, pay me. Also,
    Paulie could do anything. Especially
    run up bills on the joint’s credit.
    Why not? Nobody’s gonna pay for it
    anyway.

    HENRY (V.O.)
    As soon as the deliveries are made
    in the front door, you move the
    stuff out the back and sell it at
    a discount. You take a two hundred
    dollar case of booze and sell it
    for a hundred. It doesn’t matter.
    It’s all profit.

    And, finally, when there’s nothing
    1 left, when you can’t borrow
    another buck from the bank or buy
    another case of booze, you bust
    the joint out.

    Its almost time to bust the joint out!

  27. I’ll write this in spanish because i’m not in the mood of translating…

    Muchas veces he discutido esto mismo en largas noches con uno de los foristas, no precisamente trolleando ante un teclado, y la verdad, el problema es que mucha gente no entiende dos cosas que modelan la sociología del venezolano:

    1) “Los venezolanos buscan un padre”, resultado declarado recientemente por el encuestador (quizás sesgado, quizás tarifado, no lo sé, ya que no todo lo que apunta es falso, por peor que me parezca) y
    2) “Todos tenemos un chavito por dentro”, cosa que me dijeron cuando entré a la universidad de la que me gradué, ya hace un montón de años, bastantes para tener edad suficiente para recordar cómo se vivía en este país, tanto en Caracas, como en el interior.

    De lo primero, pues no más hay que hacerse un recuento objetivo, no amoral, no visceral, no dogmático, no patriotero de lo que ha sido Venezuela, su origen y sus más prominentes figuras. La epopeya nacional, se ha construido y se ha predicado siempre considerando esta situación. Somos un país donde la estructura familiar, (aunque yo apoye la familia sexodiversa, de igualdad de roles de género) carece de la figura paterna y esa deficiencia ha sido resuelta culturalmente a través de los héroes, del Estado y de los líderes.

    En qué se traduce ésto? Pues en que la relación entre el político y el Pueblo no es, no fue, ni podrá ser (bajo el mismo esquema sociológico) otra que una relación de enamoramiento-dependencia, igual, al más raso nivel, que la que explica el porqué una mujer sigue con un marido golpeador. El venezolano communis, aspira que el político LE resuelva, no que le brinde las oportunidades para resolver. Cuando volvemos a la pregunta del Sr. Nagel; “Qué debemos exigirle a los políticos para que sean válidos representantes nuestros?” deberíamos también preguntarnos sin caer en esa inocencia tonta o ceguera selectiva “Qué es lo que aspira el votante de los políticos?” Y el problema señores todos, es que las prioridades de nosotros que tenemos unos minutos para sentarnos a teclear aquí, no son las mismas que tiene la masa; la que decide en elecciones universales.

    El venezolano común, el Pueblo, no posee consciencia del bienestar colectivo, pues está en una refriega individualista exacerbada por la cultura de la “viveza criolla” (eufemismo venezolano para “corrupción moral”). Y no es que yo me esté planteando aquella cuestión de utopías altruistas, sino que la condición comportamental del humano ES así. Qué falla en Venezuela que parece sí trabaja en otros países? Pues es la institucionalidad, el que aquí el Estado se comporta como el “padre chévere” (alcahuete) que todo lo deja pasar y que nada corrije, salvo cuando entra en arrebatos de cólera y coge a carajazos a los chamos y a la mujer y hasta al perro.

    De lo segundo, pues no es más que una forma proselitista de explicar nuestra pobreza moral como sociedad, no como individuos, sino como sociedad; porque muchos de nosotros podremos tener nuestros cánones morales, válidos o no, pero la suma de ellos no da los cánones morales de la sociedad de este país. Para ejemplo, mencionemos a CAP, cuya vida privada trajo a colación el Sr. Nagel (cuestión que debiera sernos irrelevante en realidad, y más debería preocuparnos la malversación de fondos públicos en favor de la Sra. Matos de lo cual hay un historial extenso e interesante). Como venezolanos individualmente podremos estar en desacuerdo con que el presidente tuviera una querida, rejunte o segundo frente; pero acaso no es un valor de la sociedad nuestra el que “mientras más mujeres levante mejor, el gallo del gallinero, más culos más macho, en este país hay 7 por cada uno…” cuestión que es diametralmente opuesta para el caso de la mujer, pero ello no interesa ahora más que para mostrar que la sociedad no refleja nuestros valores individuales, o, que nosotros no nos estamos viendo reflejados en los valores del común, o no somos sinceros con cuáles son nuestros valores.

