Latin America

The Return of Chavismo

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After a post-referendum-defeat period of calm, Hugo Chavez is back on the balcony, threatening enemies of Venezuela's Potemkin democracy. (But Mr. Moynihan, you say, Venezuela is a democracy, Chavez is Venezuela's elected leader, and he graciously conceded when smacked down by voters!). AP reports that El Jefe is threatening to nationalize counterrevolutionary farms:

President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to take over farms or milk plants if owners refuse to sell their milk for domestic consumption and instead seek higher profits abroad or from cheese-makers. With the country recently facing milk shortages, Chavez said "it's treason" if farmers deny milk to Venezuelans while selling it across the border in Colombia or for gourmet cheeses. "In that case the farm must be expropriated," Chavez said, adding that the government could also take over milk plants and properties of beef producers.

Incidentally, these ungrateful farmers seek "higher profits" abroad because there are no profits to be had at home, thanks to the Bolivarian system of price controls that, despite impressive economic growth fueled by high oil prices, has left supermarket shelves bare. Chavez also threatened to nationalize those banks "neglecting laws requiring them to set aside nearly a third of all loans for agriculture, mortgages and small businesses at favorable rates":

President Hugo Chavez threatened on Saturday to take control of banks that fail to meet state-imposed loaning requirements designed to benefit Venezuela's farmers.
[…]

Chavez has threatened banks before. He raised the possibility last year of nationalizing commercial banks amid demands they use some of their profits to fund social programs for the poor.

He has not followed through on most of those threats, although Venezuela's central bank, which is controlled by his allies, ordered private banks in 2006 to double bank deposit reserves from 15 to 30 percent in attempt to head off inflation. The Venezuelan leader's warnings come amid fluctuating food shortages and rising inflation, which reached 22.5 percent in 2007—the highest official rate in Latin America.

Full story.

My review of a recent Chavez biography here.

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  1. Oh, no. Here we (hu)go again.

  2. You know when you’re pre-butting a commenter in the lead-in paragaph of your post that you probably owe him a hat tip or a disclaimer or something.

  3. Cue joe in 3…
    2…
    1…

  4. Will somebody please, please translate The Wealth of Nations into Spanish for that dangerously silly man?

  5. It’s joe’s site. We’re just bored here.

  6. This is the sort of idiocy that led to his election loss in December.

    BTW, except for the hrw report, those links are incredibly lame. A five-paragraph Wall Street Journal editorial page unsigned editorial about a statistical analysis of voting patterns, and a convoluted conspiracy theory by a political opponent about “fifth columns in all Latin American countries?” Whatever.

  7. Ah, the sorry sack of shit is back in action. Long live the glorious communist struggle against capitalist oppression! And get those gulags up running!

  8. should have inserted “and” between “up” and “running”.

  9. Pissing off farmers is always such a brilliant political strategy in South America.

  10. I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.

  11. I take no joy in watching the slow motion train wreck that is Venezuela under Chavez. From a glass is half full perspective, maybe other democracies in the developing world can learn from this.

    Venezuelan leader’s warnings come amid fluctuating food shortages and rising inflation, which reached 22.5 percent in 2007 – the highest official rate in Latin America.

    Chavez … also announced that his government approved new legislation establishing a maximum interest rate of 15 percent on agriculture-related loans and extending payment deadlines for such credit from three to 20 years.

    I’m not a banker, but it seems to this uneducated lad that lending money to agriculture related entities would be a certain way to lose money. Maybe a Venezealan government economist could explain where my reasoning fails.

  12. To be fair, he threatens banks constantly. I guess he hasn’t acted (yet) because of mutual backscratching between connected bankers and government officials.

  13. I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.

    Why do you hate America?

  14. I heard today that Chavez’ approval rating is 21%.
    Other products that are scarce: toothpaste, medications, rice, pasta,… thank goodness the toilet paper scarcity has improved.

  15. these ungrateful farmers seek “higher profits” abroad because there are no profits to be had at home, thanks to the Bolivarian system of price controls that, despite impressive economic growth fueled by high oil prices, has left supermarket shelves bare.

    This sounds like a job for Oil-For-Food Man!

  16. “This sounds like a job for Oil-For-Food Man!”

    Well, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) has begun a food program called PDVAL which this week provided milk, chicken and cookin oil at regulated prices. No sugar, rice or beef.
    Buyers could only buy limited amounts and had to wait in line an hour (as compared to a four hour wait at Mercal).

  17. A peoples republic always means the people standing in line for food.

  18. crimethink | January 23, 2008, 4:31pm | #

    I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.

    An illiberal one. Has this been done, or is this all talk?

  19. nice burn, shecky

    Chavez’s demagogy is just as unpalatable as that of U.S. politicians, the only difference is the labels associated with them.

  20. Chavez … also announced that his government approved new legislation establishing a maximum interest rate of 15 percent on agriculture-related loans and extending payment deadlines for such credit from three to 20 years.

    I’m not a banker, but it seems to this uneducated lad that lending money to agriculture related entities would be a certain way to lose money. Maybe a Venezealan government economist could explain where my reasoning fails.

    I’m not a banker either, but being forced to extend long-term loans to ANYONE at 15% interest when inflation is running at 22.5% seems like a less-than-profitable endeavor, especially when the loan recipients are working under price controls that force them to sell products at below the cost of production.

    But, hey, maybe they’ll make up for it on volume!

  21. If, for the sake of argument, we were to take Castenda’s story that Chavez wanted to commit election fraud during the referendum and was rebuffed by the military at face value, wouldn’t that count as evidence that Venezuela is a functioning democracy?

    Such events would tell us several things.

    1. There are competing centers of power within the government.

    2. The most powerful institution in Venezuela would not countenance electoral fraud, even by the commander-in-chief.

    3. The government does not operate as the political machine of the president.

    4. The structure of the Venezuelan government does not allow any one leader, even one as (initially) popular and connected as Chavez, to install his guys throughout the government.

    All of these would seem to run counter to the cherished theory that Venezuela is a “Potemkin Democracy.”

  22. I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.

    Uh… a democracy. Democracy is tyranny of the majority, so if the people elect Hugo, and Hugo wants to nationalize private property, that’s a-okay.

    What you’re thinking of is a constitutional republic, in which basic human rights (e.g., to life, property, free expression, self-determination) are supposed to be protected against this tyranny by a codified and well-understood set of principles. You know, like we used to have in the US, before the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 10th amendments were eviscerated by the courts.

  23. BTW, inflation is expected to be almost 40% this year.
    Gracias Sr. Presidente pedazo de mierda.

  24. Uh… a democracy. Democracy is tyranny of the majority, so if the people elect Hugo, and Hugo wants to nationalize private property, that’s a-okay.

    Only if the people are willing to go along with it. The actual history of democracies shows us that the people do not go along with bone-headed moves that ruin the economy and harm the general public – that they turn on such leaders, no matter how initially popular they are.

    In this way, democracy is a check on tyranny.

  25. Damn it. I cant stay and debate Joe’s idea that Venezuela is a perfect functioning democracy. Gotta go.
    Can anyone take care of that for me? Or have many of you made a new year’s resolution, such as I have, to let Joe believe whatever the hell he wants to about Venezuela’s current political state?

  26. Has this been done, or is this all talk?

    joe, it has been done.

    When Chavez shut down that opposition network, he confiscated their studios and their equipment. The owners were told to vacate their facilities and turn over their studios in and operational condition to the state television network or face criminal prosecution for sabotage.

    I also read that land-owners who oppose Chavez most vocally seem to have their land appropriated first for the land reform program, while the landowners who support him are permitted to keep their property.

    Of course, this latter phenomenon could be the result of people who are told they are going to lose their land kicking up a stink while those who haven’t received their notices yet keeping quiet so that nobody notices them.

