The True Story of How Quico Became Anti-Chavista

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Many years later, in front of this comic strip, Quico was to remember that distant afternoon when Colonel Pedro Ortega Diaz took him to discover communism.

I moved back to Caracas in June, 1999, after living abroad for the previous eleven years. Chávez had taken power just five months earlier, and I was torn: on the one hand generally inclined to side with the social justice instincts of the left, but on the other hand, well aware of the dangers.

Within 3 or 4 days of my return, I see an ad in the newspaper for a Citizen Participation Workshop attached to the Constituent Assembly to discuss social rights. I decide to go. It’s in Parque Central. It’s my first political outing since coming home.

At the head of the table, an already ancient Pedro Ortega Diaz presides over a session on the right to housing. For the next 150 minutes, a coterie of ñángaras passionately discusses whether they should enshrine the right to “housing”, to “adequate housing”, to “secure housing”, to “adequate and secure housing” or to what, exactly.

One upmanship reigns. Nobody dares question any adjective added onto the project, for fear of being seen as a neoliberal wrecker. 

I sit in astounded silence, wondering whether house building would be touched on in any way, whether feasibility would come up at all in the discussions. We’re there for two and a half hours. It never does. Not even obliquely. Not even once.

The result? A constitution that, with a straight face, says:

Artículo 82. Toda persona tiene derecho a una vivienda adecuada, segura, cómoda, higiénica, con servicios básicos esenciales que incluyan un hábitat que humanice las relaciones familiares, vecinales y comunitarias.

I walk out, my head spinning, realizing my brief, half-week-long flirtation with NiNi-ism was well and truly over.

These people are evidently insane.

1 COMMENT

    • That opening sentence is so famous, but I always thought sentences 2 and 3 were better:

      Macondo era entonces una aldea de veinte casas de barro y cañabrava construidas a la orilla de un río de aguas diáfanas que se precipitaban por un lecho de piedras pulidas, blancas y enormes como huevos prehistóricos. El mundo era tan reciente, que muchas cosas carecían de nombre, y para mencionarlas había que señalarlas con el dedo.

      Gets me every time…

  1. Change the date to August 5th, 2004.. the venue, an ANMCLA workshop somewhere in La Bandera… and your name with mine and the rest of the story is pretty much identical…

  2. But such promises are exactly what Venezuelan culture was nursed on and Chavismo trully believed in.

    If you believe “that we are rich because we have lots of oil” then it is not hard to arrive to the conclusion Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite offered: “If you vote for me all of your wildest dreams will come true”.

    If only things were that simple.

  3. “on the one hand generally inclined to side with the social justice instincts of the left”

    This single line help us understand the current state of Venezuela.

    Because when not even the supposed “educated elite” could easily indentify the imminent threat of someone like Chávez (1992 coup, anyone?) becoming the president just because, hey, “socialism = love and justice”, “liberalism = bad, mmmkay?”, then don’t expect that the poor uneducated masses will know better.

        • And then shame on the rest of the countrymen who voted for the guy in 1998. I could not vote, since I left the country in August and the local consulate told me it was too late to register: “vaya y vote en Caracas”, they told me. Good thing I did not, otherwise me too would be to blame. In retrospective, however, who else was there to be voted for? Also in retrospective, what happened to the country and those “who knew”, that the price we pay know has come to this we live today? The truth is, there was not need for Chavez’s victory to ever happen, but it is thanks to all us, the privilege and the “marginal”, the educate and the illiterate, the frivolous and the intellectual, rich or poor, etc., etc., that Venezuela was already in a crisis a decade earlier. If only we knew then, eh?

          • Get over it, it did not happen. I agree with Rommel, that is no the way to look at history; it changes nothing. And we learn even less.

          • Oh! I’m well over it, but you can not say that there was no one else to vote for.
            That is such a lame excuse and it is just not true.

            How about the guy that came second? Salas Roemer, would have done a much better job, or Irene, or the AD guy, and that is not in retrospective, it was sufficiently clear at the time. You just needed to hear the fantastic promises that Chavez was making to know he was purposefully lying with not a hint of shame. The only other possible conclusion was that he believed what he was saying, which would made him dangerously naive and unfit to rule at best. Either conclusion should be enough to discard him as an option.

            But one look at the character and his traits (antidemocratic, authoritarian, demagogue) should have convinced anyone that what he was someone capable of doing (and saying) whatever was necessary to reach power. A megalomaniac, the worst kind of people to reach power. The history of the 20th century has plenty of examples of that type and the disastrous consequences they bring.

          • Perfect summary…

            It was clear that he was bad news. There was something in the air, dark clouds gathering, something definitely sinister about him. Maduro is the last joke that the devil played on all before he croaked. But perhaps Chavez or Maduro should not be blamed, they are just symptoms. Their coming to power was just another misstep, another indication of the state of thorough confusion the country has experienced for a long time. Why did it happen so late, not earlier as say in Cuba? That is perhaps a more meaningful question.

        • Not giving the benefit of the doubt to a man who led 1.5 coups in the decade prior to being elected is not reactionary, it’s just logical.

          • Or maybe those people were just as red as Chávez himself, and didn’t see the previous actions as bad in essence because they, well, agreed with EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. And now that everything went to hell, and socialist utopia has died yet once again, they will just pull the inoccent card and tell us different variations of the sentences: “We have been fooled!”, “We didn’t know what we were doing.”, “We were too young.” etc. Tons of similar cases happened in post-nazi Germany or post-fascist Italy. The truth is that people don’t want to be associated with monstrous regimes when their true colors are already known around the globe for all to see. They will just jump ship. You don’t want your neighbour whispering to his sons when passing by your house: “A nazi lives in this house.”, or “A chavista lives in this house.”

            If chavismo had been successful, the title of this post would probably be: “The truth of how Quico became Chavista”, and we would have found out how Quico saw their marvelous geniality and ingenuity in that meeting he had gone. Humans…

    • Is it fair to say that over 80% of well-educated people did call Chavez’s bluff from day 1? It took Quico a few days only, didn’t it? What was coming was OBVIOUS real soon, if not miles away. We just never thought it could happen in Vzla, but every sign was there for the educated to see.

      • even well educated people felt under the charm of Chavez, heck even there were even more educated people that felt under the charm of Hitler!… just saying… having a diploma or degree does not make you smart

      • What was coming was obvious from February 4th, 1992. How anyone thought Chavez would be anything but what he was is beyond me.

        • A Chavez with a price per barrel of oil of $5 as The Economist saw possible would be a completely different from a Chavez with an over $50 per barrel of oil price… not better mind you… but quite different.

          • quite different? Perhaps a slight alteration in the size of his public and personal appetite for luxuries. Perhaps he would have been slightly less drunk about expensing his off-the-cuff visions. But I doubt very much that a lower price per barrel of oil would have altered the essence of his character in any way.

            His resentido-criminal mind set was long there. His need for support/affirmation/strategic guidelines from Cuba et al was long there. Ditto on the need for a scapegoat (enter US) as he plied forth on opening the channel for the drug trade through Vzla.

  4. The right to housing is an important one, analogous to the right to at least a grade school education, which is enshrined as a goal in many international instruments. There’s nothing wrong with supporting such things, as long as your commitment extends to making the promised benefit real. In Canada, constitutional rights–the right to vote-or the right to a speedy trial-may well require state-provided infrastructure. Often, a right is set out in the Constitution, then the commitment is acted upon through legislation. In Venezuela, it seems it was all hot air. But it doesn’t have to be.

    • The irony about a right to housing clause in the Chavista-written Constitution is that housing construction per capita under Chavismo has been about 60% of what it was in the last 20 years of the Fourth Republic.

    • I’m all for the right to housing. But when you talk to me about el derecho a una vivienda adecuada, segura, cómoda, higiénica, con servicios básicos esenciales que incluyan un hábitat que humanice las relaciones familiares, vecinales y comunitarias, you lose me completely.

      • if only the constitution where like genius bottle, where it can grant you all the wishful thinking that is deeply embedded in its articles, life will be perfect with gnomes and unicorns, and you can have your house, where you can live safely, with comfort, enjoy free internet, free cable, and also you will be provided with your barragana too, Oh, and your wife will be Ok with it too. So you can be the happiest SOB of the world.

        yeah that could happen someday. everything is possible! keep dreaming 🙂

      • Too many cheesy and moronic adjetives.

        Because when you can’t justify something, you have to start writing paja in heaps.

      • “I’m all for the right to housing.”

        Then that means you are FOR providing it at the expense of others. But, hey! Why stop there? Why not a right to Cable TV? Right to food? Right to free utilities? Right to an income? Right to not HAVE to work?

  5. The epitome of socialism is that it works very well right up until the point where you run out of someone else’s money. The epitome of radical socialism like Chavismo is that they have no idea in the first place of ANY practical considerations to achieving a socialist goal. No idea how to design, implement or operate anything in an efficient manner because they have spent their life complaining about what they think they want instead of working towards obtaining what they need. The Venezuelan situation is exacerbated by the fact that they have the worlds largest oil reserves and that somehow is going to magically produce the needed cash – while forgetting throwing money at a problem is not the solution to most problems. The single political act that amounts to national homicide was the firing of 18,000 managers and technical experts in PDVSA so they not only reduced the cash flow but destroyed the ability to fix the problem. This is the height of stupidity because they were blinded by their own sense of entitlement that they forgot that they have no one who actually knows what they are doing in this mess of a country. The drop in oil prices has just underscored what most have know for years – Chavismo is a complete and utter failure but rather than saying the emperor has no clothes they will salute him, aggrandize him while stuffing their pockets with what is left over while systematically destroying the future of the country. Did Chavez remove all the mirrors in Miraflores? It looks like this group of thugs has no idea what they even look like to the rest of the world. They have become living caricatures of themselves. With moronic dictators such as these thugs history will repeat itself and they will have Venezuela join the other countries that wound up on the garbage pile of nations who were raped by dictators. The small consolation is that these guys usually end badly but I guess it was fun for them while it lasted. Although does anyone think that Maduro is having any fun these days. He is so paranoid that to maintain the illusion he brings a body double to a summit. That must have caused great laughter at Maduro’s expense with the other leaders.
    Tis better to be thought a fool than to open you mouth and remove all doubt – Nicolas.

