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  • What has happened to Venezuela?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on May 21st, 2016 (All posts by )

    venzuela

    Venezuela is in the news as the country cannot even buy paper to print money.

    This all goes back to 1998 when Chavez was elected by the people.

    He was an army officer and had previously attempted to overthrow the government, a coup that failed.

    in the early 1980s. Chávez led the MBR-200 in an unsuccessful coup d’état against the Democratic Action government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1992, for which he was imprisoned. Released from prison after two years, he founded a political party known as the Fifth Republic Movement and was elected president of Venezuela in 1998.

    Venezuela is an example of The Curse of Natural Resources.

    The idea that resources might be more of an economic curse than a blessing began to emerge in debates in the 1950s and 1960s about the economic problems of low and middle-income countries.[3] The term resource curse was first used by Richard Auty in 1993 to describe how countries rich in mineral resources were unable to use that wealth to boost their economies and how, counter-intuitively, these countries had lower economic growth than countries without an abundance of natural resources. An influential study by Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner found a strong correlation between natural resource abundance and poor economic growth.

    Venezuela is only the latest and worst example. The history is depressingly familiar.

    Venezuela is ultimately what is known as a ‘petro-state’. Oil revenues account for 94 percent of export earnings, 50 percent of budget revenues, and 30 percent of GDP. But since 2001, overall oil production has fallen by roughly one-quarter,while since 1997; oil exports have dropped by almost 50 percent. It is no coincidence that these declines coincide with Hugo Chavez becoming President in 1998.

    Venezuela nationalized its oil industry in 1976, creating the state-run company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Upon taking office, Chavez immediately increased state control of the oil industry even more, in order to gain more control of its coffers. As Daniel Yergin says in his book ‘The Quest’, PDVSA ‘became the cash box of the state’, which caused immediate tension between Chavez and PDVSA. It didn’t take long for these tensions to escalate.

    Saudi Arabia is another example that is slowly teetering toward disaster.

    Companies in the oil-exporting country have been forced to shed tens of thousands of employees in recent months. The government, in turn, has imposed painful austerity measures on citizens, ripening conditions for Arab Spring-like turbulence, analysts say.

    Late last month, construction workers torched buses during demonstrations in the holy city of Mecca because they hadn’t been paid in months.

    Adding to unease has been the meteoric rise of King Salman’s 30-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman. He has taken charge of economic reform, but rival royals and religious elites appear rankled by his attempts to consolidate power.

    The Saudis support a large population of young men with no jobs and no skills.

    The plan includes the partial privatization of the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, and envisions massive job creation. Unemployment has become especially problematic for Saudis younger than 30, the majority of the kingdom’s 22 million citizens.

    Economic growth has tapered off recently and budget deficits have grown, spurring the International Monetary Fund to warn last year that Saudi Arabia could run out of cash if it failed to make reforms.

    Authorities have responded to the crisis by cutting subsidies for water, fuel and electricity, but financial experts say more is needed — possibly taxation, a hot-button issue for Saudis.

    It may be no coincidence that Saudis were heavily involved in the 9/11 attack on the US.

    former Democratic Senator Bob Graham, the former head of the Senate intelligence committee, reiterated his belief that Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks at the highest level. He said “The most important unanswered question of 9/11 is: did these 19 people conduct this very sophisticated plot alone, or were they supported? So who was the most likely entity to have provided them that support? I think all the evidence points to Saudi Arabia. I think it covers a broad range, from the highest ranks of the Kingdom through these, what would be private entities.”

    The “Curse of Natural Resources” even affects modern societies like Norway, which seems to have avoided the worst.

    As one of the centres of Norway’s booming oil and gas industries, it is also a very wealthy place.
    Yet there are few displays of ostentatious spending – there are no supercars with tinted windows, no designer handbag shops, and no queues of people outside exclusive nightclubs.

    For while other countries have struck oil and then binged on the revenues, by contrast Norway is continuing to invest its oil and gas money in a giant sovereign wealth fund.

    The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.
    And most Norwegians are seemingly very content with this – according to a 2012 study by New York’s Columbia University Norway is one of the world’s happiest countries.

    They know it will not last forever.

