Skip

Don't make us march freedom south
March 15, 2005 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Containing subversive Latin America [via]. The Bush administration hasn't forgotten the troublemaker to the south (or if you prefer, the "Anti-Bush"). The US will be taking a tougher stance (that tough?) with Venezuela because they say its leader is a subversive force in the region, destabilizing surrounding countries. Is Chavez a hero? A threat? For anyone who has seen the Revolution being Televised, it's hard to say he's a villain. I suppose it depends on who you ask. (As previously discussed.)
posted by blendor (33 comments total)

 
Quoth Scott McClellan:
Go ahead, Sarah.

Q Thank you. Scott, Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, continues his anti-American verbal attacks. He is also making oil and arms deals with countries that are not friendly to the United States. What will the President do if Chavez cuts off Venezuelan oil to the U.S.?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he continues -- the government of Venezuela, under his leadership, continues to take steps that give us concern, and I think they are concerns shared by others, as well. And our concerns about the steps that have been taken in Venezuela relate to actions that move away from democratic institutions and freedom for the Venezuelan people. We've also expressed our concerns about what intention -- what the intentions are of Venezuela in the region. And in terms of the concerns, as I said, they're shared by many in the region. And that's why we'll continue to work with others in the region through the Organization of American States, to make sure that Venezuela is meeting its commitment that it has made under the Democratic Charter for the region.
posted by blendor at 7:28 PM on March 15, 2005


*Puts his agenda-filtering sunglasses on*

...that move away from plutocratic institutions and freedom for the american enterprise.

Ah. There it is. Thought they may have actually cared for a second there..
posted by id at 7:42 PM on March 15, 2005


it's hard to say he's a villain

Not really. He's undermined the courts and legislature to concentrate power in his hands, he's destroying the economy (despite high oil prices) and threatening the civil liberties of the political oppostion (I'm saying that conservatively, because I don't have time to confirm more serious details). His resume before coming to office included leading a coup.

About the only good thing you can say is that he was legitimately elected. However, looking at some other elected leaders in history, that doesn't disqualify him from being a villian and a nightmare for his country.

No matter what you think of Bush Administration policies toward him, Chavez is still Chavez.


it depends on who you ask

Same goes for anyone else, from Castro to the Chinese communists to the USSR to Kim Jong Il (or Bashar Assad or the Iranian gov't, just so I'm not picking on the communists).

Nobody has been without supporters and advocates, within and without their country.
posted by guanxi at 7:47 PM on March 15, 2005


For all bush talks about "bringing people democracy" his administration still publicaly recognized the new "leaders" in the attempted coup and it seems likely they supported it.

Just so damn hypocritical. Chaves was elected, just just proves the bushites mean "agrees with us" when they say "democracy".
posted by delmoi at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2005


I'm not crazy about stockpiling weapons and building up armies, but I don't think that the Bush Admin's position of quasi-support for the coup in 2002 helped the situation. Besides, are we for democracy or are we for US control-cracy?

As for Chavez packing the courts, this has been done several times in US history (and things like it) and can be viewed as good or bad. For example, FDR used this as a tool to ensure that the New Deal programs would be more secure in becoming legitimate law. Jefferson and Congress took a stand against the court to weaken their political opposition (which remained strongest in the Supreme court) and the Supreme Court basically ceased to exist for a few months.
posted by crazy finger at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2005


guanxi:

My point with the whole "villain" and "it depends on who you ask" thing was really to ask not "does the US need to be concerned with its enemies colluding" but rather, "do the enemies have legitimate complaints." If we automatically dismiss someone like Chavez (who has a record of delivering on promises to the poor, albeit socialistically - whatever one might think of that) as a villain, we risk missing the chance to address grievances in a diplomatic way that can avoid bloodshed. Of course, that may not necessarily be the goal for a body politic that is mainly concerned with staying comfortable - keeping the gas tank full, imports cheap, and lawn mowed. That's why we need responsible people at the top to be concerned with diplomacy and the rule of international law. I haven't seen many examples (and fewer now than ever) in the Bush administration that approach this ideal.
posted by blendor at 8:13 PM on March 15, 2005


From the first link:

" “Chávez is a problem because he is clearly using his oil money and influence to introduce his conflictive style into the politics of other countries,” Mr Pardo-Maurer said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“He's picking on the countries whose social fabric is the weakest,” he added. “In some cases it's downright subversion.”"

