“God will provide”

The intense hatred people feel for Nicolás Maduro and company stems, in large part, from the fact that they just don't show up for work.

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It’s difficult to write about economic policy these days, because Venezuela doesn’t have one.

The figures may be a closely guarded secret, but everyone knows them: yearly inflation at >200%, the world’s deepest recession, increasing poverty. All of this is alarming, but the only people who are not at all alarmed are the very people elected to solve these problems.

If you’re a government that cares about its population, there are a number of things you could do under worsening economic conditions.

  • You could change your economic team.
  • You could change the rules under which private businesses work.
  • You could announce a drastic overhaul of public finances.
  • You could issue major directives changing monetary and exchange policies.
  • You could announce a markedly different social policy.

Any responsible ruler, faced with the overwhelming economic maelstrom Venezuela faces, would try one of these. Any of these. All of these. Heck, even Hugo Chávez (even frickin’ Robert Mugabe) tried combinations of these at some point or another.

But Nicolás Maduro and his cronies? They can’t be bothered.

I was trying to remember any major economic policy announcements in the last few months, and quite honestly, the only thing I can think of is Maduro’s announcement to the National Assembly last January that, in the face of plummeting oil prices, “God will provide” the solutions the economy needs.

This, more than anything, is the defining characteristic of Maduro-nomics. Do nothing, defend the status quo, pray that some event comes to rescue you, and take credit for anything good that happens…”como sea.”

This is a government that has run out of ideas. It’s not driven by ideology – it’s driven by sloth. They lack the energy, the funds, the creativity, and the stamina to govern the country. People’s problems are beyond them, and all they can do is hold on to the parcels of power they control so effectively.

Public policy bores them. They’re not interesting in governing.

This is enormously frustrating for those of us who like to, y’know, actually analyze things. It is also the main reason why Venezuelans, sick and tired of feeling adrift, are set to punish them harshly at the polls next month.

32 COMMENTS

      • That’s the main problem of the lambucio marginal and why many of them are dead sunk on critical poverty, they can’t be bothered to think a little for something useful, even if that would benefit them in the long run.

  1. And when the crash comes, and it’s coming at us like a freight train, there will be no more assets left with which to pick-up the pieces. No more gold. No foreign reserves. The best engineers of PDVSA have already left. No new employment opportunities. Manufacturing all but at a standstill. Medical facilities at third-world levels. it’s a complete catastrophe.

    • This is actually my worst fear. China has already sunk it’s claws deep into Venezuela. Who ever takes over after this regime will need to have balls of steel and no small measure of luck and talent.

    • Well, fidelito cagalitroso finally had his revenge against Venezuela for kicking his butt many years ago, he managed to completely destroy the country and leave it as a barren wasteland for decades to come.

      All because Betancourt “lo mandó a lavarse el paltó”.

  2. They clearly declare themselves socialist which ideologically does not allow them to take any reasonable change. Following the Chinese or even what Cuba is starting to do would face an uprising by their Aporrea reading crowd. They want -deeper socialism-.

    Moreoever, changing ANYTHING would admit to everyone that Chavez was wrong in his model and hijo-de-chavez would be no better than an hijo-de-puta given the fondness with which Chavez is remembered (the previous post about the selfie is very apropos).

    It’s not as if Maduro does not know about some basic measures that have to be taken. Ramirez was floating them a few months ago before exile, and even Maduro talked “sacudon”.

    He has no political capital of his own to invest in changes, he never did. He is a political paralytic laying on the bed Chavez made for Chavismo and the bed sores are consuming it now.

    One more thing. Hugo, why did you have to die?! You have become a myth, a perverse one for sure. Damn you!

  3. I understand that there have been people working for the govt who have even proposed to Maduro certain measures of the kind we all know are needed to stem or soften the kick thats coming , (suspect FRod may have been part of that group) , all to no avail , they cant take the decisions !! Its distressing to think that we are in the hands of such ninconcoops……, that our fate now hinges on their decisions !!

  4. There is absolutely nothing that they could do that would not damage the interests of some constituency of their unholy alliance. They all know that they are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, yet no one who is still getting the eggs will agree to any plan cuts into their share. It would almost be a suicide pact except that they all think they can pull out with all their treasure at the last moment and save themselves.

      • Kind of reminds me, I remember reading (maybe Kissinger said it) if Hitler had been assassinated in 1940 he would go down in history as a great figure in German history, a Bismark.

        • To be honest, Hitler did a pretty good job of rebuilding a broken and defeated Germany and making it into an industrial, military and economic power house that effectively was able to fight a war on two fronts.

          I think post WWI Germany was in a worse shape than Venezuela is today, but don’t quote me on that.

