We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
For those who are interested in learning more about Venezuela, there are a number of English language blogs about Venezuela.
Venezuela News and Views. Run by Daniel Duquenal, a Ph.D. biologist who is also a good storyteller. As he works in a small agribusiness in the boondocks, he writes with direct experience of the insanity of Chavenomics.His narratives are perhaps the best introduction a foreigner can have to what is happening in Venezuela, as they tend to be written from a generalist's perspective. [On the MF blogroll.]
Devil's Excrement. Miguel Octavio, a physics professor turned bond trader, left Venezuela about a year ago. His strength is economic analysis. [On the MF blogroll, but w out of date website]
Caracas Chronicles. Ironically, the head blogger, Juan Cristobal Nagel, is from Maracaibo, a city that has no love for Caracas. JC is currently an economics professor in Chile. There is a host of contributing bloggers who live in Venezuela. Multiple posts per day. Policy wonks- and more. Also good stories from ground level.
Infodio. Alex Boyd, exiled in London, has written extensively about corrupt Chavistas and their attempts to suppress reporting about their corruption. Formerly had vcrisis blog.
What is going on in Venezuela in a nutshell is the glorious phase two of Socialism. Phase one is where you use other people's money to buy the allegiance/support of the lower and middle class. Phase two is where all or most of the money is gone and the lower and middle class wants more, more "free stuff". Phase three will be a revolution which will be stolen by a communist dictator who promises those who will follow him that if they just kill what is left of the upper class and intelligent educated people that they can indeed have more "free stuff". Phase four will be a total police state, famine to kill off the Kulaks and forced labor of those who are left so the new elite can live well.
Now can we please send Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Kevin Spacey and other Hollywood Socialists to Venezeula to enjoy their beautiful dream of a socialist nirvana?
Because Chavismo made a number of decisions years ago, that it thought it could one day change, but the longer it waits, it becomes asymptotically impossible to change things. As time goes by, Chavismo has become a slave to this decisions long ago. It can no longer backtrack. It is trapped, a slave to its own inconsistencies.
Let me give you an example: Gas prices. Even before Hugo Chávez became President, he asked then President Caldera not to continue increasing the price of gas as planned. So, let’s look at the price of a large tank of gasoline in US $ in Venezuela from 1998 to today at the non-official rate of exchange at the close of the year. I use a tank of gas, assuming it is 80 liters or 21 gallons, because if I used a gallon, it would be hard to show the price in US$:
In 1998, right before Chávez came to power a tank of 80 liters of gasoline, or about 21 gallons, cost about 13.5 US$ in Bolivars. Chávez decided to freeze the price of gas to preserve his popularity. By now, that same tank of gas costs 11 cents of a US$. (NOT A TYPO) Asymptotically, this is simply zero, gas is free in Venezuela, and is one of the many ways in which Chavismo is trapped.
Raising it to two dollars, that is bringing it back to the equivalent of seven years ago, represents a factor of twenty increase. It would be political suicide to do so. But raising it to what it was when Chavez got to power would be a factor of 122, 12,000% give or take a percent here or there. Madness. Hard to get out of this trap. Slaves of their own ignorance.
While Chavismo presents itself as being a populist movement, virtually free gasoline benefits not the poor, who don't own motor vehicles, but the better off people who own motor vehicles.