  27. I’m watching the old Mission: Impossible series on DVD. Let me just say that the old MI crew would’ve solved this by convincing Chavez that he was crazy, ultimately committing suicide. The plot would have involved clever disguises by Rollin Hand, some sexual enticements by Cinnamon, and Barney being stuck in a ventilator shaft for the duration.

    I love that show.

  28. This caught my eye:

    Venezuela’s central bank, which is controlled by his allies, ordered private banks in 2006 to double bank deposit reserves from 15 to 30 percent in attempt to head off inflation…which reached 22.5 percent in 2007…

    Laugh at Ben Bernanke and his helicopters all you want, lads–it could be much, much, worse.

  29. I guess my actual argument was too much for rana, so she thought she’s make one up about a “perfect functioning democracy” instead.

    Whoever this big-J Joe guy who said that Venezuela had a perfect democracy is, he’s nuts!

  30. Excuse my poor grammar–ultimately driving Chavez to commit suicide. A crack squad of suicidal agents is more Pythonesque than MIish.

  31. tarran,

    “This,” being the proposal to forbid the sale of milk products.

  32. How come Al Gore gets an Oscar and a Nobel Prize for arguing that our planet will become like Venus if we don’t change our ways, but Ron Paul gets nothing for arguing that we will become like Venezuela if we don’t change our ways?

  33. An illiberal one. Has this been done, or is this all talk?

    joe –
    This is not new. March, 2005.

  34. Once again, not the question.

  35. That is pretty appalling, though, J sub D.

  36. “and Barney being stuck in a ventilator shaft for the duration.”

    Awwwwk! It’s a living, bub.

  37. Blessed be the cheesemakers.

  38. Everyone knows the best Venezualan cheese is made from beaver milk, anyway.

  39. That’s not a knock on Barney, who must’ve held fifteen degrees to do the stuff he did.

  40. What’s so special about the cheesemakers?

  41. So, El Presidente has already pissed off the oil men and the Yankees, now he’s working on pissing off both the money men and the peasant farmers?

    I see more regime change in his future.

  42. Well, obviously, this is not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

  43. joe,
    I’m not sure now where you stand on Chavez’s regime. Last time I saw your comments on a Chavez-related thread you practically sang his praises as a democratically-supported leader. Now you at least seem to understand somewhat that he is an ignorant thug, but also retain that old belief that a democratic society is always a free one.
    Squarooticus,
    I’m glad that someone has made the point that democracy does not necessarily equal freedom, and that even if everyone gets together and votes before taking your property (or your life, as the case may be), it is still expropriation and murder.

  44. CFisher,

    Get it right: it’s Yanquis, as in “imperialist Yanqui dogs”.

  45. How come Al Gore gets an Oscar and a Nobel Prize for arguing that our planet will become like Venus if we don’t change our ways, but Ron Paul gets nothing for arguing that we will become like Venezuela if we don’t change our ways?

    1. Al is a Democrat.

    2. Hilary and Barak are fighting over who gets to be the U.S. Chavez.

    2a. Chaves’ policies will work with The Right People in charge.

    3. McCain is trying to move the Republican party toward the path of enlightenment and social justice so Hilary or Barak can solve all our problems.

    4. Ron Paul is a speedbump getting in the way of bipartisan cooperation.

  46. Chavez is a thug, but he is an elected,….and I think re-elected, thug.

  47. “I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.”

    The kind that doesn’t care about the rule of law. Democracies can be bad, too.

    -jcr

  48. I’m glad that someone has made the point that democracy does not necessarily equal freedom, and that even if everyone gets together and votes before taking your property (or your life, as the case may be), it is still expropriation and murder.

    Thank you! I’ve been waiting literally months for someone else here to say this. Democracy and liberty are two completely orthogonal (i.e., unrelated) concepts. It is entirely possible to have one without the other, as Venezuela (and the US, to a lesser extent) demonstrate.

  49. squarooticus,

    We’ve said lots of things about democracy when you weren’t reading.

    Anyway, now that you’re here, let’s get this out of the way: Mencken was probably right about democracy.

  50. Ah good ole joe, just like clockwork, excusing the actions of everyone’s favorite dictator, Hugo Chavez. It absolutely amazes me that anyone can still claim with a straight face that what is occuring in Venezuala is democracy. Anytime anyone acts counter to what Chavez says, he threatens, at gunpoint, to nationalize the industry in which they are involved. Farming, banking, oil, television, printed media etc. He has threatened to nationalize all of them. Yet the same old pathetic assholes (read joe) use the same old pathetic arguments to claim he is not a quasi-dictatorial thug. How many times can somebody use the “he is merely going after the people who supported the coup” defense or some similar nonsense before they finally realize they are carrying water for a man who calls his non-violent critics traitors and gives tacit approval to use violence against those who take to the streets to protest him.
    Why the fuck do any of the people on this site even fucking bother to respond to joe’s imbecility anymore? How many times does joe have to issue apologia to a brutal thug before the people on this site say enough is enough and call him out for the retarded asshole that he is.

    How many pages and pages of condemnations would joe be writing if George Bush, or any other Western leader for that matter, threatened almost weekly to privatize, with the backing of the military, some business merely because it stood in the way of his policy goals? For christ sake, the opposition in this country constantly claims Bush is questioning their patriotism despite the fact they have never been able to point to one specific example of that occuring. Just imagine what would happen if Bush actually called them traitors for opposing his tax cuts, or whatever else he proposes. That is exactly what Chavez is doing, and left-wing lunatics in this country can’t take jaunts down there to shake his hand fast enough.

    It reminds me of what occured in the aftermath of the 2000 elections. The clownish Congressional Black Caucus took to the floor of the House to claim blacks had been disenfranchised by the election, yet some of these very same hypocrites, Maxine Waters comes to mind immediately, went off to Cuba shortly thereafter to praise a man who had not held an election in 41 years at that point.

  51. squarooticus:

    I have also made that point about democracy more times than I can count. As I’m sure it does to you as well, it annoys the ever-loving-crap out of me to hear talking heads yap about how great “democracy” is. They always act like democracy is what makes people free when it is absolutely not the case…

    A lot of democracies suck ballz. Democracies without a decent Bill of Rights wind up as shitty, or shittier, than any dictatorial government that doesn’t bother pretending it’s not totalitarian.

    Besides which, freedom is new. Democracy – not so much.

  52. Who gives a shizzele?

  53. I have to agree with joe on MM’s less than inspiring sources (a WSJ editorial, the newsweek article, and what is the SeattlePi?).

    “Anytime anyone acts counter to what Chavez says, he threatens, at gunpoint, to nationalize the industry in which they are involved.”

    Uhh, Chavez is an admitted socialist. Nationalizing industries is “nothing personal” with socialism, it’s part of socialism…I realize that there is no worse sin in the book for propertarians, but the guy is a little short of kim il jong at this point…

    Look, the state in places like Venezula gave amazing rent seeking situations to many corporations that then dominated many an industry in Venezula. The history there is horrible. As a result the poor folks there, and there are LOTS of them, think Western Corporations are evil. It’s easy for us to sit here and say “those benighted fools, don’t they see Chavez for what he is?” We’ve made the alternative look so bad, this guy looks good to them…

  54. joe said,

    tarran,

    “This,” being the proposal to forbid the sale of milk products.

    Ah, good thing I didn’t waste my time on google looking up sources for you then. 😉

    As to the sale of milk products, I am not sure. I’ve been reading the odd article in pro-free-market-economics blogs over a period of many months now. If my memory serves correctly, the Venezuelan central bank created a great deal of money, resulting in prices starting to rise. The very poor could not afford the higher priced staples (most of the new money ended up in the hands of the politically connected), and began agitating for relief. Chavez then instituted price controls on basic staples but exempted luxury goods.

