I found the average Venezuelan

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image(Today at Plan Pais I was honored to have been asked to moderate a panel composed of Asdrubal Aguiar, Carlos Blanco, Miriam Kornblith, Juan Maragall, and Ricardo Villasmil. The topic was on the search for a new narrative for Venezuela. This is a translated version of my opening remarks – specially dedicated to Edanis, wherever you are.)

Great narratives allow you to weave the fabric that connects human beings to each other. When you read, for example, Anna Karenina – to me the greatest of all narratives – you are connected to the characters, to Tolstoi, and to the millions of people who have been touched by the novel.

Doña Barbara is our Anna Karenina. Yet as much as we like to ponder and quote it, can we really say that it serves as the great Venezuelan narrative for the XXIst Century? Instead, how can we build a new narrative, one that can help us re-connect as Venezuelans and speak to our common human condition?

Can we find what we have in common with the average Venezuelan and, perhaps, build a narrative based on that?

Well, I’m not one for much abstract thinking, so I decided to go in search of the average Venezuelan. And I did so by doing something which some of us who work in front of computers do from time to time: fiddle around with the CNE database.

I decided to find the voter with the highest cedula number in the registry – after repeated tries, I found that number was 25.302.256.

I then divided that number by two and I decided that this would be the average Venezuelan: a person with cedula number 12.651.178, a lady by the name of Edanis Coromoto Sucre Bolivar.

I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw the name: Edanis. Coromoto. Sucre. Bolivar.

It doesn’t get more typical than that. I knew she was the one – she is the average Venezuelan.

After recovering from what I thought was a sign from God, I began wondering about Edanis.

She votes in Unare, a working class suburb of Puerto Ordaz, close to the steel mills that the government set up in southeastern Venezuela with the faint hope of diversifying our economy.

The steel mills are now, for the most part, semi-working ruins. Edanis is probably in her late thirties. She probably witnessed the good times, and has seen the slow death of the industry.

She is probably lower-middle class, with a family, probably chavista (her voting center went for Maduro 66-33 %), but likely disappointed by now. She probably fears for her kids’ safety. She surely has to wait in line to find basic staples, possibly one or more salaries away from poverty. I can see her muttering, “esto con Chavez no pasaba.”

What do I have in common with Edanis Coromoto Sucre Bolivar? What do you? How can we weave a narrative that says something to both her and me?

That is the challenge of our times.

1 COMMENT

  1. This topic of how to deal with a question of an abstract nature like “what is our metanarrative” welcomes a computational answer. Here are two related perspectives:

    1) Human as system, with inputs, outputs and states. Input: the info we receive, the relationships we have, the environment we live in. State: our state of mind (opinions and the like). Output: how we affect our surroundings through our actions, how we communicate.

    2) Human as programmed machine. We are programmed in a particular language with a set of routines that allow us to dissect inputs and provide outputs. Obviously similar to (1) but the analogy with computers suggests something that is key: different programs written in different languages can in principle always talk to each other if you translate what one says into the language of the other. In the bottom it is all zeros and ones handled by a shared “machine language”. The analogy is a stretch but the fundamental rule is that in the bottom you have a common machine language based on rules of logic.

    Frankly I feel I have less and less in common with the average Venezuelan: little shared history, understanding of social systems and the environment, shared perspective on how to behave and attain goals.

    Getting poetic, you might ask if you can translate the language of the average Venezuelan into something I would understand. Is there a common logic?

  2. As I mentioned a couple of times, Dona Bárbara is a simbol of how badly Venezuelans got it. You just need to compare that narrative with Norwegian Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s “A Happy Boy”:

    Venezuela: boy from rich family who studied law, big landowner, goes to the Llanos to bring order, one of the bad characters is this Mister Danger. At the end rich boy gets poor girl, the workers, farmers are less than pawns in the narrative…little more than the Indians in John Wayne’s films.

    Norway: poor boy studies very hard, goes to capital, returns to countryside after having studied to become a more effective farmer (the equivalent in the XIX century of an agricultural engineer), manages to marry the girl of his dreams, no latifundistas or anything.

    We definitely need better narratives. Most Venezuelans are living in urban areas but they don’t even own the piece of land they live in. Meanwhile, the bodyguard of Rodríguez Torres who murdered that student for whose death López is injustly in prison, works now mostly keeping an eye on the huge haciendas of the Rodríguez Torres family in Apure, true “socialist revolutionaries” enemies of Mr Danger.
    Can we create not only an updated but much more progressive narrative than the one Gallego created back then? I hope so. Even if we had a narrative that is similar to the one Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson wrote over 150 years ago, we would have a much more advanced take on sustainable development and social justice.

    Now, I think you got rather the median Venezuelan. The average Venezuelan voter is, if I remember well the numbers I came with after processing the whole CNE data, 43 years old if living in an oppo area and 42 in a Chavista area.
    There are only about 10 “Bolívar Sucre” voters in Venezuela and they are all in Miranda and Bolívar (funny, not in Sucre).
    María Rodríguez González and José Gregorio Rodríguez are closer to the average (most common surnames and names in Venezuela’s CNE)

    One thing is for certain: there isn’t really a Venezuela.
    This is what Chávez did well: he constructed several stories according to each region he was visiting. I once mapped the Alo Presidentes Chávez did over one year. He really got that very well planned: going to every municipio but doing so also taking into account total population.

    And he would put up a narrative dedicated to the people of Western Lara and he would produce a narrative for the people of Guárico, for those of Trujillo.

    • Thanks for the comment. You’re right about the median, although in this case theyre roughly equivalent. If you divide the sum ( n times n plus 1 divided by two ) by n you get practically the same result…

      Btw Kepler this text was inspired by many of your comments through the years.

  3. When i talk to people about Venezuela, in order to explain its/her situation, i make this comparision starting with:

    “Venezuela is a woman in her early to mid forties. She has three-four children. She came from a humble family, not necessarily a poor one, maybe a working-class family, D-strata as socioeconomists know. She is married, by need to a bad man. Maybe he is not bad consciously, but bad, as he exercises violence upon her. His violence is by psichological and economical means. Remember she is married by need, she married when young after falling in love, but at the time she realized his man was not really the way she met, but whatever it takes, she stands with him. Its possible she had had other previous husbands, she widowed or was abandoned, but she refuses to realize she doesn’t need a husband, or she doesn’t need to be aside a man. She is in need of a male figure, maybe because she was raised in the absence of a father and everyone told her that men, strong men, heroes, are needed, and because of that, she believes she is not able to do it well by herself. She is afraid to be alone. Her children have grown up. She started early, we have to recognize, around her last teens, the age her children have. It is possible she has studies, basic and secondary ones, but she is not a professional, it doesn’t matter as she never thought of her about be the provider, even beside she does work, as her husband in turn don’t cover the family needs. She is in the moment she has to ask herself what if she decides to take her live by herself. Her children are grown up, but she still thinks they are not capable to do it by themselves, she is mother you know, so maybe it is not time to think about herself yet. When she thinks about her children, repeatedly the ‘what would happen if…’ question rose in her mind, it embitters her, and she responds by exerting violence and manipulation on her children, as well as on her man-in-turn. She loses the fray, as the bitter is caused by her decisions she knows that, but she wants to believe everyone else is guilty for her feelings…”

    This could continue but the sense is, you know, at least to me Venezuela as a society is like that. This figure in our narrative is recurrent, not only in the duality Bárbara/Marisela from Gallegos’ Doña Bárbara, but for example in the Eloína of Martínez’s Por Estas Calles, the most viewed tv-novel in the venezuelan last 80’s. I don’t see tv-shows since i enrolled the university, 12 years ago, nothing but anime maybe. But i guess this figure still exists.

