Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chavismo and DEM meeting point?

Lately some conservative readers have been trying to give me a hard time.  As a return favor I will give them one point, well, sort off.  Daniel Henninger of the WSJ does not like democrats and describes today how ignorant of business practices the Democratic party has become.  His analysis is a little too black and white for my taste, the guy letting his best judgement clouded by his personal dislike of Unions as the source of all evil, too easily forgetting the historical reasons for unions even if today too many of them look like mafia concerns.  Not to mention that some union workers vote GOP while some business owners vote DEM.....

Before I digress further the point of this post is that I wonder what Henninger would write if he were familiar with the truly abysmal ignorance of business that chavismo displays, and its concept of trade unions which would make Henninger's view actually moderate.  For chavismo unions are not even a source of financing, they are the means to control workers soviet style.  That is, viewed from here, I would be delighted if PSUV candidates last September had felt like they needed to court trade unions to gain votes.  In today Venezuela the Unions opposing Chavez are too weak to be of significant help for the opposition electoral efforts.  But the Chavez supporting Unions, if we can call them unions at this point, are equally useless in politics because they are even failing at keeping the lid on workers demand.  Until recently they still had some successes in bringing home some bacon but it seems that workers now know better, that the chavista bosses are not anymore into the business of making workers life better.

And thus I disagree with Henninger in that well functioning Unions are a force for long term stability even if in Venezuela they are now useless, even if in the US they play politics and even if like in France they have become hysterical.  The point here is not pretending that DEM only care about Union checks for their campaign, I think that they got the pint last week.  the point maybe is to redefine what role have trade Unions have in a world dominated by Twitter.  Well, I exaggerate for effect but you got my point: a majority obsessed with technology and speed is less likely to take unions seriously and even in the US the DEMs will find their alleged marriage to trade unions less and less productive.

However there is a point that I will agree with Henninger: when the ruling party loses any notion of what private business is all about then things start going badly for all, including that ruling party.  At least the DEMs at some point did know what it meant to own a small business, and still many do, but the problem with chavismo is that not a single one of its officials had ever had the remotest idea of what it takes to run a small business, amen of a big one.

There is an example I have often used.  There has been not a single cabinet minister in Chavez administration in years that has any idea of what "meeting payroll" means.  All have been bureaucrats at best and if one day they held some position of responsibility they could always say to their staff that their paycheck is late because the finance ministry did not send the money.  Go and cry there if you must but there is nothing I can do for you.

I think this attitude of chavista ministers explain more than anything else so many of the idiocies we see, from Chavez saying that doctors should work for free to ministers refusing to receive the people they should be accountable too. The large majority of people that started a business have had to go through, at some point, probably in the first months of their business life, and no matter how big their business became,  the wrenching experience of wondering how they will meet payroll, having to decide to sacrifice their own paycheck that month if necessary so that the cleaning lady will get hers.  Sounds incredible for silly lefties fed on cliches but it is the reasons why serious business progress because such an experience toughens you, makes you responsible, accountable, something rarely seen in bureaucrats writing regulation policies.  And of course something NEVER seen in chavistas.


  1. Great post.
    However, your defense of unions in the US is based on (1)Their historical goodness, which no one disputes, but 50 years ago is not relevant now. Now is relevant to now. (2) The fact that some union members vote GOP. True, but irrelevant. The point about unions is that they use the member's dues to be the BIGGEST CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS to the dem party. So the GOP union members don't matter. The decision makers are giving millions to dems, and have become political machines.

    So your defense of them in the US is lacking. Both of your bases are correct and accurate. But they are irrelevant to your conclusion. Historically they were not what they are now. And the union bosses are what makes them dangerous, not the union members.

    Just 2 cents for the sake of debate and discourse with one of the greatest minds of the blogoshpere.

  2. Daniel,
    Thank you for the link to the WSJ editorial. As you say, it is too black and white. But to Henninger’s credit, he does not mention the DEMs’ handling of the oil spill in the Gulf, making it a little less black than it would have been. To anyone who knows a little about the oil business, it was clear that the accident presented the oil community with an unprecedented challenge, and that it was obvious that the company best qualified to deal with it was BP itself because of its advanced technology. What did the DEMs do? Go against BP as a company, get its CEO fired, inflict financial punishment, etc, BEFORE the oil spill was brought under control. It was a case of swearing at the crocodile before reaching the shore. At the time I thought how proud Chavez must have felt of the US president and his Democrat senators. Destroy BP (never mind that it is a major employer in the US: who needs to reduce unemployment?). This was anti-business populism. At least the republicans understood the oil business.