    As for when the oil does eventually run out, “Norway will survive, but it will be a challenge for all of us,” he says.
    “Our challenge will be to utilise our expertise and use it in other areas.”
    It’s a point of view echoed by Dag Rune Olsen, rector of Bergen University: “I worry we do not invest to a sufficient extent in other ways to generate income in the next decades.
    “We are very well aware that the oil and gas resources are limited, and at least for Norwegian oil it will cost us more year by year to extract the oil,” he says.
    “It is evident we need to find other sources of income, and now we have the ability to invest – it is crucial that we do.”

    This did not occur in Venezuela and now they cannot buy toilet paper.

    In the last three years, the “heir” of Hugo Chávez has led the country into a maelstrom of anarchy and annihilation that one would expect only of a nation devastated by war. Statistics for homicides, impunity, repression, political persecution, censorship, inflation, devaluation, business closures and expropriations, unemployment and migration – already terrifying during the Chávez era – have gone through the roof.

    Maduro and his allies are not blind; they probably realise that they are not capable of running the country. That’s not to say that that was ever a concern for them. Like their patriarch Chávez, they seem to be more interested in encouraging conflict and facing off with enemies, real or imaginary, than in the tedious and complex job of actually managing a government. But they can’t and won’t admit defeat.

    According to an analyst from the Basel Institute on Governance, more than $350bn has vanished from Venezuela’s treasury during the “revolution”. Government officials, including many in the military, know that handing power to the opposition will lead to investigations and prosecutions.

    Revolutions in the 20th century, usually create billionaires and slaves.

    Perhaps the first major 20th century writer to realize that the ambition of all true Communists should be to become billionaire revolutionaries was Hilaire Belloc. In his 1912 book the Servile State, Belloc argued the then-burgeoning Communist movement would find more success ditching Leninism in favor of a alliance with Crony Capitalists to reinstate Slavery. “Slavery, or a Servile State in which those who do not own the means of production shall be legally compelled to work for those who do, and shall receive in exchange a security of livelihood”.

    This modern form of slavery would address not only the concerns of the revolutionaries by fixing job insecurity and guaranteeing retirement on a plantation basis but also assuage the monopolists, who stay up nights worrying about preserving market share in the face of competition. An alliance between socialists and crony capitalists would solve both problems at once. The only price to pay for this convenience is the loss of public freedom and that is readily paid.

    But the combination ultimately cannot pay the bills.

    Collectivism cannot even pay its pensions. “The present value of unfunded obligations under Social Security as of August 2010 was approximately $5.4 trillion. In other words, this amount would have to be set aside today such that the principal and interest would cover the program’s shortfall between tax revenues and payouts over the next 75 years.” One of the culprits, ironically is that the socialists have succeeded all too well and changing mankind’s dreadful habit of forming families and breeding children.

    It’s not just the Government that’s broke but also its political partners. Recently the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund announced that it was bust. Unless it gets an infusion of taxpayer money pension benefits for about 407,000 people could be reduced to “virtually nothing”.

    And Venezuelans have no toilet paper. We will follow them in a few years unless we have a revolution.

     

    55 Responses to “What has happened to Venezuela?”

    1. Bill Brandt Says:

      An interesting article and this afternoon I will have to read your linked supporting articles. It seems counter intuitive that any nation rich in natural resources should find that wealth a burden and not a blessing. I supposed when they become dependent on that income and live as if it will never end is when the problems start. One would think the wealth could be used to educate the populace and provide seed money for other industries.

      I think Venezuela chased away all all of the foreign oil experts that helped keep the oil flowing.

      I have a friend whose family is from Norway – they emigrated here in the early 50s. She is astounded at the level of taxation in that country –

      I was in a web discussion today talking about all of these states, like IL and CA that have huge looming unfunded liabilities on the horizon and will expect the equally near-bankrupt Federal govt to bail them out.

      Puerto Rico is just the tip of the iceberg.

    2. Gringo Says:

      Bill Brandt
      I think Venezuela chased away all all of the foreign oil experts that helped keep the oil flowing.

      Not just the foreign experts. When PDVSA was created in the 1970s with the nationalization of Venezuelan oil, the transition was was fairly smooth because of the locally grown oil industry expertise. PDVSA was one of the best-run government-owned oil companies, until Chavez took control. Chavez wanted to get his hands PDVSA cash, and replaced the head and Board of Directors of PDVSA. In the wake of the resulting PDVSA strike, Chavez fired the 20,000 odd PDVSA professionals that went on strike.