    I wonder if people got it, but they refuses to understand it. And if finally this woman will realize what are her exit options from this kind of vicious-circle on her relationships with her men.

    Unfortunately, our politicians still manages this message of “strong men are needed, you my darling need a strong guy to drive your live” and because of that, our political future is nor promising, not until this woman realizes she can do it by herself, no matter what the men told her about.

    Now talking again of this Edanis Coromoto, you’ll notice there’s an Edanis Sucre in Facebbok, a guy around 18-20 y/o who says he studies at UNEG. There’s an Edanis Coromoto Sucre Bolívar Fb profile too, but with no pics or data, a figment maybe. But if these things are true, your venezuelan average person is a single mother, maybe with a man with her, with a late teenager child, or children. Maybe she saw how the country was when her family moved to Puerto Ordaz in the 70’s, but maybe she never enjoyed the benefits of those years, or maybe yes, but her decissions set her apart from them, and because of that, she started to think she need to be alongside someone else, as the recurrent dialectics of our society is that of “heroes are needed, and our fathers in this single-mother country can be found in the glory of our written history…”, as well in Messiahs as you know.

  4. After reading Kepler’s and gro’s comments i have to say: the narrative responds to a momment and construct in society. Doña Bárbara figures are not as simple as “me Santos Luzardo, the cultured man came to civilize you poor peasants from the borders of this country (Arauca)”. That construct is so tied to the way our society worked at the momment that still resembles how we are today, even we don’t like it.

    A new narrative could start from the average-venezuelan’s children. How these guys (boys and girls using the stupid bolivarian sintaxis of today) will build up their future. We know how many youngs are struggling to became someone, but the common message in mass media (at least when the last time i saw venezuelan prime-time shows) was: “you girl from a D-strata can became the girlfriend of an A/B-strata guy, by entering the same universitiy (being a MMC-student) or by working at his house, you’ll became his spouse, of course an A/B-strata bitch will try to avoid as she is a MMC-girl from the Metropolitana/UCAB, end of story”.

    It would be nice to read how a person, not needing to be a hero, builds up their own legacy. Something more worldly than this stupid epic of Bolívar, what is mostly a figment made to ensure the pervivence of the message of “you need a man…”

  5. Produce regional narratives. Let the main character of the story be a local and not a local caudillo but a local José Gregorio or María.

    • I like the logic of this. We are all shaped by genetic and environmental means, the latter easier to comprehend, if not control, both in the home and outside it. Outer environments do play a part, for one, insofar as economic sustenance is concerned.

      Therefore, the tapestry of narratives becomes richer when we take into account regional differences.

  6. OT but WTF? Veneconomia:

    10/04/2015 05:21:11 p.m.) First known military man detained for not signing:
    Second Sergeant Frank Muños was detained in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas state, and charged with insubordination for refusing to sign the request asking President Obama to repeal the executive action that sanctioned seven Venezuelan public officials, accused of violations to human rights. Muños was transferred to the military prison in Ramo Verde.

  7. Juan, what do you think the arts play in this role to bring about a new narrative?
    Also, Pop culture continuously reinforces the Doña Bárbara sterotype in Venezuela, I do think that we need to produce better and more diverse telenovelas to help us shift the mindset, but to what?

    • What about books? Venezuelans, even those with university studies such as Capriles, do not read even what the average Spanish worker reads. But: what if we were to change this?

      Venezuelans would be surprised to find out about the amount and condition of public libraries in the slums of Bogota. Oh, yeah, we do better than El Salvador and Honduras…maybe

      • Oh, I do think a reading is important, but I would first focus on the media that venezuelans most consume, and that’s t.v. and telenovelas play a huge role, also, those shows like Caso Cerrado which have a huge following can be allies to bring about social change.

        • The arts are certainly part of the new narrative. I dare say El Sistema is as relevant to today’s Venezuela as Doña Barbara is.

    • I do think that we need to produce better and more diverse telenovelas to help us shift the mindset, but to what?
      Apparently Telenovelas CAN shift mindsets. Telegraph UK discusses Brazil’s fall in the fertility rate from over 6 in the 1970s to around 2 today:

      A study of population data stretching back to 1971 has revealed that Brazil’s popular and often fanciful soap operas have had a direct impact on the nation’s divorce and birth rates, as the main channel that broadcast them gradually extended its reach across the country. According to the report… the rate of marriage break-up rose and the number of children born to each woman fell more quickly in areas receiving the TV Globo signal for the first time.… ‘We find that exposure to modern lifestyles as portrayed on television, to emancipated women’s roles, and to a critique of traditional values, was associated with increases in the share of separated and divorced woman across Brazil’s municipal areas,’ the report’s authors said. What is more, they added, ‘Women living in areas covered by the Globo signal have significantly lower fertility.’

      But how telenovelas should be crafted in Venezuela is, as Audrey points out, a moot question.

  8. 10 million plus signatures is 1/3 of the Vzla population. In other words, a big deal. These were supposed to be delivered to Obama at the Summit. Will not the “average Venezuelan” have a WTF moment, when they fail to see a press picture of Maduro lecturing Obama in front of a huge pile of signed paper?

    • Several comments are in order : dont believe the figures , at least part of the figures are made up , a lady declared that as a govt employee she was brought in a bus with a group of her coworkers to sign the protest in central caracas and discovered that in the same page where she had to affix her signature there appeared the purported ‘signature’ and ID card of her niece who for the last 4 years has been living in Italy. Many of the figures are of people who were quietly or overtly pressured or recruited to sign because they held govt jobs or because they needed something done at a govt office or were asked to sign at the end of a queue in order to buy very scarce items in govt supermarkets . Then I understand that the 10 million alleged signatures also included 3 million signatures collected in Cuba by Cuban authorities.

      There are staged managed protests and signing events which the govt films and broadcasts but Ive passed in front of many empty stalls set up by the govt to collect signatures around public offices.

      If you pay attention to the govt media youll think that people are vehemently incensed against the Obama decree , the fact of the matter is that if your are struggling on a dayly basis to find the basics with which to supply the needs of your family there isnt much time left over to mull about these overly publicized govt propaganda pieces .

      Flatly put people have been saturated with constant govt playacting for 15 years now and the effect has worn off considerably. Specially with such lack luster leader as Maduro.

      • The claim that 10 million Venezuelans signed against Obama is a lie. It’s not worth debating at this point.

      • Yeah, I have to agree with Juan. It is so well known, both here in Venezuela and abroad, that the collection of these signatures was a farce, that the public relations value of the effort is nil. It isn’t worth more than a casual rolling of eyes.

  9. Maybe the national narrative is actually an anti-narrative: waiting. Waiting for food, waiting for the next intrusion of violence, waiting for a passport to arrive, waiting for oil prices to go up,waiting for the great leader to arrive from over the mountain. Beckett is taken, but his play is many Venezuelans lives.

  10. Another OT: http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/i-went-from-broke-to-an-instant-millionaire-here/story-fn6yjihw-1227300495540

    This is a story published by an Australian “Mochillero” (Backpack Traveler). What I found interesting is that this guy got a fairly accurate understanding of what is really happening in Venezuela shortly after arriving by living at ground level. Whereas the journalists living in nice hotels don’t ever seem to “get it” even after living here for months.

