Sunday, November 24, 2019

Faux Concern for Venezuelans

When a country elects a government that US policy makers don't prefer the response often involves things like sanctions and embargoes.  Our government collectively punishes people for voting the wrong way in a free election.

The goal is to cause collective suffering.  This in turn can lead to a change in government if the people either blame the government for the suffering or simply give up and elect the government preferred by US investors to stop the pain.

Sanctions can approach genocidal levels.  In fact in Iraq two consecutive directors of the UN Oil for Food Program resigned because they regarded it as genocidal.  Madeline Albright was confronted with the magnitude of the collective suffering.  At the time of this question it was thought to be 500 thousand children starved.  She said it was worth it.

In Venezuela it's been extremely harsh.  Blocking insulin and malaria medication?  Now we're implementing additional measures to prevent their efforts to feed their own poor?  This is atrocious.  Jeffrey Sachs estimates 40K dead Venezuelans already.

US propagandists want people to blame the Maduro government for this suffering.  But nobody would fall for that, right?  I mean, maybe you might fall for that the first time it's tried, maybe the second.  Or third.  But again and again and again?  Humans can't be that naive.  Can they?

Of course they can.  Here's my friend HP.  He's so upset to see suffering Venezuelans and ANGRY that people don't finally come to realize how terrible socialism is.  Even though Venezuela is not a socialist country.  I'm baffled.  And so is Jeffrey Sachs as he reveals in this interview.  Remember, the sanctions are designed to produce this outcome.  We see the outcome.  We don't recognize sanctions as the cause?

Meanwhile in Bolivia the president and candidate who won the most votes is pressured to leave the country.  His VP is arrested.  A right wing politician who's party won very few votes has assumed the presidency and has signed a measure permitting the military to put down protesters by lethal force.  Which they are now doing.  And in Venezuela Juan Guaido, who recently attempted an overthrow of the elected Maduro government with the support of the US, the country imposing collective suffering on Venezuelans, is still campaigning for insurrection across Venezuela.  Guess which country is described as a dictatorship?


HispanicPundit said...

You're obfuscating Jon. I'm already on record against the sanctions. No question they make things worse. But you fail to mention that shit was already bad, really bad - tons of refugees pouring into neighboring countries, low nutrition, long lines for basic necessities etc - long before the sanctions. Also, informed people are not claiming that Venezuela is socialist - they are arguing Venezuelas government socialist policies are the root cause of this suffering. You know this. But still you obfuscate.

I understand why you obfuscate. It's the only thing the socialists have left. Otherwise you'd actually have to face reality and come to terms with the suffering caused. Thats difficult. Admitting wrong is hard. Again - let me ask, what has the Venezuela crisis taught you? Did I misrepresent you?

Yes, admitting wrong is difficult. But its the mature thing to do if one truly cared about the poor and the Venezuela situation is a strong reminder that socialism was never about the poor but about envy: hatred for the rich above all else, and the poor be damned if they get in the way!

Jon said...

"I'm already on record against the sanctions."

When you say "on record" do you mean publicly? I think you told me privately you oppose sanctions. Usually when people say "on record" they don't mean privately.

The reason I make that point is because I don't think your very muted objection to sanctions is good enough. Maybe you've said it publicly, I haven't read every post you've put up, but if you have it's certainly not emphasized. And I just think if you really cared about Venezuelans you would absolutely emphasize this.

Think of it this way. Suppose you have a son and I have a son and we see both of them beating the same elderly woman. And you comment over and over again how you think it's just so terrible what my son is doing. And you say one time somewhere, though it's not so obvious where, in fact it's not obvious to me at all that you've said it publicly, that you oppose your son beating elderly women also. Are you really concerned with helping this woman? I say no. If you were you'd be blaring about what your son is doing, not what my son is doing. If you're focusing on my son you are an ax grinder.

"Also, informed people are not claiming that Venezuela is socialist"

You've said they are socialist. All kinds of prominent people claim they are socialist. Pointing out that they are not socialist, in fact they are capitalist, is important.

"Admitting wrong is hard."

This is true. I stumbled on this looking to see if you've ever raised sanctions in the context of the suffering of Venezuelans. Couldn't find anything. You can see my admission here, yours isn't there. Even though I asked you about it.

"Again - let me ask, what has the Venezuela crisis taught you?"

I've learned a lot, I don't even know where to begin. I've learned that there are a lot of complexities to it. You're right, there were problems before sanctions and those problems and their causes are difficult to evaluate. If you have a preferred conclusion and don't want to consider complexities you could just say "See, an awful country, they would have been better off if they had given the fruit of their labor to wealthy oligarchs who don't work rather than using money to improve the lives of poor people." That's maybe true. Maybe the pain that capitalists are able to bring when you take care of your own people with oil revenue rather than giving it up to Wall St or other wealthy people who want a few more yachts just isn't worth it. Give them what they want and they call off the siege. But does this lead me to the conclusion that social control of the means of production is not preferable to private control of the means of production? Certainly not.