      Those fired PDVSA hands took their skills to other countries, such as Colombia and Canada. There are a lot of former PDVSA hands working in the Alberta tar sands.

      Schlumberger, which has been the leader in wireline logging for nearly a century- dropping a tool down the borehole to determine producing characteristics of a formation- has scaled down its operations due to lack of payment. PDVSA cannot pay its creditors because its cash has been depleted to pay for Chavista “social programs.”

      I recommend the following blogs and blog article, all in English.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/venezuela-is-falling-apart/481755/ Co-authored by two very knowledgeable Venezuelans.

      http://www.caracaschronicles.com/
      http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/
      https://devilexcrement.com/

    3. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Short version, Chavez and his cronies elbowed their way into PDVSA to loot it for themselves and to throw some goodies to the mob to buy their loyalties, such as they were. Nice work if you can get it, and skip town in time to avoid the melt-down when the money spigot runs dry.

    4. Gringo Says:

      Sgt. Mom
      Nice work if you can get it, and skip town in time to avoid the melt-down when the money spigot runs dry.

      Which is why a lot of oppo people wish that Chavez were still alive so that he could face the consequences of his policies. A lot of Chavistas are of the opinion that Maduro is bad, and Chavez was good, whereas the only policy difference between the two was that Maduro has $30 oil and Chavez had $100 oil when he died.

      Multi-tiered exchange rates with the result that those with insider connections can get dollars at giveaway prices? Unchanged.

      Gasoline sold much cheaper than bottled water? Unchanged, though Maduro did increase the gasoline price somewhat- the first time it had been increased in years. IIRC, Chavez never increased the price of gasoline.

      Food sold below market prices, resulting in shortages and black market dealings. Unchanged. Something like Food Stamps would have been better, but to imitate Evil Empire policy? Anathema!

      Sky high crime and murder rates. Definitely not lower. Tripling, quadrupling or more of murder rate in 17 years of Chavismo. Hard to say today what the murder rate is today, as govt stopped releasing figures years ago.

      Electricity prices unchanged in price, resulting in shortages. Unchanged.

      Deterioration in infrastructure. Unchanged. While Chavez under-invested in infrastructure when the price of oil was high, now there is no money for it.

      So on and so forth.

    5. TangoMan Says:

      The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.

      Every immigrant and refugee represents a stock dilution to their wealth.

    6. raven Says:

      This story makes a damned good case for executing coup leaders.

    7. Gringo Says:

      Raven
      This story makes a damned good case for executing coup leaders.
      Hitler, Castro, Chavez. Yes indeed.

    8. Mike K Says:

      From the Atlantic article:

      “The real culprit is chavismo, the ruling philosophy named for Chavez and carried forward by Maduro, and its truly breathtaking propensity for mismanagement (the government plowed state money arbitrarily into foolish investments)”

      Sounds like climate change. Nothing could be more foolish than wind farms and solar panels.

    9. brer rabbit Says:

      socialism = feudalism. Feudalism selects and promotes men with a certain skill set who become feudal lords.

      Sadly, modern economies are too complex for feudal lords. So everything comes apart.

      Venezuela spent its money on weapons and palaces and bread and circuses. The bread industry today is too sophisticated for feudal minds to operate.

    10. brer rabbit Says:

      Venezuela happens when Atlas shrugs

    11. Anonymous Says:

      Makes one wonder at how the USA made it with all of our resources. Except it isn’t the resources that are the problem, it is the social and political systems. The resources are not a solution to those issues and provide the focus for the powerful to capture and use to maintain their feudal aspirations.

      Going down that road we are.

      Death6

    12. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I agree with Death6, except I think culture may be the single greatest differentiator of successful societies versus failed ones. Culture incorporating not only social and political systems, but also including personal values and behaviors.