    El Estado en este país, no el gobierno, perdió hace mucho el papel de padre de la sociedad que alguien en algún momento se planteó; y todo esto ocurrió vía la desinstitucionalización del Estado, en un desplazamiento del papel del Estado por el del gobierno, y del gobierno a los líderes, los muertos y los vivos, los sepultos e insepultos.

    Del chavizmo, estoy de acuerdo en que no ha sido más que una ideología que ha acrecentado aquellos aspectos que forjan nuestra corrupción moral, pero no es el origen de ellos; ese mal seguirá la era post Chávez-Maduro, porque viene de antes de ellos. Todavía este país se resiente de aquella historia “del padre que no me atendió” (a ello se circunscribe la racionalidad del chavizta amoral), hoy algunos apoyan la “del padre que me deja hacer porque soy su favorito” (lo que explica la racionalidad de los que apoyan este caos a pesar del daño que a la Nación le imprime) y, a otros nos pudre la “del padre que mantiene una querida poniendo a su familia a pasar hambre” (ilustración que doy a todo lo que está pasándole al país ahora).

    Nada de la situación sociológica que tenemos cambiará hasta que la gente compre y digiera la idea de que Venezuela no es más una mujer con carajitos que busca por necesidad un marido que la mantenga (algo así como el caso de la carajita que necesita a un malandro para sobrevivir en el barrio), sino que es una mujer que puede ella misma sacar sus muchachos adelante (algo así como la realidad de muchas familias de este país); y que como sociedad no nos hace falta papá Bolívar, ni papá Estado, ni papá Chávez, ni papá Capriles, ni ningún otro papá distinto al de verdad (sea cual fuere su sexo, género, origen o rol, pero el de la familia, no el del país).

      • Ortega had a very scathing phrase for people who rushed to fabricate an answer without fully understanding the question or problem which such answer purported to resolve . In short no true answer might be offered to a problem or question which wasnt first thoroughly studied and understood.

        I suspect that this has a lot to do with the romantic mindset , before the romantics, what thinkers wanted was to understand the questions which they believed important , the romantics however priviledged action before thought . acting was a proyection of the magnificent human will and thus even if the action led to a disaster a person was to be admired for heroically acting and exercising the superb quality of its will.

        This cult of action in turn led to the development of a movement called voluntarism , one of the historical examples of voluntarism in politics is fascism .!! I sometimes wonder whether it had some effect on Marx , he did proclaim in self congratulatory tone , that before (him) the role of philosophy had been to study things but that from then onwards (with him) its role would be to change the world. In short the important thing was for philosophy to have the transformative effect of an act of will.

        Maybe that explains why communism and fascism appear in history as kindred spirits.

        • Another way to look at this is as a preoccupation with the nobility of the intention, regardless of the results of the actions. Cervantes understood this well when he wrote Don Quixote. His “hero” is admired for his noble intentions, in spite of his foolishness.

          It is the remnants of this Romanticism that allows figures such as Fidel Castro to claim the moral high-ground in Latin America in spite of all evidence to the contrary in his results. Hugo Chavez was able to tap into the same cultural imagery to capture the love and admiration of his followers. As a result, they were able to forgive any of his failures and transgressions, simply because they believed in his noble intentions.

          Well, listen up kids… The time is passed for acting like starry-eyed fourteen year-old girls. We need to demand results, not dreams.

          • Romanticism aesthetically articulated and gave historical force to a human drive which had existed for centuries, the drive to melodramatize and sentimentalize certain human experiences, affording them a legitimacy they didnt have before , for example ( quoting Isaiah Berlin) before romanticism if you sacrificed your life for a ’cause’ you were not admired if the cause was one which people found reprehensible . After romanticism, giving up your life for a ’cause’ however ‘wrong’ started being seen as heroic. Romanticism is all about the cult of heroes and supermen , of bigger than life charismatic figures who take up the cause of the people or social justice using highly histrionic rethorical language and big bombastic gestures. Its suffussed with histrionism , with big wordy speeches and pretentiously lofty ‘moral’ visions . Ordinary people lap it up,!! Most revolutionaries are incurable romantics !!

