Monday, 2 February 2009

Chavez Looking Good 10 Years On

One World leader guaranteed to get the right frothing at the mouth is Hugo Chavez who today celebrates 10 years as Venezuelan President.
I make no bones about, i think the man is a shining example of what all World leaders should aspire to and you only have to look at the state of the Country that he inherited from the brutal right wing dictator Perez, and compare it to how it is now ten years later under the guidance of Chavez and his Socialist ideals.
In 1998, the majority of Venezuelans lived below the poverty line and after Chavez won the Presidential election he made it a priority to lance this particularly unpleasant boil.
He nationalised the country's oil reserves and set about using the revenue from the oil business to be used to finance social and development programmes.
Chavez began literacy campaigns, built free medical centres and hospitals and constructed schools in the poorest neighbourhoods as well as subsidising supermarkets to reduce the cost of food to the poorest families.
What Chavez has done is not such a revolutionary idea, he just let the people keep the profits from the natural resources of their country to better their lives.
What must really grate with the right about Chavez is that this is the first serious attempt at a modern form of Socialism and only the most blinkered of McCarthy era relics would not admit that Chavez has made a mighty fine fist of things so far.
To compare 1998 to 2008 figures make astounding reading.
1628 doctors in 1998, 19,571 today while there was 250,000 free school meals in 1998 in 2008 there was 1.8m.
Access to education has dramatically increased, including more than 1 million people participating in free adult literacy classes, leading to Venezuela eradicating illiteracy by UN standards.
The 60% of the population in poverty in 1998, is down to below 30% today. The Venezuelan economy has grown by almost 80% with inflation down from 120% in 1998 to just under 20% now.
Don't expect those bent on condemning Chavez as a power crazed megalomaniac to applaud these impressive achievements but the rest of us can maybe agree that he has set about solving the problems of the most vulnerable in Society, namely the poor and sick and has laid the groundwork for a country where the majority and not the few, reap the most benefits and that is as it should always be.
Here's to another 10 more years of the incredible Hugo Chavez.


Aaron said...

As I'm sure you could guess I'm going to have to contest most everything in this post.

By almost every major economic measure the reign of Hugo Chavez until 2003, when oil prices started their precipitous rise, was an unmitigated disaster. GDP fell, GDP per capita fell, inflation was nearly back at pre-Chavez levels (I'm not sure where you are getting 120% to under 20%. Everything I can find says 36% in 1998 and 31% in 2008 - highest in Latin America), unemployment rose 65%, and oil production was tanking.

Finally when oil reached $80 ('08 dollars) Chavez was able to return Venezuela to the position it was in 1998 when oil was $25 ('08 dollars). Think about that. Chavez's Venezuela took $80 oil to match whoever-was-before-Chavez's Venezuela with $25 oil.

The point I'm trying to make is that Chavez's recent successes (if you can call them that) are entirely the result of oil prices. Now that prices are in the crapper, so is Venezuela. In fact, Chavez is even inviting oil companies back in now that the wheels are coming off because he realizes his Bolivarians have no idea how to get oil out of the ground and oil's the only thing keeping him in power.

The real test of a system isn't whether it performs well, but whether it performs better than other systems would in the same situation.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, there are not many blogs around the world where most of the commenters, if a serious issue is raised, nearly always take the opposite view to the blog author.

If you raise a anti-MSM view about Israel or America or capitalism, they'll oppose it even if they admit they know little or nothing about it. It's a triumph of indoctrination over intellect and helps to explain why America is so hated and feared.

Lucy, you have my warmest sympathy.

P.S. Be assured, there are some delightful, aware, intelligent, insightful, concerned, educated, non-parochial Americans. Wish you could find some!

Cody Bones said...

"P.S. Be assured, there are some delightful, aware, intelligent, insightful, concerned, educated, non-parochial Americans. Wish you could find some!"

Daniel, you mean little old me? How sweet.

Cheezy said...

