I'm Right Again Dot ComA new commentary every Wednesday — Nov 16, 2016
A BRIEF LOOK AT VENEZUELA
Following the astounding success of Donald Trump and the Republican party, it has been stated by learned observers that we've experienced a tsunami brought about by the revolt of people I've often called "The Scufflers in the Crowd," the social strata of mostly white working-class folks who feel left behind in every category, including the ever-inflationary price of everything—particularly the sky-rocketing costs of education and health care—without their being a corresponding increase in income.
There was a time when you would see people with concrete or paint on their clothing standing in line at the bank and holding worn "savings books" in their hands. Computers have changed that. Nevertheless, one economic fact is glaringly evident: there are far fewer nest-eggs remaining and the disparity between what banks charge to loan the medium of exchange to we scufflers and the interest they pay to savers willing to purchase a Time Certificate of Deposit, is monumental. Too bad we can't all have a cushy job heading a financial institution.
I believe that the most avid fans of President-Elect Trump would admit that the challenges facing him and the Republican Legislators is almost beyond imagining, but being a "glass half full" optimist, I've spent some time lately examining other nations whose people are far worse off than we are.
Take the Venezuela described by William Finnegan in the November 14th edition of New Yorker magazine. For decades, the once prosperous country, sitting on what geologists maintain is the largest pool of petroleum in the world, was ruled by two centrist political parties headed by the old-money oligarchy. Along came a career military officer, who described himself as a Marxist, dedicated to giving power to the people. Hugo Chávez, who served as President of Venezuela from1999 to 2013, instituted a number of economic actions such as price controls, deficit spending and borrowing from China, while aligning himself with Cuba, all programs proven to be unsustainable. Chávez died in Caracas in March of 2013 after treatment in Havana for Cancer failed to save his life.
His Vice President, Carlos Mendoza, succeeded him in office and has continued most of the Chavismo practices. Consequently, food, when available, is rationed, requiring those seeking it to stand in line for hours. The entire health system has collapsed. There are practically no real hospitals. Doctors and other professionals have fled. In 1961, Venezuela was declared the first country free of malaria. There are now more than an estimated 100,000 new cases of malaria annually. The most common health problem in all age groups, is malnutrition. Crime, particularly kidnapping and extortion, often led by police and soldiers, is rampant.
The enormous burden of debt owed China is the greatest impediment to change. Venezuela can barely meet the interest on the loans. Now the oil infrastructure, contributing some 99 percent of the GDP, is breaking down. The Maduro government blames the USA for "sabotaging" their economy.
So you think we've got it tough?
-Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller. "He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself." - Joseph L. Mencken
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