          • I agree as to the source. Understanding the problem is the first is first step to changing the behavior. It’s time to grow up and start living in the real world instead of chasing and dying for fantasies.

          • Bill Blass,

            You might find heroes absurd, but the fact remains many don’t, and they are archetypes that can move mountains.It is impractical to think they can be overlooked.It is also an assumption to think that they are all hysterical.A mother is easily a hero for her children and would lay down her life to save theirs. Cynicism plays no productive part in a realistic appraisal of a situation.

    • I have a question for you, dear. When you encounter one who speaks at length about problems but little if any about solutions, do you avoid their presence?

      It’s disturbing to me how the crowd muddles politics in such a way. Suddenly this blog becomes a space where they intimately flagellate.

  28. Ralph:

    “And yet you fail to see the hypocrisy of accussing other people of a supossed coup”

    But that’s not the case. What I’m explaining is that both parties, opposition & chavismo, have incurred in coup and other forms of insurrection, and by that token alone you can’t dismiss either, as if in any case the viability of a political party depended on a list of prohibited acts, devoid of context.

    It’s not my intention to vouch for either party, nor am I equating ’92 with ’02 beyond classifying both as coups.

    [And I’m under the impression that you turn conversations into word association games by force, because there’s no room for subtlety when every comment has to unilaterally attack one side or the other in order for you to be able to deal with it.]

    • You are the one that begun with the “every non-chavista is a turd because they are coupsters” bullshit, dude. You are the one who adamantly denies being chavista, yet you behave and speak like one, with that “you hate poor people because you’re fascist” and “every non-chavista are all adecopeyanos who want to kill the poor”.

      You don’t deceive anybody trying to appear as “balanced and impartial”, even the freakin’ decepticons would do better than the chavistas in power, who have showed during sixteen straight years what they were offering to this country.

      • This is just sad. You’re so concerned with lambasting whatever group you oppose, you can’t manage making sense or having a conversation with someone that doesn’t entirely agree with you.

        • your combative record in the commentariats of this blog is contrary to your turnaround attempt in “making sense or having a conversation with someone that doesn’t entirely agree with you”, dspur. Go peddle your newly directed behaviour somewhere else.

          • What you’re saying is that because in the past you’ve been upset -unlike Ralph you skip citing such occurrences- every comment should be, by force, related to the promotion of whatever political tendency you’ve attributed to my words?

            I don’t think that it is within your ability to impose such sectarian behaviour.

          • Syd,

            The regrettable problem with “dspur” and “Betty” is that they are dragging down the conversation. We started with a civil conversation about important ideas that need to be discussed, and they distract us and drag us down into the mud. We should simply avoid the bait and ignore them, but the temptation to hit back is too great. Any solutions, short of banning and erasing them?

          • “We started with a civil conversation about important ideas that need to be discussed, and they distract us and drag us down into the mud.”

            Your depiction of my prestige is most unfortunate. I invite you to revise the entire thread where you’ll find nary an uncivil prompt from my part. We are allowed to disagree without being cast as beneath your level of understanding. In your superiority you don’t realize that you’re promoting incestuous thought.

          • Look man, you are taking a lot of words, but the main trust of your arguments seem to be that chavismo is the fair punishment to the middle and high class of the country. Just say it and be done with it. That way nobody wastes their time in believing that an actual discussion is possible.

          • OpUno,

            I can’t admit to that because I like to believe that my view on matters are more sophisticated than what’s permitted by resent and other forms of emotional sabotage.

            Discussion on whether or not coup-promotion is a viable filter for Venezuelan candidates is possible regardless of what could draw me towards chavismo, as long as I and other participants such as yourself refrain from mixing issues.

            I believe I’ve done my part, but I’ll correct myself once someone bothers explaining how I haven’t.

            That’s how you progress in conversations.

          • Roy: Actually, I think these blow-hards serve a useful purpose. First, they are a weathervane. When the government is doing particularly stupid things, as it has this past week, up pops these jerks to manipulate and to divert our conversation. Second, when Betty and/or dspur, in particular, display manipulative bait-and-switches, ignorance of basic math, and inventions of economic principles, you know the level of competence and intelligence (if not the lack of direction) that reside in people who gravitate toward movements. That is, movements that mollycoddle them, while demanding that they park their neurons at the doorstep of the Church of Populism.

