CARACAS, Tuesday January 22, 2013 | Update


Venezuelans are lost because they are dependent on external solutions to their problems

Tuesday January 22, 2013  10:01 AM
Venezuela is lost, and has been for a long time. Venezuela lost its way before the current crisis, with a president so incapacitated in a Cuban hospital he can't even attend his own swearing in. Venezuela lost its way before 2005, when the price of oil skyrocketed and everything went promptly to hell including historic debt, corruption,narcotics, homicides,non-productivity,inequality and inflation. Indeed, its way was lost before 1998, when the voters elected a paratrooper to rid them of a generation of sweet political deals for the few and dismal results for the many. Venezuela began to lose its way in the years after breaking ground for democracy in Latin America in 1958, when the 1960s debate about how to sow the oil was shelved in favor of reckless, endless conspicuous consumption with the public's credit card. That's when Venezuela truly lost its direction.

Venezuela was not lost in the generations from 1900 to 1970, when it enjoyed growth and inflation rates among the very best in the world. Oil was not the only product of Venezuela then. Those were the halcyon days, and yes, most of them were spent under dictators who were under immense pressure to liberate the people, but the best of those days were spent with the first democratic presidents who wrestled with how to sow the oil without getting corrupted by it. Upon the legalization of the state monopoly over oil and industry, the fuse to the corruption bomb was lit, and by the late 1970s, productivity began to fall. Ironically, productivity recovered in the early 1990s, only to be met by a coup attempt, presidential impeachment, and a spate of panicky saviors.

Venezuelans are lost because they are dependent on external solutions to their problems, whether from oil money, government power, or the promises of false prophets. In a 1998 global survey, a world worst 67% ofVenezuelans agreed with the statement, "I don't have control over the direction of my life," and only 33% agreed with "I am responsible for what happens to me." After fourteen years of strong-man rule, Venezuelans may be even more outer-directed, dependent, and lost than in 1998, which was a very bad year for them.

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