    From the beginning of the institution of price controls there were shortages in the price controlled stuff. Initially the shortages were the product of a few manufacturers diverting their product to the most profitable sales venues, something that the government could control through anti-hoarding or anti-speculation laws. In the meantime the government also convinced themselves that the shortages were due to the increase in demand as a result of the increased welfare payments to the poor. Essentially they claimed that the poor could afford more food and that was why the shelves were so bare.

    Within months of the institution of price controls, visitors to Venezuela were commenting on the bizarre sight of supermarkets with plenty of imported cheese from France and pastries and other luxury foods, but with bare shelves where flour and milk and eggs should be.

    The inflation continued, and the profit margins of the manufacturers of price controlled goods are so razor thin that they cannot sustain their businesses. Things were made worse as the government slightly expanded the lsit of items that were price-controlled.

    Of course, this route of price-controls has been tried many times before. If pushed through to its economic conclusion, eventually the government starts threatening to shoot farmers for hoarding.

    Sometimes the government comes to its senses, like Truman did in 1947 with price controls on meat. Sometimes it ends up with thousands being shot as happened with Stalin.

    I think Chavez has convinced himself that unlike the thousand times in recorded history where these things have failed, this time he can pull it off. He also has a lot of people with guns backing him up, ones who are not well disposed towards those whom they consider hoarders and speculators. Thus, I think Chavez will try to go pretty far down the traditional route of shooting and jailing people in an attempt to evade basic praxeological laws.

    Of course, to be fair, I am no expert on Venezuela. I merely read the occasional article in the Economist and blogs like Distributed Republic, Cafe Hayek, Mises Institute, Reason and of course by my fellow contributors on The Liberty Papers. I would thus take my story with a grain of salt; I am no authority and could be grossly misinformed.

  55. tarran-From everything I’ve read there are a fair amount of “people with guns” opposing Chavez, many who are well disposed towards hoarders and speculators (meaning they are paid by them)…

    Let me ask you something I’m always curious about with propertarians, who is worse, Chavez’s Venezula or something like United Arab Emirates. The UAE seems to have a thriving business environment, but has no real democracy at all, government censorship of nearly all publications, television, etc., few civil liberties, etc. But I don’t see MM decrying the UAE or like states that restrict social liberties but foster some form of “economic development” that meets the propertarians tests…And that makes me suspect.

  56. What if Chavez, rather than nationalizing the big farms, broke them up into small plots and granted them to the peons that work on it? You guys wouldn’t have a problem with that, right? Private property is private property. Then when you die, it goes to someone else – possibly a total stranger. My reasoning is simply, when you die, your rights are gone – you’re just an inanimate object – a corpse – and your claims to anything on earth are gone. Your kids have no more right to the plot than anyone else, (well perhaps if your kids worked on and improved the land, they should be compensated for that, but that’s all.

    Don’t tell me that some rich spoiled Eurotrash mama’s boy has a greater claim to the land than the farmer whose family has worked that land for generations.

  57. “What if Chavez, rather than nationalizing the big farms, broke them up into small plots and granted them to the peons that work on it? You guys wouldn’t have a problem with that, right? Private property is private property.”

    e-you must be new to this site, and this brand of thought…

  58. highnumber,

    Mencken was probably right about democracy? What purpose does the word “probably” fill in your sentence? I do not understand.

  59. e-propertarianism (called “libertarianism” here) often seems to consist of people who have stuff and advantage over others who lack it being able to dictate (“consensual”) terms to those people who lack (they can always “ge their own in the magical market”). They don’t just think it necessary, they orgasm over it…


  60. Look, the state in places like Venezula gave amazing rent seeking situations to many corporations that then dominated many an industry in Venezula. The history there is horrible. As a result the poor folks there, and there are LOTS of them, think Western Corporations are evil. It’s easy for us to sit here and say “those benighted fools, don’t they see Chavez for what he is?” We‘ve made the alternative look so bad, this guy looks good to them…

    No you didn’t. The ISI model of “development” pursued by many Latin American nations during the period was pretty much homegrown. And the small cores of power were a direct result of the ’61 Constitution, which may have been necessary at the time but became obsolete in a short time.

  61. Or have many of you made a new year’s resolution, such as I have, to let Joe believe whatever the hell he wants to about Venezuela’s current political state?

    I have made the resolution to skip over any post, unread, that says in red letters “joe”. If he starts saying something that contains a grain of libertarian thinking, please alert me. Life’s too short to read statist claptrap.

  62. What if Chavez, rather than nationalizing the big farms, broke them up into small plots and granted them to the peons that work on it? You guys wouldn’t have a problem with that, right? Private property is private property. Then when you die, it goes to someone else – possibly a total stranger. My reasoning is simply, when you die, your rights are gone – you’re just an inanimate object – a corpse – and your claims to anything on earth are gone. Your kids have no more right to the plot than anyone else, (well perhaps if your kids worked on and improved the land, they should be compensated for that, but that’s all.

    Don’t tell me that some rich spoiled Eurotrash mama’s boy has a greater claim to the land than the farmer whose family has worked that land for generations.

    I can understand and sympathize with the idea, but what’s to stop the rich landlord from simply passing on his goods to his children before he dies?

  63. Juan-Venezuluan history is not replete with examples of wealthy interests, including corporations, often foriegn, getting rent-seeking agreements from whatever passed for the government there? The US and other Western nations have not acted towards Venezula in ways that would quite naturally induce humiliation and resentement?

  64. “I can understand and sympathize with the idea, but what’s to stop the rich landlord from simply passing on his goods to his children before he dies?”

    Well, Chavez is probably one who comes to the mind of many of his supporters…

  65. Juan-Venezuluan history is not replete with examples of wealthy interests, including corporations, often foriegn, getting rent-seeking agreements from whatever passed for the government there?

    Yeah. But my point of that the “state of the art” of economic thought favored arrangements that led to extensive rent-seeking. Which were reinforced by the structure of the state. So what I’m saying is that we made our own mess.

    The US and other Western nations have not acted towards Venezula in ways that would quite naturally induce humiliation and resentement?

    Well, maybe there’s the “coup”, but obviously reactions towards that are far from unanimous. If anything, any resentments might be directed at capitalism itself (and they aren’t that widespread either; Venezuela scores near the top in LatAm in support for markets in public opinion polls), which over here is mostly of the crony/state variety.

  66. Juan — I don’t sympathize with the idea of private property being confiscated at death, because I imagine the folks doing that looting would be the state. It doesn’t take a great deal of knowledge of history or economics to see the nasty consequences of the government instituting a 100% death tax. The best case scenario is that everyone with any assets uses some legal instrument to transfer all their wealth to their children on paper, while retaining control while alive,

    A great idea if you’re an estate lawyer or accountant or one of the government thieves, but some really sucky consequences for everyone else.

    See Mugabe, Robert for a look at a race-base variant of this terrible idea.

  67. OK, I just clicked on MM’s “democracy” link….

    I’ve used the HRW reports on several of these threads on Venezula, often just to have fun and tease edna. Basically, if you take the time to read a lot of the HRW country reports you find that Israel has pretty much a worse record than Venezula under Chavez…Yet I see no reports from MM on the evil Olmert?*

    (I did this to have fun. I oppose Israel’s atrocious treatment of the Palestinian people. However, I commend Israel on being a relatively free state in many ways that many nations are not. Of course, I don’t froth at the mouth at the mention of Hugo Chavez, either [nor do I think the guy is some hero or even “good guy”]. I just tire of MM’s crazy posts)

  68. Let me ask you something I’m always curious about with propertarians

    Ah, yes. The innocent question combined with an insult. There’s a good faith approach to debate.