    • Thanks for the link. Brings back memories of my backpacking days. You don’t have to hang out in expensive hotels to stay in a bubble. While backpacking, especially if going to big tourist areas, it is possible to hangout only with backpackers and not the locals. However, even hanging out with other backpackers can expand horizons. In being exposed to German and French backpackers, I learned things about the cultures of those countries that I wouldn’t have otherwise known.

      Even with that caveat, backpacking definitely gives you a better exposure to a country than you get from expensive hotels.

      An interesting feature of the backpacking way is to find out connections with people you meet. One time on my weeks off in Argentina, I met on a VERY slow train trip a former Peace Corps worker who, in his 2 years in Colombia, had a Colombian supervisor who was a family friend. Or the Italian immigrant hotel owner in La Puerta where I once stayed while hiking in the mountains around there. Years later, while hitching in TX, I got a ride with a law student who was the product of a TX oilman father and a Venezuelan mother. In comparing stories, it turned out that the Italian immigrant hotel owner in La Puerta was the law student’s uncle.

      • You’re welcome. It brought back some memories for me too. A long time ago, when I wasn’t as enamored with my creature comforts, I did an around-the-world trip — 17 countries in six-and-a-half months: Oceania, South-East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. At the time, I thought the time and expense was an irresponsible indulgence. It turned out that it was the best education I could have ever given myself.

  11. “What do I have in common with Edanis Coromoto Sucre Bolivar? What do you? How can we weave a narrative that says something to both her and me?”

    I don’t quite get the analogy: Anna Karenina lets readers identify with her, not her with the reader. By definition, the moment you identify with Edanis well enough, any message that speaks to her should also speak to you, well enough.

    I can tell you right now what would speak to Edanis, but because you don’t identify with her well enough, you still fight it after all these years: cash distribution.

    • While I agree that cash distribution is part of the narrative, it can’t be all of it. Cash doesn’t forge lasting human connections. I think it goes beyond that – what does the cash represent?

      • Of course that when I say “cash distribution” I am not implying merely saying, here’s cash. I have commented so extensively on the topic that when I say “cash distribution” I hope you don’t go all literal on me to avoid accepting that the extensive narrative of “cash distribution” is exactly what Edanis wants to hear.

        As to forging lasting human connections, again, we are going back to your lousy analogy. Anna did not forge a connection with you, the reader. You forged it with her. If cash distribution and all it entails is what Edanis wants, it’s your lack of connection to her that prevents you from seeing how she sees it.

        Test it. Ask Edanis if she thinks that a way to prevent the loss of oil money to corruption and mismanagement is to distribute the oil money evenly to all citizens. Ask her if she feels the oil belongs to her as much as it does to all other citizens. Ask her if she thinks she could better spend that money in improving her life than any politician currently in the political arena. I’d love to read a post about Edanis’s answers.

        • Oil isnt just some endless source of money , its a complex challenging business , decisions about how to handle the oil industry are beyond the ken of most people , even most proffesional pols have no clue on how to handle the oil industry, Every one thinks that they are geniuses at these things and for the most part they know very little about it and understand even less. I think that one serious part of the agenda is to cease believing in the gifted amateur , in the all rounded genious leader who can master any subject in the abstrct and then make judgments on any topic. in silver bullets !!

          You need teams , well organized teams of professional experts , let them figure out what can be done and then let the pols translate the resulting policies into messages that people can buy and understand . Ive had enough of the pinata mentality , let every one share in the bountless bounty of our endless oil revenue , the oil industry in Venezuela in case we havent noticed is broke, flat broke , first things first , putting the oil industry on a healthy course is going to require huge resources and lots of foreign help from professional oil companies. It may be that its can never be restored to what it used to be . that in itself makes the prospect of a munificent big daddy who gives money to every dick joe and harry a huge joke. !!

          • The mentality of most people, whether in Venezuela or in the US, is that oil and gas production is as easy as turning a water spigot on and off. There are very few politicians who attempt to dissuade their constituents of that view.
            There is a lot of ruin in the oil industry in Venezuela- Chavismo has had 13 years to “turn around” what was once a well-run company.

          • Bill Bass, strawman argument. I never have suggested letting Edanis run the oil industry. I have always suggested privatizing the oil industry, having the only government income from oil come from either oil royalties or taxation. This would lead to only experts running the oil businesses. I have always also suggested the same model for all other natural resources, keeping all political hands out of the running of the business and dedicating themselves strictly to overseeing that the market be as fair and competitive as possible.

            So, all the things you mention, are met by my proposal. Suggesting that what I propose is a joke, when in fact it incorporates all the seriousness to which you make mention sounds like a play out of the chavismo playbook.

          • “PRIVATIZING…”

            But, but, but what’s gonna happen to our sacred SOVEREIGNTY???? Are we gonna crawl and ask for cacao to the predatory transnationals that are gonna despoil out natural riches and take all of them out of Venezuela leaving us to starve??

          • Ralph, no. The transnationals would pay for our oil. You know, we would give it to them in exchange for their money. What they do with it after they buy it is their business. What we do is try to get as much as we can for it. Then, with the money, we spend it in the manner that is most efficient and effective in improving the lives of our citizens in the short, medium and long term. I suggest that the most efficient and effective way is cash distribution of that money. This way, no one would starve.

          • My post was about the response that the “P-Word” would get from the “average venezuelan” (aka Pedro Pérez), who isn’t necessarily a hardcore or a naive chavista, but is ignorant enough to have the ridiculous sovereignty excuse stuck in his head, which would lead him to resist any attempt to privatize any “strategic industry”

            The way to defeat such resistance is to appeal to his interest, the benefit he’s gonna get from privatizing a company, and that is “HOW THAT WILL BENEFIT ME?”

            To answer that, you need to tell something a bit different to each social strata, because they have different interests, to the middle and upper clases, you buy them the moment you say “no more cadivi”, and the less resourceful ones will hop when you show them the basic needs would be guaranteed, for example “no more colas, you won’t need to burn your whole salary in a week”

            Other examples to people to buy the idea, among them the Pedro Pérezes is to explain them that privatized companies will have a much better performance (Because sadly, public managed companies leave much to be desired in Venezuela…) and that the state will benefit from them anyway because the companies will still pay taxes.

            In short, you have to appeal at Pedro Pérez’s ambition to get him into your side.

          • Ralph, thanks for explaining. I have found that Pedro Perez has no issues with the “privatizing” word if the first part of the sentence starts with “cash distribution.” Once you say that we are going to sell the oil, give the money out to all citizens, and let companies do whatever they want with the oil, Pedro Perez invariably thinks it’s a great way to simplify everything, eliminating corruption and mismanagement, and him getting his fair share. The conversation immediately goes to “why hasn’t that been done already?” It’s with the upper middle class, and the rich that the conversation goes sour.

          • Wow!
            “I never have suggested letting Edanis run the oil industry.”

            No one but yourself, ET, has suggested what you ascribe to Bill Blass. Transference much? Time for meds?

            Let us know when you’ve plumbed the depths of these commentariats to provide you with the needed arguments to shape your evolving cash distribution theory — in words only, of course.