  3. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Union Membership is now predominately public employees in the U.S as of 2009.
    Gone are the days when being a Union member meant working on a assembly line.
    This is one of the true sources of the financial crisis of the Blue states that now have unfunded pension liabilities that were handed out over the years.
    I don't think you can even comment without being incredulous that Hugo seems hellbent of forcing your country down a failed economic model that even its last surviving proponents in Cuba now declare obsolete.

  4. KS

    thanks for the compliment but I think that you read things that were not in the post. I really do not think I defended trade Unions in the Us, and certainly not the current ones. I do defend the concept of Trade Unions as a necessary factor to correct economic excesses but my view today is that Trade unions need a serious aggiornamento everywhere.

  5. I don't necessarily disagree with some of Henninger's criticism of unions, but Republicans are close to becoming "Know Nothings" on the environment.

    It began in early 2009 with the cap-and-trade climate bill. The country was going to have to chow down its provisions no matter how many jobs got lost in Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and other coal-using states. The bill portended so much damage to businesses in these states that some of the Senate's most liberal members had to beg off supporting it.

    The Republicans want to deny climate change because it my adversely affect employment in the fossil fuel industries. Gosh, why don't we let factories dump chemicals into rivers to bring back leaded gasoline, look how many jobs that might create!

    The Republicans' recklessness on environment is evidence of enough that they are unfit to govern.

  6. Engineer4:03 PM

    Gosh, why don't we let factories dump chemicals into rivers to bring back leaded gasoline, look how many jobs that might create!

    The Republicans' recklessness on environment is evidence of enough that they are unfit to govern.

    The Republicans' recklessness on environment is manifestly shown by Richard Nixon establishing the EPA.

    What a maroon.

    Anyone who believes that AGW is "settled science" ignores such issues as fudged data. See physicist Harold Lewis's recent resignations from the American Physical Society:'Global warming is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life.' The science isn't "settled" but quite subject to debate.

  7. Yes, Tricky Dick did sign some experimental laws, as have other Republicans but that was way before the tea party head-in-the-sand types came along. If you really know American politics, you'd know the Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of 1970.

    That some people made exaggerated claims in no way proves there is no global warming. People that make such an argument are just grasping a straws. Much of the rest of the world has come around, neanderthals in the US are the big hold outs.

  8. Engineer9:31 PM

    Anyone who believes that AGW is "settled science" ignores such issues as fudged data.

    That some people made exaggerated claims in no way proves there is no global warming.
    Brilliant response to the fudged data issue. Shows scientific acumen and extensive experience with data analysis. GIGO.

    Much of the rest of the world has come around, neanderthals in the US are the big hold outs.
    Glad to know that Harold Lewis, a physicist of some renown, is a neanderthal.
    You would make a good NSF director in certain administrations.
    Have a good life. Adiós.

  9. engineer

    do you actually think that releasing in over two centuries what nature needed millions of years to bury is not going to have any effect on climate, then we have a problem.

    we can argue as you please on the extent of climate change but we cannot deny it anymore.

  10. Brilliant response to the fudged data issue. Shows scientific acumen and extensive experience with data analysis.

    Actually, your response indicates you dodged the issue completely. When you can't come up with an intelligent response, you simply resort to ad hominem.

  11. Anonymous9:28 AM

    we've been here before with the environmental wackos. a few decades ago they destroyed america's ability to build nuclear power plants. now they're just going after a different industry.

    what did america gain from listening to them in the 70's? thousands of lost jobs? higher dependance on foreign oil? less technological sophistication? fewer industry leading companies? more competition choking regulation? more economic distortions?

    they'll freak out and try to kill a different industry a few decades from now.

    and seriously, "climate change." that's your claim? that the climate is changing? and off that, most incredibly banal and vague of statements you want us to gut our entire economy?

  12. Anonymous5:54 PM


    To be fair, the Exxon Valdez occurred during the Reagan administration, and they were appropriately scorched. I've worked in the industry nearly 30 years, and from all I've read the Maconda incident was clearly avoidable, as were previous disasters within BP. BP deserved to be scorched as well. It is a corporate culture issue, things need to change. BP will survive, and hopefully be smarter for it. I get your point about whether to do it before or after getting control. The government was smart to stand back and let BP handle it, with other industry experts, while taking a public beating.


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