    How about:

    Here’s what I’ve always wondered about douchebags, why do they always come to Hit N’ Run and call us names and expect us to take them seriously?

    Anyone care to take a crack? Feel free to engage in any of the usual evasions.

  69. Juan — I don’t sympathize with the idea of private property being confiscated at death, because I imagine the folks doing that looting would be the state. It doesn’t take a great deal of knowledge of history or economics to see the nasty consequences of the government instituting a 100% death tax. The best case scenario is that everyone with any assets uses some legal instrument to transfer all their wealth to their children on paper, while retaining control while alive,

    A great idea if you’re an estate lawyer or accountant or one of the government thieves, but some really sucky consequences for everyone else.

    See Mugabe, Robert for a look at a race-base variant of this terrible idea.

    Yeah, that was sort of where I’m going at. Something about roads and good intentions and stuff…

  70. prolfeed
    You’ve (mistakenly I should guess) hit upon a neat example. Mugabe is a creep, let’s stipulate that. But do you think the white farmers did not, at least in part, get their advantageous land arrangements at the point of some government’s gun barrel? Most nationalization efforts are attempts to fix that sort of thing.

  71. Ah, SugarFree, I’ve played in H&R for a long time using the polite terms, but as I’ve explained in other threads I’ve been convinced that propertarians is the more appropriate term for many folks here. I’ve explained my reasons not only elsewhere, but even in the post you quote from. So your “waaah, he don’t like us, I only want people who agree with my poorly-concieved-yet-strongly-held positions” crying response seems inadequate. Maybe you can address my question, which I submit demonstrates why propertarian fits many here, maybe you…

  72. “Here’s what I’ve always wondered about douchebags, why do they always come to Hit N’ Run and call us names and expect us to take them seriously?”

    Well, I for one take propertarian thinkers seriously. I’ve read Mises and Hayek and Smith and think they have something to tell me and teach me.

    On the other hand, I don’t think their ideas are a religion or that their “market” is “magical and mystical.” And I am amazed at those who do.

    And I think that an honest libertarianism need not be a propertarianism. However, it strikes me that long ago vested interests learned that profiligating a propertarian version of libertarianism would serve their interests mightily. So they funded various organizations and thinkers, and presto: many potentially honest libertarians are now propertarians. And that is dissappointing to anyone…

    But back to Chavez…

  73. Wow, ALL the usual evasions.

    You’re a troll, fucknuts, working out your Robin Hood complex by taking on the terrible libertarians in the very belly of the beast. You’re not here to engage us, only to confront and get your rocks off through moral smugness.

    That’s OK. You won’t listen. I don’t care. Please resume your regularly scheduled trolling.

    But don’t fool yourself about what you are and crusty scum you form on the world.

  74. SugarFree
    You can certainly form thoughts and opinions if you try. I encourage you to do so. You will be suprised at the ideas you may form.

    Are you sad because I am probably better read at your own crucially important yet (to you) worldview (your one simple principle, perhaps?) than you are? Don’t cry buddy, I’m here for you. Not everybody is supposed to be smart.

    So to help slow thinkers like yourself: the UAE allows absolutely no democracy. It daily censors every single form of media that enters the state. It’s criminal justice system is a joke. Etc. But it has a great record of foriegn investment and respect for “private property.” Yet no howlingly angry posts from MM or Reason. No diatribes against their “evil dictators.” If you guys are not property obsessed, then WTF is up with that? Is that not indicative of an ideology more properly understood as propertarian than libertarian?

  75. And I guess a “troll” is someone who takes the time to qualify his statements by saying “many people here” rather than “libertarians” or by noting the contributions of Hayek, Mises, etc, or one who contributes frequently on this site for a long time…In fact, it strikes me that I rarely see your posts this late at night, isn’t it past your bedtime (is Mom giving you special allowances, or is she “busy” tonight)?

    I’m afraid you’re the troll, one who defines “anyone who upsets me, waaah” as a “troll.”

  76. MNG,

    With all due respect, you are sounding like a troll. The smug, I-know-more-about-you-so-called-libertarians-than-you-do thing you have going on seals it, but the willful ignorance of all the other aspects of freedom that get covered here is also a nice touch.

    Carry on. Trolls are free to be, too.

  77. MNG, next time some poor woman in the UAE is stoned for adultery, or some other egregious and “newsworthy” violation of individual rights is covered by the AP, email Mr. Moynihan. Or one of your other favorite Reason contributors. If the violation is sufficiently interesting I expect there would be a diatribe.

    Notice that Mr. Balko’s posts rarely reference private property, except in that it tends to be private property that is being invaded. The ramifications of libertarian philosophy are broad and I think it is unfair to accuse Reason or the broader libertarian community of ignoring violations of human rights that are not directly related to owned property.

  78. highnumber-I respect the “aspect of freedom” that is property rights. Let’s talk about it? Has it ever occurred to you that someone can realize the value of that and yet find higher values? Even higher liberty-related values? And that this person would call others on the elevation of such property values to be the end all and be all of libertarianism? And the person gives a concerte example of the trend that bothers him and THAT’S a “troll?” How then is a troll not just “someone who says something I don’t like?”

    When the folks attacked joe upstream in very ad hominem fashion, where were you and your troll-o-meter?

  79. matth-I contribute to many posts here, and have for probably years. I have always and consistently lauded Balko. He’s one of the reasons I subscribe to Reason. I also like Bailey’s stuff on neuroscience, Walker and Gillespie’s cultural stuff, and Sullum’s public health stuff (yeah, I’m a “troll”, geez, that word is now as amorphous as “neocon”).

    But: I have been appalled at the propensity of many Reason writers and posters to favor property or contract rights over actual liberty. I know, I know (I’ve had this discussion more than once here, y’know ;)) property rights/contract rights are so intertwined with liberty that blah, blah, blah….I just don’t buy it, at least not off the bat. I’m sorry if that upsets folks (waaah).

    One story I remember in particular was where the “libertarian” position on a Supreme Court case was “supposed” to be that a rule preventing distributers/retailers agreements from mandating that items be sold at a certain price should be overturned (again, I guess I am a “troll” when I remember this rather esoteric thread and article from months back, jesus). No mind that this would empirically lead to less freedom among retailers in setting prices and promotions around the nation: since they agreed to it (“freely”) there was no restriction of freedom, and everything was A-OK. Bullsh*t says I. The net amount of freedom matters, and “contract” be damned (to some extent).

    But hey, this is far off the Hugo thread, and as I noted above, I never meant to highjack it (another common trait of a “troll”, eh?).

  80. MNG,

    In a very practical, nuts and bolts sort of sense, property rights are essential to most libertarian philosophies. I can’t speak for anyone else about how they value freedom, but in the philosophy I subscribe to, I have the right to earn my little bit and I have the right to not have someone come along and take it from me by force. I have other, higher priorities in this life, but I would like to be free and do consider it important.

    You are correct that some folks’ rhetoric around here does seem, on occasions, to place a higher value on property rights than anything else. You are correct that there are a lot of free market worshipers here. To point these things out is not trolling. To claim that libertarian thought is infected by an obsession with property rights is trolling, because clearly this blog alone touches on a myriad of other issues. You have proclaimed yourself smarter and more knowledgeable than us hoi polloi. That is also a troll tactic. You are not inviting others to discuss issues. You are declaring them wrong. Another troll tactic.

    Regarding joe: I have defended joe before. It was pointless. He doesn’t need any defense. His philosophy differs from nearly all the folks here but he is smarter than most and his heart is in the right place. Intelligent folks will engage him. Fools will show themselves to be fools.
    That, and I just picked my troll-o-meter up from the shop this evening.

