Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday press review: the sweet rewards of sucking up to Chavez

In a felicitous coincidence El Nacional this Sunday published several OpEd and articles that illustrate the advantages of being a Chavez supporter in Venezuela, as well as the moral decrepitude that one surrenders when accepting such favors.

Before I get started with as brief as possible a review, I would like to point out that there is nothing new under the Venezuelan sun, that those associated with power have always benefited from the tendency of the petrostate governments to reward its followers with the easy money that gushes from under our feet. It is just that under Chavez we are struck at the proportion of the consciences bought out and the "desparpajo" (chutzpah?) at which it is undertaken. Let's start by remembering the Tascon List, amply documented on the right side of this blog, in the link section. This Tascon list became a CD, the Maisanta program which was amply used by Chavez supporters to secure the benefits from the state. With this any state employer (business or public administration, same difference) has since 2004 decided who to hire and who to fire, adding to the political apartheid of the Tascon list an economical apartheid.

Now there is a study to show the effects of such discrimination, at tax payer expenses, a burden that is disproportionately shared by those who oppose Chavez, who foot most of the tax bill that is spread to Chavez supporters just because they are supporters, not because they are any more productive or deserving. This study deserved a wide coverage in El Nacional Sunday (by subscription but I lifted the article in Spanish here), adequately titled "there is a price to be paid for belonging to the opposition". Before I get into the subject, let's not be naive: proximity to power has always meant some benefit, even in the fairest European social democracies. It is just that under Chavez a normal granting of a few favors has become a state policy.

The study was done by the a team led by Francisco Rodriguez, a Venezuelan who became a researcher in the US after having tried to work seriously with the "revolution" halcyon days. Now he is busy exposing the truth about what happens in Venezuela, debunking the shoddy work of propagandists such as Weisbrot. You can find a list of his work in his site. It is serious work, and is causing quite some grief among the sycophantic crowd that surrounds Chavez. It is most welcome as a serious work that goes beyond propaganda, the type of work that has been sorely needed as we cannot stay all our lives in the bitching mode only.

In this study, using the Maisanta database to check public records such as register and tax offices, it is not too difficult to follow the economic fortunes of some who have money or stable jobs and see how their career evolved during the past few years. I am not going to go into details because as it turns out Quico beat me shortly in discussing it as yesterday I was too busy to post on this El Nacional articles. However I will below just put up the results as in the graphs from El Nacional because those are what Venezuelans will see and because the Rodriguez paper is in PDF and I have no time to "take" the pictures. Click on pics below to enlarge. The pictures do not need much more comment besides the legends I attached to them. For details refer to the Francisco Rodriguez paper which is in English and from where these graphs come from.

The first one is how public sector and business associated with chavismo (banks? Wilmer Ruperti? the Antonini gang?) wages did better than the traditional private sector business.


The second one confirms that the easiest way to access riches in Venezuela is to be a chavista and apply for a public sector job.

And this last picture is the expected consequence of patronage policies: productivity in the public sector reaches new lows. It is not idle to note that this un-productivity is in large part paid by the taxes exacted from the private sector which is audited much more often than pro Chavez business, who in addition get much better access to loans and CADIVI currency. In other word, the lack of competitiveness of the chavista private sector is subsidized by the state! I stress taxes because they are the bulk of the national budget: a lot of the oil income is discretionary spending of Chavez, including his gifts to foreign countries.

To conclude this post El Nacional carried three other illustrative item which I add below.

There is a great interview of Alexis Alzuru from the UCV. He investigates how corruption affects public policies. He is not afraid to state that the Venezuelan state is deliberately transformed into a mob system to be able to control better the citizens. Of course, nothing that regular readers of this blog did not already know, but it is nice to see it so clearly stated as in this interview. A must read! (check back later for a partial translation, if time allows, meanwhile use Google translating tool which works reasonably well).

The moral consequences for the country are painted by Milagros Socorro who examines the educational objectives of the country and the example set by naming Isaias Rodriguez to the TSJ so that he can escape judicial inquiry for his misdeeds.

And finally there is a lovely piece by Pedro Llorens from which I retain the description of Chavez charlatanism. He looks at the lies of Chavez as to the freedom of the press as Chavez has built a communications empire as none can be seen in the rest of the Americas. The quote I liked:

El gastado y aburrido predicador de las cuatro raíces: fascismo, bolivarianismo, populismo y fidelismo, decidido a no creer nada de lo que se dice o denuncia, alcahuetea la terrofagia de los Chávez en Barinas, hace investigar al diputado regional que los acusa, repone en los puestos de mando a los derrotados del PSUV y libra a Isaías Rodríguez, acusado de manipular el caso Anderson.

I put it in Spanish first because it is so sabroso!
The spent and tiresome preacher of the four roots: fascism, bolivarianism, populism and fidelism, set on not believing anythign that is said or denounced, enabler of the excessive land appetite of the Chavez in Barinas, has the regional representative that accuse them investigated, puts back in charge those who were beaten in the PSUV [internal elections] and saves Isaias Rodriguez, accused of manipulation of the Anderson Case.
There you have in a single paragraph all the moral damage done to the country by Chavez, where his favoritism and his primitivism have led us.


-The end-

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