Get a room!

Falling on a bruise said...

Effay, the post is all about the massive turning point in the lives of the Venezuelans when Chavez nationalised the oil industry and used that money for the benefit of the poorest and weakest in his Society rather than line the pocket of the oilmen.
Nobody except the most rabid Chavez hater, puppet of the oil industry or ridiculously right wing barnpot can say that what he has done in Venezuela is not a great thing.

We have to stay in their pitching though David, can't let them righties get a foothold again.

Anne said...

regarding your last ssentence in the above comment, lucy...agree 100%.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that Lucy and Annie.

Down with all indoctrinated, right-wing ignoramuses!

Don said...

Down with all indoctrinated left-wing ignoramuses too. :-) Simple common sense and a humanitarian outlook ought to rule. Chavez fails miserably by that metric. Buying the loyalty of the poor with unsustainable economic policies does not work over the long term which is why his thugs are now trying to intimidate people into voting for his constitutional amendment to allow him to remain in power. An honest and responsible president would never consider doing such a thing.

Yes, to repeat Lucy's point, it's a fine thing when the country's profits are taken from those who reap them and given to the poor. But since that has been proven time and again not to work well over time, what do you suppose was his motivation? Nice guy? Or political power based on populism? Which by the way is most effective when your adoring fans take to the streets on your behalf with club and torch. Sometimes I am reminded me of those many Britons and Americans who were so admiring in the mid 1930s of the leader of a certain European country.

Regards, a clearly indoctrinated anti-intellectual.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, I thought I'd share this part comment from an American on my blog.

"The United States government and its corporate string-pullers have invested decades and billions of dollars in the cultivation of a confused, detached, apathetic society of ignorance. They got what they wished for: A society of brain-dead mall-walkers who swallow whatever garbage the President tells them."

It came from a person who calls himself Late Revolution. I just wanted to cheer you up and give you hope!


Cheezy said...

I have mixed feelings about Chavez, same was I do about Che Guevara, Michael Caine, and Paris Hilton. Depends what mood I'm in!

I always like to see the 'IMF prescription' get one in the eye, however I also agree with Don's point that Hugo's motivations aren't exactly pure. Bit of a politician then!

David: It's not against the rules to occasionally address the point.

Anonymous said...

Cheezy, granted, you are certainly not a right-wing American stooge!

You are more a British tosser, one who fancies himself as a bit of an intellectual. However, you are better described as a boring ineffectual!

Tally ho.

Cheezy said...

Case officially rested.

Cheezy said...

PS: The word 'ineffectual' is an adjective, not a noun.

Cody Bones said...

To quote the great Terry Pratchett, "Those who seek the truth are generally better company than those who are convinced that they have found it"

Oh, and BTW Daniel, in case you were wondering, I'm aiming this at you. By Cracky.

P.S. Daniel, I'm sure you won't answer this, but is there any topic that we are allowed to disagree with you on? Just curious...

I love saying "By Cracky"

Falling on a bruise said...

Don, Neville Chamberlain was never
respected here or there.
Your line about politicians 'buying the loyalty of the poor with unsustainable economic policies' gave me a chuckle. It is exactly what every political leader does! Especially around election time you may notice and not just for the poor either.

Anonymous said...

Cheezy, I guess you haven't heard of 'creative writing' or 'poetic license'? Shame really! Perhaps you could do a few courses at your local College.

Cody, you are a clever fellow, finding that quote, and all by yourself too.

You're simple too as the expression 'By Cracky' shows!

Sadly, you're much more simple than clever.

Lucy and Annie, "Here's to another 10 more years of the incredible Hugo Chavez."

Cody Bones said...

Daniel, tell me the truth, you had to google "by cracky" right?

Anonymous said...


Concerning the economy - We know that the oil industry provided a lot of benefit to their economy. We don't know if Chavez helped the economy.

Concerning wealth of the populace - We know that Chavez spread the wealth better than any of his predecessors. Most citizens of Venezuela owe him a "well done".