  81. I think Mr Nice Guy is a big Ursula K LeGuin fan. 😉

    Let me ask you something I’m always curious about with propertarians, who is worse, Chavez’s Venezula or something like United Arab Emirates. The UAE seems to have a thriving business environment, but has no real democracy at all, government censorship of nearly all publications, television, etc., few civil liberties, etc. But I don’t see MM decrying the UAE or like states that restrict social liberties but foster some form of “economic development” that meets the propertarians tests…And that makes me suspect.

    Interesting question. I don’t know much about the UAE and am too busy to research it, so I am just going to talk out of my ass. I am also going to keep this brief since I have to get up early tomorrow to set up the lab for an 0800 AM class.

    Additionally, I can’t speak for any more than a vanishingly small minority on this site, since I think there are only 5 – 6 regulars who are anarchists like myself. Your mileage may vary.

    With that out of the way, from the short description you have given, the UAE would be preferable to Venezuela. However, that does not mean I would like living in the UAE.

    There are several reasons for this:
    The UAE is, if I remember correctly, a federation of 5 or 6 emirates. Thus, there is no absolute ruler, rather the heads of the ruling families have to work together and arrive at consensus. It has probably the best mercantile legal system in the world; a free market arbitration system that functions in a manner similar to what Rothbard theorized about.

    The emirates engage in tax competition which means that they are rationally self interested in keeping the areas they control very attractive to residents. This results in continual improvement of the social climate. For the most part they respect property rights, you may not legally engage in homosexual activity, for example, but they are not likely to go into your house and try to arrest you for it.

    With that being said, the fact that they don’t respect the property rights of people who own television stations, webservers and communications equipment is a problem. It’s the second biggest problem, from my perspective.

    The biggest problem with te UAE is that they still have sharia there, and if you get snared into the criminal justice system, you will probably be unjustly treated. I can’t remember the details, but I seem to recall there was some scandal recently about the mistreatment of a male French tourist, whom I think was raped and then prosecuted for engaging in homosexual activity.

    This is, of course, unacceptable to me. The reason why I don’t fret about the UAE (aside from the fact I have no interest in ever visiting it again having seen it enough times in the Navy) is that they seem to be evolving in the right direction. Several of the emirs have acknowledged that the criminal code is ghastly and they seem to be trying to figure out how to reform it.

    Contrast this with Venezuela which is headed down the opposite direction with decreasing freedom in all respects. I should point out that socialist movements tend to have pretty rigid social restrictions against what they perceive as immoral or frivolous activities. In Cuba, for example, during the first decades of Castro’s rule, being caught listening to rock and roll music or engaging in homosexual activity could get you imprisoned or shot. Since Chavez seems to be going through the checklist of how to run an overbearing socialist state, I am sure he will get around to attacking people who are “weakening the moral fibre of the country” through “subversive bourgois activity” or somesuch.

    But, yes, in a sense you are right. I think all human rights are based on property rights. Your right to life comes from the ownership of your body. Your right to freedom of conscience comes from the ownership of your brain. Freedom of the press is comes from ownership of a printing press and being free to do whatever with it that you wish, etc.

    I should point out that a lot of people have only a vague emotional idea of what it means to own something. If you think about what ownership means, it really is the moral right to control something. It’s not merely control. Otherwise the thief who grabs a woman’s purse and runs off with it would be said to own the purse because he has established control. The thief may control the purse after he seizes it, but most people would argue that the woman retains her ownership of it.

    If you apply take this principle to its logical extreme (what you refer to as propertarianism), then you get all the “social freedoms”. If you own your body, you can put whatever you want into it, heroin, trans-fats, tobacco smoke, another man’s penis, live eels. It’s all cool.

    I do think, however, that the dichotomy between “social freedoms” and “economic freedoms” is a false one. To me freedom is being permitted to do what you want with your property, so long as you are not infringing on the freedom of other people to use their property. When one person is prevented from enjoying the use of their property, but is rather compelled to turn it over to some other man, for example like a fairness law that would require the New York Times to balance Krugman’s essays with ones from Don Boudreaux of CafeHayek, I don’t see that as making people more free, but rather making people less free. After all, would you describe a society where the rule is might makes right as being a free one? It’s the societies where a poor person does not have to fear that his hovel will be bulldozed by some wealthy guy waving a government notice condemning the hovel which are freer. It’s the societies where a middle class person can open a shop and not fear that his store will be looted by the poor or stolen by the rich that are freer. In other words, it is the societies where the entire population very rigidly respects property rights that are the most free and pleasant to live in. It’s no accident that the size of the middle class seems to correlate with how much property rights are respected… if you ignore Scandanavia… 😉

  82. MNG – so in the spirit of maintaining the Hugo thread, can we agree that Hugo ranks pretty high up on the anti-liberty (and anti-libertarian) scale?

    I am disturbed at the tendency of people who should be working together for the cause to focus on our differences instead of our similarities (not an original thought I know). I’ve been disturbed by it for over two decades now.

    I try to reserve my appallment (hey, a new word!) for the really disgusting violations of liberty. Both “actual liberty” and the propertarian type.

  83. Oh, and if “actual liberty” implies the right to renege on a freely agreed upon obligation (contract) with no penalty simply because it now looks like it was a bad idea in the first place…

    I can’t really accept that someone has a moral right to that act.

  84. It’s posts like tarran’s like make this blog worth reading well after the normal daily cycle of workday commenting

    It’s also why this blog, unless most, resists the tendency to devolve into a group-think echo-chamber

  85. highnumber-Sorry, but since I contribute rather regularly, with praise for Balko and Sullum for example, I just felt it not necessary to say “well, Reason says good stuff about x, but are crazy about y.” In fact, I’m not sure I made a blanket statement about Reason being nuts…The curt comment I make is about posters here, and even there I tried to qualify it (“propertarianism(called “libertarianism” here) often seems” notice the “often”, you seem to agree with your comment “You are correct that there are a lot of free market worshipers here”).

    I’m sorry, but I actually do think that what I most see is “that libertarian thought is infected by an obsession with property rights.” That is what I want explained and discussed….To that aim…

    “With that out of the way, from the short description you have given, the UAE would be preferable to Venezuela.” That is what throws me. In Venezula you can vote for the opposition. You can read a book that is sexy or “radical.” You can read an opposition newspaper. But yes, certain industries (which if you were a Venezulaen you would probably have no ownership interest in at all) are nationalized. Meanwhile in the UAE you have no right at all to choose your government. None at all. There is NO suffrage. You are prevented from reading the newspapers you want, from watching the entertainment you want….To me the latter is CLEARLY worse than the former….In Venezula you can’t buy stock in Exxon, but you can read Reason. In UAE you can buy stock in Exxon but can’t read Reason (I don’t know that specifically, I’m making the general point about censorship which goes on in the UAE). And I have to worry about any movement that calls itself “libertarianism” but prefers the former to the latter.

  86. But do you think the white farmers did not, at least in part, get their advantageous land arrangements at the point of some government’s gun barrel? Most nationalization efforts are attempts to fix that sort of thing.

    MNG — most, if not all, of the farmers who had their land stolen by Mugabe have had the land in their families for generations, or bought the land from someone else. Are you seriously proposing that if, at any time in the distant past, someone in a government used coercion in the transfer, the deed should be abrogated for all future owners and the land stolen, using coercion, by the current government?

    Oh, and the farmers and their descendants and subsequent owners took raw land and, by dint of hard work, turned it into productive assets, which are now reverting to raw land again under Mugabe’s reign of theft.

    If you don’t believe in secure property rights, you are advocating for mass misery and death, no matter how benign your intentions.

    Was this a teachable moment, or are you going to continue advocating for socialist redistribution no matter how badly it turns out whenever it is tried?