          • syd, bill blass? As to Edanis, bill bass did say that *everyone* thinks themselves geniuses at running these things, and his was a reply to the context of my previous comment about asking Edanis what her thoughts were. Weren’t you asking me to read more deeply? I remember that I was asking you to spell something out… Stop trolling.

        • Lorenzo, the Alaska Permanent Fund is related to what I suggest but falls short in comparison. Its successful aspects naturally support cash distribution, and it’s improvable aspects I believe are dealt with by the differences in the proposal.

          • Oooo, ooooo. But MY theory with no numbers to back it up is so-o-o much better. Why, by my words alone, and only on these commentariats, will all of Venezuela’s problems be solved in one fell swoop. Vote for my theory!

      • Roy, you don’t get it. Cash distribution is not about giving out cash you don’t have; it’s about the the most efficient alternative to do with the cash you DO have.

        For example, to eliminate the anti-economic controls that are in place without starving people, you must provide some way for their not starving. You could try social programs, but whatever programs you come up with, they are less efficient than taking the same cash that you would use for those programs and giving it to the people for them to feed themselves.

        So, we’re not “past it”. Now more than ever is the time to implement it.

        • Your paper on the topic, in a peer-reviewed economic journal, is still pending. Let us know when your repetitive baby steps on these boards materialize into something with more gravitas.

          • syd, if arseholes could be identified by their smell, you would stink of shit all the way up to here.

            Extorres is right, redistribution has to be part of the solution. And yes, there is cash to redistribute.

          • Your compliment from someone who obviously knows arseholes inside and out, is touching. As a relative newcomer to these boards, let us know how that cash will be redistributed in the face of a broken, and out-of-date oil industry, with ever reduced markets, and contributing smaller profit margins to a government with huge debt obligations.

          • I do know arseholes: after all I have had to talk to Venezuelans abroad for sixteen years.

            Listen, if you stop subsidising oil to the Caribbean, eliminate a monstrous black market of everything and stop giving a luxurious life to thousands of bureaucrats… I think you have more than enough money to fund a cash handout programme.

          • Key phrase: I think.
            Not good enough when the topic is so contentious, and counts on too many amateurs who weave a nebulous narrative, without sufficient training, nor scope of the magnitude of the issue.

            If I were you, I’d stick to arseholes.

          • let me ut it put it this way: the currency black market has size that we know, provided by Giordani and a former director of the BCV: 20 billion dollars per year.

            Smuggling to Colombia has also been counted: 5 billion dollars per year.

            Petrocaribe has a known cost: only the Cuban subsidy amounts to a billion per year.

            All that money can be used to wean people off the regime and still have enough to pay debt and cut the deficit down. Venezuela is not ruined, it is mismanaged.

            You oppose redistribution for ideological reasons (the true mark of the arsehole, to follow ideology instead of fact) not economical ones.
            .

          • I would like to add that pudreval drained almost 80 billions in rotting food.
            That’s another part of the critical situation today and yet another case and reason to kill the exchange control, bury it, and toss into jail for 30 years to the douchebags who implemented it.

          • Let’s have that URL of your published report in a peer-reviewed journal. Earlier, you could only point to flimsy backup. I’m waiting for your number crunching. Scared?

          • ET: Stop trolling with pretentious theories that have no quantitative back up, simply to get a rise from those who request those numbers, to which you offer verbal deflections. That’s the stuff of a twisted narcissist.

            All these years, and you still can’t get to the numerical heart of the matter. But you parachute your flim-flam on these boards, only to build a smokescreen, whenever anyone of us demand that you prove your no-foundation-based dream-in-evolution-mode.

          • syd, I keep reading your comments and still can’t find any part where you add to the topic. Remember Edanis? Stop trolling.

  12. The first thing is to set out in clear succint terms what are the basic points which express the oppo point of view on what they stand for and what broadly they would want to do to solve the crisis (selling hope is essential) , the second thing is to adapt a message that doenst simply appeal to the regular oppo but appeals and addresses the concerns and wishes of your dissapointed chavista supporter who now doenst feel that happy with Maduro . Very important in the list make it clear that there is a real concern with improving the lives of the least fortunate , that they matter , that they are a priority . and please ……lets mean it . We have to care for the least fortunate and their fate . Their lives are the centre goal of any future govt action.

    • Bill Bass,

      You seem to be trying to come up with a way to communicate with Edanis regarding the “oppo point of view”. That does not quite follow from the analogy of the post, which is about the reader understanding Anna’s point of view, not Anna understanding the reader’s. To follow the Anna analogy, we should be trying to determine with what proposal would Edanis most agree. I bet you that you cannot come up with one that would convince Edanis that it is a better way of fixing things than cash distribution. Knowing what *she* would want in a political platform is to what the Anna analogy points to. It’s not about Edanis understanding us; it’s about us understanding Edanis.

      • An iconic spanish composer of classical music once gave an interview where he was asked whether he tried to please people when writing his compositions so as to gain their applause , he answered I love making people happy but when composing I am the first person that has to feel happy about what I compose .

        Similarly : If you are going to send a message to attract people to your cause the first thing is to know what is it that you want and desire as an economic and political model , and then see how you can adapt that model or express its advantages and benefits so that you can make it appealing to other people .

        To make up a message you dont believe in, in mercenary fashion just to deceive someone to follow you is both dishonest and ultimately self defeating . I hope you dont propose that the oppo do that.!!

        .

        • Bill Bass, quite the contrary. Juan’s post was all about the reader understanding a character used as an analogy of us needing to understand the average Venezuelan, symbolized by Edanis. By understanding Edanis, the oppo would learn her point of view. You are proposing the opposite, a way of getting Edanis to understand ours, and that was not the point of the post. And when I say “understand her point of view”, I don’t in any way mean “pretend”.

  13. Just talked to my family.

    There is no food. Time is spent surviving, which is not really a useful activity on the longer term. It’s less a matter of money than the fact staples have disappeared.

    You already know that. There is an additional problem. I often can’t understand them, not because some drift of the language, but they have developed allusions, innuendos, roundabouts, that escape me.

    I had to insist more than once they speak clearly and name things, but that made them angry. They said I should understand.

    And it’s not fear. Venezuelans have a problem with truth, they just can’t state it without manipulating it first. And in this Chavez was successful: saying “one little billion” instead of “unrestricted access to bank reserves”, saying “it’s ok to steal ” instead of “we will use criminality as a political tool”, saying he would retire “in a hammock in Apure” instead of “I want to die in office” ( only it was a bit earlier the he expected, poor bastard).

    He hid the country and its problems from its inhabitants behind a wall of dodgy language.

    That way of talking, of lying, has become common.

    Whether this fictional person with a horrid name is open to new politics is less important than the fact that she may be unable to understand them, to live without lies.

    I often insist on the need for a new narrative the opposition has been unable to supply. The problem, I realise now, is the people will simply fail to understand anything beyond this ridiculous mountain of cliches and half-truths that Spanish has become in Venezuela.

    • “Time is spent surviving, which is not really a useful activity on the longer term.”

      It’s very useful for the regime, for any organization, really, to count on sheep. In this case, the sheep are kept in an exercise to seek and line up for food for survival, thereby guaranteeing that the sheep will not rebel.

      • yeah yeah, that is not my point. my point is, can you impose a new narrative when people have lost the ability to speak and understand the truth?

        When economic controls are literally destroying your life, but as a citizen you respond that controls should be kept in place (as a majority responds in polls) then it is clear the opposition needs more than a narrative: it needs to impose a new way of thinking.