    13. Jose Angel Says:

      And this is only the beginning for Venezuela. The country is deep in debt with the Chinese, who are taking control of entire sectors of their oil and mining industries, in many cases the Chinese don´t even pay cash for the oil, they are taking it in payment for Venezuela´s huge debt with China. You would think the country can get back on track if only Nicolas Maduro would leave tomorrow and a new government would reform the economy, but the damage too serious to even dream of a slow pace recovery. In these decade and a half of Chavismo madness, foreign investors left the country, but also hundreds of thousands of venezuelan businessmen, middle-class educated venezuelans have left the country for good, there´s a growing community of venezuelan´s in México with already tens of thousands, many also left for Spain and the USA and other places in the world. I have heard stories on entire enterprises leaving, smuggling machinery and other assets too. Many venezuelan jewish persons have also left thanks to Chavez and Maduro´s open antisemitism and ties to Iran. But it is not only Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay are also extractive economies almost entirely dependent on oil prices, mining, and other primary goods. Together, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay are called the “Soybean Republic” and have developed huge economic dependence on soybean exports to China, India and other parts of the world.

    14. Jim Says:

      The idea that Venezuela is “cursed by natural resources” is complete, total and utter nonsense. Norway isn’t cursed by natural resources.

      If the population of Venezuela were replaced by Japanese everybody would remark on Venezuela’s luck to be so richly endowed with natural resources.

    15. Mike K Says:

      “Together, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay are called the “Soybean Republic” and have developed huge economic dependence on soybean exports to China, India and other parts of the world.”

      That’s interesting and something new to me. Argentina is unusual in that its population is almost entirely European in origin, unlike Brazil which has a large ex-black slave component. I don’t know the exact percentage of Argentina with Amerindian blood but my understanding is that it is small.

      Therefore, the Argentine social pathology is cultural and not a genetic thing.

      As genetics becomes a bigger part of anthropology, there will be more objective evidence of things like Amerindians’ reduced tolerance for alcohol and even carbohydrates, which seems to be related to diabetes in the Mexican population,

    16. Mike K Says:

      Jim, you might try to read the post before demonstrating your political ignorance.

    17. Jose Angel Says:

      Mike K, Argentina has probably the most educated population in all Latin America, and no matter what huge economic blunders their political leaders make, the Argentinians always manage to stay a float. Certainly their european heritage it´s a asset: passion for education and sciences, hard work and innovation. But the country´s seen as part of a resource rich nation, and most foreign and domestic investment seem to go into that direction. I fail to see manufacturing hubs of global reach developing in the region and this is really a big problem.

    18. raven Says:

      Abundant resources coupled with a autocratic state are the national equivalents of trust fund kids- the abundant money, pouring in from those who manage and extract it, means they can be lazy, with no immediate consequences. And by the time the money does run out, the habit patterns are well established.

      I suspect the countries that show this effect, have had the largess dropped into their lap by others,who are the ones that actually did the discovery and extraction.

    19. Mike K Says:

      “I suspect the countries that show this effect, have had the largess dropped into their lap by others,who are the ones that actually did the discovery and extraction.”

      This may be one explanation of the difference between England and Norway, which did their own discovery and extraction, and Arabia and Venezuela which were passive beneficiaries. Iran is much the same although the Shah did a lot to modernize Iran.

      Nigeria is a horrendous example as the people who live near the oil fields are being terrorized by the Muslim north.

    20. Grurray Says:

      ” I fail to see manufacturing hubs of global reach developing in the region and this is really a big problem.”

      Check out Paraguay. Not a whole lot of resource exports. They import oil, which has been a boon lately for their manufacturing, especially textiles. There are still lot of questions about the rule of law, but they are still doing relatively well compared to their neighbors. There’s talk now of poaching Chinese production.

    21. Jim Says:

      Mike K. – The idea of abundant natural resources being a “curse” is preposterous. The problem with places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia is that they have populations too low in IQ to sustain first world economies. Japan has a first world economy despite having little in the way of natural resources. The average IQ of the Japanese population is about 107. This is far more important than possession of abundant natural resources.

      The Middle East has huge quantities of petroleum but Middle Eastern populations tend to have average IQ’s in the upper eighties. Their dysfunctionality stems from the genetic nature of their people.

    22. Grurray Says:

      Chile does well for a resource exporting economy. They prove Latinos can thrive if they adopt sound free market principles. Their geographic isolation rather than any racial component has been the biggest factor. It helped buffer them from the neo-Marxist anti-colonial trap some of those other countries fell into.

    23. Mike K Says:

      “Japan has a first world economy despite having little in the way of natural resources.”

      Has it occurred to you that you are confirming my point?

      IQ is certainly a variable but I wonder where you get your info on Arabia ?

