CARACAS, Tuesday July 04, 2006 | Update
Special for El Universal
The US has its independence day today and Venezuela has its dependence day tomorrow. With its $11,000 billion economy at $40,000 per capita and with only 10% of its families affected by poverty and with as much economic freedom as exists on earth, the US should celebrate its independence today. With its $100 billion economy at $5,000 per capita and with almost 75% of its families affected by poverty and with a decline in economic freedom more rapid than almost anywhere on earth, Venezuela should not celebrate its independence tomorrow.
A country is not independent until its families are economically free. This is not true in Venezuela, where the government traps the population in economic dependence. True independence can be accomplished in Venezuela by investing the nation's oil money sensibly in free people. The president must stop spending so much money outside Venezuela and inside a corrupt government, and start investing money directly in poor families to foster economically free, self-reliant wealth creators.
If $48 billion were invested in six million Venezuelan families equipped with property titles, enterprise incorporation and family business plans, the economy would double in size and poverty would disappear in a few years. But rather than eliminating poverty and corruption -- as he promised in his 1998 campaign to do -- the president has already spent or committed $36 billion in foreign lands and multiples of that in a corrupt government where only a pittance actually trickles down to those six million families. In the coming years, he may waste several hundred billion dollars the same way.
That President Chavez might continue wasteful spending in the face of so much poverty is a disgrace. That the opposition might ignore the plight of the poor in the 2006 presidential election boggles the mind. The idea that self-sufficiency fosters human freedom, and that human freedom cries out for the tools of self-sufficiency is not a new piece of knowledge. "Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency," Epicurus wrote 2,400 years ago. If he were alive here today, would he celebrate Venezuela's Independence Day or suggest it be changed to Dependence Day?
Read about Michael Rowan's book "Getting Over Chavez and Poverty" at firstname.lastname@example.org