We(Americans) never do that...

I'm waiting for Mr. Chavez to be "disappeared" again...this time for good like Allende on 9-11.
(May require tinfoil hat)
posted by schyler523 at 8:31 PM on March 15, 2005


From the "anti-Bush" Link:

"Six Latin American nations, most recently Uruguay, now have presidents whose views clash, in varying degrees, with Washington's. Another politician with sharp anti-Washington views, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is the early favorite in next year's presidential election, which could bring the trend to the banks of the Rio Grande."

This situation is why the School of the Americas exists.

Remember Guatemala?
or any of these?
posted by schyler523 at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2005


I was in Venezuela in November, spending time with the family of the bride of my best bud. We travelled around a lot in several cities and throughout the rural areas. Everywhere all I saw was a country falling apart, decaying from within. Everyone I spoke to -- migrant workers, farmers, urban labourers, lawyers, doctors, alike -- people from every class and every persuasion, hated what Chavez has done to the country. They may supported him in the past, but they certainly don't now. Nothing I observed indicated to me that Chavez was anything but an evil motherfucker.
posted by randomstriker at 11:02 PM on March 15, 2005


randomstriker:

It's interesting that you say that, because it appears that Chavez's favorable rating is a bit over fifty percent.

When you say that the country was "falling apart," do you mean physically, economically, socially, all of the above? The Zmag article says that Chavez is putting money into programs to benefit the poor. I take it you didn't see any evidence of this? The poor people you spoke to; what did they think of these programs? And can you tell us anything specific about their criticisms of Chavez? Did they think he was harming the economy, reducing wages, risking a war with the US, taking away their rights...?
posted by Clay201 at 2:06 AM on March 16, 2005


Americans President, George Bush, continues his anti-Venezuelan verbal attacks. He is also making oil and arms deals with countries that are not friendly to Venezuela.

Hope they don't invade!
posted by fshgrl at 2:10 AM on March 16, 2005


Everywhere all I saw was a country falling apart, decaying from within. Everyone I spoke to -- migrant workers, farmers, urban laborers, lawyers, doctors, alike -- people from every class and every persuasion, hated what Chavez has done to the country.

That's odd, because on October 31, he won the local state elections by a landslide...

And how can one seriously say that the economy isn't doing well when the GDP growth last year was 17.3% (see also here
)...

The poor love the man because he has seriously improved their fates with things like the redistribution of land (in a country of huge landowners). His main problem as far as his detractors go is that he is setting a bad example, instead of towing the line and enriching local oligarchies he is empowering and improving the conditions for the poor.
All this with most (if not all) of the country's privately owned media virulently against him (to the point that they supported the coup to topple him)

As for violence, lately it was a government official that was murdered.

So, yes for improving the health of the poor, forgiving them access to education and for increasing participation in the political process, he must be an evil motherfucker.
posted by talos at 2:33 AM on March 16, 2005


The US always likes to interfere with it's southern neighbors. The idea of the Caribbean islands clubbing together as a trading block was so scary that the complete destablisation of Jamaican society was seen as the only answer. What a mess that created.

'Six Latin American nations, most recently Uruguay, now have presidents whose views clash, in varying degrees, with Washington's.'

Another way to look at it might be - Washington's views clash with those of most of the rest of the world.

It is interesting that manufacturing consent is not working for the plutocrats in South America at the moment.
posted by asok at 3:28 AM on March 16, 2005


He's undermined the courts and legislature to concentrate power in his hands, he's destroying the economy (despite high oil prices) and threatening the civil liberties of the political oppostion (I'm saying that conservatively, because I don't have time to confirm more serious details).

Is this Chavez we're talking about or Bush?
posted by nofundy at 6:28 AM on March 16, 2005


I wonder how much concern the Bushies would have if Venezuela had no oil?
posted by caddis at 7:11 AM on March 16, 2005


blendor:
You're talking about Bush, I'm talking about Chavez outside the context of Bush or the U.S., but in the context of Venezuala.

Praising or excusing Chavez as a way to attack Bush does harm to Venezualans in the cross-fire. The west has a long history of spreading collateral damage in far away unseen foriegn places in order to further our domestic political goals and idealism (for example, remember all the supporters of Stalin here, and the tens of millions that died in the USSR).