    • “The epitome of radical socialism like Chavismo is that they have no idea in the first place of ANY practical considerations to achieving a socialist goal…”

      Actually, the main problem of chavismo, or any similar movement, is that they use crime as a political instrument to extert control over the population.

  6. “These people were evidently insane.”

    Why go back so far? How about, say, this week? On Tuesday evening Maduro gets on television to complain about the international rating agencies “giving us the worst country risk in the world!” Why? Because “they don’t want us to access the credit, the money to which we have a ‘right’ to access at a fair price.” It’s a plot. So, after the government allocates every last Dollar/Euro of hard currency it can find to pay their interest on the debt, to the detriment of basic food imports, medical supplies etc, Maduro expects that the world bankers (Citicorp, Deutsche Bank, Chase etc) will turn around and lend these clowns even more money in the future because of the “right of the government of Venezuela to access credit at a fair price.” C’mon, it doesn’t get anymore insane than THAT…

    • It is also ironic that he is asking to the banks (located in the capitalist empire) for his right to money, or credit or good name, etc. ….. somehow that does not fit with all the charlataneria they have, right?

      • Dear Mr. Maduro,

        You bad-mouth us 24/7. You try to turn the entire hemisphere against us. You do business with every country that, if they could, would annihilate us. And now you want us to lend you money?

        Aaha, ha, ha, ha.

        Sincerely,
        Wall Street

        • Venezuela can bad-mouth Wall Street 24/7. It can try to turn the entire hemisphere against Wall St. Venezuela can do business with every country that, if they could, would annihilate Wall Street. But until Venezuela improves its free cash flow of dollars, there’s no money for you…
          (don’t take it personally. It’s strictly business)

    • Most of our pueblo is uneducated enough to buy that, and much worse than that. Dumb and dumber. La guerra Economica de el imperio is real for what, half of the populace? still, after 16 years of crap..

  7. “These people were evidently insane”

    I wouldn’t call them insane, I would call them idiots, plain and simple.

    Believing that writing a beautiful law will magically make stuff happen in the real world is not insanity, it is one of the main reasons why Chavismo is so full of stupid shit.

  8. Just a gross misrepresentation of another populist drill:

    Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: ‘Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.’

    The Universal Declaration is a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations.”

  9. My initial opinion about Chavez’s election was that he was elected in response to corruption. I didn’t pay much attention to Venezuela at the time, however. I later worked for a small company that employed some Venezuelan engineers. Those who expressed an opinion on Venezuelan politics were all oppos. When I expressed my opinion to one that corruption was why Chavez was elected, her reply was that corruption was worse under Chavismo. And this conversation occurred in 2004, before the big jump in oil prices. Unfortunately for Venezuela, her assessment of corruption under Chavismo was spot-on.

  10. We could have avoided this if we had understood Venezuela was, has always been a feudal, very feudal country, notwithstanding the “social mobility” we got during some periods. Most people have a profound feudal mentality, whether they are what used to be the elite, the progressives, the conservatives, the commies, any group.

    As long as most Venezuelans don’t understand that we are bound to go in circles, being led one time by the right-winged comprador and then by the the lefty-autocrat satrap.

    • kepler, you’ve got it absolutely right. I am brazilian but have been in close contact with Venezuela for the last 10 years or so and related to people from Petare to the high-end neighborhoods of Caracas, Barquisimeto, Puerto de La Cruz, etc. Your analysis is also absolutely precise should one wish to apply it to Brazil as well. Of course circumstances and economic/social picture is different but the “soul” is about the same. Very insightful. Thank you.

  11. “One upmanship reigns. Nobody dares question any adjective added onto the project, for fear of coming up as a neoliberal wrecker.”

    I liked that line.

  12. The experience is shared. I did run an few “political outings” with organized parties and NGO’s and got similar experiences.

    My assessment however went further to the point where, in my opinion, the intentions of the participants were overwhelmly $$$ driven. In a country were no one went punished fro corruption, graft and embezzlement, the motive and opportunities were available for taking a piece of the pie.

    The worse offenders however, were not the nangaras of the Quico story, but rather the few ones who could run feasibility, and project return calculations, project managers and policy competent guys. They were just more coy and sophisticated, but in most cases, save notable exceptions, were looking at profit making options.

    The root problem lies deep, no social or criminal justice punishment to crime. No sense of ownership of the res-publica;, every one being in for the taking, pendejo-tu-que-no-robas-algo! kind of mentality.

    In other words, savage capitalism at it worst, without any social net and regulation on anything, a true ley de la selva.

  13. I come from a background with big business companies which board of directors or management committees transacted their business in a very structured technical, pragmatic, straight forward way , where there were no fools on the floor but instead people with a lot of gathered experience who had tough and incisive questions to every angle of a decison .

    Someone (and a coterie of assitants) brough a throrough presentation proposing a decision which was fully supported with all possible data , during and after the presentation they were grilled exhaustively on highly specific details. If a mistake was discovered then either they were cruxified (almost literally) or they were sent back to bring a new corrected presentation , . the decision had to include exactly how the sought results were to be obtained , including working plans , budget , contingencies , alternatives etc . the sessions could be grueling but even after the decision was made the implementation was subject to periodical up dating reviews and monitoring . no body could speak out of turn or interrupt and rethorical speeches would be absolutely forbidden or ridiculed .

    .Attending these meetings year after year was highly educational !! On other ocassions I had a chance of attending meetings where people from different walks of life improvised the discussion of a question in a happy go lucky unstructured way , the contrast was such that you could only feel scorn at the amateur and histrionic way they handled those discussions . I have no confidence for amateurs holding forth on any exploration of a challenging topic . I gather Francisco’s meeting on the right to housing was of the latter kind of meetings .

    Socrates ( and fo course Plato) had a lot of scorn for the athenian democratic way of deciding things collectively , they joked that where the politei decided that a jackas was a horse then it was the civic duty of all to believe that it wasnt a jackass. The spartan also had their meetings where decisions were taken not counting raised hands but depending on whcih proposal generated the largest volume of noises of approval (like they do on TV contests) .

    Revolutionary belief in the wisdom of decisions arrived at through popular or communal discussion is most touching but so out of place in our time where getting to understand difficult topics really requires preparation , gathered expertise and an isntitutional structure for the discussion to bear useful fruit.!!

      • One of those managers was offered a bribe to award a contract which was the lowest priced anyway, the manager retorted , ‘you dont have to pay any brives just cut you offer by the amount of the bribe and the contract is yours !! and so it was . Another country , another age.!!

        Knew someone in authority who way back was shown a cheque against an european bank bearing his name and already signed with only the amount left blank , They told him that as a gesture of their appreciation they would thank him to fill in the blank with whatever number he thought right , he sent them packing from his office . Wont believe this but this actually happened …in Venezuela.

  14. Venezuela’s president never graduated from college, but now you can call him Dr. Nicolás Maduro.

    That’s thanks to the Bolivarian University of Venezuela [UBV], a state-run institution founded by former President Hugo Chávez, which announced it will bestow the struggling president with an honorary degree.

    The university said its board of directors voted unanimously to award the president with its highest academic degree in recognition of Maduro’s leadership in the struggle against “imperialism.”

    “We have a debt with you, Mr President, because last year we approved an order…that recognizes your work and commitment to the legacy of Hugo Chávez,” university rector Maryann Hanson said during a graduation ceremony on Tuesday. “We grant you this acknowledgement with the humility and love that our supreme commander [Hugo Chavez] showed us.”

    Our populace buys THIS.

    Draw your own conclusions.

    • That thing of calling everyone doctor is coming from the adecos. I have been in the UBV and even had the chance of performing a “Clase Magistral” on oil exploitation principles. For a university born in the socialism and with equality of social class as paramount, I observed that everyone there with an university title is called professor and that the secretaries are used to bring cafecito and water to the professors. There is this hyper adulence and a jala bolismo to the extremes almost as bad as the military.

      Surprised?

  15. Just came back from listening to Gloria Alvarez. One of the things she says is that anything that smacks of giving people the “right” to housing, education, health, etc., is an affront to liberty and therefore inhumane.

      • “And then we wonder why people run away from that kind of platform.”

        What? Last time I heard the US was the country with most Venezuelans in the world. So, no, they are not “running away” from this kind of platform, that’s an absurd lie.

    • Did she go to a private school or one of priests (semi-private)? Did she live in a nice house as a child?

      Sorry, but then all developed nations are inhumane.

      It is incredible how we have to deal either with nangaras like the ones Quico describe or people who had a very privileged life and are not aware they are at the top of a feudal society, not there because of some special liberty but because of old privileges.

      • Seems one has to choose between idiots that cant understand how they own policies prevent getting anything close to the stated goals (after discarding all the rethorical chaff), and rabid “there is no society” assholes that think (a lot of the time, wrongly) that in such an dog-eat-dog environment they propose they would not be dog chow in a second.

        • Why? Central and Northern Europe, France started to move away from that in the XVIII century.
          There were periods of madness like in the thirties and forties of last century but all in all people started to see things in a more complex way.

          I would venture to say even a large amount of US Republicans are to the left of a lot of our Latin American conservatives.

      • “Did she go to a private school or one of priests (semi-private)? Did she live in a nice house as a child?”