I could be convinced that the Maduro government has made mistakes in his response to the falling oil prices and attacks on his currency. Oil prices which fell as a direct result of US intervention intended to destabilize governments our government was hostile to. But I don't really know if there was any easy way out, it may have been a rock and a hard place.

HispanicPundit said...

The Venezuelan economy was crumbling before Maduro, before sanctions, while Chavez was still in power: Food shortages, Record Level Inflation, Large scale hunger, Mass migration and overall Poverty at unprecedented levels.

I see sanctions as analogous to chemotherapy for cancer patients. It's a blunt instrument that mostly doesn't work and in the process makes the patient feel worse. I'm generally against them (and foreign intervention too, btw). But talking about sanctions as the root cause of poverty in Venezuela is to miss the bigger picture: the cancer, the socialism. In this case, I'd like to focus on the cancer. I understand why you would rather talk about the chemotherapy, it's emotionally easier and escapes responsibility. But it's the cancer at the root cause of the suffering here. The cancer has to be dealt with and understood, one way or another. Removing the chemotherapy doesn't make the cancer go away. It's still there, causing deep poverty, just as it was before the sanctions.

Venezuela went from thriving economy, pictures of Hugo Chavez taking pictures with his favorite American intellectual Noam Chomsky, to making real cheered socialist policy changes, to a failed state. Some say poorer than Cuba now. Mass suffering at an unprecedented level. Scores of Venezuelans going anywhere they can to get something to eat: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, all over South America. It's the saddest thing to see. I see it every time I come to South America. I'm in Ecuador/Peru now. Full families: Father, Mother, Children, together, begging for food. Talk to any South American, it's real down here. It makes me want to cry.

And the socialist response? Nothing. Not one change of opinion. Simply a doubling down of already held views (see Jons response above). It's the most callous thing I've seen and I'm glad I witnessed Venezuela from beginning to end. Sure, there are some links or some video to someone claiming 'sabotage' and 'hoarding' and 'manipulation', but this is the stuff of conspiracy theories, something a high school economics class could easily dispel one of. But a socialist clings on to these because without them, it would show the world what their real views are based on: pure envy and hatred of the rich, and like communist countries before them, screw the poor if they get in the way!

Jon said...

Genuine concern for Venezuelans means you have to look at what you are doing first. You can be against what you regard as the cancer (socialism) but you are not responsible for that, the people of Venezuela chose their government, that is on them. You have to focus on what you are responsible for. Do you disagree?

Most of what you wrote is about how they struggled before sanctions, but take a look at what I wrote. I conceded that. I talked about the causes, in fact the major cause. The drop in oil prices, orchestrated by the US. Once again we are doing this to them, even if you want to argue that their socialist minded response to this was mistaken. We didn't have to put them in this terrible position, we did anyway. If you care about their well being don't you have to focus on that?

HispanicPundit said...

To conclude: my summary of your views is correct. Absolutely no change, just more doubling down. Agreed? That is amazing to me.

Venezuelava went from one of the richest in South America to THE poorest. Poorer than even Bolivia now. The president couldn't have been more leftist. Taking pictures with Noam Chomsky. Brandishing his book. Implementing hard socialist policies (can easily be googled). Now, years later it's a clear failed state. And the socialist response is "drop in oil prices, orchestrated by the US".

This is the stuff of conspiracy theories. A high school economics class would show how weak this response is but since lefties don't take economics seriously, they are stuck in this evidence free conspiracy theory world. It's sad. Real people are suffering. The socialist response is to move onto the next country as if Venezuelava never happened, bringing more misery with them...

Jon said...

My view is that it is difficult to evaluate causes under these conditions.

Let's suppose a population group decides that carrots are very healthy and they begin eating lots of them. And suddenly there's tons of lung cancer and death. You would quickly conclude that carrots are bad.

But I'm asking another question. Did they suddenly take up smoking at the same time? Yes, they did. You dismiss this as irrelevant. "Come on, they were chumming around with carrot advocates, lots of people said carrots are good." But they might still be good. The fact that smoking was added at the same time and you want to act like we can still draw conclusions about carrots, that to me is telling. An honest person has to admit that the test is flawed. Not that this means carrots are good, but how can you say they are bad?

And our country is forcing the smoking on them. We all know smoking kills. You want to tell me you care about their suffering and death but all you talk about is carrots? And a few buzzwords about smoking being a conspiracy and high school economics class would somehow change something. Sorry man, smoking is bad and it is hard to judge the effectiveness of carrots with all the smoking. The fact that you are so confident that this proves how carrots are unhealthy, that says to me you either are not good at understanding how tests need to be conducted or you are just not honest with yourself.