Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lessons in Bad Governance

. Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brad DeLong says "Electricity shortages in a country whose sole export is energy are truly a miraculous thing. It takes a very special government to produce them."

Which government do you think he's referring to? It could only be one:

This country may be an energy colossus, with the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East and one of the world’s mightiest hydroelectric systems, but that has not prevented it from enduring serious electricity and water shortages that seem only to be getting worse. ...

“We’re paying for the mistakes of this president and his incompetent managers,” said Aixa López, 39, president of the Committee of Blackout Victims, which has organized protests in several cities. In some cities, protesters have left household appliances on the steps of state electricity companies.

In response, the president is embarking on his own crusade: pushing Venezuelans to conserve by mocking their consumption habits.

He began his critique last month with the amount of time citizens spent under their shower heads, saying three-minute showers were sufficient. “I’ve counted and I don’t end up stinking,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

Then he went after the country’s ubiquitous love motels and shopping malls, accusing them of waste. “Buy your own generator,” he threatened, “or I’ll cut off your lights.” He similarly laid blame with “oligarchs,” a frequently used insult here for the rich, for overconsumption of water in gardens and swimming pools.

Mr. Chávez is even going after his countrymen’s expanding waistlines. “Watch out for the fat people,” he said last month, citing a study finding a jump in obesity. “Time to lose weight through dieting and exercise.”

Blaming the fat people for an electricity shortage? Even by Chavez's standards, that's pretty crazy. So what are the real reasons?

They said the president encouraged consumption with a 2002 decree freezing electricity and other utility rates. A time-zone change by Mr. Chávez in 2007 that turned clocks back half an hour also led consumption to climb (the sun sets earlier here than before). ...

Most significant, though, may be the government’s failure to use its immense natural gas reserves, the second largest in the Western Hemisphere after those of the United States, to fuel existing power plants.

And so the downward spiral continues.


Media Mentions said...

I can't believe I haven't heard of this yet, and all I"ve seen in the media today was this article: Time for some research, don't you think?

Best regards,

Lessons in Bad Governance
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