        Can’t be sure about that aspect of her life, but I’ve met more than one person who crawled out of the most soul-crushing poverty and worked their asses off to have a decent living nowadays, and have very similar view than the ones she has, also, that question sounds a lot like “sifrino-shaming”

        The problem comes when the claiming of a right is used as a free pass to trample over other persons rights, for example, settlers or invaders here in Venezuela, your family worked to have a house, then you’ll be less than willing to allow a group of people to tear a ahole in one of your house’s walls to occupy your backyard (That fucken’ happened just 4 blocks of where I live)

        • Thats my point on ownership.

          In the Canadian prairies (los llanos de por aca puej!) the land was settled through an organised system whereby as the train was being built westward (and perhaps also coming east from BC), interested families from Ukraine mostly and also Poland, and Europe at large were provided with a title to a subdivision of land (one square mile) and some development loan money.

          …these settlers basically started with a barren plot of land and enough time and money to build a shack in which their family and animals (if any) could survive their first winter. As time went by, the shack grew and eventually turned into a stable, and later a house (probably one room) was built.

          Fast forward 100 yrs. and you have a very strong agricultural/ ranching society with hard work ethics and strong dislike for any movement taxing them any additional penny and not providing the necessary services to support their life style and industry.

          Your street neighbours probably went beserk at the invasion because they DO KNOW the effort it took them to build that lot, that fence and that property. People care about their property and their effort.

          Communists and nangaras look fro getting their hands on to others property or getting by with the least effort…

        • Ralph,

          My parets crawled out of crushing poverty. Still, they didn’t have that attitude and I would say the greatest amount of people with that attitude are people who had no need and the greatest amount of people who
          honeslty got out of poverty do NOT have that attitude.

          A “right” is shit if it is on paper.
          The point is that

          1) most people in Venezuela NEVER got real right to education, not then, not now:
          you would be astonished to find out the amount of actual classes pupils received of vastly underpaid and most often missing – and badly prepared – teachers and how hard it was and is for them to get basic books – something even very conservative Texas gives them for free (yeah, I know, paid by taxes)
          2) most people do not own the piece of land where their house is, with all the consequence there is to that.
          What many in Venezuela don’t seem to understand is that this issue was solved in Western Europe (surprise, surprise, not in Russia) centuries ago and it was basically solved for the majority of the (white) population in the expansion of the US in the XVIII-XIX centuries (same goes for Canada): people were given a piece of land, with the rights or people already came with functional education from a system that had given them much more education than most Venezuelans got – European immigrants to North America-.

          I find it appalling how many Venezuelans, even “very educated”, even English speaking, fail to see all the amounts of things Northern governments provided to its citizens over the centuries – either the countries where these people were living or those where they came from-.

          • “…appalling how many Venezuelans, even “very educated”, even English speaking, fail to see all the amounts of things Northern governments provided to its citizens over the centuries…”

            Kep:
            If Venezuelans had formed an immigrant mass, long before these past 10 years, they too, would be as quick as other immigrants to North America (Can & US) and Europe to know what their host governments provide and don’t provide (often much more knowledgeable about benefits than native citizens of these same host countries).

            “…people were given a piece of land, with the rights or people already came with functional education from a system that had given them much more education than most Venezuelans got – European immigrants to North America-.”

            From my understanding, Ukies and Poles from their respective lower rungs of society (peasants) did not receive a good education in their home countries. And when they migrated to the US and Canada, back when these two countries did not stipulate that immigrants needed a high school education, they did so through a quid-pro-quo: agrarian skills (and I assume target productions) in exchange for land title. The soil in that land was often of poor quality, what governments couldn’t easily give away.

            In sum, don’t fall for pie-in-the-sky thinking. When a government “gives” or “provides”, it’s always on the basis of a quid pro quo, and usually on the basis of second-rate “gifts”. The Canadian health system is one of these “gifts”, and it benefits both doctors and patients alike, the former not having to worry about ‘matando tigres’, the latter getting a little pat on the back, if that, and perhaps a prescription. It’s fine for Band-Aid treatments, and if one is lucky, a little more than that by a relatively competent physician. The reality though is that the medical care is often substandard, provided by physicians generally unmotivated to stay on top of the latest techniques, to be the best they can possibly be. Don’t get me started…

          • Only in the mental Disneyworld of chavistas does the government give away prime ribs no strings attached.

          • the Canadian health system, btw, is no gift. It only appears that way, and is sold that way, often by Canadian-supported media (the CBC). The truth is that the Band-Aid health system, which is managed by each province, is paid for by a byzantine arrangement of public tax monies. Thus, hardly a gift.

          • Syd,
            I am aware many immigrants to Canada did not have much of a level of education back in the day.
            That is why I said: either people arrived with education or they got land (not for free, of course, but they got it). In Venezuela that hasn’t been the case.

            I am not sure you are aware of this but most Venezuelans don’t own the land where they live, even if their families have been living there for several generations on a row.

            Also bear in mind: once those immigrants with little education arrived to Canada, their children got a rather decent education.

            Venezuela’s density was higher than Canada’s two, three centuries ago. The nation started with a big majority of illiterate who didn’t have property of their lands and a tiny group of very feudal lords – our “próceres” and people like that.

      • Granting people ‘rights’ which in practice cannot be enjoyed or exercised because the human , financial, organizational resources to make then true dont exist is not only futile but cruel !! Like telling a deaf man that he has the right to listen to the most beautiful music !!

        Few states are rich or resourceful enough to build every man a home , that just preposturous , politics is so full of rethorical blandishments and so bereft of the organizational and financial resources to achieve anything practical that its almost like a threatrical performance .

        • But most are rich enough to ensure people that need it would have some option to have a roof over their heads (which doesnt mean ownership, btw)

          Again, seems that we have to choose between “We dont know how to make even one house with a budget of millions because we dont know fuck about anything” and “I have a home, you can die in the gutters for all I care”.

          Instead of, you know, ensuring the state is there to protect the people that need a temporary help while ensuring most can actually sustain themselves.

          • We ve saddled the State with so many tasks , noble and shining tasks , that none of us individualy want or can assumme , that we forget that the states resources are not limitless and that it has to prioritize and decide what it has the resources to do and what it cant do . So just stating that people have a right to this and that doesnt get us any where. !! first duty of a govt is to maximize its resource base so it can do the most for its population . Venezuela is a country where 70% or more of the population have little capacity to contribute to the general welfare of the society it lives in but who ask and demand that it be given all that we all wish could be given them , thats just not possible. Even if you had a perfect govt it would be hard to give that 70% all that as human beings we want them to have . They are basically a dead weight that the rest of society must carry but whose capacity to contribute to the economy is very limited to null .

            The pols know that by offering the voters that the govt will do for them all they dream they get votes , but in actual fact its dishonest because the state cannot meet all those expectations . We are good about making ideal demands of govt and then forgetting how limited they are in their capacity to solve the problems of a huge mayority of people who are not capable of carrying their own weight in the sustenance of the economy.!!

          • Bill Bass,

            “[the state] has to prioritize and decide what it has the resources to do and what it cant do”
            =budget.

            “first duty of a govt is to maximize its resource base so it can do the most for its population”
            That “first duty” sounds like the reason of existence of a for-profit business, and the purpose of maximizing its resource base could potentially lead to the exclusion of a significant portion of the population.

            “Venezuela is a country where 70% or more of the population have little capacity to contribute to the general welfare of the society it lives in”
            I disagree. Every single economic transaction can be considered a contribution to the general welfare of society by rewarding providers of goods and services that are perceived to be better than their competitors.

            “Even if you had a perfect govt it would be hard to give that 70% all that as human beings we want them to have”
            With a perfect government, the money from a standard taxation would be sufficient to run Venezuela to a healthy economy. Natural resource royalties would be a bonus.

            “They are basically a dead weight that the rest of society must carry but whose capacity to contribute to the economy is very limited to null .”
            Aside from the argument that every transaction can be considered a contribution, every society on the planet better come up with a plan to support what you consider “dead weight”, given that technology and science both are leading us into a future where fewer and fewer people are necessary to provide more and more goods and services, which, together with an growing population, will lead to more and more people becoming “dead weight”.

            “The pols know that by offering the voters that the govt will do for them all they dream they get votes , but in actual fact its dishonest because the state cannot meet all those expectations”
            Not necessarily. Pols can *honestly* offer a use of budget money which gets voter support because it optimizes the use of the resource base in a way that convinces them that it is the best alternative in moving towards their dreams.

            “We are good about making ideal demands of govt and then forgetting how limited they are in their capacity to solve the problems of a huge mayority of people who are not capable of carrying their own weight in the sustenance of the economy.”
            From what I have heard you describe should be responsibility of the government and how much you fight taking responsibility away from government, I wonder if you aren’t one of the ones forgetting how limited they are in their capacity to solve problems of the “huge mayority”.

            By the way, you make me wonder about your loyalty to democracy when you talk about a “huge mayority” as being a “dead weight”.

        • Agree! We can decree a “right” for everyone have a standard of living in the top one percentile of the population, but this is impossible to deliver (as well as creating a contradiction in terms).

    • It is important to understand what a “right” is. We need to do away with the myth that rights are “natural” or “God given”. Any “right” is nothing more than a privilege which an individual or a group asserts for himself/herself/itself and has the ability and will to defend. Your rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are not “natural”, but are claimed for you and defended by the State. But, we need to recall that every single human “right” comes at the expense of some other human’s rights. As an extreme example, your rights to life and property come at the expense of my right to kill and rob you. Personally, I am OK with this, not having any inclination to commit homicide or larceny. In the case of a “right” to housing, if such a privilege is granted by the State, it must come at the expense of the productive citizens who are taxed (through force or coercion) in order to provide said privilege.

