miércoles, 23 de enero de 2013

Barrera y Marcano en el NYT, extraordinarios, con una excepción


 “The missing President”, article by Alberto Barrera and Cristina Marcano is an extraordinary account of Venezuela’s current tragedy, see it in yesterday’s New York Times,  link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/opinion/chavez-the-missing-president.html?_r=0.

However, it includes an assertion that I have seen repeated many times, even by Chavez’s harshest critics. They say: “Venezuelans today are less poor than they once were. But they are also far more dependent on the state, and more susceptible to a propaganda machine that attributes this “miracle” to Mr. Chávez. Over the past decade, his government has invested around $400 billion in social spending, an oil-infused luxury that few countries in the region have ever been able to indulge in”. The authors perpetuate the myth that Chavez has decreased poverty in Venezuela by “investing” about $400 billion in the social sector.

What I frequently see in the best of analyses is failure to see the difference between the temporary condition of having money in the pocket and a true, permanent scape from poverty. More spending money does not necessarily mean less poverty but, at best, a temporary alleviation of poverty. A structural cure for poverty simply has not existed during Chavez’s watch. Only citizens who are self-reliant can escape poverty. And this requires empowerment, not handouts. $400 billion can go a long way to make the poor feel better for a while but, when the handouts cease, as they inevitably will cease, the poor will revert, and in worse shape than before, to their previous condition.