  87. matth-if someone agrees on a restriction of their liberty in a “voluntary” act (I put quotes around this because often they do this because of some imbalanced market position, which imo is not very “voluntary” at all [think: if I say I will beat your ass if you don’t do x, then in some sense you are still free not to do x and take the ass kicking]) and this agreement leads to an overall lessening of freedom of choice, then yes, I think it is an actual decrease in liberty. It may be a gain for contracts, or for property (hence my naming of the movement “contractarians” or “propertarians”) but it is no gain for freedom of choice, is it?

  88. “Are you seriously proposing that if, at any time in the distant past, someone in a government used coercion in the transfer, the deed should be abrogated for all future owners and the land stolen, using coercion, by the current government?”
    prolfeed-so if my great-grandfather used his government ties to coerce and sh*t on your great-grandfather, and because of that I owned the land you were born on and made you work cleaning out my latrines for a living, you would say “holy sh*t, my boss has a moral propery right over me, I better scoop that sh*t faster and better to impress him!”

    “Oh, and the farmers and their descendants and subsequent owners took raw land and, by dint of hard work, turned it into productive assets, which are now reverting to raw land again under Mugabe’s reign of theft.”

    You are right, especially in the past, those who had the resources to get the government, under the auspices of colonial practices, to force one’s ancestors a prefereable property arrangment, would ALSO probably have the resources and education to make the land more productive! Hell, that validates it, huh?

    “Was this a teachable moment, or are you going to continue advocating for socialist redistribution no matter how badly it turns out whenever it is tried?”

    Was this a teachable moment for you, are you going to continue to advocate for socialist redistribution (you know, when a tax-payer funded army like the Brits comes in and uses their coercive power to give the land some people lived on to other people, then enforces disrciminatory laws at gun-point for a while)? You socialist you! Lenin would be proud!

  89. MNG — it would have been more concise for you to just say, “Not a teachable moment — I don’t believe in secure property rights. Nothing can sway me from that wrongheaded belief.”

    Rebuttals: no one in America is forced to shovel out latrines. Due to secure property rights, among other things, we’ve created so much wealth that almost everyone has toilets. The few people I’ve met who run septic tank cleaning businesses choose that work because it’s the most lucrative job they can find. They are free to do something else if they find it objectionable.

    Farms become productive due people working their asses off. Hard work is the main ingredient in success in that endeavor, not a fancy liberal arts education.

    You’re the one advocating for socialist redistribution. I’m the one arguing for secure property rights. Accusing me of advocating for the exact effing opposite of what I’m saying is just a cheap shot.

    You drinking? You’re sure unloading on people here.

  90. prolfeed-Sorry, you are advocating for one socialist proposition (the government [the British army] can come into the land many people lived on and worked and at gunpoint force certain property relations advantegeous to the connected]) over another (a government comes along later and tries to rectify that by dividing up the “property” [gained largely at gunpoint] to all citizens).

    Your latrine comments are interesting…Surely a great deal of very wealthy people actually engage in latrine clean-up, since there is a profit to be made there. What? They would NEVER? But poor people trying to build their way up would? “Voluntarily?” Meaning that their ancestors were the victims of some rent seeking (hey, I’m using your language) agreement of someone else’s ancestors and now, if they want to enjoy a tenth of what the ancestors of the oppressors of their ancestors enjoy they have to CLEAN THE SH*T UP? Wow, that is LIBERTY! Who would not want that?

    Are you drinking? Because that kind of view, agreed upon every four years by about 1% of the US voting populace, must be a drunk man’s fantasy!

  91. If, for the sake of argument, we were to take Castenda’s story that Chavez wanted to commit election fraud during the referendum and was rebuffed by the military at face value, wouldn’t that count as evidence that Venezuela is a functioning democracy?

    Yes, having the maximum leader trying to commit election fraud and having the military as a major power center are characteristics of every functioning democracy.

    Well, OK, maybe the first is, but, c’mon, gimme a break.

    Such events would tell us several things.

    1. There are competing centers of power within the government.

    This is true in every government. Hell, in every organization. Means nothing.

    2. The most powerful institution in Venezuela would not countenance electoral fraud, even by the commander-in-chief.

    Arguing that the army is the most powerful institution in a given country does not exactly advance the thesis that said country is democratic in a meaningful way.

    3. The government does not operate as the political machine of the president.

    That’s quite a leap, since it was supposedly the army, not the government, that stopped the fraud.

    4. The structure of the Venezuelan government does not allow any one leader, even one as (initially) popular and connected as Chavez, to install his guys throughout the government.

    Don’t forget, this is a one-party government.

    Lets also not forget that a judge who was critical of Chavez was just gunned down in the street after being denounced by Chavez. Yet another assassination of a dissident.

  92. Incidentally, these ungrateful farmers seek “higher profits” abroad because there are no profits to be had at home, thanks to the Bolivarian system of price controls that, despite impressive economic growth fueled by high oil prices, has left supermarket shelves bare.

    What does “Bolivarian” mean?

  93. Is Venezuela a full democracy? Clearly no. Is it a fully authoritarian state? Also no.

    The rankings I’ve seen suggest that, if you lined the world’s countries up from free to non-free, Venezuela would be somewhere just below the mid-point.

    93 out of 167 for the Economist for example and, I would suspect, sinking.

  94. UAE v Venezuela and coverage:

    Venezuela – trending in wrong direction (check out Freedom House scores)
    UAE – flat as far as I know

    The one changing is more newsworthy.

  95. The one changing is more newsworthy.

    Are Venezuela’s problems that consequential – say compared to two other countries ‘trending in the wrong direction’, Pakistan and Nigeria?

  96. DavidS,

    Looked up the Freedom House scores for the 4 countries. The two categories are Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 1 is best, 7 is worst:

    In 1989, Venezuela was a 1,2. In 1999, still a 2,3. In 2007, a 4,4. That is an amazing dropoff for a country that was almost hanging with western democracies in the late 80s.

    By comparison, same 3 years (they were picked based on turning pts in Venezuela 89 and 99 were local maxima in freedom):
    Pakistan 3,3 to 4,5 to 6,5. Same amount of dropoff, but basically moving from kinda unfree to mostly unfree.
    UAE 5,5 to 6,5, to 6,5.
    Nigeria 5,5 to 6,4 to 4,4. Nigeria bounces all over the place. They have been up and down. There have been better and worse numbers in that time frame. The 2007 number measures 2006, so a lot may have changed.

    Venezuela has moved from freedom to crap. The others were always crap.

    My uncurved view is 1,1 is good. 1,2 or 2,1 is moderately acceptable, anything else is a hellhole. Yes that means I just put India and Mexico (both 2,3) in the same hellhole category with Cuba (7,7).

  97. “propertarianism (called “libertarianism” here) often seems to consist of people who have stuff and advantage over others who lack it being able to dictate (“consensual”) terms to those people who lack (they can always “ge their own in the magical market”). They don’t just think it necessary, they orgasm over it…”

    What part of that statement is even bothering to ask for a sober, respectful, mature, and thoughtful response?

    Well, I’ll give this something of a try. Civil liberties are certainly important. But there’s a reason property rights often trump other sorts of civil liberties. I don’t have a right to shout fire in a theater. That would violate the tacit contract between the owner of the theater and all the other patrons who purchased the tickets, expecting to watch a show undisturbed. While I have a right to my opinions, a newspaper is not obligated to print anything I want to say on demand. Of course, if all decision making were democratized then my desire, and everyone else’s desire, to have my thoughts printed could be voted on by the general populace. But how many here think that that would improve the general quality of the media, or the ability to get out timely informative accounts, and even the diversity of opinions?

    Oh, the Seattle P.I. is one of the two major daily newspapers in Seattle.

  98. What does “Bolivarian” mean?

    Caudillo populist socialism.

