Probably for the same reason the left has all the pretty girls. (No shit, this guy actually says that in here…)
The long world boom, driven by cheap money and resulting in high commodity prices, has had one overwhelming disadvantage: it has empowered a series of economic fruitcakes – national leaders and private sector investors who operate on principles that make no economic sense.
Without Schumpeteran “creative destruction” there is no force separating the sound from the unsound, the valuable from the insane. The long-term destruction of wealth through this process will be far greater than the short-term profits such people think they are creating.
For example, the Center for Economic Policy and Research last week presented the Bolivian Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, Carlos Villegas. Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, is a follower of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, but appears to be considerably less of a thug than Chavez.
He also claims to be the first person of indigenous ancestry elected president of Bolivia, which if true indeed shows that the country has been run in the 180 years since independence largely in the interests of the Hispanic-ancestry governing class. If so, they’ve done a lousy job, as Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America, in spite of having considerable natural resources, which of course is a large part of the problem. As British prime ministers from Sir Robert Walpole to Lord Liverpool could have told you, it’s perfectly possible for an oligarchy to rule in the interests of the country as a whole and enrich everybody, including themselves, by doing so.
Villegas was in town to give a vigorous defense of Bolivia’s nationalization of its oil and gas resources. All 12 of the foreign oil companies involved were happy to continue providing services to Bolivia without ownership of the oil, he claimed, while doubling production within five years would allow the Bolivian government to provide welfare to the poorest in Bolivian society, including those of indigenous origin. Fifty percent of hydrocarbon revenues were to flow to the Bolivian government and the remainder, net of payments to international oil companies for services, would flow to the recently renationalized Bolivian state oil company, YPFB. Bolivia intends to build a 1,500km gas pipeline into Argentina, which rations gas prices at about 50% of market price, in order to avoid the vulgar necessity of piping gas to the much closer Chilean coast, as had been agreed by the previous Bolivian government.
Since I was surrounded by True Believers, some of them distractingly beautiful (why do the left-of-center think tanks have all the pretty girls?), I decided against asking an aggressive question. Instead I merely inquired politely what Bolivia would do if the oil price dropped back to say $40, twice its level as recently as 2002. Villegas replied that I was foolish to believe that the oil price would ever drop back; demand from India and China meant that it might stabilize, but could never significantly retreat.
And that’s just the first third of what this pompous windbag, who styles himself “Martin Hutchinson”, has to say.
I could tell him why all the “pretty girls” (or, in my case, fiercely beautiful women) are shying away from him and his silly rightard ilk, but why bother? He’d never believe me. He’s too busy thinking Chavecito is a thug (he really needs a primer in what true thuggery is) and that world oil prices will someday drop back to $40. (Even if they did, it’s instructive to remember that Chavecito’s economic policies were originally designed to work with an oil price band of just $22-28 US a barrel–his initial proposal for OPEC.) Oh, and that the CIA should have killed the “thug” when it bloody well had the chance:
Hugo Chavez, after all, has been in power for nearly a decade in Venezuela. The previous governments had been so corrupt and so economically unsuccessful (lowering national productivity by more than 25% in the period 1970-1998) that the vast majority of Venezuelan voters knew a change was needed, but in 1998 they chose the wrong one. Chavez was in severe danger of being ousted in 2001-02 and indeed was temporarily removed by a coup (which in the good old pre-Watergate days of the James Jesus Angleton CIA the US would have supported properly).
I put in a link there so you can see just what kind of sexy beasts the “James Jesus Angleton CIA” really were. (And ladies, if that doesn’t make you want to throw ’em down on their backs, mount ’em and hump their devious, paranoiac brains out, maybe this will.)
Well, at least he tacitly admits that the CIA is an assassination squad, and that it was involved in the coup. Many rightards won’t. (Neither will a surprising number of otherwise intelligent people, whom I guess I must call leftards–because they deny it all in the face of overwhelming evidence.)
On the off chance that Mr. Hutchinson is lurking and reading this, I’ll point out a few salient facts that he missed, in the form of Socratic questions:
If Hugo Chavez is a “thug”, why did he not declare martial law after the coup of ’02 was thwarted? Why were the human rights of all the arrested conspirators guaranteed, rather than stripped? Why was Pedro “Two-Day Lou” Carmona only placed under house arrest, rather than summarily executed (along with every last traitor who signed his decree with full knowledge that it was antidemocratic)? Why does this “thug” Chavez keep getting himself re-elected? And why are those who violently overthrew this democratically elected leader for 48 hours NOT called thugs?
Why is Venezuela’s economy booming after nearly ten years of “the wrong man”, and why is a former World Bank economist praising his unorthodox economic policies? Conversely, why was it slumping after twenty-some years of “much-maligned neo-liberalism“, which Hutchinson apparently thinks was the correct way to go?
And why no mention of the real thuggery that neoliberalism unleashed, ten years BEFORE Chavez was elected–the Caracazo?
For that matter–why no mention of the thuggery of Carlos Andres Perez, the author of the Caracazo? And why no mention of the fact that it was his flip-flop to neoliberalism, after getting himself elected on an anti-neoliberal platform, that made him the author of his country’s misfortune?
Martin Hutchinson missed all this and then some. Seems to me that he can’t handle the truth; no wonder he prefers to retreat into dogma. If someone as able and intelligent as Evo’s energy minister can’t set his head straight, no one can.
BTW, if you get to the bottom of his article (please feel free to skip the intervening drivel–I did), you will see that he also wrote a book called Great Conservatives. Please, stop laughing–even if it does sound strangely reminiscent of that other obscurantist classic, Everything Men Know About Women.
Mr. Hutchinson would do well to remember Oscar Wilde’s famous dictum: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” Chavecito and Evo fit in the former category.
Guess who fits in the latter.