      Britain also has little in natural resources, or did before North Sea Oil.

      It’s just odd that you keep trying to make an argument but use contrary data.

    24. Mike K Says:

      “Their geographic isolation rather than any racial component has been the biggest factor.”

      Yes and Pinochet was the one who saved them as they were slipping into Marxism.

    25. TangoMan Says:

      I agree with Death6, except I think culture may be the single greatest differentiator of successful societies versus failed ones. Culture incorporating not only social and political systems, but also including personal values and behaviors.

      Change the people, change the nation, change the culture. We see this with internal migration too – CO used to be rock-ribbed conservative and then a bunch of liberals from CA came along and like the society and made their nests there but decided that the culture could use some improvements, so they continued to vote for the Democrats, the same ones who “improved” CA, and presto-chango, CO becomes purple.

    26. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Sky high crime and murder rates. Definitely not lower. Tripling, quadrupling or more of murder rate in 17 years of Chavismo. Hard to say today what the murder rate is today, as govt stopped releasing figures years ago.

      Deterioration in infrastructure. Unchanged. While Chavez under-invested in infrastructure when the price of oil was high, now there is no money for it.

      Gee, reminds me of the situation in American cities. Also in California. What do all of them have in common?

    27. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Liberals are locusts. They survive off that produced by others until the ecosystem collapses. Then they move on to another, healthier system, and the process begins again.

    28. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

      PVDSA did have a good reputation (their Gulfstreams were often parked at the Dover Delaware Airport) but the oil was heavy, viscous stuff and not easy to extract or process. They needed high prices to be competitive. The oligarchic Venezuelan society like many latin american countries paved the way for Chavez. If you worked for companies like PVDSA you had your own schools, hospitals and other services. These were much higher quality and class than available to the public. This fed fuel to the belief that they were stealing from the masses. Of course Chavez and company had no idea how to run a complex company. I remember there was a Mexican graduate student who got a job with Chavez to maximize oil income. His theory was to just defer all maintenance and investment in the oil patch as they could be replaced when failed while the money saved could be dispersed by the State to the adoring masses.

    29. Mike K Says:

      “His theory was to just defer all maintenance and investment in the oil patch as they could be replaced when failed while the money saved could be dispersed by the State to the adoring masses.”

      His name wasn’t Jerry Brown, was it ?

      California infrastructure is a mess. Los Angeles has about 100 water and sewer pipelines a year that blow up.

    30. Sgt. Mom Says:

      “His theory was to just defer all maintenance and investment in the oil patch as they could be replaced when failed while the money saved could be dispersed by the State to the adoring masses.”

      And when the money ran out? Well, then – exactly what happened, just as Margaret Thatcher predicted. The stash was spent on purchasing the loyalty of the plebs, and now the stash is gone. A busted oil patch/infrastructure and no means of being able to repair either. Hope your graduate student friend managed to get outta Dodge, Dirtyjobsguy, before the payment became due. Or – maybe, since I am a grim and Calvinistic Jacksonian who believes that justice will be served, in this world or the next – he is receiving his just due, even now.

    31. Jim Says:

      Mike K. – Abundant natural resources aren’t a curse for the US, Canada or Norway. It’s good to have natural resources. Countries like Brazil, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia are better off than they would be without their natural resources. Their natural resources are a blessing for them not a curse. Japan would do even better if they had more natural resources.

      The problems of Brazil, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are despite not because of their natural resources. The whole idea of a “curse of natural resources” is idiotic. The problems of Brazil, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia reflect the nature of their people. Japan’s success (and failures as in WWII) reflect the nature of the Japanese people.

      If countries like Brazil, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia did not have abundant natural resources they would be even worst off. There is no such thing as a “curse of natural resources”.

