Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Slavery does not help the poor

A socialist economy, such as that which Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is imposing on his country--and is attempting to impose on the rest of South and Central America--does not represent "freedom for the masses." Such an economy, if we are to use Cuba as a model, creates a form of slavery that, historically speaking, has never done anything to help the plight of the poor.
In nationalizing the economy, Chavez is giving himself the authority to determine the lot of every individual in Venezuela. Food, housing, medicine, education, income, and property are all controlled by Chavez. If Chavez, as he has said himself, is modeling his country after Castro's Cuba, he needs the absolute control of Venezuela and its populace to be in his hands. The people of Venezuela must become dependant on Chavez for their needs.
Certainly, Chavez has helped his country in some ways--building schools, hospitals and housing with government money. But what impetus is there to ensure that the education and medical aid meet the needs of the people? Technology will suffer. The schools will only teach what is pertinent to Chavez's idea of Socialism. The students will be indoctrinated to the will of the State. Travel restrictions will be placed on those in the medical profession, as they are in Cuba, so that the medical professionals don't leave the country. This also means that these doctors and medical scientists will be unable to keep up on new medical advances and techniques, and the health of the country will stagnate and decline.
Using his money to build houses for the poor is a way of showing the people that they need to look to El Jefe for their needs, for there is no other way they would get a house. Because Chavez has all the money, he decides who gets housing and how they get the housing. As the Benifacter of the People, he has the power to ruin those who oppose him. while demanding loyalty from those he benifits. When there are no jobs, there is the citizens' militia. We have seen video of this militia parading down the street, cradling imaginary guns. Of course, Chavez won't arm the militia, the members of which get paid nine dollars a week. An armed militia could be instrumental in the overthrow of a government, something no dictator would want while he's in the process of consolidating power.
The Venezualen economy has already declined 38% over the past two years. In a Socialist economy, there is no incentive for investment, as there is no profit to be found. There are no new jobs created in this way, and every person in Venezuela who has a job has little hope of finding a better job. Worse yet, there is no way to help the economy grow. Within the next five to fifteen years, new technology, instability in the Middle East, and environmental conservation will diminish the need for oil, which is the main source of revenue for Venezuela. So Hugo Chavez will have to go elsewhere for revenue, outside of Venezuelan territory. He has already begun the process, using his oil revenue to support Socialist and sympathetic candidates in other countries, bribing the governments of other countries to help spread his influence, and hiring demonstrators for pay to protest against those governments he feels are against him.
He has gone so far as to direct his oil company, Citgo, to implement a program to give a large heating oil discount to those in selected American cities who can't afford the regular rates. Chavez knows enough about capitalism to know the value of good public relations. He knows that by making Citgo appear altruistic, he can circumvent a large scale boycott. Notice that the U.S. has not slapped sanctions or tariffs against Venezuelan oil, or Citgo, nor has Venezuela closed its five refineries in the United States or shut off its oil supply to the U.S. Chavez wants the revenue from our country, and our country wants the oil from Chavez.
The latter is important in the need for a dictator to create an external enemy (Natan Sharansky, The Case For Democracy). An external enemy, real or imagined infuses nationalism into the general population. The tyrant becomes the sole protector, and the more evil the protector can make the enemy seem to the people, the more job security the dictator has. It should be noted that in the war of words between the U.S. and Venezuela, the only shots fired have been from Venezuela. All the name-calling has come from Chavez. It won't matter who the next President of the United States is, he will continue his anti-U.S. rhetoric no matter if that President's Rodham-Clinton, Obama, Giulianni, or McCain. He has to, because he needs an enemy to help him solidify his position.
Why, then should we even be concerned about the direction Chavez is taking? There is little short term concern, but in the long run, the fear society Chavez is building will create insurrection, in Venezuela, and in other South American countries. Chavez and his allies will blame the instability on the U.S.A., while other countries will ask whoever the next U.S. President is for aid in quelling the rebellion, which, most likely, will be given in one form or another, military or not. This in turn will be used by Chavez to further incite terrorists and revolutionaries against the U.S. It is inevitable, and centuries of human experience and historical fact will support this prediction.