        • si hay que hace cola pa’ la comia y no ay, pero con los tigritos, tu sae, siempre se conseguen unos realitos y nos vamos hasta Caracas pa comprar las cosas, si hase falta, con el billete en la mano

    • “Time is spent surviving, which is not really a useful activity on the longer term.”

      Indeed. Venezuelans have slipped down a couple of notches when considered in the context of the “Mazlow’s Hierarchy Needs” model.

  14. Isn’t the symbolism of Doña Barbara “la lucha entre la civilización y la barbarie”? Haven’t Venezuelans been dealing with this for generations in different guises? The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  15. Aqui en Unare vamo’ a tene que bota’ otra ve pol Mahburro, mijo. Eh’que ya filmamo a lista contra Obama y nos da mieo que no quite el trabajo, tu sabe, y los faborcitos consedidos por el Comandante Chacez.. tu sae, tanta cosita que no regalan, la cosa esta dura, pero siempre aparese por ahi algun tigtiro como disen por ahi!

  16. We all tend to talk about topics we dont know very much about , in Venezuela oil is one such topic , there is a presentation made by Francisco Monaldi of Harvard Kennedy School of Government on the status of the Venezuelan oil industry in late 2014 , It touches on the investments which will need to be done in the oil industry to transform it into a healthy well run business, one which makes money. Currently Pdvsa for all practical purposes is broke both operationally and financially and it doesnt have the money or resources to fund either its own essential projects nor any cash distribution system which we might see as the magic bullet to solve the problems of a prodigal corrupt regime . I strongly recommend that people seek and read this presentation to get a feel of how deeply in the red Pdvsa is. (I mean financially not just politically) .

    I myself are inclined to think that taking money away from the govt to indiscriminately spread among all and sundry wont improve the situation, that we have to stop believing in magic bullets, that its never that simple .

    This is a topic Ive discussed with Ex Torres very extensively in the past , he has to do his math in order to make it minimally credible . Im afraid that so far he doesnt have the numbers.

    • Bill Bass, everything ever discussed in the past seems to have gone over you head, so you’re going to have to stop claiming that you have any understanding of what I propose. I have never suggested, as you imply in your comment, having PDVSA fund any aspect of the cash distribution proposal. I have always stated that the money for the cash distribution be exclusively from the oil royalties (i.e., from the selling of the oil being extracted) and the taxation system, while the oil industry would be best privatized.

      Also, strictly speaking, cash distribution is not taking money away from the government, it merely becomes the alternative to less efficient and less effective social programs.

      • Ex Torres: Just a back of the envelope calculation , income 50 USD a bl (assumming none of it is given away to foreign allies or spent in unsustainable gas or diesel or other subsidies ) : average cost of producing one bl of oil : 23 US$, cost of paying Pdvsa’s external debt and financial obligations of some 80 Billion USD , plus importing products or light crudes to make orinoco oil crude saleable ( now that because of diminished availabilities of conventional crudes a rising percentage of the production is in term of extra heavy faja crude) or to meet domestic refined product consumption , plust huge cost ot maintaining present and future production (over 100 bln USD in the next 5 years ) including to start the building of 6 to eight 200 kbd upgraders at 18 Billion USD a throw .

        If you add up the above costs and necessary future investments and subtract them from the average price you are left with very little to give to the govt to maintain basic services , infrastructure and pay its own humongous debts , if on top of that you tn ke away 30% of the total oil income which it receives as royalties to distribute among everybody then you are in deep deep deficit territory .

        Venezuela is become a poor country given its needs and we still dont realize it , just to get us out of the hole will require every cent of its resources and then some more. we are in deep hock for decades , In the past we could get away with having a spendrift corrupt govt and still provide many of Venezuelans with a half decent life , in future unless we change our way of managing all of the countrys resources so that they are managed wisely and with optimum rationality we are going to live in a funk . Reforming the way the state operates is now a must not just an option , trying to avoid this challenge by giving all the govt money direct to the population is just a pipe dream .!!

        • Good luck explaining to the voters that a future government will just throw them into a capitalist economy without any help.

          These voters, with little education and savings.

          • Alejandro : Im not totally sold out on the virtues of any model or system , thats primitive and unrealistic , the world is too complicated to allow that , all systems have their virtues and limitations , The Market model has many advantages and is much more maligned than it deserves , but it also has failings and limitations that warrant correction and adaptation. In general Im skeptical of any ideological tag because ultimately they tie a person down to slavishly follow a system which may not be totally suitable to the comditions to which it is applied in any given circumstance. If anything I would feel more identified with the principles of pragmatism and of avoding any dogmatic belief in one track systems or one size fits all formulas. Also in not for expecting perfection but giving due allowance to some inevitable margin of failure in what is difficult to attempt and achieve .!!

        • Of course, Venezuela could get totally radical, realize that it can’t rely solely on oil, and take steps to expand domestic production and diversify its economy. Just a thought…

          • Roy that would always be the ideal , but its not easy to do , however much we see its many benefits !!

          • However “difficult” it may be, Venezuela has no choice in the matter, if it is to survive. When I said “radical”, I was being sarcastic.

        • bill bass,

          You seem to have ignored the model I put forth. Venezuela would sell its oil to any and all oil companies that wish to extract it, in a fair and competitive market. Once that deal is done, Venezuela should have nothing further to do with the business. All the details that you are giving regarding costs, debts, importation, consumption, building upgraders, etc. are details for the people dedicated to the oil business, not you, not me, and certainly not people chosen by government officials who were popularly elected by Edanis.

          As far as I know, oil income currently includes: 30 per cent of extracted hydrocarbons volumes, oil field surface tax, 50% net income tax, shareholder dividends, and a windfall tax. The arithmetic for your back of the envelope has to start with one number: how much money does the government of Venezuela get from the 30% royalty for extracted oil? Using crude oil production per day of is 2,300,000 at 50 USD/b, worth around 42billion USD per year, and calculating the 30% royalty gives close to 13 billion USD per year.

          The second number to include is how much does cash distribution cost? At an initial minimum of 1 USD/day, using a population of 30 million gives close to 11 billion USD per year.

          Just with the 30% royalty from oil, and no other income, cash distribution is covered, at least initially. Assuming the government can eliminate all social programs that are redundant with the cash distribution, as well as eliminating its non government-related activites, the question is: can all other government income cover its remaining costs? The answer is yes.

          • Ex Torres , please dont embarrass yourself , just read the dam presentation and ponder its numbers , your numbers on production etc come from cloud cuckoo land , were did you get them , from a 1998 farmers almanac ??, do you have any idea of what the dwidling of conventional crude production entails in terms of costs , how much whoever is responsible for will have to invest to maintain production and attend to future investment needs ?? . The problem is that people enamoured of one grand abstrac magical idea never bother about the details on which the feasability of making true their pie in the sky dreams depend.

          • No, no, BB. Its you who misunderstand, for “You seem to have ignored the model I put forth.”

            That’s why ET hasn’t supplied numbers before. The writing and the enredo says it all: a policy-wonkish-dream-in-the-making-with-no-quantitative-demands-put-on-it. I really hope ET finds a market of innocents, because his/her dreamscapes ain’t cutting it here.

            Falta de seriedad.