    32. Jose Angel Says:

      It is definitely cultural. And I would not call “socialism” to what has happened in Venezuela, but instead a curious cocktail of messianic populism and irrational anti-americanism. Hugo Chavez and Maduro are complete ignorants of socialism, which of course never works, but they are what many of us call “Perfect Latin American Idiots”. Chavez himself once handed a book to Obama entitled “The open veins of Latin America”, by Uruguayan author-poet Eduardo Galdeano, which fundamentally blames just about everything the region suffers on the USA and Western Europe. Galeano has recently distanced himself from the book recognising that he “had lacked the necessary development to write a book on political economy at that stage”, but the book has really damaged the minds of millions in Latinamerica who still believe all the silly anti-american things Galeano painted in that book and millions who still love to see themselves as eternal victims of US imperialism and of the West in general. If hyperinflation hits the streets of Caracas or Sao Paulo, it is Uncle Sam´s latest conspiracy to keep the region underdeveloped and poor, if Dilma Rousseff is impeached, by a constitutionally elected congress, it is yet another coup d’etat perversely executed from Washington, if there´s an earthquake somewhere, it´s probably because the Pentagon conducted some secret nuclear tests nearby. Hugo Chavez was also brainwashed and adored too, by many academic, writers, poets and intellectuals much fond of Chomsky and others who spouse a similar anti-US narrative. They organised all sorts of anti-globalisation and anti-US conventions and events throughout the region, in Caracas they even set shop with permanent “alternative journalism” training, free lunch, expenses included, for many Latin American journalists and activists wannabies.
      Their rationale when dictating both foreign and domestic policy went something like “if we are doing something the IMF, World Bank, the markets and the international investor community (Wall Street = USA empire) do not approve of, then we must be doing something right and we will eventually become a prosperous nation with equality and happiness for everyone”. Of course having lots and lots of oil reserves helped maintained the illusion of prosperity and regional power. We can all see how their anti-americanism has resulted in incredibly stupid economic policies.

      Alvaro Vargas Llosa and Luis Alberto Montaner wrote a great book explaining this typical Latinamerican victimisation culture: Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot (https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Perfect-Latin-American-Idiot-ebook/dp/B004C43Y6C). If you´re interested in learning more about what´s been happening to the region, this is a great book to start with.

    33. Anonymous Says:

      Gurray
      Chile does well for a resource exporting economy. They prove Latinos can thrive if they adopt sound free market principles. Their geographic isolation rather than any racial component has been the biggest factor. It helped buffer them from the neo-Marxist anti-colonial trap some of those other countries fell into.

      It wasn’t Chile’s isolation, but rather the 3 years of Allende that did it. Three weeks before the coup, Chile’s Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution which is sometimes called the Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy. An excerpt follows.

      “That it is a fact that the current government of the Republic, from the beginning, has sought to conquer absolute power… fulfilling the goal of establishing a totalitarian system.”
      “… the Armed and Police Forces….must be directed toward the full restoration of constitutional rule and of the rule of the laws of democratic coexistence…”

      Allende correctly stated that the resolution promoted a coup. The resolution passed by an 81-47 vote, a strong 63% majority, which indicates that Pinochet took office with strong civilian support.

      Patricio Aylwin, who was the first elected President after Pinochet, was the principal author of the resolution. Aylwin later led the successful campaign No vote in the 1988 referendum which meant that instead of continuing in office for 8 more years, Pinochet had to call elections.

      Even though a center-left coalition governed Chile for 20 years after Pinochet stepped down, it did not reintroduce Allende’s economic policies, but followed those of Pinochet. Allende’s economic policies, such as mass nationalizations by decree, were shown to be an economic disaster which very few wanted to repeat.
      Never again, was the refrain.

    34. Gringo Says:

      That would be me

    35. Mike K Says:

      Thanks, Jose. Right now, I’m working on the Indo-Europeans and the evolution of lactose tolerance.

    36. Jim Says:

      To Jose Angel – Culture is an epiphenomenon. What is important are polynucelotides.

    37. Jim Says:

      To Mike K. – You might want to contact Greg Cochrane re the Indo-European expansion and it’s possible relation to lactose tolerance.

    38. Mike K Says:

      Jim, I’ve read “The 10,000 Year Explosion.” and am now going on to their references. Interestingly enough, their book agrees with almost all of what I wrote in the first chapter of my medical history book, A Brief History of Disease, Science and Medicine, which I wrote in 1998. That was well before the combination of genetics and archeology began to explain a lot of this.

      I didn’t get into the Cro-Magnon/Neanderthal issue but wrote about the origin of agriculture and its effect on infectious disease. I read their book to see how wrong I was and was very pleased to see that most of what I thought 20 years ago was close to the truth. For example, there was just beginning to be the ability to extract DNA from ancient skeletons with PCR technology. Ancient plagues can now be explained. or at least most of them.