Regarding the debate about Chavez' handling of the economy:

First, it's not the rich who will suffer from a disfunctional economy so much as the poor. The rich might lose their limosines, the poor lose food and shelter. It's the economy, stupid.

Second, don't be fooled that he's some altruistic friend to the poor. It's an old political strategy to steal from your political enemies and give to your supporters, practiced by despots all over the world. Look at Zimbabwe, for example.

Economically, the history of socialism has a long established track record and it's foolish to repeat the experiment: Long term impovrishment, even under more able governments. We won't pay the price for supporting idealist dreams over economic reality, the poor in Venezuala will.

Some typical problems: The government a poor agent for allocating resources, giving it to political friends instead of the most productive. The resources are squandered instead of producing wealth, services, jobs (and taxes needed to provide additional services). It discourages other investment: Would you spend millions or billions building a factory there, or would you move the money off-shore, out of Chavez' reach? If you were a foriegn investor, would you invest there?

The universal conclusion of economists I've read (though I haven't done extensive research) agrees: They are heading for disaster. The economy grew because of high oil prices and as a rebound from the disaster of the past few years.
posted by guanxi at 8:00 AM on March 16, 2005


Chavez has only been in power for approximately 4 years some of which was during a period of great unrest. It would be an amazing thing if his effects during that time period would be so visibly notable as " a country falling apart, decaying from within." Perhaps what you had seen was the decay caused by the previous president, Rafael Caldera Rodriguez? Or maybe by the rich elite interfering with the proper functioning of the government?

Obviously the decay of Detroit was not blamed on any one administration and did not happen over a short period of time. It was a result of the many years that the rich slowly whittled away downtown and consolidated their moneys elsewhere in the suburbs distant from the poor, and only for their own gains. Venezuela and other latin american countries are in the same state. For too long the rich had complete power over the country and built the infrastructure to the bare minimum required to maintain a semblence of democracy. Kind of like the efforts that the Bush's and Reagan pushed for us here in America. I applaud Chavez for trying to turn things around and it shows that the only people to oppose him are the rich minority who were not able to do much in a true democratic election. God bless democracy and may it yet flower in America as has been promised by our founding fathers.
posted by JJ86 at 8:06 AM on March 16, 2005


guanxi: I'd just like to point out that the poor in Venezuela seem to persistently disagree with you for the past six elections. Your ideological reasons for why Chavez will fail, apparently aren't as convincing as the real change they see in their lives.

Second, don't be fooled that he's some altruistic friend to the poor. It's an old political strategy to steal from your political enemies and give to your supporters, practiced by despots all over the world.


It just happens that his supporters are the majority of the population (democracy is the key word here I think), who are tired of seeing the country's enormous wealth being swallowed by the local oligarchy and a majority of the population living in poverty. Note the improvement of a host of social indicators. And Chavez is not a despot, I repeat, he is the (many times) elected president of the country - despite the all out war that the (elite owned) private media of the country are waging against him. Compared especially to Washington's friend Uribe next door in Colombia and his not-so-clandestine support of the murderous paramilitary squads, Chavez is the embodiment of the Jeffersonian ideal.

Indeed the redistributive measures that Chavez has introduced are, if anything, less radical than the measures implemented by European Social Democracies after WWII. Yet "long term impoverishment" is is hardly predominant in, say, Scandinavia - and the poor in Northern Europe are if anything much more comfortable (and fewer) than their British or American counterparts.

But when a Third World country dares place the interests of the majority of its population above the disastrous IMF policies and attempts to narrow the gaping income gap, it's some sort of scandal.

BTW the BBC article I posted predicts ~ 4% growth for 2005 even after the oil prices have stabilized. Sadly for the neoliberal vultures over Latin America this means that yet more of the poor will have the (Chavez empowering) experience of, say, free access to health care.
posted by talos at 8:29 AM on March 16, 2005


"he's destroying the economy..."

Or not.

Rocketed by strong oil prices and political stability Venezuela's economy surged 17.3 % in 2004 following two years of significant contraction, and according to a release from the Venezuelan Central Bank this was the largest increase "since indexes began to be recorded”.

And certainly, European investors believe that Chavez' economy is for real. They're willing to bankroll it.

Venezuela's government will cover between 25 and 30 percent of its financing needs for 2005 by selling bonds for a total of $1.32 billion in the European market, an official said Monday.