          • source: http://www.opec.org/opec_web/flipbook/MOMRFebruary2015/MOMRFebruary2015.html#60

            I would also consider those numbers to increase quickly by welcoming a fair and competitive industry of oil extraction at transparent competitive prices. Your numbers seem to be based on the PDVSA monopolistic, government-run status quo.

            The problem is that people who are hateful of the simplicity of a paradigm shifting idea never bother to reconsider the things they learned of old.

          • The production which Opec quotes for jan of 2015 is of 2.3 mbd , if the cost of producing it is of 23/24 USD per barrel then you are left with 26 USD , if you take out the 750 kbd of domestic production which is not sold at 50USD per bl but at next to nothing then the income falls considerably , if you then try to raise the price of that , gook luck if you raise it to 50 USD per bl . Then you have to keep the production going , that means investing each year some 20 billion USD plus the fact that because conventional deposits are fast declining you have to substitute it for extra heavy faja crude which cannot be commercialized unless you mix it with light crudes ( which you havent got enough of and thus must buy at international prices) or with diesel produced at our refineries or bought abroad at a hefty price or you have to build Upgraders which cost 18 billion dollars each ( for every 200 kbd of extra heavy crudes) , the extra cost of producing upgrading selling the extra heavy crude which replaces the dissapearing conventional crudes means that the income per bl you get from selling these crudes is going to be much lower than what you used to get from selling the conventional crudes of the past , then you have to add to that that the industry has failed to maintain much of its infrastructure which needs to be repaired at a huge cost or production starts suffering , then you have to pay your own debts which include 45 billion USD of financial debt,(excluding what owed to the chinese fund) 12 million of commercial debt ( including dividents not paid to your joint venture partners) , plus the 14 blillion dollars in loans which are being given to you by your new joint venture partners to start production . After youve done all that and spent all that you have a working oil industry . The money will have to be spent even if the oil industry is sold to private interests who of course will prioritize their own profits in a way which might hurt your own economic interests as a country ( but of course you cant see that) . If you add to that the govt has expenses , even justified expenses which it has to cover to keep the machinery of public services and infrastructure going plus a 60 or 70 billion dollar international debt to pay then if you take 30% of the total income recieved as royalty from the coffers of the state to give to the happy citizens of the country just for being born here you are going to have a social and financial crisis of traumatic propportions . The belief that turnng the oil industry to private interests will magically solve all the oil industrys current problems and stiill leave enough money to fund a modern state ( even a well run modern state ) plus give every individual 30 % of the country’s net oil income is the height of folly. You are not a follish man but you are a man obsessed with an idea that you bank on being marvelously effective in solving a huge host of difficult problems and are ofuscated by it .

            With all courtesy , do read the Monaldi presentation with care , think of the things which are revealed there and then rethink whether there is enough money to institute the free cash for everyone idea you so generously favour. right now Pdvsa is for all practical purposes broke as is the regime . getting things back to normal isnt goint to be easy or gratis , mending them so that some hope of improvement is possible for the future means that you will need every cent you can get your hands on and then more !!

          • bill bass, you keep trying to take the discussion towards getting a “working oil industry”, ironically since you were the one referring to those who think themselves geniuses thinking that they can run the thing, while I’m the one trying to take the discussion towards getting the government out of trying to run the thing, precisely because they are not oil industry experts. They are people chosen by people popularly elected by Edanis. With all courtesy, stop trying to get me to “understand” the intricacies of the oil industry, not only because I leave those to the experts, but because I bet you and syd would be the first to then accuse me of thinking myself a genius that can run the thing.

            For example, I don’t know why you think that the monies you mention have to be spent to sell PDVSA, which can be sold, as is. If there are no takers by experts in the field, it may mean it’s not worth it to spend those monies on PDVSA to fix it. Like a used car, the price just goes down, you don’t have to get it working. The buyer decides if it’s worth buying.

            You also seem to think that cash distribution money disappears into a void. It doesn’t. It gets spent, and that reactivates the market very, very quickly. This has to be tied to removal of price controls, removal of currency exchange limitations, removal of labor constrictions and, removal of as much red tape as possible, and more. The key is to get the market to as free a state as possible as quickly as possible. The negative repercussions are reduced because those most needy will guaranteed a minimum income which is indexed to the USD. It also reactivates banks and businesses, so lending rates go down, which also helps reactivate all kinds of employment and expansion.

            Your repeat message seems to be that the government would not have enough left over after eliminating all critical poverty from Venezuela for the price of 11billion USD/yr to fulfill the rest of its duties, even after getting out of all privatizable businesses. Gee, I wonder how countries with fewer natural resources do it. Let’s add to the 11 billion royalties for bauxite, iron ore, carbon, natural gas, gold, and more. The government should not run any of those businesses, it should merely get as much royalty as it can from them. Making a profit from the extractions is the private industry’s problem, not the Venezuelan government’s.

          • I think we d better stop further discussion . You dont get it and will never get it , because you are so obsessively wed to your idea that you cannot even make the least effort to understand where other people opposed to your idea come from . If you are so scornful of expert stuff´ and useless details and dont need to understand where the money you dream of using to feed your illusion comes from then you are not someone Im interested in talking to . You are the ultimate dreamer , The grand pinata master , free candies for the children is your magical solution for all the countrys many problems . Lets not perturb your lovely dream.

          • You’re right about ending the discussion, though I think for the wrong reasons.

            1) you claim the oil industry is too intricate, yet you put me down for accepting that it is too intricate.

            2) I relinquish oil industry decisions to the experts, yet you accuse me of being scornful of expert stuff.

            3) you accuse me of not caring where the money comes from, yet you refuse to look at the math that proves the money is sufficient, yet you only want to look at it from the oil industry POV as if it weren’t too intricate, or for experts beyond you and me.

            Even back in 2007 the budget could have looked like this:

            (USD)
            Oil income 12 billion
            Tax income 13 billion
            cash distribution -10 billion
            debt -5 billion
            public institutions -4 billion
            armed forces -1 billion
            salaries -3 billion
            other -2 billion

            That was a budget of 25 billion. You think there is not enough now?! Have you seen the latest budget? I’ll tell you why there *seems* like there is not enough money and it’s because it is being mismanaged, mispent, or misapporpriated. Cash distribution reduces all three.

            I’ll tell you why I don’t have to hurry to push the concept of cash distribution. There is no alternative. Science and technology are constantly making it easier for fewer people to provide for more people. The trend will be to make it more and more difficult for the ever increasing population to compete and find jobs. We will inevitably arrive at one of two scenarios: 1) a revolution or 2) a cash distribution. I’m hoping people like you wake up before the situation for the poor becomes so dire that they will revolt. And the revolt will be against the likes of us. Chavismo and its appeal outside of the Venezuelan borders is but an indication of the future if cash distribution is not implemented.

            What is sad for me is that the most educated seem to be the ones who have the most trouble seeing that cash distribution is not an only alternative that is horrible but an only one that is actually better than any other kind of redistribution that has been attempted in the past. It is capitalism with zero poverty.

            I remind you, however, that the topic of this post was Edanis’s point of you, not yours. I insist, she would support what I am saying much more than what you are saying. She’s smart enough for that, and that gives me hope, in spite of all your disrespectful put downs.

          • Ex you dont have to be an expert to try and be better informed , you dont even realize how utterly primitive your calculation is . how utterly childish the notion that you just give a country oil industrys away to private interests and it just begins working perfectly as if the money it needs to function doesnt matter , I tought better of you , but you are really simplistic and primitive in your outlook of our country and its economy . Read the presentation and try and understand it although I doubt that you will even try.

