Thinking Out Loud
Since 1976, productivity has fallen in Venezuela almost every year, while misery, inflation, corruption and insecurity have gone off the charts. The middle classes have all but disappeared
MICHAEL ROWAN | EL UNIVERSAL
Tuesday November 13, 2012 02:40 PM
Here are two suggestions for governing Venezuela toward a constructive, inclusive, and prosperous future. First, level the playing field of elections so they are real contests. Second, abandon wealth distribution and reinitiate wealth creation so Venezuela can return to prosperity for all.
The will of the people is only achieved by transparent fair elections. That means no side has an unfair advantage to influence the outcome, which is not the case today in Venezuela. Government spending, law, regulations and military or police powers are overwhelmingly biased for itself and against the opposition, which is considered an enemy. The election voter roll, process, machinery and secret count are a black hole deserving of transparency and sunshine. Elections in Venezuela used to take place in clear daylight counted by citizens. Today they take place at the darkest hour of night counted by a government computer.
Even more important is reminding Venezuelans about their message for development. From 1900 to almost 1976, Venezuela achieved one of the highest growth rates and lowest inflation rates in the world through a wealth creation system that opened the economy to all. Almost one out of every three families was in the burgeoning middle classes then. Since 1976, productivity has fallen in Venezuela almost every year, while misery, inflation, corruption and insecurity have gone off the charts. The middle classes have all but disappeared. This decline is coincident with the state wealth distribution model that depends on oil for everything, and which has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on domestic and foreign projects that make absolutely no sense.
The Venezuela of 1900 1976 was producing wealth for the rising middle classes, a chance for the poor to move up the economic ladder, equality under the law, universal education that was respected, the first democracy in South America, and hope for everyone in the country. It is worth thinking about that wonderful age in Venezuela and how to recapture its spirit again.
Following a wave of nationalizations carried out by the late President Hugo Chavez between 2007 and 2012, Venezuela has become the second most frequent respondent to investment treaty arbitration in the world (38 cases in total), after Argentina.