      In the world today, societies and civilizations have identified and secured for their citizens more “rights” than ever before in history. But, every one of these rights come at a cost. Typically, politicians over-promise and under-perform. You just can’t give everyone everything they want. If it were possible, it would have been done long ago. So instead, societies compromise and provide citizens the “rights” that they can afford.

      Right now, Venezuela cannot afford a “right” to housing. At the moment, it isn’t even doing a good job of protecting our lives! Once we have the fundamental rights secured, THEN we can discuss providing more of the frills.

      • Roy,

        Given that rights are not ‘natural’ then we are left with a ‘might makes right’ basis for rights. So if the side with the biggest guns abrogates your right to live, well… there is no basis to complain.

        • Rights represent a wish list which marks those things we have learned to prize through our historical experience and evolution , the fact that they cant be secured in practice and in full doesnt mean that they dont deserve our respect and that we shouldnt strive as much as we pracicably can to make the true , but we must face the fact that we have desires which exceed our capacity to fulfill , Rights are ideals that guide our conscience and behaviour even if in practice we cant achieve them except very imperfectly.

        • You are missing my point, which is that “rights” are a human invention, as opposed to a natural occurrence. Toilets are human invention too. And, although nature provided us with woods, within which to defecate, I prefer toilets. I would also prefer to travel by private jet… but I can’t afford it.

          As a society, our resources with which to bestow largesse upon our citizens is not infinite. Therefore, “rights” (or privileges) must also be finite. Perhaps, one day, our societies will be so wealthy that we will be able to afford to provide a guaranteed roof, three squares a day, medical rejuvenation on demand, and all the video games we can play… all free from public treasury. But, right now, we can’t.

        • Bill, Roy,

          There is a school of thought that believes that there are a basic core of fundamental rights that do not depend in history or evolution. Some philosophers think of them in the same way as abstract objects. They simply exist and we discover them. For example, no one sees a triangle anywhere but they exist and we can prove facts about them, for example Pythagoras Theorem. In the same way torturing innocent children, even the children of your enemy is seen as a abomination historically and universally.

          Certainly a right to a nice house does not seem to be a fundamental right, but respect for innocent life can be reasoned to be such an absolute.

          Perhaps the harder intellectual task is to discover which are these rights and build societies that accept and respect them.

          • My reading of history does not support your theory. As little as 600 years ago, in most of the world, it was considered fairly normal for an army to conquer a city and slaughter all of the inhabitants, including the women and children, who were not taken as slaves. “Civilization” was invented and built, and it is still a work in progess. It did not occur “naturally”. And it requires constant maintenance, lest it fall into disrepair.

          • Roy,

            A major aspect of evolution is the evolution of consciousness.Perhaps you have not read all the books.When it comes to evolution, a major useful source is that of depth psychology and the psychology of the transformation of consciousness…think Ken Wilbur or Charles Tart.

            When people become more conscious, they are more aware of higher meanings both for themselves and others, and this is when it becomes possible for people to agree on inner truths and intrinsic values.On lowers levels of individual development these truths are not apparent and living consciously is impossible.

          • I do believe that there are certain largely spontaneous (natural ) emotional responses to things that happen to people , and which are if not universal very common , that from the pattern of those common spontaneous emotional responses ( which depend on whether we identify emotionally to such people and what gain or profit we obtain from helping them or injuring them or ignoring them) different culture develop codes for the assesment of human behaviour and attitudes which ultimately are the source of human moral intuitions including the sense that certain rights should be recognized people just from being human beings . The building blocks are these spontaneous emotional responses the result of evolutionary pressures under different circumstances and that the design and elaboration and organization of those codified responses transformed into rules is the result of changing cultural and historical factors. in other word cultural constructs which use elemental natural or spontaneous intuitions developed from our evolutionary past . Just two hundred years ago there were millions who believed that slavery was a natural institution , or that torturing people because of their origin or faith was absolutely justified and even praiseworthy. I have the sense that nature evolves , that many things not originally natural became naturalized through custom or even happenstance , for example it is natural for humans to eat cooked food ( its so natural that one way antrhopologist know a fossil is human is because the teeth of human are very distinct because the eat cooked food) , but at some point in time our ancestors didnt eat cooked food , so it was unnatural for them to eat cooked food , when they took to eating cooked food they trasformed that into something natural for humans , same way with our human moral intuitions ,a custom after 10 millon years become naturalized same as if the species always had been born with it. This is a big topic , Ive just scratched the surface here , not enough space , the notion of natural rights is one which is much more complicated than it appears and few people do justice to understanding it in its full complexity.

          • I understand and agree. Sounds like we both read “The Third Chimpanzee”. However, for the purpose of this thread, I was trying to keep it simpler. When we get into this level of discussion, even the definition of “natural” has to become more flexible. Since man evolved “naturally”, why should we not consider him and all his works “natural”? We do not consider beaver’s damns as “unnatural”. But that is a whole different discussion.

          • You ve got it Roy !! Always a pleasure to have people in this blog who can broach subjects like how do we define what is natural in a creature whose style of life is constantly evolving and mutating !!

          • Roy,

            I think Bill sees my point clearer than you. Yes we did and do terrible things, but even the perpetrators, deep in their heart recognizes the evil in their action. Even in antiquity, children would be more commonly enslaved than murdered. I interpret this as a very primitive respect to life with a good dose of utilitarianism.

            The point is that through human experience, the principal of respect for innocent life is present, even though the actual compliance with it varies greatly. Going back to my triangle example, some cultures know Pythagoras and trigonometry, others just know three intersecting segments.

            To this I bring back your example of the person with homicidal inclinations. He is an experiment of evolution and history just as much as you and under those premises he is now objectively no worse than you. At most you may say he distasteful human minority. In fact, he will probably more valuable human being than you if you both were part of the Islamic State in Iraq.

          • Yes, I agree that humans evolved with the building blocks of “empathy” and a sense of “fairness”. They evolved because they were pro-survival traits that allowed humans to live together in social organizations and cooperate with each other. These were expanded upon to build the concepts of jurisprudence. As societies got larger, it became necessary to codify them and from this we developed the concept of a “Code of Laws”. But, I still maintain that there are no “universal rights”. “Rights” and all the responsibilities and obligations which they entail are a human construct.

          • Hi Roy,

            I certainly understand your reasoning, it is in fact the popular explanation, something of a pop epistemology. As I have shown, it justifies nihilism, and this I reject which forces me to search for a more coherent philosophical framework.

            Someone quoted the US declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident..”, and history seems to show that it has worked well so far.

            If I trully believed what you believe I would become a Doomsday Prepper 🙂

          • Roy the fact that rights are a human “construct” does not mean they are not intrinsic, or inalienable.They are human constructs precisely BECAUSE they are an intrinsic part of the human inner sense of right.

  16. I walk out, my head spinning, realizing my brief, half-week-long flirtation with NiNi-ism was well and truly over.

    Reeally? That’s not my take, over the years. As one for instance … who, after all these years, drank the Kool-Aid on the utter reliability of the Smartmatic machines, aka “voto sin fraude” ?

    Come to think of it. You’ve been under some heat on this board, lately, Quico, regarding your personal gullibility index. Might that be the reason for the damage control efforts to produce your last two posts, after a long absence?

    Just wonderin’…

    • or my personal favourite:

      Until 2013, I hadn’t voted in at least 10 years because ___________ (fill the blank with any excuse). But no matter, with this blog, I can pull the wool over many eyes by stating that in 1999, my “brief, half-week-long flirtation with NiNi-ism was well and truly over.”

      Uh-huh.

  17. My ex father in law was a very respected medical doctor in Guayana and ADECO, I attended fundraisers with him and sat with CAP, Lusinchi, Morales Bello, Sucre Figarella, and others at these backyard dinners. He was an Adeco hasta que se muera kind of guy. At one time he was the director of the largest hospital in Bolivar, Guayapar, which was a model of modernity at the time. He was approached by a distributor of food stuffs who wanted to corner the food contract for the hospital, the owners happened to be compatriots of my former mother in law, and neighbours to boot, he flatly turned them down. He was an honorable man and truly wanted to do the best he could for his country, I respected him greatly for this. This man who studied abroad because he had to leave his country because of a dictatorship voted for Chavez. Despite all his values and convictions for his political beliefs he voted for a what was basically a traitorous idiot with the gift of gab. Dr. Guillermo Ortiz has since passed away, and will always be in my heart, but I will never understand why he, and many educated people in Venezuela allowed Chavez to happen. They have been the ruin of a beautiful country and destroyed the hopes of generations.

  18. “I will never understand why he, and many educated people in Venezuela allowed Chavez to happen.”

    A few quick reasons :

    – People were tired of Adecos/Copeyanos after several decades. Corruption, ineptitude, not as bad as Chavismo, were still rampant.

    – Especially the majority of poor, uneducated who felt alienated, segregated, left out.

    – Chavez was a product of the times, and knew how to exploit that, talking to the populace in their language, promising the right stuff to them.

    – Chavismo also knew how to fool many others in the middle-upper class, somewhat more educated, basically by LYING. You may forget that at the start he disguised himself as an angel, who would respect democacracy, leave after 5 years or less, respect private property, promised not to nationalize anything.. Many people were naive enough to believe those lies.

    – Bribes and more corruption.. As soon as he grabbed the power he started Buying the Military, firing adversaries, bribing every one, including thousands of adecos and copeyanos.

    – Progressive media control: more lies and ignorance works wonders with the poor, uneducated majority.

    To this day, that’s basically what they do: Lie, eliminate opposition and repress, and Bribe everyone else. They have done all this progressively, poco a poco, tightening the totalitarians bolt&buts ‘pa que la gente no se de tanta cuenta ni patalee mucho, mientras se van acostumbrando a que se lo sigan metiendo, cada vez con menos anestesia.

