miércoles, 7 de julio de 2010

Is Cavez Really That Dumb?

I've been living in Venezuela for all of the Chavez years and then some and I have to say its been both interesting and also very sad.

Venezuela enjoyed 40 years of democracy before Chavez; but lets be honest it wasn't exactly a shining example of democracy. It was a democracy where the haves continually got more and the have nots stayed in their place. Now what the haves didn't reckoned with; but Chavez did, is the fact that the have nots represent some 80% of the population and although the majority them didn't vote ( they didn't believe that they could make a difference ) and Chavez had plans to change that little fact. So along comes Chavez in 1988 fresh out of prison after having been pardoned by the previous, Caldera, for leading an attempted military coup against the then president Perez, and what does he do? well what he doesn't do is waste one minute campaigning to the economic power base of the country, the haves, the oligarchs as he called them, but instead spends all of his time talking to the poor majority, the have nots, and he tells them its time for a change, its time that Venezuela had a government that governed for the majority, the have nots, and not for the minority, the haves, the rich, the oligarchs. I'm here to tell you it was an easy sell and the rest is history. I don't have the energy to explain all that this man has done to destroy the economic base, the institutions, and freedom of expression and dissent.

In the approximately 12 years that Chavez has been in office, he hasn't actually done anything to improve the quality of live for the poor; the have nots still have nothing. However, he has been successful for the most part of convincing the have nots that he and his revolutionary government have done much for them; he is a consummate con artist and that's a fact. Over the years Chavez has said and done some pretty dumb things and I mean seriously dumb, far too many to go into here; but I want to share with you his latest plan, its a real cake taker if there's ever been one.

Two days ago Chavez announced a plan to combat capitalism from the bottom; his words, not mine. His plan is that the have nots should use "trueque" between themselves and in certain food markets owned by the state. What's trueque? Trueque is barter. Believe me, he is serious.Barter is how humans exchanged what they had for what they needed back before money. Money was not invented by capitalism; it was invent by humans to make commerce among themselves easier, to make their lives easier.Money was invented before Moses was born. Is tueque how Chavez sees Venezuela progressing? Is this Chavez's vision of "socialismo siglo veintiuno" ( socialism for the twenty first century? Try to picture this. Your a poor Venezuelen living in the country side where you raise a little bit of corn. One day your wife says that she wants to cook some beef stew for the family that afternoon but she doesn't have any meat. So dutiful husband that you are, you throw 30 ponds of corn in a sack and hump it to various neighbors or into the village market looking for some who has meet and is willing to trade some for some corn. And when you finally find someone willing to trade with you have fight it out over how many pounds of corn equate to a pound of meet. Ya, this is progress. NOT!!! So is Chavez really that dumb or is this just one more con in along line of cons. Stay tuned.

martes, 6 de julio de 2010

U. S. Drug Policy _ What's It Worth

All of my adult life I've considered myself a conservative. Those who know me well might say that is an understatement. I've always been a conservative when it came to economic policy and on politics in general. When it comes to social issues I've always been a conservative except on the abortion issue, I support women's right to choose. I was a hawk during the Vietnam war, the Gulf war and the war in Afghanistan. I'm not so sure about the war in Iraq.On the issue of drugs I've always supported the "war on drugs". The number of lives ruined and lost due to drug use is sickening to say the least.

However, on the drug issue, I've changed my mind 180 degrees. After all the years and the billions of dollars spent, I think we have to admit that the war on drugs has been a complete and utter failure. Not just in the United States but in the world. I suppose its understandable. There is just too much easy money in drug trafficking. Arrest a ton of small time dealers and an occasional king pin and the vacancies are filled immediately if not sooner.

Ladies and gentlemen its more than time to make a change in our approach to the issue of drugs; I say a drastic change is in order! I, who has derided the liberal drug policies of Holland and Portugal, am now saying that these countries have not gone far enough. I'm saying it's time to completely legalize all drugs and control the sale of them just like we do with alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. This is not a new idea. A number of people have been advocating this idea for years and I have always scorned them. Well, now I'm one of them.

Having lived in Venezuela for the last seventeen years and reading and listening to Spanish language news from not only Venezuela but also Mexico, El Salvador. Bolivia, Colombia and more, has given me a different perspective on this issue of drugs. These countries are the principle sources of the drugs that enter the United States. it is staggering the number of lives ruined or lost on a daily basis in these countries due to drug trafficking. The cartels and mafias are always fighting for control of this lucrative business. They are killing each other and anybody else that happens to be in the way. With their never ending supply of U. S. dollars, these mafia are able to corrupt government officials as well as police and military officials and those that they can't corrupt they kill. In Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia drug mafias have taken control of entire cities. There is one city of five hundred thousand in Mexico, not far from Loredo, Texas, where the towns people have set-up a Twitter network to warn each other of the mafias movements so that people can hopefully stay out of harms way. These people live in constant fear for lives. In Colombia there is a gorilla army known as the FARC which, in English, stands for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The FARC was formed over fifty years ago by left wing extremist to over throw the elected government for their own political ends. They eventually got into drug trafficking to finance their cause. But over time they became just one more drug cartel. And so in Colombia the kidnappings, the bombings and the murder just keeps happening.

America is, by far ,the biggest market for drugs in the world. Therefore, it is the American drug consumer that is primarily responsible for financing the drug related terror that reigns in these drug producing countries.Because it is being financed by Americans, it is , in my opinion, Americas responsibility to do something about it and clearly the so called war on drugs is not the answer. The war on drugs has not worked, is not working and shows no signs that it will ever work. By making drugs legal and relatively cheap, the drug trafficking profits will dry up and the cartels and mafias will go the way of the buggy whip.

The billions of dollars that the United States is spending on its war on drugs could be spent on social programs to help get people off drugs and on programs to help keep children from getting started on drugs. Think of all the violent deaths that could be prevented; not only in the Untied States but also in all of the drug producing countries by putting the drug traffickers out of business. As for the argument that drug use will increase if they are legalized, I'm not buying it; the preponderance of evidence is tha this has not happened in Holland and Portugal.

I rest my case.

U.S. Drug Policy _ What's It Worth?