Still, the future will judge whether his policies are sustainable economically.

Concerning poverty - I did some checking and a person is considered "in poverty" if they earn less than $1 per day. Seems that 30% of Venezuelans are really poor still... Using this low bar poverty would be 1% or less in the US, UK, Japan, etc. so they adjust the poverty level up in wealthy nations. Almost all Venezuelans would be "in poverty" using the standard applied to the UK. So, Hugo still has some work to do.

Also, 20% inflation, while better than it was, is still HORRENDOUS. Hugo will have to work on that as well...


Nog said...

I've done the numbers for Venezuela before as a part of a job where I looked into the economics of various third world countries.

If you look at the raw numbers and do economic analyses on the mass of numbers (and I'm talking basic macro-economics, nothing Austrian or Chicago School specific), you wont be able to find a theoretically (and again, I'm not talking Austrian, or Chicago School, just basic macro-micro) defensible correlation between any major economic progress in Venezuela and government policies of Hugo Chavez.

Little stats here and there can be twisted every which way, but the big numbers don't add up in favor of Chavez. Accounting for gains due to rises in petroleum prices, Chavez is running the country into the ground.

Of course, I wouldn't speak to highly of Bush numbers either.


Falling on a bruise said...

The only statistic that matters to Venezeualans and the yardstick of all politicians everywhere is 'are we (lefty view) am i (righty view) better off under Chavez/Bush/ Brown/Obama?' If the answer is yes then nobody cares what Chicago's Austrian schools are doing. Simple

Aaron said...

This is the foundation of our disagreement I think. You say the yardstick is "am I better off." I think the yardstick is "am I as well off as I possibly could be."

Also, as Noah correctly points out, being better off does not necessarily imply that you are better off because of what the government is doing.

Falling on a bruise said...

I think you could possibly be right effay, i am willing to take any improvement as a good thing whereas you, i believe, want to see hard and fast results. I am a firm believer in the 'things are moving in the right direction' theory with no benchmark which needs to be reached in order to tick it off as a success. To me that means that the strive for success will never be reached and so will be forever ongoing and go past the point where you happily stopped as being successful.

Anonymous said...

Lucy - In my opinion Chavez will totally destroy Venezuela for decades to come if he is allowed to remain in power for much longer. His type of Extreme Leftist policies don't work, never have, and never will.

Some tidbits from the Economist:

"But crime, the cost of living and the problem of housing have all worsened substantially since Mr Chávez came to power. Inflation in 2008 was 31%-the highest in Latin America. Food prices in Caracas rose by almost 50%. The minimum wage is just 800 bolívares a month, although many workers with formal jobs get a bonus of around 250 bolívares for food."

"The government's hostility to private property has triggered a shortage of rented housing. Last year the government began to repair 150 houses affected by damp. But a day of heavy rain flooded most of them and ruined what had been achieved."

"The most reliable opinion polls suggest that Mr Chávez will win the referendum on February 15th. "People don't care about the articles [to be modified]," says Ms Graterol. "What they have here"-she touches her head-"and here"-the heart-"is Hugo Chávez. They know their leader's future is at stake."

"So does Mr Chávez. He has turned almost the whole of the state bureaucracy, including the armed forces and the state oil company, into an election machine. Pro-government rallies teem with public-sector workers in red shirts and baseball caps bearing the logos of government departments."

A cult of personality, Chavez is made out to be "The Messiah". The Saviour of the People, offering an abundance of 'Hope' and 'Change'.

Sound familiar?
Chavez and Obama, a Scary Comparison
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
be president for life

forget some strong reforms
just dismantle government

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
expand socialism

misery loves company
promise it will work this time

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
DESTROY your country

then spread to other countries
sell them your recipes

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
cause food shortages

implement price controls
destroy all family farms

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
nationalize industry

never trust the market
deny the people choices
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Aaron said...