            Of course, my rationale is perhaps due to the fact that, like several, I am too tempted to strike back. But I will abide by whatever collective decision is taken for the good of the blog.

          • Syd, respectfully, I believe this is another example of lambasting impeding sense:

            You propose that banning be postponed because you get to tell our level of intelligence and we act as officialism gauges.

            I honestly can’t tell if you’re being productive in the least or if you just took another opportunity to attack who you perceive as enemies.

            What I’m saying is that I don’t know if the proposal is secondary to establishing that we are not intelligent or that we’re government cronies.

          • Syd, I hope you reconsider in the future because you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

            You outright dismiss when we try to participate in the conversation, and only address us to put us down.

            Regardless of your personal insecurities, this is not a sect where you fulfil these desires.

    • Decir “…as if in any case the viability of a political party depended on a list of prohibited acts, devoid of context.” / traducido como: “como si en cualquier caso la vialbilidad de un partido político dependiera de una lista de actos prohibidos, a pesar de su contexto” para validar el accionar de los políticos es una respuesta muy peligrosa y alcahueta del electorado.

      Cuando el Sr. Nagel propone la pregunta ¿Qué debemos esperar de los políticos? ¿Bajo qué criterios examinarlos para saber si son capaces o hábiles en el cumplimiento de la función pública? Justamente ésa idea que Ud. asume como excusa para validación debería ser uno de los causales directos de rechazo, y le explico el porqué.

      Cuando un partido político o un político carecen de sindéresis no pueden considerarse válidos para desempeñar la función pública porque se delatan como entidades capaces de transformar amañadamente y con subterfugios la voluntad popular y tergiversar los elementos que dibujan la agenda política y social.

      Hablando de casos concretos, el chavizmo como grupo político conformado por varios, ya no un único, partidos, pregona ideas que son muy loables en la letra, pero que sus dirigentes no aplican a su vida. Carecen de sindéresis entre el discurso y el accionar. Lo que expongo es demostrable con cifras a lo macroeconómico y a lo micro, y es evidente en los grupos que detentan el poder dentro del partido, los cuales son recurrentemente fichados en posiciones de poder dentro del partido-gobierno-Estado que se ha vuelto Venezuela.

      En el caso de la oposición, le puedo decir que dentro de un abanico de opciones, las más populares son las que precisamente adolecen de sindéresis, y llegan al punto de pretender mimetizarse ideológicamente con el adversario para poder cosechar de un supuesto “centrismo” los votos que se necesitan para obtener la mayoría que actualmente detenta el binomio chavizmo-ninismo.

      Lamentablemente volviendo al comentario que inicialmente, los valores individuales no hacen por suma los valores societales, y por ello es que la sinceridad no es un valor de importancia para la evaluación de un político, ni menos la sindéresis de discurso o la coherencia; porque entre otras cosas, se prefiera alguien que enamore y alguien que justifique acciones negativas bajo un manto de la oportunidad del momento y la presión del entorno.

      Yendo nuevamente al nivel de lenguaje del común: Nos parecen chéveres los padres que nos dicen que si fallamos está bien porque los demás nos querían joder, que hicimos lo que pudimos; o que si robamos está bien porque otro más lo hubiera hecho; o que si decimos que los empresarios explotan a los trabajadores sigue estando bien a pesar de que no le hagamos un contrato a la doméstica ni la registremos en la seguridad social.

      No se trata de ideología, se trata de sindéresis. Y llegar a decir que hay delitos justificables repito es muy peligroso porque es una enorme falta de sindéresis a la hora de establecer las pautas del contrato social que llamamos ley.

      La vez pasada comenté sobre hasta dónde llega la responsabilidad de los individuos en la sociedad dadas las variables del entorno, y expliqué que cuando el contrato social es minado por el gobierno, los individuos no pueden ser responsables de ciertos actos porque ellos no fueron consultados acerca de la imposición de esas variables que minan o tergiversan el contrato social.

      Este gobierno en eso ha sido en ello reiterativo, modificando a voluntad la ley, a voluntad suya, legitimando prácticas ilegítimas, cambiando las pautas del contrato social aprobado (no necesariamente a total consciencia) por el Pueblo y además haciéndolo de manera selectiva, lo cual, denota una pobrísima coherencia entre el discurso de “Venezuela ahora es de todos”, “Ahora gobierna el Pueblo”, “Democracia participativa y protagónica” y la realidad.