  99. economist,

    I haven’t budged on my opinion. It would be nice to see people figure out that “Venezuelan democracy” and “Hugo Chavez” are not the same thing.

    Now you at least seem to understand somewhat that he is an ignorant thug, but also retain that old belief that a democratic society is always a free one.

    I’ve spent way too much time trying to make subtle points to people with blunt brains to even bother trying to explain what’s wrong with this sentence.

  100. See, look at this dumb shit:

    Ah good ole joe, just like clockwork, excusing the actions of everyone’s favorite dictator

    Now, let’s see what I actually wrote:

    joe | January 23, 2008, 4:24pm | #

    This is the sort of idiocy that led to his election loss in December.

    joe | January 23, 2008, 5:01pm | #

    crimethink | January 23, 2008, 4:31pm | #

    I wonder what kind of “democracy” it is when the president can expropriate your means of living on a whim.

    An illiberal one.

    Does it hurt to be this stupid, or is it sort of a numb feeling?

  101. In the meantime. those Joe-4-oil ads are hysterically funny.

  102. MNG,

    It’s easy for us to sit here and say “those benighted fools, don’t they see Chavez for what he is?”

    Let’s not forget that after Chavez made the plebiscite on the proposed constitutional amendments a referendum on his rule, he lost. I don’t think those poor, benighted souls are as clueless as the anti-democrats suppose.

  103. I have made the resolution to skip over any post, unread, that says in red letters “joe”.

    That’s probably a good idea, prolefeed. It’s been a rough couple of years for you.

  104. R C Dean,

    This is true in every government. Hell, in every organization. Means nothing.

    In this case, the competing power center is indepenent of the alleged “maximum leader,” and powerful enough to check him. Excuse me, but that does mean something, something rather significant, and relevant to the thesis that Venezuela is a dictatorship.

    Arguing that the army is the most powerful institution in a given country does not exactly advance the thesis that said country is democratic in a meaningful way. So, basically, you are conceding the pont that the independent-from-Chavez military, a powerful insitution in the country, is unwilling to allow their commander-in-chief to commit electoral fraud. Thank you.

    As for your point, the military is the most powerful institution in Turkey, far more powerful, in fact, and Turkey is a functioning democracy.

    That’s quite a leap, since it was supposedly the army, not the government, that stopped the fraud. The army is not part of the government? Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure it is.

    Don’t forget, this is a one-party government.

    I suppose you could call it that, but only if you define “one-party government” in a way that would define the United States as a one-party government from 2003-2007. It is not a “one-party state” in the recognizable sense of that term, as opposition parties are allowed, hold a considerable number of seats in parliament, are competitive in presidential elections, exert enough power to cause the referendum to fail, and just might win the next election or one shortly after that.

    Lets also not forget that a judge who was critical of Chavez was just gunned down in the street after being denounced by Chavez. Yet another assassination of a dissident. It’s a shame that political violance is endemic in Venezuela, but that is hardly uniqe to Chavez.

  105. “Let’s not forget that after Chavez made the plebiscite on the proposed constitutional amendments a referendum on his rule, he lost. I don’t think those poor, benighted souls are as clueless as the anti-democrats suppose.”

    You are right about this Joe. The thing is, Chavez lost DESPITE having control of almost every governmental entity, NOT because Venezuela is a functioning democracy (there have been plenty of examples of rampant corruption and electoral fraud, but you dismiss it as oppossition propaganda).
    The credit lies with the grass-roots student movement, brough to life, oddly enough, by Chavez himself when he shutdown RCTV.

    And I think that is what had bothered me about your posts last year regarding Chavez. You seemed to paint him as a misguided or misunderstood politician who worked within the rules of democracy- and if he didnt “democracy” would bring him down. When the truth is that brave, fedup, citizens took it upon themselves to march, provide information, and stay at the voting centers all day and night to make sure Chavez couldnt follow through with fraud.
    In a democracy you would trust that your vote would count. That has not been the case here.
    Do you see the difference?
    Now, slowly the truth about Chavez is coming to light, and the oppossiton does not seem like the oligarchs they were portayed to be.
    Chavez has been an astute politician. He has used “democratic” means to gain undemocratic power.

  106. rana,

    The thing is, Chavez lost DESPITE having control of almost every governmental entity, NOT because Venezuela is a functioning democracy Really? Not having control of the military is a pretty good sign that there are serious limits to his control. As is having to submit his desired power grabs for popular approvel As is, you know, LOSING. We’ve seen dictators who have total control of the government, and those things don’t happen.

    there have been plenty of examples of rampant corruption and electoral fraud, but you dismiss it as oppossition propaganda I DO? Where, pray tell? Got a link? Do you mean, I don’t parrot every single argument I read on the internet that supports your political party? Guilty. You got me.

    The credit lies with the grass-roots student movement A grassroots student movement that can deal electoral defeats to the president? Once again, we’ve seen what dictatorships look like.

    You seemed to paint him as a misguided or misunderstood politician Lots of my posts “seem like” things that they actually aren’t. I’ve made my feelings about Chavez perfectly clear – at least clear to anyone who isn’t actively trying to read things into them out of a “with us or with the terrorists” view of the world.

    I’ve called Chavez a hamfisted goon on these threads. Sorry if I don’t follow that up by unciritcally accepting every political argument made by the people who would like to take his place.

    In a democracy you would trust that your vote would count. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!! OMG, have you ever read anything about Florida 2000, or Diebold? Rana, have you ever heard “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty?” I’ve got news for you: you have to keep your eye on the bastards in a democracy, too.

    Now, slowly the truth about Chavez is coming to light, and the oppossiton does not seem like the oligarchs they were portayed to be. I would say that the change is not primarily in their public image, but is actually substantive. In 1999 and 2002, the opposition WEREoligarchs. Since then, Chavez’s hamfisted foolishnes has led to the defection of some of his supporters to the opposition, and galvanized some apolitical people as well, to the point that the once-immensely-popular Chavez lost the last election. That’s democracy for you. Happened in the USA under Bush, too.

  107. rana,

    there have been plenty of examples of rampant corruption and electoral fraud, but you dismiss it as oppossition propaganda

    There is a middle ground between “Vz is a perfect democracy” and “Vz is a Potemkin democracy.” If you manage to work your way towards it, you will fing me standing there.

    I’ve not argued that there aren’t problems with Venezuela’s democracy; I’ve argued that the news of its demise is exaggerated. That you are standing on such an absolutist position doesn’t make my moderate stance identical to your opposite; it just means you’re too far away to judge perspective well.

  108. “It is not a “one-party state” in the recognizable sense of that term, as opposition parties are allowed, hold a considerable number of seats in parliament”
    Joe, if this is your definition of recognizable sense of the term “one-party state”, then you are mistaken. Vz parliament is MOSTLY Chavista, the oppossiton has practically no repesentation in Parliament thanks to the dumbass move by the opposition to boycott the elections.

    “…are competitive in presidential elections”
    ONLY when all the opposition agrees to vote for one candidate. Something the oppostion is trying to agree on, which isnt easy when everyone is out to get a piece of the “petro-pie”.
    “…exert enough power to cause the referendum to fail,”
    That was my point in my last post. Opposition political leaders had very little to do with Chavez losing. They didnt exert any power and they were pretty much dead in the water.

    “…just might win the next election or one shortly after that.”

    I hope so. But Im far from thinking that getting rid of Chavez and replacing him with another, at least lesser power-hungry and corrupt politician, is going to make Venezuela a shining example of democracy.

  109. joe,

    Venezuela now scores 4,4 on the Freedom House scale. How much more demise can a “democracy” possible have? Its demise isnt exaggerated, it stopped being a functioning democracy sometime around 2000.