    • “– People were tired of Adecos/Copeyanos after several decades. Corruption, ineptitude, not as bad as Chavismo, were still rampant. ”

      This happened mostly because adecopeyanos didn’t do their homework on defending Venezuela against the invasion from castro, who after many years of slaughtering people here, left his agents to rot and corrode venezuelan people’s minds against democracy with the most brutal misinformation campaign that many venezuelans help to happen (willingly or not), I remember that in the 90s the tv was chock full of messages about people blaming the government for even the rain, stuff that helped to feed the “antipolitics gangrene” that drove too many people to vote for the corpse in the 98.

    • But don’t forget that his reelections happened because chavismo actually delivered on improving many of the poor’s lives…

      • welcome, extorres… qué bueno ver a un chavista por aquí… como bien sabe, por aquí hay gente con bastante odio hacia el chavismo e incluso hacia la propia Venezuela pero no hay problema con ellos, se descalifican a sí mismos… los “peligrosos” son los sensatos que usan el sentido común para pensar sobre Venezuela y su futuro… de esos también hay unos cuantos por aquí y este post de Quico es un ejemplo de ellos… Lo que viene a decir es que con el chavismo todo son derechos pero no hay ninguna obligación aparte de la de ser/pensar chavista y así no hay manera… puro sentido común pero por desgracia no compartido por la mayor parte de los venezolanos… Como usted bien recuerda, el chavismo mejoró la vida de los pobres y no hay que olvidarlo pero lo hizo endeudándose y gastándose el dinero que tendría que haber invertido y/o ahorrado para asegurar el futuro del país… Como no lo hizo, los pobres siguen igual o peor y bajo este régimen el país no tiene ningún futuro…

        • “…odio hacia el chavismo…”
          Será porque el chavismo nunca dió razones para que lo odiasen, cualquiera que haya tenido su vida arruinada por el capricho de un chavista puede echarte el cuento con detalles.

          “…e incluso hacia la propia Venezuela pero no hay problema con ellos, se descalifican a sí mismos…”
          El “odio hacia Venezuela” es la excusa más estúpida de todas, un chantaje mental ridículo con el que tratan de empujarle por la garganta a los demás que “chavismo=Venezuela” y tratar de invalidar cualquier razonamiento lógico y con sentido.

          Cuando se le dice “chaburro” al chavismo, es por lo estúpidas que son sus excusas para justificar las peores culpas de su gobierno.

          • Ralph,

            He sido antichavista desde antes de saber de Chávez: sabía que los milicos iban a intentar un golpe (quien recuerde esos tiempos sabe que para eso no había que ser mago) y que este estaría respaldado por la extrema izquierda. Que fue Chávez: pudo haber sido otro de esos.
            Aun así, aunque despotrico del chavismo, evito el uso del término “chaburro”. Por qué?
            Porque hay mucha gente nini e incluso opositores que fue chavista. Sé que cada vez que se usa ese término esa gente se siente incóm1oda. El término burro no es muy claro, pero muchos pueden interpretarlo como idiotez inherente, no ignorancia, estupidez del momento, etc.

            Es cuestión de táctica. Prefiero insultar a a los milicos en el poder, a los boliburgueses, a los del SEBIN, a los del CNE.

          • ” Sé que cada vez que se usa ese término esa gente se siente incóm1oda”

            La última vez que a alguien se le ocurrió llamarme “escuálido” le ofrecí tragarse sus propios dientes, y ese, es el peo más recalcitrante del chavismo, que ellos todavía se sienten superiores a los demás y que es a ellos a los que hay que “perdonarles” todo y no decirles absolutamente nada que sea “políticamente incorrecto” a cuenta de que son disque unas víctimas irredentas de la historia y que por lo tanto todavía la vida les debe algo.

            Los chavistas “arrepentidos” tendrán que aprender a aceptar que en algún momento de sus vidas la cagaron y superar el hecho de que haya alguien que les saque ese error en sus caras alguna vez, yo no voy por ahí diciéndoles que fueron unos estúpidos por votar por el cadáver de mierda, pero tampoco voy a cantarles loas a las basuras que se sientan en la cúpula roja podrida.

            Ahora el problema es que hay que “consentir y hacer sentir lindos y bellos a los pobrecitos chavistas light porque si no se arrechan y van a votar por maburro a la primera señal de incomodidad”, viejo, si alguien tiene una actitud tan voluble, pues realmente no merecía que les tendieran la mano la primera vez, así que se bajen de esa nube porque no son más que los demás para que los estén tratando como tal.

        • Ramón,

          Gracias por la bienvenida. Aclaro que no soy nuevo aquí, ni chavista. Trato de ser objetivo, por lo que hago mucho uso de la lógica. Por supuesto que estoy de acuerdo que *ahora* están peor los pobres, pero eso no quita que por muchos años los pobres empezaron a sentir mejoras en sus vidas y que eso en gran parte explica las reelecciones del chavismo. También entiendo lo que parece no entrarle a la oposición, que grupos grandes de los pobres aceptan estar en lo económico peor si ese es el precio de que en el poder esté “uno de ellos”, y si el que esté en el poder los haga sentir que los toman en cuenta y los respetan. Cuando alquien de la oposición habla de ellos como “peso muerto”, no les queda mucho sinó sentir odio, y más lealtad al chavismo.

      • Actually, it was not chavismo. It was oil prices. Most people, well before Chavismo, thought it was the government in power that was improving life. Ceteris paribus, it was the international price of oil.

        We never understood that. It was so even during Pérez Jiménez’ times.

        • Kepler, I disagree. When chavez started he did not have the oil prices yet, and he was already veering the focus of spending to improve the life of the poor. But, more importantly, chavismo provided an increased feeling of respect and inclusion and empowerment to the poor that they appreciated to no end. The poor also lived vicariously through chavez, for example, the “he’s one of us” slogan encapsulates that, later evolving to “chavez is you”, etc..

          • For once I can agree with Ex , except that Kepler is also right that when the oil money did come in , it helped Chavez cause no end that he was able to shower his natural constituency with all sort of goodies and largesse which served as ‘proof’ that he really cared for them .,

            One item which Ex doesnt mention about Chavez discourse is that he made the demonization and hatred of the middle class and of the west and of the business world a centre piece of his rethorical posturings , one which played on peoples grossest and most ignoble passions .

            I feel that the first rule of a group which struggles for something , is not to fool itself into a falseor delusional view of reality , just because a particular reality is inconvenient or difficult to sell to others. Lots of reputed economists have pointed out how certain cultural traits which affect peoples mentality and outlook on life can help make them economically competent and productive , it doesnt help that those cultural conditions have in Venezuela and other countries created a mass of people whose upbringing and dysfunctional family and social milieu makes them irresponsable parent and workers , chronic procratinators, undisciplined and disorderly , admirers and practitioners of the so called viveza criolla , not very dedicated workers etc. This is a result of complex social and cultural conditions which had their origin in the exponential growth of venezuelas popularion from 1960 onwards , our glamorized irresponsable macho culture , the disorderly urbanization of venezuelas rural population , etc . Evidently people who are cursed with these flaws are very difficult to transform into productive responsible workers in a modern economy , They cannot be abandoned because that would be inhumane but neither can one fool oneself into believing that they can be easily converted into a different kind of person just by giving them un earned money and subsidies and making believe that magically they can be reformed to become better persons.

            The same problem has existed in other places ( in US urban gethoes for example) where money has been spent prodigiously to protect people from chronic poverty and on project to make them grow out of their backwardness all to no avail.

            Ricardo Hausman has written about the topic and he believes that any strategy which simply goes for free distribution of benefits to those in need is doomed to fail , instead he thinks that govts and societies should strive to equip people with the skills and character traits and social habits and expertises and conditions that allow them to become economically competent and productive so that they have a chance of achieving by themseleves a life of welfare and thus to become included in the best that a modern society has to offer.

            He sees the dilemma for development as centred on making people grow to become included in society rather than in distributing money and other benefits to them (which is what clientelar politics favour because of its populist electoral benefits) . He favours strategies of inclusion rather than strategies of distribution to allow people to develop to the maximum of their potential .

            Of course making true Hausman’s ideas requires a very well designed program and a new manner of structuring the public functions of the state , something which should be the subject of more discussion in this blog and elsewhere.

          • Correction : in the third paragraph , line 8 of the above text , please insert ‘the lack of’ before the words ‘those cultural conditions’.

          • “Ricardo Hausman has written about the topic and he believes that any strategy which simply goes for free distribution of benefits to those in need is doomed to fail…”

            RH has presented nothing to prove his statement, a very common assumption.

            I’m reminded of the “don’t give people fish, teach them how to fish” cliché. People tend to take it too literally. Would one say “don’t [a baby] give fish, teach [a baby] how to fish”? So, we can agree that we need to look at the theme and not the words. Even looking at the theme, however, as with any simplistic rule, it fails in many implementations. For example, “don’t cure [the sick], teach [the sick] how to cure themselves” can forget that they may be at a stage of sickness that does not permit self cure. Uneducated people, who are hungry, living in a state of fear and strife for generations, need the fish, first, then the fishing lessons.

            Take this down a slippery slope and you’ll reason that no skill should be a requirement for survival. Disagreeing with this implies the willingness to support a government that lets some of its citizens suffer, an implication which is doomed to fail at the voting booth of a nation of people in poverty.

          • Ex: You did not address all of the other stuff I wrote on how and why there is a large segment of Venezuelan who lack not only the skills but the habits , character traits and other qualities which are needed to give Venezuelans a chance to improve their lot and contribute to the building of a modern productive economy. As usual you cherry pick the part of the piece which you want to answer and fire away ignoring all the other reflexions . Its clear you havent read Ricardo Hausman piece and the context in which he wrote his opinion . You simplify his ideas by reducing it to the familiar argument that its better to teach a person how to fish than to simply give him the fish to eat which no one mentioned. There is much more to his piece than you think. I am unable to make you understand what Im really saying because you go of on a tangent that maybe Im not phocusing on at all.. Im not picking a fight with you when I write what I do. You always appear to think that I do which is not my intent at all. I know you mean well and that your are not stupid , so dont be so superflously adversarial. Im simply not convinced by your pet idea but that doesnt make me your enemy, m also grateful that you often bring forth point which enrich the discussion and which deserve attention.!!