"The issue attracted 4.6 billion euros in bids, almost nine times what we originally sought to sell," said Rudolf Romer, head of public credit office.

Venezuelan officials decided to increase a 10-year bond issue from euro500 million to euro1 billion. The coupon was set at 7 percent with an issue price of 99.301.


Double digit growth, a stable government, strong oil revenues, and foriegn investment. So, where's the economic meltdown?
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2005


It says a lot about Bush that he looks into the eyes of a despot like Putin and sees a good soul. Chavez is no angel, but he's not nearly as bad as many of the leaders Bush has taken a liking to.
posted by bardic at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2005


Talos said: "But when a Third World country dares place the interests of the majority of its population above the disastrous IMF policies and attempts to narrow the gaping income gap, it's some sort of scandal."

Exactly.
If you want to see economic failure just look anywhere the IMF and World Bank have "helped."

Their insistence on the removal of economic protections has allowed multinational conglomerates to "dump" products in these countires, destroying local economies. This reduces the country's ability to repay the IMF and World Bank loans, ending/starting the viscious cycle. Look to Argentina for one example.
posted by schyler523 at 9:32 AM on March 16, 2005


guanxi:
To most of what you said - what everyone else said will suffice.

Second, don't be fooled that he's some altruistic friend to the poor. It's an old political strategy to steal from your political enemies and give to your supporters, practiced by despots all over the world. Look at Zimbabwe, for example.

In general, if you pay attention to the intentions rather than the effects of politicians, you will always be disappointed. As for the effects, again, others have provided plenty of info here.

The main reason Venezuela's economy would falter is if the US convinced other G8 nations to isolate them, a la Iraq.
posted by blendor at 9:37 AM on March 16, 2005


Ah, forgot one thing:
It discourages other investment: Would you spend millions or billions building a factory there, or would you move the money off-shore, out of Chavez' reach? If you were a foriegn investor, would you invest there?

No, I'd build my factory somewhere the poor have no choice but to work for criminally low wages.
posted by blendor at 9:39 AM on March 16, 2005


Indeed the redistributive measures that Chavez has introduced are, if anything, less radical than the measures implemented by European Social Democracies after WWII. Yet "long term impoverishment" is is hardly predominant in, say, Scandinavia

But the European countries in question were industrial economies with essentially universal literacy, well-developed and pervasive communications and transportion networks (or at least, had had them 'til Bomber Harris paid a visit, and knew how to build them again), skilled workers, well-developed and universal educational systems, well-developed and pervasive health-care systems, a long-standing and large middle class, a civil service relatively free from obvious corruption, a long history of homegrown entrepeneurial skills and the financial systems to support them, and so on.

Rather unlike Venezuela, which AFAIK doesn't have any of these things comparable to immediate prewar Europe.

Which doesn't say anything about Venezuela becoming New Jerusalem or sinking into Mogadishu or anything in between. Just that that particular argument is not a good argument.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2005


Did prewar Europe have universal literacy? Which countries in particular? Maybe Germany had a good public education in the cities but I would hardly say it was pervasive in all of Europe.
posted by JJ86 at 10:12 AM on March 16, 2005


The point is of course that the above was directed against guanxi's argument:

"Economically, the history of socialism has a long established track record and it's foolish to repeat the experiment: Long term impoverishment, even under more able governments."

which if applied to the social democracies of post war Western Europe is patently false.

Yet there is little doubt that Chavez is aiming for universal literacy, health-care, developed transport networks, a good educational system, in short all that you list as prerequisites to the European SD model. One has to start somewhere...! Also Venezuela has something that Europe didn't have. Immense oil wealth - that's enough of an industry to feed the country for ages...

However there is another point to consider: that efforts to create a large and prosperous middle class and to eradicate poverty in the third world (unlike in Europe) are eyed with suspicion, and countries are warned about the pitfalls of "socialism", when these exact goals remained the pillar of the post-war Keynesian world.
posted by talos at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2005


In ten years, let's all remember to look back at this thread and see whose analysis was right.

I'll let stand what we've all said above, and add to the debate:

Economics

Many countries have claimed to aim at these things (universal health care, housing education, empowering the poor, etc), including the USSR, China and Cuba. It hasn't always worked out so well for the poor.

The question is the results, not the announced goals. Chavez is using methods that have a track record for failure, and that most experts think will fail. Would you want to bet on them? It might be ideologically satisfying if they work, and invigorating to take the risk, but we're playing with other people's lives here.

