So what to think about that new display of wealth, from the new if not very tasteful restaurants to the obscenely expensive cars? Well, it is indeed sudden.
The trend continues: Venezuela’s consumerism flourishes
A key force behind Venezuela’s economic growth has been the oil industry, which accounts for 78 percent of exports and some 14 percent of Venezuela’s gross domestic product. High oil prices also are helping fill government coffers. This year, an estimated 45 percent of government revenues are projected to come from oil.
The consumption trend has touched all social classes, including low-income Venezuelans. A growing state work force, new government benefits, and a rising minimum wage have helped put money in Venezuelans’ pockets, even as high inflation has eaten away at those gains.
The Devil’s Excrement has a post explaining How the robolution cynically flaunts their newly found wealth
Well, let’s look at the issue. All of a sudden, in a few states around Venezuela, Hummers have sprouted around driven by Government officials. Barinas and Carabobo state have been particularly noted for being populated by an inordinate amount of privately owned Hummers, driven by Government officials.
As I posted last January, Chavez had specifically stated that
President Hugo Chavez denied Sunday that his left-leaning government would seize private property — such as second homes or expensive cars — from the wealthy and called on Venezuelans not to fear his accelerated push toward socialism.
Ironically, today, on the same day as the Chavista lifestyle article, a Taiwan news site reports that Venezuela’s policies pose risk for private firms
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s radical policies pose “substantial risk” for private firms and are expected to drive down the South American country’s economic growth in 2007, the world’s leading banking organization said Sunday.
The Institute of International Finance presented the doom-and-gloom outlook for Venezuela in its annual Latin American Regional Overview report released at a conference on the sidelines of the Inter-American Development Bank’s annual meeting, which ends Tuesday.
Nonetheless, Hugo continues to expand in the Caribbean – this time in Trinidad and Tobago.
Where there’s money, politicians follow: Hardly surprising, here in the USA Republicans also lobby for Hugo Chavez.
The problem with Walters’ ‘View’-ish chat with Chavez was that it served Chavez’s ends but offered no benefit to U.S. viewers. The common aim seemed to bash George Bush. But another effect was to strengthen Chavez.
Chavez is South America’s most ruthless dictator, filling jails and repressing freedom. He told Walters he intended to remain in power permanently and added he’d like to run the U.S., too.
But Walters brushed off the signs of megalomania and continued to try to make him seem human. She asked how he felt about marriage and kids, and flattered him with descriptors like ‘intelligent,’ ‘dignified’ and ‘statesmanlike,’ as if any tyrant couldn’t project charm to a gullible newswoman. No dictator rises without it.
As Walters and Chavez java’d and jived, she neglected to ask about the coffee shortages now rife in Venezuela due to Chavez’s economic grip. She didn’t bother to ask about the growing exodus of Venezuelans fleeing to the U.S. And she gave only cursory mention of their plight, deceptively dismissing them — just as Chavez does — as ‘the wealthy.’
Nor did Walters ask about Venezuela’s growing role in the global drug trade, or Chavez’s $4 billion military buildup that directly threatens the U.S.
Dr Sanity looks at the Left’s support of Chavez:
I have often wondered if the political left in the 21st century hasn’t been suffering from some sort of bizarre group manifestation of a pattern of behavior Freud called “the repetition compulsion”. This is a psychodynamic situation where a person repeats a traumatic event or something having to do with it over and over again in an attempt to deal with it. This time, the person says to himself, it will turn out differently.
It never does.
Sigmund, Carl and Alfred looks at his local supporters:
Simply put, the reason so many identify so ferociously with political parties and leaders, is because those leaders offer a sense of values to those people who don’t have a real sense of values. The identification with, and defense of political parties and leaders is perceived by many to a kind of noble and selfless endeavor. Those who so clearly define their lives and meaning to a carefully crafted, staged and managed political identity, see themselves as heroes. Their political leaders offer them a sense of belonging, meaning and most of all, a purpose. More often that not, adopting an ideology is the only source of ‘values’ for many people.
I don’t disagree with Siggy, but as I stated recently, there are six factors that account for Chavez’s support:
First of all, the poor see Hugo as “people like us”. While Hugo, unlike Lula of Brazil, didn’t rise from the underclass, Hugo has convinced them that he is one of them. The prior Venezuelan administrations failed to turn oil money into a means of developing its most valuable resource, its people. And the people know it. Chavez also knows the power of nationalistic propaganda in Latin America, which goes hand-in-hand with anti-Americanism. Additonally, Latin American politics, not just Venezuelan politics, have traditionally been based in the politics of envy. Marxist ideology, with its belief that “the rich are rich because they make us poor” and many variations on this theme, is the mothers’ milk of this mentality. Considering the Venezuelan poor’s experience (see item 2 above), this is not an entirely irrational point of view. Then there’s all-out propaganda, and repression of dissenting views And let’s not underestimate the power of never wanting to admit one is wrong.
As Siggy said, adopting an ideology offers a sense of values. However, one should not totally ignore the harsh economic realities giving rise to the ideology.
So, faced with this economic reality, and realistically considering the unpleasant alternatives, it’s not surprising that people are making economically rational decisions and trying to cash in in Hugo’s party while it lasts.
In a lighter mode, don’t miss the gorgeous orchid slide show Miguel took last weekend.
Update Louisiana Conservative has part 2 of our conversation.
Update 2 VCrisis comments on Pres. Bush’s trip to Latin America:
For a long time I have argued that Latinos are a capitalistic bunch. Although the region’s business environment is one of the world’s toughest, most people rather run their own little ventures than being employed or lead undignified lives as handout recipients. Bush trip came to confirm my argument, for even Lula, allegedly one of Chavez’s staunchest allies in the region, preferred Bush’s ethanol offer over Chavez’s contracts. It goes to show that pragmatism and national interest are above revolutionary humbug for all but the Venezuelan pariah. Argentine’s officials no show in Chavez gig is also a good indication that pretty much all of the region’s leaders avoid antagonizing with Bush unnecessarily, and will not jeopardize for one second the chance to enter into trade agreements with the leader of the world’s largest economy.