          • “Would one say “don’t [a baby] give fish, teach [a baby] how to fish”?”

            And here we get to the crux of where I disagree with Extorres. He sees “El Pueblo” as children that need to be taken care of. To begin with, this is a massively condescending and elitist view of the general population. Secondly, he sees the state’s role as paternal. His solution is to create a permanent underclass of people dependent on the state for survival — children that never grow up and leave the nest.

          • Roy,

            How wrong can you possibly be! The most common response to my support of oil income cash distribution is that “El Pueblo” would waste the money. Those who say that are the ones supporting cuddling and being paternal. Instead of letting them have and spend their share of oil money any way they want, those people are the ones wanting to give El Pueblo fish or fishing lessons. I say, no fish, no lessons. Let them spend their cash any way they want.

            And I do believe it is their cash. I believe the state is robbing the citizens of their share of natural resource income. I don’t think the cash distribution is a gift from the state. I think it’s the people’s money, and rather than risk having a bunch of inefficient and/or dishonest politicians decide what to do with that money, I say just give it to the citizens, and let them do whatever they want with it.

            Bill Bass believes in having experts handle the money, because the experts would get a bigger bang for the buck than what the citizens would get. I agree that is possible in theory, but not in Venezuela’s reality. Bill Bass also believes the people would waste the money, whereas I advocate for the economic benefits of all spending, even of transactions that he considers wasteful.

            As to dependency on the state for survival, I don’t don’t believe that is true for Venezuela. I do believe that is true in other nations, and that it will be true for more and more nations, and, in the long run, for Venezuela, too. This is because science and technology keep making it increasingly possible for fewer people to provide for more people. This trend together with a growing population can only lead to it becoming increasingly difficult for people to find jobs and making it on their own. It is inevitable that societies will have to evolve into supporting citizens who don’t have any other income, not because I see those citizens as children. You’re way off on that.

          • Bill Bass,

            I agree, I “did not address all of the other stuff” you wrote. May I point out that when you didn’t address a whole reply of mine to a comment of yours I did not think anything of it. It’s up to you to respond, or not, in part or in whole; it’s not for me to decide what things I say inspire you to say anything back to me.

            That said, sometimes I simply have nothing to add to what is said. Other times I stop myself from addressing some issues, not because I am cherry picking to avoid issues –no one ever accused me of shying away from a discussion– but because the issues I most want to emphasize may get drowned by the number of other issues.

            For example, in your first sentence of this latest reply of yours, you state: “a large segment of Venezuelan who lack not only the skills but the habits , character traits and other qualities which are needed to give Venezuelans a chance to improve their lot and contribute to the building of a modern productive economy”. I don’t think that population lacks anything, nor do I think the things you list are *needed* for them to improve their lot nor to contribute to the building of a modern productive economy. This statement of yours is consistent with your considering a large majority of the population a dead weight. It is difficult to get past a communication gap in such a fundamental issue to go address the other points you bring up. So sometimes I don’t get past them and only discuss the select items. Forgive me if you are interpreting that any differently.

            I did not “simplify” Ricardo Hausman’s ideas reducing it to a cliché. I specified that I was *reminded* of a cliché. I brought up the fish. I never said Hausman or you did. What you brought from Hausman is that “free distribution of benefits to those in need” fails, while equipping “people with the skills and character traits and social habits and expertises and conditions” is the way to go. No fish there.

            You brought up from Hausman that “making people grow to become included in society” is the way to go, rather than “distributing money and other benefits to them”. Again, no fish.

            You summarized: “strategies of inclusion rather than strategies of distribution”. Still, no fish.

            Those three quotes remind me of a parallelism: don’t distribute fish, teach fishing. Are you saying I should not have commented on that?

            I know you’re not picking a fight. And I also know I may focus on something different to which you wish to focus. I also know that I understand much more than for what you give me credit. I’m not fighting either. I’m glad you realize I do mean well. And if I reply to you and not so much to others, it is because I respect your knowledge and intelligence considerably, not to bother you. As to my “pet idea,” I do not consider you an enemy, but a potential convert. Despite your past insults, I still have hope, because I see much more in common than in difference. It may not seem that way, because discussion is usually focused around differences; but I am not blind to the commonalities.

          • When chavez started he did not have the oil prices yet,
            See my post below on export income, Chavez DID have an increase in oil export income compared to 1998, from his very first year in office.

          • Boludo Tejano,

            Compared to 1998, sure. But the average OPEC crude oil price for 1999 was slightly less than the average price for the previous 10 years. And this only because of the exceptionally low 1998. Leaving out 1998, chavez’s 1999 price was more than 7% lower than the average of the 9 years previous to 1998.

            I agree chavez had money. I also accept that the bump back up to 1999 prices after the 1998 dip made a difference in his getting elected. I am pointing out that even with equal money, chavez shifted much of the spending focus on the poor. The poor felt it, not because they were deluded, but because their lives actually improved.

            The opposition seems to have a difficult time accepting the reality that the poor were better off with chavez, even before oil prices shot up in 2000. And even then, the prices didn’t go to record highs until 2004. The poor were well aware that in previous windfalls they had received a lower percentage of the windfall than with chavez. Even today, they perceive that the message from the opposition proposals is to go back to quasi-insignificance. And at today’s oil prices –higher than the highest pre-chavez prices– that is unacceptable.

          • Compared to 1998, sure. But the average OPEC crude oil price for 1999 was slightly less than the average price for the previous 10 years
            The oil price for 1998 was the basis on which the electorate judged the government in the 1998 election. You are going to tell me it was mere coincidence that Chavez got elected in a year when the price of oil hit the basement? Petrostate, petroststate.

            And regarding the money getting to the poor, the Misiones et al didn’t get jumping until around the time of the Recall Referendum, IIRC.

          • Compared to 1998, sure. But the average OPEC crude oil price for 1999 was slightly less than the average price for the previous 10 years. And this only because of the exceptionally low 1998. Leaving out 1998, chavez’s 1999 price was more than 7% lower than the average of the 9 years previous to 1998.

            Courtesy of the World Bank, here are some figures for Oil rents (% of GDP)

            Years Oil rents (% of GDP)
            1974-1985 30.3
            1986-1998 21.8

            Granted, I am not Juan Bimbo, but I suspect that Juan Bimbo’s narrative went as follows: 1974-1985: good years, where the GOV did fairly well by its people. 1986-1998: bad years, where the GOV screwed its people by corruption, etc.

            Here are the figures for the 1990s

            Years Oil rents (% of GDP)
            1990 32.9
            1991 27.4
            1992 23.6
            1993 21.6
            1994 21.4
            1995 19.3
            1996 29.6
            1997 23.0
            1998 12.7
            1999 15.4
            2000 23.1

            I suspect that Juan Bimbo’s narrative on this was, having experienced falling levels of Petrostate goodies during the 1990s, that 1998 was the pits, the bottom of the barrel. He could only hope in 1998, that things would get better. And as they did in 1999, Juan Bimbo decided that things were on the up and up- screw averaging.

            http://data.worldbank.org/

          • Boludo Tejano,

            Are you implying that the dip in 1998 was the *only* reason chavez got elected?

            Are you suggesting that chavez’s spending, from the start, was not more focused towards the poor than that of previous governments?

          • Ex I think there was a graph in a recent piece by Francisco Monaldi where he plots oil prices vs Chavez popularity throughout a number of years and which appear to show that the higher the prices the higher his popularity according to the polls ( except in the last year where lower prices were compensated by bigger indebtedness) . This is not say that the style of his discourse was irrelevant to his success as a popular leader. Maybe not to us but to emotionally needy people who hanker for a strong big daddy figure who loves his people and seeks their happiness ( lets not forget that one big invisible trauma in the barrios is the absence of loving and commited father / male couple) .

            People who knew him before his rise to political stardom inside the military , talk about how ingratiating and charming he could be to his superiors , knew an elderly military gent long ago retired who happened to meet him when he was just struggling to become a political figure and who was charmed off his socks by the smiling warm attentive young´liutanant coronel. He would visit the home of his superior officers bearing small gifts to their wives , small roadside purchases that showed his appreciation for the boss in a personal way , ‘doñita passing through San Joaquin i got these delicious panelas just for you and mi general !!

          • Are you suggesting that chavez’s spending, from the start, was not more focused towards the poor than that of previous governments?
            To the degree that Chavista spending was more focused towards the poor compared to the final years of the Fourth Republic, this was more a function of funds available- of oil rents. No mon, no fun.

            Courtesy of the World Bank:
            Oil rents (% of GDP)
            1995 19.3
            1996 29.6
            1997 23.0
            1998 12.7
            1999 15.4
            2000 23.1
            2001 18.0
            2002 22.4
            2003 26.1
            2004 33.2
            2005 38.6
            2006 37.7
            2007 28.4
            2008 29.1
            2009 16.6
            2010 18.0
            2011 29.9
            2012 23.8

            Health expenditure, public (% of GDP)
            1995 1.80
            1996 1.48
            1997 1.39
            1998 1.47
            1999 2.09
            2000 2.36
            2001 2.42
            2002 2.22
            2003 2.23
            2004 2.31
            2005 2.35
            2006 2.39
            2007 2.66
            2008 2.39
            2009 2.50
            2010 1.80
            2011 1.66
            2012 1.57

            Let us now compare the record of Chavista spending on Public Health compared to Oil Rents to the record of the final four years of the Fourth Republic- 1995 to 1998.
            Final Four Years of the Fourth Republic 1995-1998: Correlation Coefficient = -.16. Which implies that when Oil Rents went down, there was a slight tendency for Public Health spending to go up. Fourth Republic behavior: double down on maintaining Public Health Spending when Oil Rents go down.