          • Bill Bass, of course I would read it if you provided the link, for as you already know I thought you were talking about an older document. You accuse me of simplistic when you were the first to provide a “back of the envelope” calculation. Even a description of democracy can sound simplistic when provided in a nutshell, yet there are no two exactly alike. Same with cash distribution. Why would you assume that I don’t see the complexities merely because there’s no point in discussing any of them if you reject the basic premise right off the bat?

            Forgive if I don’t buy your claims to respect when you’ve made comments as childish as my production numbers being from “cloud cuckoo”. You just want your viewpoint listened to, even when the post was specifically about communing with the average Venezuelan, not them with you. Again, Edanis would support my narrative because she can buy the premise, not yours, because it’s more of the same that has never worked in Venezuela. Talk about pies in the sky.

          • “As far as I know, oil income currently includes:…”

            “the question is: can all other government income cover its remaining costs? The answer is yes.”

            Well, then! Ricardo Hausmann, move over. We now have assurance from the anonymous extorres who doesn’t really know what oil income is made up of, yet assures us that all will be well. Because he/she said so.

            Unbelievable the nonsense that floats through anonymity. Now watch someone get their back up and label this argument as trolling, because he/she said so.

          • Extorres,

            There is a saying that goes, “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

            You need to expand your tool kit. You sound like someone who did made this their grad school thesis and has never moved on since.

          • Roy, aside from that link, which I hope you visit, let me remind you that this post was about Edanis, not about cash distribution. The question was about Edanis’s point of view.

            Consider three candidates running for presidency in Venezuela. The first tells Edanis that we need to continue the course but fix the issues by getting rid of the capitalistic mentality of those who hate the nation and continuing to ward off imperialism and then all will be well. The second candidate is bill bass telling Edanis that what we need is similar to what we had before, but done better, *now* with a sincere caring for those less fortunate, and clearly with the willingness to tighten belts a few notches because the ride is going to be really rough but we trust you’ll understand it has to be so. Then a third candidate tells Edanis, the oil belongs to all citizens equally so we’ll be giving you and all citizens their fair share from it, and this will ease the burden of the belt tightening that the *government* will have to undergo, and the price fluctuations that will ensue from correcting the economic policies; this will also ensure that none of the oil money gets stolen or administered badly since it will go directly to your hands.

            Which candidate will Edanis choose? Do you think Edanis will ask for a PhD level publication? Edanis knows that much of the money is disappearing. She also knows that if the money never touches the hands of the corrupt or inept, it has a higher chance of getting to her. She also knows she will better spend her money in improving her life than any of the current politicians deciding for her. And even if a politician did have a better idea, she knows that Venezuela is so corrupt that the chances of that better idea getting implemented hiccup-free is unlikely. She knows what’s good for her, and cash distribution is her best option, hands down.

            If she were a character in a book, you’d know I’m right; she would vote for cash distribution. That’s the message she wants to hear.

          • False promises that ultimately make things worse (for example if the oil industry and the country goes broke because not enough money is available to mend things because its been distributed to all citizens ) is what got us into this mess in the first place . Dont make promises you cant keep or that in the end will make things worse .!! And again read the darn presentation , you are an amateur in calculating oil industry incomes and costs , go fo the real thing , read Monaldis presentation !!

        • stop the enredo, extorres so as to avoid specifics, and supply credible numbers. At the very least, respond to the quantitative back-of-the-envelope analysis from BB.

          Since to-date, you’ve never furnished numbers for a credible argument, and you avoid publishing your airy-fairy findings in a serious peer-reviewed journal, one can only conclude that you’re an amateur who’s using us to build arguments to rationalize and defend your salon thesis. FYI: Vzla already counts on enough fantasists aiming for their 15 minutes of fame, without adding to the pile.

          Numbers, ET.

          • syd, again, I missed the part where you provided anything related to the topic. stop trolling.

      • Sorry Ex , the paper I refer to is a presentation made in december of 2014 , yours is one made sometime in 2009, Conditions have changed quite a bit since then , Monaldi apparently has also grown in his understanding of the oil business, this other presentation is a bit more crude than the more recent one . Do note that the conclusion is far from being a ringing endorsement of your position , but a wishy washy talk of alternatives .!!

        • Bill Bass, a link to the paper to which you refer would be appreciated, then.

          As to the non ringing endorsement of my position, maybe, but it is even further away from your disrespectful position of calling my position no less than foolish.

          • It is foolish ex , extremely so , not because you are not intelligent but because you lack any sense of the real , any knowledge of how an industry as vital to venezuela as its oil industry operates , you cant even realize that a broke country that has to rebuilt itself doenst have the resources to give money away on some cheap electoral gimmick .

            Your real motive is to destroy the state you hate so much by depriving it of the resources it needs to function even at a minimal level . I dont disrepect you as a person but I have no respect for your notion that doing away with the state by giving all its resources to the masses is going to get us anywhere !

          • BB: here’s the main inspiration for extorres’s messianic devotion: http://www.cgdev.org/initiative/oil-cash-fighting-resource-curse-through-cash-transfers
            The “jellybeans video” (which treats a serious economic issue as though viewers were in Kindergarten) is presented by Todd Moss, who introduces his 2013 proposal on the website for the Center for Global Development (“Ideas to Action…”), and who appears to have 3 degrees in no identified discipline (what’s he hiding?). He writes a joint post to introduce his policy paper and opens the forum for comments. One comment is made, two years ago, for which there was never any response. So much for “Ideas to Action”.

          • syd! SYYYYYYYYD! You actually brought something to the table!!! I love it. Thank you.

            I have read some of what they have posted on the site you provide, but no, they were not my main inspiration. In fact they fall short of what I propose, but some of their proposals are the closest I have found to what I propose.

            Also interesting, look up the MINCOME project: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome

            As for the rest of your comment, well, it’s no surprise that you like to judge the content by the format and the certificates or lack of them, or how popular the work is, instead of by the ideas presented. I wish you wouldn’t be so superficial in your judgments, but I guess that one will never change. sigh.

          • extorres: What an infant!

            The link I provided was the kiddie version of Todd Moss’s 2013 vision of “Oil2Cash”, a link which you have provided twice now, in your shilling of this economic idea for Venezuela. When you first provided the link, it was only after you made clear your pretense for economics, that I requested your presentation in a peer-reviewed journal. You couldn’t deliver, other than the presentation of Todd Moss as a principal byline in his position paper within his economic centre.

            Now, all of a sudden you tell us that the vision of Todd Moss (who needs a public platform for his economic multi-country vision, but is awfully coy about his credentials in that economic realm) is ok, but your idea is so-o-o-o much better. Sí, como no, mija.

            The “oil2cash” platform, already implemented in a state that, I presume, had a reasonable balanced budget to begin with, is also ok, but your idea is so-o-o-o much better, you tell us.

            Over and over again, you use us to shill your idea. But you haven’t got the training to fully analyze your vision on a realistic basis. No matter! We’re supposed to embrace your pearls regardless, for demanding appropriate training is so-o-o superficial,

            By all means, shill away, dear, no need for quantitative or economic training to deliver an economic platform for a country. You would leave that to the experts. And to date, haven’t even gathered up those experts to put together a credible platform for Venezuela. Qué falta de seriedad.