    39. Grurray Says:

      “Perfect Latin American Idiots”

      That’s a good one. Here’s another in Bolivia, Evo Morales with his hammer and sickle crucifix.

      “Culture is an epiphenomenon. What is important are polynucelotides.”

      Peru was led by a Japanese Alberto Fujimori for years. He modernized their economy and defeated the communist insurgents that terrorized the country.
      They are now set to elect his daughter for president in a couple weeks.

      I see a lot of Latinos and Indians in all these countries. The genetic makeup isn’t so different between the entrepreneur middle class in Chile and the toilet paper rioters in Venezuela. The one thing that seems to determine whether they will succeed or not is which course the strong authoritarian leadership decides to take.

    40. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      If hyperinflation hits the streets of Caracas or Sao Paulo, it is Uncle Sam´s latest conspiracy to keep the region underdeveloped and poor, if Dilma Rousseff is impeached, by a constitutionally elected congress, it is yet another coup d’etat perversely executed from Washington, if there´s an earthquake somewhere, it´s probably because the Pentagon conducted some secret nuclear tests nearby.

      The source of most of that is communist and Russian anti-American propaganda and disinformation. It doesn’t just appear, it’s an information poison that is deliberately designed and injected into the veins of the ignorant to make them amenable to authoritarian control. People like PenGun and his Russian friends are the disseminators. Destroying lives and nations one lie at a time.

    41. Mike K Says:

      Grurray, Peru rewarded Fujimori by convicting him of four sets of “crimes” and sentencing him to prison.

      He made the mistake of visiting Chile where he was arrested and extradited. The left has been trying to do this to Bush and Rumsfeld, among others, for years.

    42. Grurray Says:

      Mike, it’s funny how they never seem to go after Left Wing dictators. Ortega in Nicaragua killed thousands of innocent people, but he’s still president. Same for the Castros in Cuban, who enjoy hanging out at baseball games with Obama instead of hanging for their crimes.

    43. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Leftists LOVE dictators. Most of them are incapable of thinking for themselves or behaving in a sane, non-violent way without a strong father figure to tell them what to do, keep them on short leash, and provide them with dinner.

    44. newrouter Says:

      >The key question is not which federal programs should we expand, contract, or reform, but under what social framework—inevitably different from the one in place in 1950—will America thrive? Neither Left nor Right has answered this question. [Yuval]Levin seeks to offer a plausible vision of an American future that sounds different from LBJ-era progressivism or Reaganite smaller government. Paraphrasing James Madison, he argues that “we must seek diffusing, individualist remedies for the diseases most incident to a diffuse, individualist society.” He calls his own vision “subsidiarity,” which he defines as “the entrusting of power and authority to the lowest and least centralized institutions capable of using them well.”

      Subsidiarity demands a reinvigorated role for what Levin, following figures like Peter Berger and Richard John Neuhas before him, calls the “mediating institutions” of society—family, work, community, religion—that operate in the middle ground between individuals and their government. These institutions have, he says, been “hollowed out” by the complementary ascent of centralized government and radical individualism. Forcing interaction “face to face” or “living more of our lives at eye level with one another,” as he puts it, “can help build stronger habits of engagement and participation at the local level, where, too often, meeting spaces now stand empty, because what happens there is not allowed to matter.” This is a federalism of sheer necessity: localized problem-solving is uniquely responsive to the challenges of fracture.<

      http://www.city-journal.org/html/no-more-nostalgia-14451.html

    45. Jose Angel Says:

      Grurray, the genetic make up in Venezuela is european and african mostly in the majority of urban areas and in most parts of the country, same as in Colombia, Brasil and other countries like Ecuador (not sure), the indigenous populations who survived the illnesses, the killings and conquest wars were eventually overtaken by slaves brought from Africa, their descendants make up some 30% or so of the population in Venezuela, in Brazil it´s around 50%. Mexico and Peru differ in that their indigenous populations survived the conquests mixing up with spaniards and other europeans, with very little percentages of africans arriving to those nations, Peru had some migration from Japan. Argentina, Uruguay and Chile were recipients of european migrations mostly. Chile also has a large mestizo population too.