            Chavismo 1999-2012: Correlation Coefficient = +.16. Which implies that as Oil Rents increased or went down, there was a slight tendency for Public Health spending to go up or down- in tandem with Oil Rents.

            So much for the Heartless Fourth Republic compared to Giving, Concerned Chavismo, Fourth Republic 1995-1998: when Oil Rents go down, we will double down on maintaining Public Health spending. Chavismo 199-2012: we will spend to the degree there is more -or less- money.

            http://data.worldbank.org/

          • Boludo Tejano,

            One reason for not accepting your correlations is that you are including the dip, which I have been pointing out is an outlier.

            The second reason reason is that correlations measure how hand in hand numbers behave, so it would not be a good measure of effective spending. For example, if you spend 2.1% of GDP the first of 5 years, and 2.2 the second, then 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5, while oil rent goes up from 21, then 22, 23, 24, and 25, your correlation would be clearly positive. If I then spent 5.5% the first year, then 5.4, 5.3, 5.2, and 5.1, while oil does the same thing as before starting with 21, my correlation would be clearly negative, even if I spent more than double your amount. So, using the data you provide and skipping the oil dip of 1998, the ratios of Health expenditure to Oil rents for the three years pre and post the dip are:
            1995: 9%
            1996: 5%
            1997: 6%

            1999: 14%
            2000: 10%
            2001: 13%

          • Bill Bass,

            You never provided for me the link to the Monaldi piece to which you keep making reference.

            I know, and have repeatedly agreed that chavez’s popularity had much to do with oil price increase, as well as the timely oil price dip of 1998, which made the initial increase be perceived much greater than it was. I’m glad you are acknowledging the factor that I simply did not wish go ignored, that the oil price increase was not the only reason for his popularity.

          • One reason for not accepting your correlations is that you are including the dip, which I have been pointing out is an outlier.

            In Chavista Cloud Cuckoo land, falling oil rents constitutes an outlier, but in the real world, falling oil rents are rather common. What goes up by the law of supply and demand, often falls by the same law of supply and demand. From 1980 to 1986, oil rents fell from 46.8% to 12.2% of GDP. From 1990 to 1998, oil rents fell from 32.9% to 12.7% of GDP. The falling trend from 1995-1998 was subsumed within a longer falling trend from 1990 -1998.Outlier from 1995-1998? The only reason I did not use 1990-1998 in the correlation is that the World Bank and ECLA didn’t have health care expenditure data before 1995. [An actual health statistic, such as year to year increase in Life Expectancy correlated with oil rents- results instead of spending- would be even more damning.]

            But I digress: for another falling trend, we observe that from 2006 to 2012, oil rents fell from 38.6% in 20065 to 16.6% of GDP in 2009 for the most extreme dip, or from 38.6% in 2005 to 23.85 in 2012.Which will be even lower today.

            Are you STILL going to inform me that falling oil rents, as seen in 1995-1998, constitute an outlier?

          • Boludo Tejano,

            You want to include 1998? OK, then: 12%. Your values still depend on correlation, but the argument regarding correlation being the wrong measure still stands, and the better measure of ratios shows what I’ve been talking about, that chavez did spend a greater ratio in favor of the poor than the previous government.

        • Here is some data on oil export income, As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on October 24, 2003: Form 20-f [and the 2005 also]

          PDVSA Crude oil export income, in billions of dollars
          1998 23.289
          1999 30.369
          2000 49.780
          2001 42.682
          2002 39.875
          2003 44.178

          The low oil price and export income in 1998 were instrumental in electing Chavez. CC has a good introductory article on the Petrostate. And as regards Chavez being to distribute oil revenues: much easier to do it when oil export revenues are rising. When oil export revenues are falling: no mon,no fun. Which COPEI and the Adecos found out in the 1990s, and as Maduro is finding out today.

          http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/906424/000110465905047833/a05-17375_120f.htm October 2005

          • And then oil prices took off particularly in 2005, that’s when the party really started.

            2006 $68.28
            2007 $72.99
            2008 $100.01
            2009 $58.76
            2010 $77.11
            2011 $91.39
            2012 $88.95
            2013 $92.41

          • Just curious to understand but did the exchange rate used to convert this usd income into bs throughout these years make things better or worse for the country ?? is this relevant??

          • Well, in the infamous 4th, the exchange rate was much better for the bolívar, the last Bs/$ rate I remember in 1998 was like 530 Bs/$, which carried to “bolívares fuertes” was 0,5 Bs/$.

  19. When I immigrated to Venezuela in 1991, I did so because the economy was out performing the Asian Tiger economies of that time, Venezuela under CAP 2 was and had been experiencing growth unheard of for decades, foreign investment was at an all time high, PYME was booming, Venezuela was at the top of the heap in South America. CAP had understood that the policies he implemented in his first term were not appropriate in his second term and adjusted accordingly, in my opinion he was a visionary. The real problem was the political establishment pretty much wanting to maintain the status quo. An “Old Boys Club”. Thanks to bolsas like RJV, the unicellular organism that was Caldera, and countless others that could not see past their “arepa” there was a general revolt against modernity. It was easier for many to support Chavez and keep things the same than to embrace change and work for a better future. This happens in corporations, nations, societies that suffer from a type of resource curse and prefer to cut the pie instead of figuring out how to make more pies. I’m done ranting, I closed my business and got out because I got express kidnapped, robbed at gunpoint several times, had three cars stolen, couldnt buy the materials to maintain my business, and didnt see any chance of things getting better because of unlawful chavista behavior and pathetic opposition, and that was in 2005! My Venezuelan wife and I left, you can have it! I will not return as long as Chavistas rule. Rant done.

  20. “But don’t forget that his reelections happened because chavismo actually delivered on improving many of the poor’s lives…”

    False.

    There was Fraud, left and right on his “re-election”. The dead, Chinese and Cubans with cedulas started voting, intimidation, fear tactics, Bribes, more bribes, did I say more bribes?, extorsion, you name it.

    When you bribe the poor with plenty of oil money available, offer them bogus “trabajitos en el gobielno”, 3 millions of them, plus all the guisos and tigritos and lies, some of the uneducated, naive poor pueblo will vote again ..

    And have their lives really improved?

    I hear the Chinese consider las pata’e’pollo a delicacy! Good for them!

    • Floyd,

      There were many, many chavez supporters that were in no way coerced into voting for chavez. That chavez did all those other things you mention to get himself reelected is not in discussion. The point made is that many, many poor folk were supporting chavez because their lives had improved because of chavez spending on them. They also felt included because he would talk to them, about them, like them. He also lifted much of the responsibility of their situation from their shoulders by giving them someone else to blame; they felt relief.

  21. “Como usted bien recuerda, el chavismo mejoró la vida de los pobres y no hay que olvidarlo pero lo hizo endeudándose y gastándose el dinero que tendría que haber invertido y/o ahorrado para asegurar el futuro del país… Como no lo hizo, los pobres siguen igual o peor y bajo este régimen el país no tiene ningún futuro…”

    Ramon, decidase por favor.

    En un parrafo Ud . mismo balbucea que los pobres mejoran, pero empeoran.. Con cual me quedo?

    Una de las razones por las cuales no han mejorado es porque la “educacion” Chavista es chimba. Profesores chimbos y ausentes, apenas sirvio para ensenar a leer y escribir, de vaina la primaria.

    Como es obvio, Chavistas como usted nunca apriendoron lo mas basico: a saber pensar por si mismo, sentido comun. Lo unico que saben es lanzar mangos para pedir que les regalen las vainas, o enchufarse para robar.

  22. The problem I have with the word “right/derecho” is that it actually has two very different meanings, something which is not discussed.

    1. You have a right to something, it means you can have this thing and the state can not take it away from you. You have a right to property, you have a right to a opinion, etc.

    2. You have a right to something, it means the state is obliged to give it to you. You have a right to free education, you have a right to vote, etc.

    Very different meanings but people often do not make it clear about what do they mean.

    In the case of the “right of having a decent house”, what’s the meaning?

    If it’s option 1, it’s just stupid to write it on the constitution, as it goes without saying in any country that is not communist. This right existed before Chávez, I’m sure.

    If it’s option 2, the government is now unconstitutional. There are plenty of people living in shanty houses throughout the country. But then, how can you put it the constitution if you simply can’t do it.

    I also think about that when people ask “don’t you think the jewish people has the right to a home state?”, in this case replacing “the state” by “the international community”. If it’s option 1, of course, but isn’t it obvious? If it’s option 2, no, sorry, there are plenty of people without states in the world, are you special? The question that makes sense is “do you think the jewish people should have a home state?”.

    • Very good points. As I pointed out above, we have a lot of instances of people and groups claiming rights for themselves and others without consideration of the ability defend or provide them.

        • A right designates a benefit which is legally declared to be worthy of public endorsement or sanction . but there are two kinds of rights , rights which involve the legally enforceable obligation of others to a certain behaviour to ensure such right is enjoyed or exercised by others , and rights which entail no such obligation, which are simply declarations of principles or ideals lacking in legal recourse . The former can be violated by whoever has the obligation if it fails to comply with that obligation , the latter cannot be violated because there is no obligation which can be enforced by legal action against a particular party.

          For example if a person finds himself homeless he cannot sue the government before a court of law claiming that the govt has violated his right to a home and thus force the govt to build him a home , his right to a home is just part of a declaration of principles or ideals that are deemed socially desirable but which lack any legal means of enforcement or practical implementation . They impose on govts and people a fuzzy moral or programatic burden to generally sponsor initiatives or measures to foster the building of homes . But beyond that they create no real obligations. !!