            Edanis, who I credit with more intelligence than you do, as you repeatedly use her to add a pseudo-emotional wringer to your shillings, would not be impressed. She knows the value of ‘una buena preparación’. She’s already heard too many charlatans, too many pretenders. The country is full of them, because requiring ‘una buena preparación’ is so-o-o-o superficial.

            Much like Bill Blass said, and I concur: bye, bye extorres, I prefer dealing with adults.

          • syd, as usual your memory is at best selective. I have provided dozens of links over the years, and not just to you but to countless other readers. Todd Moss’s being one of many. I have never provided any pretense of economics, nor of anything else, a fact which for quite a while was a focus of yours, trying to get personal information about me.

            As to my proposal being better that Todd Moss’s, for sure. Not just because I say so. In fact, the reason for not sharing any information about me has mostly to do with my wanting the proposal to be valued by itself and not by who says so. Why do I think it’s better, because I look at how his model works, and I see reasons for mine to work better. I happily share them and discuss them with anyone who also wants to THINK FOR THEMSELVES.

            For example, you presume that oil2cash had to be implemented in a state with a reasonble balanced budget to begin with. Why make that presumption? And why do you think that’s the only way it would work? What about a balanced budget would make a more efficient method with a balanced budget stop being more efficient? THINK FOR YOURSELF.

            I have spoken to Edanis many times over, and she invariable agrees that a way to less corruption and mismanagement of the oil money and a way to her having money for food and needs on the table every day is cash distribution. It takes but 10 minutes for Edanis to want it ASAP. If you ever wonder why people keep voting chavismo, look in the mirror.

          • Bill Bass, rebuilding a nation at the cost of letting people starve is unacceptable. Your plan saves a nation’s industry before it saves its people, yet you want to decorate the message of such a plan such that you fool Edanis into thinking you care. My plan saves the people and allows the people to build alternative businesses, letting experts –not politicians– attempt to rescue the oil industry. You’re suffering from the Ring of Power syndrome: you can’t let go and think you cannot succeed without it. It’s all about the oil industry, with you. I wonder when will you understand that the only way out of this mess in Venezuela is to get the petrostate in check.

            I don’t hate the state, and I’m not depriving it of its resources; I am limiting its income to taxation income, as in most healthy nations, while at the same time making it real easy for the government by providing it with a population that all but guaranteed not to starve. You’re the one who wants his grubby hands on the oil money as if a nation cannot function without it. To quote a very wise person from this comment section: “pull-eze”.

          • If the oil industry is let to fail there wont be any food for anybody in Venezuela , if you let domestic industry fail there will be no food for anybody , if the country is broke and cant pay its debts there will be a default and the imports the country needs to sustain its population will not be there and the country will starve , distributing money to starve the state wont help control inflation , it will by itself make indsutries produce more , it will not cause crime rates to fall , it will became a huge source of fraud where all the money is syphoned of to non existent people , it wont put more food on the table . it will just help fuel the chaos that already exists , people cant eat the money you thing should be distributed to them pinata style . !! the pinata master makes all kids happy by ignoring the real challenges the country faces and turning life into a big happy game .!!

          • Bill Bass,

            The thing is, selling the oil industry to private industry is no guarantee of failure, as you try to insinuate. In fact, my support for the privatization of the oil industry is because I believe that provides a higher probability of success for the oil industry. I even believe so because of an argument that you have made: it takes experts. Let me ask you:

            1) why do you seem to insist that it is better for politicians elected by popular vote will be more likely to put the best experts in charge of getting the oil industry up and running than having oil industry business people select the experts? On what is that faith based?

            As to domestic industry:

            2) why do you seem to think that domestic industry will be more likely to succeed in a centralized model, when the center of the model is the Venezuelan government? Do you realize it became broke because of the people running the very government on which your plan depends to succeed? Heck, you’re even thinking they can siphon off a direct transfer of equal amounts to a subpopluation that doesn’t exist and that the daily amount multiplied by the population estimates would not be a telltale sign? You want me to trust those who you think would do that? And you say I’m the foolish one!

            Regardless, if the country is broke, that’s more reason for cutting all credit, forcing the sale of anything sellable, and prioritizing whatever money there is to saving citizens from starvation and paying debtors, thus preventing revolt and default. By putting the money in the hands of the people, the people will buy at the best possible prices what they need the most. The providers who sell them those goods and services then buy at the best possible prices what they need to continue to provide their goods and services. The best thing the government can do is to help them be efficient, as opposed to what you seem to propose, doing it all itself. Decentralized capitalism is the most efficient model at getting the needed goods and services to those who need them, so long as those who need them have the money to pay. So merely claiming that what I propose will fail does not make you right, because what you are claiming is that capitalism doesn’t work. Capitalism is not “pinata style”. It may seem that way to control freaks, or to communists, or to you and others, but capitalism works because each person takes care of the details of his transactions in the best possible way for himself, which can add up to a very efficient nation.

            Call it a pinata if you will, but it’s you who’s not seeing the value of a capitalism with no poverty. Consider that GINI coefficient would decrease in direct proportion to the amount of the cash distribution. You can’t beat that. You have to let go of the Ring of Power…

  17. A few additional tid bits of fun information on the situation in Venezuela :
    1. The countrys biggest soap factory is being shut down , largely because it needs vegetable oil produced by a govt expropiated firm which has for some time stopped deliveries so there is no more feedstock to maintain soap production , the govt company has given notice that when it restores deliveries prices will be raised by 100% , meantime the price of the soap is kept frozen . The soap manufacturers decision is not to produce soap below cost . 90 workers are being sent home with a minimum wage salary.
    2. The most common method for paying bribes to the NGB at the Colombian border crossings is to throw a paper wrapped bundle to the garbage pail as the contraband truck passes the crosspoint , a kid jumped and took the bundle when it missed the pail and fell on the pavement and ran of with it , the catch 20.000 Bs.
    3. Venezuela inner consumption of refined products may now be close to a million bls a day , The Guri system is no longer able to produce the amount of power it used to so thermal plants have to produce it using some 200k of refined fuels per day . Meantime the electricity bill is for peanuts.
    All the while we are all agog with the valiant stand taken by president Maduro in defense of our sovereignty!!

  18. Luís Vicente León said something interesting: the “raspacupos” belong mostly in the lower and middle-lower classes, for whom currency arbitration represents astronomical rewards.

    These people were just f&%€# by the new rules and were part of Maduro´s base.

    Moreover, he said frontiers were now closed de facto for the lower classes, so the country has taken the path of nation-prison building through economic pressure.

    Very true, I find.

  19. This post made me appreciate now more than ever the Privacy Act (http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/p-21/) and the sense of respect for privacy that we Canadians enjoy. I can’t imagine somebody posting my SIN in Canada without being subject to a law suit. But respect for privacy, people’s lives and their personal information, is certainly something Venezuelans (regardless of their political affiliation) don’t have. Poor Venezuelans, they are even vulnerable to identity theft. I’m horrified.

    • Ignatius,
      That piece of information is available to anyone who goes to CNE and types in any number of ID.
      That is not the problem. The problem is when Chavismo published the signatures of those who
      requested the referendum against Chávez.
      As for Canadians, with all due respect, what they can put up when it comes to the Five Eyes framework is quite gross. Security? My foot. A lot of economic espionage even against “partners”, violation of personal rights of the rest of the world (and sometimes of the own citizens)

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