      El discurso del chavizmo de que las intentonas de golpe de Estado de 1992 son válidas porque la gente vivía en exclusión y miseria y al margen de las decisiones de las élites políticas puntofijista no le imbuye un manto de legitimidad, pues el sistema en su momento poseía mecanismos para promover los correctivos. Pudiéramos indicar también, que es válido y legítimo igualmente derrocar un gobierno que atenta contra la legalidad constituida, contra el contrato social, como lo ha venido haciendo el chavizmo al imponer legislación inconstitucional, al validarla y legitimarla desde el TSJ, y al no ejercer sobre sí mismo los debidos controles sobre la formulación de las políticas de Estado y su ejecución desde el gobierno.

      Pero ah, recuerdo y les recuerdo, que existe un artículo 350 en la actual Constitución, el cual exige a la población y a los demás estamentos del Estado la supresión de un gobierno que, aunque legítimo de origen, se vuelva ilegítimo en ejercicio. Esa pequeña diferencia, aprobada en el marco de la voluntad popular dentro del contrato social no existía en 1992, pero sí en 2002. De modo que son más coherentes quiénes intentaron deponer el gobierno constituido en 2002 que los que lo intentaron en 1992.

      • I’m not an expert on the subject of morality and ethics, nor intend to become one. However, my common sense tells me there are moral or ethics faults that might even look alike, but they are not. Speaking of adultery for example, particularly adultery by political leaders, it is very different when it happens as a matter of strict privacy to those involved, and another very different matter when it is given public exposure and political power is invested on the companion.

        When a political leader is in adultery but does not give political, economic or military power to who accompanied him, the affair remains as a private matter. However, if he/she grants such powers to his companions, who were not elected by voters, and they exercise power to the extreme to appoint and remove ambassadors, military leaders, and even ministros.por example. You know we have had of both in Venezuela. Then, adultery stops being a private matter and becomes a public affairs problem.

        • The problem is not morals, it is about coherence .

          I cannot state commit adultery is punishable if i do practice it. I cannot state i’m gay-tolerant (or my government is) if i used gay-hatred jokes to refer to my political adversaries.

          What is private is private, unless it is not coherent with your own speech or the principles you are trying to sell to the electorate.

          That’s the reason for we have to look for principles, not for private-issues, like being gay, black, a woman, adulterer, son-of-someone or alike; in order to vetting a person.

  29. Anyone in Venezuela who did not take advantage of the cupo de compras por internet ?

    Congratulations if you didn’t. Consider yourselves as of having high moral integrity.
    And for those of you who abused the heavily discounted dollars for frivolous purposes – shame on you. Traceable too.

    • Ron, that issue was discussed last week here and you can’t state people are taking advantage of the only legit way to exchange VEF to USD in order to buy good via internet.

      As people was not consulted about the stablishment of that policy, a very bad one btw, people cannot be blamed for stay into the margins and law framework.

      You could blame the people who uses the exchange rate differentials to earn revenues, or the people who import trash or the one that overcost the imported goods.

      I could say, following your logic, You are guilty of taking advantage of the public and free universitary education system. Well maybe if you have been enrolled in a public university here in this country.

    • ron,

      It would be virtually impossible to not participate in currency arbitrage debacle. Everything you buy has some components purchased through the currency controls. Especially as a foreigner, I benefit from the ridiculous economic distortions. However, I have never applied for the free Cadivi dollars that I am technically eligible for. Everyone ends up having to decide for themselves where to draw that moral line in the sand and what you can or cannot live with yourself over. That is part of the tragedy of this system, that the fewer scruples one has, the greater the benefit.

      Given the circumstances, I cannot even condemn, from a moral perspective, the bachequeros. They are simply responding to the realities of a distorted market and doing what they need to in order to survive.

      The ultimate evil of this system is that it makes us all guilty of something. The government counts on this. They want us to cheat the system. Guilty men are easily manipulated.

