Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gas prices in Venezuela: Forero and Duquenal agree!

Juan Forero is a journalist that used to write at the NYT and went on to write at the Washington Post. Somehow his tone has changed some since then and this blogger, a strong critic of Forero textual manipulations has been forced to concede that there was an improvement. But nothing like today where in a nearly flawless article he describes the consequences of cheap gas, in fact gas that is way cheaper than bottled water.

Two paragraphs deserve quoting:
"As an oil country, the state has the responsibility to guarantee energy and preserve the price of gasoline as it is," said Gabriela Ramirez, a pro-Chavez lawmaker in the National Assembly. "You raise the price one bolivar and you affect the economy because the price of bus tickets goes up, everything becomes more expensive."
And later,
One downside to the cheap gas, though, is that it eats up about $1 billion in subsidies and another $5 billion that Venezuela fails to earn by not selling the oil on the world market, where a barrel reached a high of $78 this year. It generates the horrendous traffic jams that mark this city, where 2 million cars snake along at an average speed of 9 mph. It also has made the sale of contraband gasoline to neighboring Colombia a major criminal enterprise.

Thus we can illustrate the irresponsibility of local lawmakers that not only do not detect/understand the real impact of gas prices (if we have already 15% inflation, a rationalization of gas prices would not aggravate much inflation while liberating huge revenue for EVEN MORE SOCIAL PROGRAMS THAT CHAVISTAS LOVE SO MUCH TO WASTE MONEY IN (or was that steal from? Sometimes I get confused...)

No, the cheap gas is becoming a problem for the country and Chavez personally in 1999 has ruled out any price increase in gas. Since then the Venezuelan currency went up from 800 to the USD to 3000. Anyone with half a brain should understand that at the very least gas price should keep up with inflation. Instead Chavez has created the biggest give away program, a Mision Gasolina from hell, which dwarves in perversion anything else he has done. Heck, we are even having problems with gas deliveries, as now it is not infrequent to find a gas station closed for a few hours or even a couple of days "delivery did not arrive yet" they blandly tell you. Perhaps the truck is locked in a monster traffic jam?

Or so this blogger thinks. By the way, this cheap gas policy is turning out to ALSO be an ecological problem: not only we waste, WASTE, a non renewable resource when the rest of the world is trying desperatly to reduce gas consumption, but we are constantly aggravating urban contamination as cars are basically spending half of their running time parked in a traffic jam, even in tiny San Felipe where on occasion I now find 5 minutes traffic gridlock! But the environmental record of Chavez might even be worse than his economic record.

And what about "the flaw" in Forero's article? The "most polls" comment. Well, at least he is willing to concede that polls do not agree.

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