  110. “I’ve not argued that there aren’t problems with Venezuela’s democracy; I’ve argued that the news of its demise is exaggerated. That you are standing on such an absolutist position doesn’t make my moderate stance identical to your opposite; it just means you’re too far away to judge perspective well.”

    You misunderstand me. I dont claim Chavez is a dictator in the true sense of the word, but Im sure convinced he would love to be (heck, his aspirations are far greater_ he wants to be another Simon Bolivar, and save all Latin America from the evil empirialist)
    But venezuela is not a free democracy either. If this is your position- then we agree.

  111. “it just means you’re too far away to judge perspective well.”
    Oh and by the way, I LIVE here and you dont. So I think my judgement and perspective is far “closer” than yours.

  112. rana,

    In actual one-party states, the absense of an opposition in parliament is NOT the consequence of the minority party boycotting the elections. It’s a consequence of the minority party being rounded up and put into prisons. Also, good job ignoring every other indication I provided of the opposition’s power, including their RECENT ELECTORAL VICTORY opposing the referendum.

    ONLY when all the opposition agrees to vote for one candidate. We have a two-party system, too. And yes, it typically results in getting rid of (one bad guy) and replacing him with another, at least lesser power-hungry and corrupt politician Shining? No, not hardly. But real.

  113. robc,

    Venezuela now scores 4,4 on the Freedom House scale. How much more demise can a “democracy” possible have?

    It can eliminate the means by which the people can replace the government when they become dissatisfied with it. THAT, my friend, is the Red Line.

    rana @ 10:57

    I think we agree, then, and I think many of your supporters on these threads are going to be very disappointed to see what you wrote.

    BTW, you misunderstood my point about perspective. I was using it in its actual sense – when looking at two objects from a great distance, you lose the ability to see how close or distant they are from each other.

    Anyway, my point was about our relative political positions, not events in Venezuela, so your point about where we live isn’t really relevant.

  114. “In actual one-party states, the absense of an opposition in parliament is NOT the consequence of the minority party boycotting the elections.”
    When have I claimed this? What is was pointing out was that, contrary to your assertion, the opposition DOES NOT hold a considerable amount of seats in parliament, for whatever reason.

    “Also, good job ignoring every other indication I provided of the opposition’s power, including their RECENT ELECTORAL VICTORY opposing the referendum.”
    I think I have in every other post. I think you are IGNORING what I have said, but I will reiterate: Chavez’ defeat was NOT the result of the oppositions POLITICAL power, as you assert, but from common citizen’s (i.e. not politicians- in case you are having a hard time understanding).

  115. “Anyway, my point was about our relative political positions, not events in Venezuela, so your point about where we live isn’t really relevant.”

    How do you know my “political position”? Except for the fact that I consider Chavez a lunatic (as most people do), I havent given much inclination towards any political position. Do you think I more to the right or the left? On either side, Chavez is still a nut and is harming Venezuela.
    And my posts ARE regarding events in Venezuela. So the fact that I live here, is relevant.

  116. rana,

    In a democratic system, the “opposition” is whoever stands up to oppose the party in power.

    How do you know my “political position”? What are you, kidding me?

    Except for the fact that I consider Chavez a lunatic And there ya go.

    And my posts ARE regarding events in Venezuela. So the fact that I live here, is relevant. I’ve explained your misunderstanding to you already. Figure it out, don’t, I don’t care.

  117. THAT, my friend, is the Red Line.

    That is when it stops being even the pretense of a democracy. It stops being a functional democracy well before that. When it has serious issues in electoral process and political participation it has crossed the line. [Venezuela scores 8/12 and 8/16 in those subcats]. 8 out of 16 in politcal participation (even the US manages a 16/16 in that one) is NOT the result of a democratic process.

  118. joe,

    And there ya go.

    Are you seriously saying that you dont consider Chavez a lunatic? Regardless of our disagreement about whether it is still a democracy or not I thought you agreed that he was a corrupt, fucktard, lunatic scumbag?

  119. Joe, I understand what “opposition” means. I was pointing out the difference between “opposition politicians” and merely those who oppose Chavez. And it is an important distiction to make when debating whether or not Venezuela is a functioning democracy.
    Here is a little information for you: the political party PODEMOS, a socialist party and once an ardent Cahvez supporter, is now against Chavez. So the mere fact that I do not like Chavez does not state my “political position”- whatever that means.

  120. One thing that helps joe’s argument a bit: Freedom House requires a 7/12 on the electoral process to consider a country a “electoral democracy”. So, Venezuela still qualifies by their standard. However, they dont qualify as a “liberal democracy”, which has a much higher standard. Which goes back to joe’s answer at 5:01 PM.

    I judge on a tougher scale than Freedom House. Or maybe by functional democracy I mean the same thing as they do with liberal democracy.

  121. robc,

    I will offer, once again, the fact that Chavez and his party LOST the last election that was held as evidence that Venezuela is still a democracy.

    Are you seriously saying that you dont consider Chavez a lunatic? No, I’m seriously saying that statement is rana’s political position. I happen to agree with it.

    rana,

    I was pointing out the difference between “opposition politicians” and merely those who oppose Chavez. And it is an important distiction to make when debating whether or not Venezuela is a functioning democracy. Actually, no, it’s not an important distinction. Since “those who oppose Chavez” have proven themselves able to effect the outcome of elections and bring about changes in the opposition parties, and since those opposition parties can participate in a meaningful way in the electoral process, that is not an important distinction.

    robc,

    Illiberal governments tick their citizens off. So long as a country has a functional electoral system that allows the opposition to win when they are more popular, an illiberal democracy can be changed to a liberal one at the ballot box.

    That doesn’t mean we have to like the bastard.

  122. Since “those who oppose Chavez” have proven themselves able to effect the outcome of elections and bring about changes in the opposition parties, and since those opposition parties can participate in a meaningful way in the electoral process, that is not an important distinction.

    Misuse of the word “effect.”
    The use of “effect” as a verb in this sentence would mean that the opposition are able to bring about the end of the elections, not that they have an influence on the result. Clearly, this sentence calls for the word “affect.”

    5 yard penalty. Still 1st down.

  123. joe,

    No, I’m seriously saying that statement is rana’s political position. I happen to agree with it.

    Chavez is a lunatic isnt a political position. It is a fact. Saying the US has federal debt isnt a political position either.

  124. OK, whatever.

  125. Since Hugo Chavez has never been diagnosed with a mental illness, “Chavez is a lunatic” is a comment on the wisdom and morality of his political decisions.

    So, yes, that is a political position.

  126. Joe,

    I see you’ve used the term “illiberal democracy” several times in this thread, a term I have not seen you use often, if ever, in the past (I do actually read what you post).
    Have you read Fareed Zakaria’s book on this very subject by chance?

  127. “Since Hugo Chavez has never been diagnosed with a mental illness, “Chavez is a lunatic” is a comment on the wisdom and morality of his political decisions.

    So, yes, that is a political position.”

    Oh joe, that is far stretched even for you. Give me a break.

  128. tk,

    I’ve not read the book, but I’m familiar with the rough concept.

    Sure rana, you weren’t commenting on his politics, you’re just a tele-psychiatrist issuing a diagnosis.

  129. http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1555965

    I am sure you will find a way to try and explain Chavez’s actions in this case too, joe. You are a less-intellectual Smithers to Chavez’s Mr. Burns.

  130. Why don’t all the countries that have price supports for milk (that is, anywhere cow farmers are allowed to vote) just ship it all to Venezuela for free? Then everybody’s happy. Artificial shortage everywhere else, artificial surplus in Venezuela.

  131. I’ve never “tried to explain” Chavez’s actions before. Why would I start now?

    I guess the actual arguments I make are too tough for you. I don’t think anyone’s too surpirsed by that.

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