      • I completely agree with your statement that it is virtually impossible to avoid being involved in certain currency distortions.
        Nevertheless my point being that there are certain advantages that can be avoided. Sitting down in front of Amazon.com ordering the latest smartphone technology at giveaway rates is a dream for most but in Venezuela it is now seen as a right. And this is the same country where the lack of immediate medications are now resulting in premature deaths across the age spectrum.
        There is even a trade where you sell your cupo for Bolivars at just below the black market rate in exchange for an Amazon gift card !
        And there are a number of Venezuelan who have avoided this questionable process, and a lot who haven’t. Black and white, right or wrong. There are no shades of grey here.

    • “Anyone in Venezuela who did not take advantage of the cupo de compras por internet ? ”

      Is there anyone in Venezuela who has not taken advantage from the SUBSIDIZED GASOLINE THAT’S SOLD CHEAPER THAN EFFIN’ WATER?

      It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a car (Because at some point in your life you got into a vehicle or you have received some service or product that was moved with a gasoline vehicle), dude, you’re part of the cheating and you are dirty with that too, there’s no escape.

      I find specially absurd critizicing the buying of stuff on internet, like that was the cause of the scarcity of medicines, you might have not noticed that until very recently, getting dollars from ANYWHERE that wasn’t the BCV via the infamous cadivi-hydra would get your ass hauled to a cell during like 5 years minimum; buying from another person? NEC! You’re busted! Buying at some rate other than the chavismo-authorized ones? NEC! You’re screwed!

      Besides, what’s the difference between selling the cupo and selling some stuff you bought with the cupo? What was the “right and clean” choice for you, huh? Not buying anything at all and getting your useless bolivars burned by some guy who managed to import the product? Or do you consider “the moral choice” to buy medicines and food with the cupo? Because that sounds a lot like the stupidity blabbered by “mr. eficiencia” Dante Rivas, who said “If you want something not made in Venezuela, buy it with your own dollars!” Sure, man, because I have a friggin’ DOLLAR TREE growing in my backyard.

      … Damn, the stuff one has to read sometimes…

        • Yes, that’s the problem with subsides that overvalue a depreciated currency as the bolívar, they have been kept, not to benefit the population or the country (There have been enough logical reasons to raise gasoline’s price, for example), but to benefit extraction-smuggling mafias controlled by the very officers in the government.

          I won’t oppose to a subsidy to a specific set of products, the problem with subsidies in Venezuela has been mainly composed from two aspects:

          1) The subsidy is created as a way to maintain a mafia that takes the products for almost free and then resells them at ten or even fifty times their subsidy price (Ten times like diapers, from 150Bs they jump to 1500Bs, many more times in dollars, they go from 6,3Bs to 190Bs) The gasoline mafia’s even more absurd and I’m sure it gives even more money that outright fabricating cocaine in the whole country.

          2) The subsidies have been used as a tool for political extortion, during the 4th’s years, they were used to buy voters, during chavismo, they became a tool to threaten voters, like “I’ll kick you from your misión vivienda apartment if you dare to vote against the process”

  30. I’m not an expert on the subject of morality and ethics, nor intend to become one. However, my common sense tells me there are moral or ethics faults that might even look alike, but they are not. Speaking of adultery for example, particularly adultery by political leaders, it is very different when it happens as a matter of strict privacy to those involved, and another very different matter when it is given public exposure and political power is invested on the companion.

    When a political leader is in adultery but does not give political, economic or military power to who accompanied him, the affair remains as a private matter. However, if he/she grants such powers to his companions, who were not elected by voters, and they exercise power to the extreme to appoint and remove ambassadors, military leaders, and even ministros.por example. You know we have had of both in Venezuela. Then, adultery stops being a private matter and becomes a public affairs problem.

    • I think there is a lot of confusion.

      We will never find perfect people, but I do think that in Venezuela you see people selling out too easily.As Linares said : Venezuelans have solidarity….but mostly it is solidarity with the group or with a person, not with an ethical idea, and herein lies the principal problem i think.There is not enough abstraction and to much materialism.Harina pan is more important than justice..There is too much fear, and sucking up, and not enough balls and standing up with what is professed.I see people making friends with the devil , just to obtain a benefit.And for many this is not wrong…it is just normal.

      I worked for many years with the public in Caracas and saw this time and time again.Fear of authority and of losing material benefits trump value consistency every time

  31. I’m going ahead and question Juan’s morality on publishing without warning a picture of huevos chimbos, the most hideous dessert of the entire Maracaibo Lake Basin. And I’m maracucho, btw.

Leave a Reply