Would you bet your life, or your children's life, on them, or would you use the proven methods that have succeeded in the U.S. W. Europe, Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, etc. and are succeeding in China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and many other places in the world? Capitalism, like democracy, is a terrible system, but still the best. (For nitpickers: I mean capitalism in the loose sense; I know it's not pure capitalism.)

No expert in development advocates Chavez' methods. Are they all misinformed?

Too look at it another way, I can aim at some noble goal like providing scholarships for all the kids in my neighborhood, but I wouldn't bet their educations on it.


Politics

I said myself that he was elected, but he can still be or become a despot. A certain German tyrant, whose name is so over-used it's a cliche, was elected. Many African leaders were elected, and can't seem to be unelected for decades.

Also, being elected doesn't make his policies good for his country. Bush got elected twice and his party was elected to control the legislature -- are his policies therefore good for the people of the United States?

He's popular, but so is any demagogue; populist rhetoric, I think you'll find, usually turns out to be the sign of someone willing to tell bald-faced lies on camera rather than the sign of someone who truly cares about the populace.

The fact is he is concentrating power, undermining other democratic institutions, and trying to eliminate political dissent.

I get the sense that because he uses left-wing rather than right-wing rhetoric, normally skeptical MeFites want to believe it. Remember that Mao and Stalin used similar left-wing rhetoric. The results, which are all that matters, are horrible and take a generation or more to undo. If you're in Venezuela, that's the rest of your life.


fThe road to hell is paved with good intentions. It's just not our hell we're talking about.
posted by guanxi at 11:52 AM on March 16, 2005


talos:

Venezuela has something that Europe didn't have. Immense oil wealth - that's enough of an industry to feed the country for ages...

I think if you look at the most oil rich nations, they don't do so well economically. It's counter-intuitive, but many consider oil to be somewhat of a curse.



efforts to create a large and prosperous middle class and to eradicate poverty in the third world (unlike in Europe) are eyed with suspicion

By who? Western nations would love to see political stability and huge new markets to buy western goods and services.
posted by guanxi at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2005


Many countries have claimed to aim at these things (universal health care, housing education, empowering the poor, etc), including the USSR, China and Cuba. It hasn't always worked out so well for the poor.

Odd that you only included only communist states in that list. Canada for one has a similar socialized health care and social programs that do work well. Cuba has programs that work well for everyone. The programs of the USSR worked out much better than the systems in place currently for retirees. Most current retirees have to beg from handouts from children who were required to go abroad and it gets worse as time progresses. The capitalist system of the US continues to "improve" the system so that the poor get less. I see Bush's planned policies to piss away the thousands of dollars I have invested in SSA over my working lifetime to be gone.

It's silly to say that Chavez is on a road to failure or Castro for that matter. Without interference from the US, Cuba could be a helluva better place than was ever possible under the previous administrations of Machado and Batista. If you have ever tried to understand beyond the lies the administration tells you about Cuba or Venezuela and searched for the truth then you would better be able to judge. It goes beyond any rhetoric which all politicians use as effectively - it is all lies or untruths or usually halftruths. But to say that "democratic" rhetoric is better than "left-wing" rhetoric is crazy talk. Even crazier is all the synonyms for dictator laced in your little tirade. Is this a personal thing that you have against "non-democratic" ideals or are you paid by the State Department? Based on the details present in your essay, I would doubt you know much more than you get from Fox News.
posted by JJ86 at 12:27 PM on March 16, 2005


Shhh ... Rush is on!
posted by guanxi at 2:06 PM on March 16, 2005


guanxi: just two points. Unlike Adolf Hitler (and Jo Stalin) Chavez has been working for the past six years in a multi-party system where he gets persistently elected by a wide majority (unlike both Hitler and Stalin). In fact he is governing with pretty much all of the press against him (and striking very low blows) simply because the interests of the Venezuelan oligarchy who owns the press are being challenged. Not to mention the US... As for Chavez's economic methods I refer you to Insomnia_lj's post above. Frankly these sort of changes - having to do with government planning and/or control of the economy, was what brought East Asian economies to the first world. If anything Chavez's Venezuela is far more democratic than Syngman Ree's South Korea.