    46. Jim Says:

      To Jose Angel – The Venezuelan population is genetically about 60% European, 25% Amerindian, 15% African. Mexican mestizos vary from about 70% Amerindian in Southern Mexicc to about 40% in Northern Mexico. Peru is about 80-20% Amerindian-European. Chile is about 65-35% European-Amerindian.

    47. Will Says:

      Saw a video over at Fausta’s place. Quite a few white hispanics “Feelin’ The Bern” in Venezuela, as well as the other above mentioned groups. Some stern-faced kid was going on about how it was all caused by “capitalism”. He had a baseball cap with a red star on it. Maybe he likes the Heineken logo…Amazing how far that place has fallen. What a mess. I’m guessing we’ll be hearing noise about “economic refugees” real soon.

    48. styrgwillidar Says:

      What happened to Venezuela

      Socialism.

    49. Trent Telenko Says:

      Insta-lanch in progress!

    50. Koblog Says:

      I once read that the secret to national — or individual, for that matter — economic success is adherence to contract law.

      Good contracts that are honored by both sides, whether written or a handshake, allow commerce to happen.

      Chavez and all other socialist thieves simple take over and break all contracts, then steal as much money from the treasury and via taxes as they can.

      This theft by government crooks or by marauding bands of crooks like narco-gangs or pillaging military crooks all combine to destroy any productivity, and a death spiral often results.

      Nobody will export anything to you because you won’t pay them. Nobody will work inside the country because they won’t get paid, or are paid in worthless inflated currency. Nobody can operate a business because they cannot get product and if they do, the government crooks steal any profit or seek to control prices.

      Chavez decreed that TVs were too expensive and told the electronics stores what price to sell TVs for. The shelves cleared, never to be refilled. Now the electronics stores are closed.

      If deals are honored, prosperity ensues. If deals are broken, poverty ensues.

    51. Gringo Says:

      Koblog
      I once read that the secret to national — or individual, for that matter — economic success is adherence to contract law.Good contracts that are honored by both sides, whether written or a handshake, allow commerce to happen.Chavez and all other socialist thieves simple take over and break all contracts, then steal as much money from the treasury and via taxes as they can.

      You make a good point. Unfortunately, Chavez’s breaking a contract is not so exceptional in business dealings in Latin America. The “vivo [lively one],” one who gets what he wants by flim-flam or chicanery, is a cultural hero in Venezuela and many other countries in Latin America. When I worked in Argentina, my company had an Argentine partner, who viewed our contract as a piece of paper to be followed only when convenient. When I pointed this out to someone who had worked for the World Bank in Latin America for 15 years, he replied that was the Spanish way of doing things.
      Think of the old saying from colonial days about how officials in the Spanish colonies in Latin America would deal with an edict from Spain: Obodezco pero no cumplo. [I obey but don’t comply.] This also shows one reason for not following contracts: an overbearing government means that the rules change constantly.

    52. Rich Rostrom Says:

      Fujimori played fast and loose with public money; but mainly, he went over the top in suppressing Shining Path. People got killed, not all of them guerrillas. “Kill them all; God will know his own” is not a moral policy.

    53. Mike K Says:

      Contract law and patent law are two factors quoted by Joel Mokyr in his book, “The Lever of Riches” which is an economic history of the ancient world. He explains the failure of Roman technology to take off as an Industrial Revolution a thousand years earlier as a failure of law, not technology. There was a working steam engine in 400 AD.

    54. Gringo Says:

      Rich Rostrom
      Fujimori played fast and loose with public money; but mainly, he went over the top in suppressing Shining Path. People got killed, not all of them guerrillas. “Kill them all; God will know his own” is not a moral policy.
      From Peru Support Group: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Booklet.

      The worst period of killing was in 1983 and 1984, during the Belaunde government (1980-85).
      Following something of a lull in 1985 and 1986, the numbers increased again in the period 1987-90. During the 1990s, and especially after the capture of Abimael Guzman in 1992, the death toll tailed off notably

      But neither Presidents Belaunde nor Garcia have been prosecuted. Page 4 has a graphs of killings by year. The capture of Abimael Guzman, a.k.a. Comandante Gonzalo,which pretty much ended the civil war, was the achievement of the Fujimori administration.

    55. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Gringo, it’s always different when they do it. In other words, it’s a cover story that gives them an opportunity to persecute and capitalize on their political opposition. Power and money, as always.