    • Hey Lee Kuan Yew aka…

      Poverty is not only a material condition, it is a way of living, a trap in many ways. A complex problem for sure which social scientist spend plenty of dissertations on.

      One certain feature is immediacy. For many poor it is a matter of what is in your pot today. Tomorrow is far in the future and the past, well, it won’t feed you today. You could never save thus you could never make plans.

      Chavez fed them therefore Chavez was good. It is that simple.

      Was Chavez model sustainable? Was it dumb luck of about the commodities cycle? Those questions are irrelevant to your daily meal. You are right when you call this type of Chavez pueblo supporters ignorant, but even if you had provided education, their living conditions does not allow them to look beyond immediacy. An analysis of the merit of the Chavista model is highfaluting intellectualism for ‘dotores y licenciados’.

      I would also remind you of CAP 73-78 vs CAP 89-almost 94. In many ways he was voted back because el pueblo remembered the good times, so when he delivered harsh economic measures instead of the good times, well… it did not go well for him.

      • Sorry, but you are misguided. Myths have the power to influence people long after the original character is dead and buried. Look at the myth of Che Guevarra. The iconic myth created around this psychopathic mass murderer has done more damage to the progress of Latin America than the live Che ever did. In order to achieve long-term stability and social progress, the concepts of Chavismo including all of the resentment and divisive rhetoric must demolished. Hugo Chavez must be discredited in the history books, lest his ghost (the myth) come back to haunt us.

  5. “This is a government that has run out of ideas. It’s not driven by ideology – it’s driven by sloth. They lack the energy, the funds, the creativity, and the stamina to govern the country. People’s problems are beyond them, and all they can do is hold on to the parcels of power they control so effectively.”

    A “sense of urgency” is something that the slaves (we) have, but not the slave-owners (they). As long as they keep running the show, they will be fine with the status quo. In their minds, they have all eternity to ‘make things right’, and, very sadly, they seem to be right.

  6. PLAN INFLACION FUERTE:
    You get the number given by: let´s say Barclays, and move de decimal separator to the left 3 spaces: 200% becomes 0,2%.

  7. Excellent piece, Juan.

    For somebody who has seen the policymaking circles of the Maduro Govt from a close distance, this is 100% spot on. There’s simply no better way to describe this bunch of morons.

    Part is because they simply don’t know how or where to begin. Part is because of the ideological straitjacket. Part is because the incumbent has all incentives to preserve the status quo (esp. if you’re making dirty moola like crazy). And another part, IMO, is the huge sense of fear and distrust among the Maduro nomenklatura, fueled by a sort-of militaristic yet pathetic managing style: If you wanna keep your job and your prebendas, STICK TO YOUR ORDERS and nothing else; don’t try to get creative, doesn’t matter if you’re right or you have the best intentions: if you don’t do anything but follow the orders from above, you’re gonna get promoted!!! And if you dare have an own initiative, consider yourself blacklisted!

    I think Chavez also liked to manage like this (of course, to a lesser extent), but on his time there was much more financial leeway, so keeping a status quo wasn’t that clearly stupid. But the govt I saw and worked with was (and still is) like this. LAME!

  8. Fact is no one gave a shit about 85% of the population for going on 100 years, and the poverty and spiritual bankruptcy and shame ran so deep in the pueblos that so long as the “elites” came tumbling down, a victory of some sort was won. Problem with exercising a grudge like this – well earned as it was – is that most all the people with professional wherewithal either left or was marginalized. To Chavez and many others, a solid education is elitist, so bus drivers where handed the reins of government and (for example) financial portfolios were handed over to Cubans or military heavies with no experience in capital markets. So it wasn’t so much that the government didn’t show up to govern – and they haven’t – but rather they had no capacity to do so in the first instance. Someone just mentioned that the hammer is about to fall and that hospitals will soon be at 3rd world standards – well amigo, that’s largely the case right now. My daughter (an MD in Caracas) has the most heartbreaking stories of infants dying of dehydration, which should NEVER happen but there’s no fricking IVs etc. In some sense the brutal social structure and the sheer number of the have-nots prompted this whole shebang. Sad thing is MUD sounds terribly close to the old pre-Chavez sound track so this is going to take some sorting out I’m afraid. And time. Like years. And probably with little to no dinero.

    J

  9. No money ? Well there is but Gabriella has near five billion dollars, Cabello probably double, Maduro, Cilla and their criminal entourage probably more. I nearly forgot Ramirez !
    The extremes are perverse. Children under medical care dying of dehydration and the not so bright Chavez offspring literally rolling in dollars with absolutely no social conscience. In fact the thieving batrds are killing children for their own financial gain.
    Swift and decisive action is the solution. Ceausescu springs to mind.

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