Also its funny how you mention Cuba as being a disaster for the poor. With free health care, a place to live and similar programs, the Cuban poor are better off in material terms, not only than their counterparts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but their counterparts in far richer Mexico and Panama. If you have travelled to these countries you will have seen that while Cubans are poor, the abject destitution found in the "capitalist" Central American countries, is not found on the island.

As for Venezuela - again they aren't trying anything more "radical" than to eradicate poverty and redistribute the national product so that Venezuela's richness is shared by all of the population. Why this is opposed by the US, I can't tell you.
posted by talos at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2005


I think if you look at the most oil rich nations, they don't do so well economically. It's counter-intuitive, but many consider oil to be somewhat of a curse

I read a really intersting essay (can't seem to find it online) which showed that countries with oil wealth as their primary source of income have traditionally terrible economies because oil wealth tends to be concentrated with a smaller group of people then any other resource/revenue source. Venezuela is no exception, it's very much like Saudi Arabia in the sense that an elite group controls pretty much all the wealth, and lives like Kings, while the common people don't have it very good.

Given that kind of situation, I see why Chavez is a step up from previous kleptocracies. At the same time, I understand why the opposition fears him, because he has shown a lust for a power and a desire to do things his way, consequences be damned. At the same time, I don't feel a lot of sympathy for the rich Venezualens who have been beneficiaries of an utterly corrupt system for decades being pissed off because now a new group is getting in the corruption. I also think it's a bit ironic that those who supported the coup and other extra-legal methods against Chavez use "anti-democracy" as one of his sins.

I guess what I'm saying is that Chavez and his detractors deserve each other. If Chavez leaves office peacefully, however, regardless of what he achieves in office, I think you will have to say that on one level, he was a success, because he did take on very powerful interests and lived to tell the tale. If he does sieze power and ruins democracy, then you'll have to give his detractors credit for recognizing that.
posted by chaz at 2:51 PM on March 16, 2005


Talos -

However Chavez got to power, the question is whether he'll perpetuate democracy. He appears to have the power to decide not to.

As for Chavez's economic methods I refer you to Insomnia_lj's post above.

One year does not make an economic success. The previous years were far worse. Also, I think some of the evidence is seletive: I'm pretty sure Venezuela is still considered a very risky investment.


Frankly these sort of changes - having to do with government planning and/or control of the economy, was what brought East Asian economies to the first world.

There's a continuum: Even the US gov't engages in some planning and control. I guess the questions are, where does Chavez fall on the continuum, and how good is he at planning? Bad planning can be devestating.


If anything Chavez's Venezuela is far more democratic than Syngman Ree's South Korea.

Agreed, but let's distinguish between democracy and capitalism. You can have capitalism without democracy. S Korea and Taiwan did it, and now China is trying. And you can certainly have democracy without capitalism; India tried it for a long time -- note the lack of economic success stories.

Cuba is not an economic success. Nobody's goal is, 'we want an economy like Cuba's', or 'we want to live like Cubans'. Except Chavez himself. Those happy poor Cubans are risking life & limb to float to Florida.


they aren't trying anything more "radical" than to eradicate poverty and redistribute the national product so that Venezuela's richness is shared by all of the population. Why this is opposed by the US, I can't tell you.

Many reasons for many different people. I think the valid reasons are two:

One, it won't work. The poor will be poorer in the long run. The children of the poor even worse. The road to hell is paved with good intentions: Land redistribution, for example, starved well over 50 million people in the 20th century. I think we can find common ground at least here: If it makes the poor poorer, it's a bad idea.

Two, ignoring property rights is morally wrong, it causes serious harm to the economy and political system:

* It's stealing: To the extent that the resources were stolen from the poor, then it's not stealing to reclaim it, but I haven't heard of any careful judicial process that's sorting out who has title to what.

* It hurts the economy: Nobody is going to invest in anything when they run the risk of having it appropriated by the government; again, who will build a factory?

* Finally, it hurts the political system: A precedent is estabilshed that you can steal from unpopular minorities. Even if you think today's victim deserves it, tomorrow someone else will be the victim. At least the current targets have some capacity to defend themselves; what happens when someone wants land occupied by the poor? Where will the poor turn, if legal protection is undermined?

To be fair, I don't know to what extent outright appropriation is going on, but maybe someone else can fill in the facts.
posted by guanxi at 9:37 PM on March 16, 2005


« Older Ten Commandments monuments are MOVIE PROMOS?   |   Shop for a spell Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post