          • By creating a second second “fuzzy” definition of “rights” you are devaluing the very concept of the first definition. The Constitution guarantees a right not to be jailed without due process of law as law as well. Ask Leopoldo Lopez how that is going.

          • The right to due process is a right which creates obligations on the part of the govt and the courts , their violation by the govt and the courts would ( if we had Rule of Law in Venezuela ) allow LL to sue the govt and the court ( before an appellate court for example) for violating his rights which would lead to their being sanctioned and to the dismissal of any proceedings in which such violations ocurred.

            In contrast the right to a decent home creates no obligations on the part of the govt to build homes for everybody , the law does not provide for a homeless person to sue the govt because it hasnt built it a home and thus force it to build it a home . The term for this latter kind of ‘rights’ which lack enforceability is ‘diffuse rights’ or in coloquial english fuzzy rights ,

            I have not created this distinction between different kinds of rights, the lawmakers have created it by ennacting provisions which can be enforced in a court of law and those that cant . Sorry!!.

          • Great points by many above. It creates confusion when you include into a Constitution descriptions of lofty ideals instead of clear guidelines or constraints. To use an analogy it’s as if the USAs founding fathers had put the declaration of independence into its constitution:


            We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

            You put that into your constitution and you might also end up with a Department of People’s Eternal and Ultimate Happiness

            It turns the legal system into BS all the way down.

  23. Ah, Dear Quico:

    Thanks for the brief sketch of your first taste of constitution-making in 1999. Now I see why you have such a distaste for it, and why my exhortations for you and your close associates to frame a new and powerful constitution for Venezuela fall on seemingly deaf ears.

    Making a stupid constitution is easy – the difficulty is creating one that restricts itself to the rules by which decisions are made and by whom, and how authority is distributed, without any reference whatsoever to political factions and today’s particular issues.

    A good one should be above all a rule book that all factions can sign as a binding treaty. Most important, such basic rules of procedure need a high level of protection against frivolous partisan amendments by demanding almost universal consent. Secret ballot, presumed innocence, free speech & assembly and legal equality are far more important than abortion rights or social equality.

    A constitution negotiated and signed by all critical “stakeholders” – army, citizens, visitors, business, landowners, unions, police, farmers, super majorities of citizens – is a powerful weapon in times of crisis.

    I again call your attention to strengths in the constitutions of Honduras and Colombia, two nations heavily scorned in (mostly leftish) Latin American intellectual circles for their shortcomings. Both constitutions went to a lot of trouble to protect their nations from caudillos and sudden, easy popular referenda. Uribe left voluntarily and Zelaya by universal consent of all the top political stakeholders – legislators, judges, and army – as prescribed in their constitution. Venezuela’s constitution puts everyone in charge with no selection criteria. Everything is owned by no one. So the boss is the boss.

    Making a stupid constitution is easy – just don’t think about it in advance.

    Mind you, a strong, fair constitution is literally as conservative as NH granite, but that’s what’s needed to preserve (i.e. conserve) the rules of the game unless everyone consents to the change. Curb your liberal instinct to oblige government to guarantee fundamental rights to immortality as your parents did when you were 3. Tony Blair is in the doghouse for saying that government should allow things, not provide them.

    Folks like you (and me up to around age 43*), born to and subscribing to liberal leftist political leanings, tend to be pretty impatient with processes to include what we fancy to be our sworn enemies – the other half of our nations too stupid to appreciate our genius. In the US, that’s Republicans.

    *I’m approaching my 33rd 49th-birthday…

    But constitutions are conservative devices – good ones. Without conservatives (and a strong conservative constitutional rule-book), nothing is safe from our youthful passions.

    Judges, who protect from assault the legal system (that our forebears all solemnly swore to uphold) fulfill a fundamentally conservative function, and the army’s role has to be very carefully delineated in any such rule-book.

    Everyone says they’re for people-power, but it takes a strict non-partisan (like you in your context) to formulate an orderly way to actually implement it among so many quarreling groups, each intent on a pet outcome rules-be-damned.

    Mark well, too, that civilization depends upon protecting the one individual right that all people seek: to own the fruits of their labor. The lasting fruit of our labor – nota bene Herr Marx – is capital. Ownership is capitalism. It is never equal, and it’s not fair, but everyone wants HIS to be protected. A strong constitution has to defend property rights.

    And limit itself to 100 readable pages.

    Remember my World Registry? No one was interested…

    🙂

    Warmest Regards to You and Your Family and all who read this.

    Deedle

  24. As usual in Venezuela consistency of values is not a value.

    Anyone with the value of consistency could see that someone who is honest , and has good intentions would not base a platform on hatred of the rich, which Chavez did.They would not blame the Empire because honesty would not permit that sort of manipulation.

    Anyone who could not see the intentions of Chavez right from the start was simply not listening.

    Good people do not base their platforms on hatred.Fascists do.

  25. I read here “Venezuela is a country where 70% or more of the population have little capacity to contribute to the general welfare of the society it lives in but who ask and demand that it be given all that we all wish could be given them, that’s just not possible. Even if you had a perfect government it would be hard to give that 70% all that as human beings we want them to have. They are basically a dead weight that the rest of society must carry but whose capacity to contribute to the economy is very limited to null.”

    Not so! Yes we have a society who “asks and demand all be given to it” but that is precisely because they have been taught by masters the “que a buen árbol se arrima y el que no llora no mama”.

    And what is this about “giving them the fish instead of learning how to fish”? In Venezuela the “resultas petroleras” is the fish given to the country by the providence… and none of those managing these fishes has ever fished one.

    Give all Venezuelans their fish-dividends, so that it is clear there is nothing more to get there… and so they better get their ass moving elsewhere.

    And then I read: “Revolutionary belief in the wisdom of decisions arrived at through popular or communal discussion is most touching but so out of place in our time where getting to understand difficult topics really requires preparation, gathered expertise and an institutional structure for the discussion to bear useful fruit.!!”

    Boy, this sure must be the Grand Manifesto of the “quitate tu pa ponerme yos”.

    May I suggest you read William Easterly’s “The tyranny of experts”?

    And frankly, we should not really even be talking about “fish”, we are talking about the “sticks”… such as those in Ali Primera’s words “La madera con que siempre nos golpean…nos golpean”

  26. I wont go into the expresive sentimental part of Mr Kurowski text(Ali Primera etc) nor will I deal with the references to fishes this and that which to me are as absurd and confusing as they are to him .

    I think that the deadweight characterization is valid and can be supported by all manner of studies , what I have to clarify is that even though most of the deadweight is in people who have been torn apart by the impovereshed and disfunctional milieu of their upbringing there is a part of it that inhabits what is usually known as the middle class , people who regardless of their social station have a rancho in their head and have been corrupted by the easy life and vices which the Venezuelan political system has made possible for so many middle class venezuelans . I do think that poverty produces lots of damaged people , people who cant even take responsability for their children or family , much less for being responsible and disciplined in their work . so that chances are that you will find a larger percentage of economically competent people in the middle class than in the barrios . But the concept of deadweight crosses class lines which in Venezuela a least are not that firm.

    The problem for a moderrn state that doenst have resources for everything which needs doing is to prioritize , it concentrates in those taks which give the biggest bang for the buck , among them the humane task of helping even the deadweight some protection from the worst ravages of poverty and try and select from the best those that can be salvaged and developed into productive and reponsible citizens , plus creating conditions that given them a good chance of improving their life thorugh their own efforts.

    I am a firm believer that the average venezuelan doenst know shit about many of the most important public topics , maybe in athenian days an average joe could participate wisely in public decision making , now a days thats a fiction , when you try to understand many of todays public issues you need almost always to have an experts education , be well read , well informed , have the mental discipline and time to really analyze things which to him are totally unfamiliar. Again and again Ive seen people supposedly educated commit the greatest mistakes in judging about many public affairs .

    The experts are not charismatic guys , they dont talk pretty or with grand oratory , but they can do many jobs better than the most enthusiastic public affairs aficionado . But yu need more than individual experts you need trained team of experts forming organizations that have full command of each particular area of activity . The most succcesful organizations are made up of meritocratic teams of career experts in management , in operations , in the design and budgeting of plane, of course they are not perfect , they will often be self serving .But whatever their failings they are better at doing the job than people who are simply popular to the least informed .

    The ideal is to do what Hannah Arendt once suggested , treat politics as something separate from what has to be done through experts , you need politics to provide the basic guidelines , to approve things which have already been prepared for them by the experts but ultimately you cant trust amateurs no matter how gifted to do an experts job. In Venezuela having pols take up the job of public administrators is like having witchdoctors subsitute phisicians in the running of a clinic.

    Weve seen enough of that in todays Venezuela. and the results are what what we now live..

    • You would be surprised how many experts were involved in the creation of Chavismo…I know because I saw that with my own eyes.

      Experts are a dime a dozen, and many do not have the emotional intelligence , nor the ethical intentions needed to guide expertise into the right direction.

      It is true that dead weight crosses class lines ; even more important that it be suppressed.Allowing oneself to be ‘vivo’ and become dead weight is an ethical issue and not one of formal education.

      • There are many phony experts in venezuela , I know of many , they are experts because they convince ignorant people that they know more than they really know about a subject , my favourite definition of an expert : a man a long way from home. You know an expert not by what he says he knows but by being a witness to what he achieves . Expertise makes an expert not mere erudition , erudition is something you find in academia not where results are produced which can be measured and tested.

        • Anyone arguing he and his team are better managers of 97% of Venezuela’s exports, than what all citizens would be each one of their share of that 97%, are, by definition, dangerous phony power hungry experts.

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