Sunday, May 14, 2006


Loonie Left

Cindy Sheehan as your anti-war poster child? Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as your anti-big oil champion? Many politically left leaning individuals have hitched their wagons (hopes) to some real dim *stars* lately.

Sheehan, who lost a son in active combat in Iraq, has the right to be emotional crushed and can speak out against the war. She, however, can't claim to have any better idea to how get out of the Iraq mess nor does she ever state what would have been her alternative to removing Saddam?

President Chavez is *seen* by the Latin poor as having stood up to George Bush and big oil. How is that? Well, he nationalized the Venezuelan oil fields, following the lead of Castro and influencing Bolivia. This however may not have been the best move in the long run. Public ownership of natural resources - this is not always the case as there are some good CDN examples bucking this trend (SaskTel in Saskatchewan and Hydro Quebec to name a couple) - often leads to two things: poor infrastructure, technology and innovation. The government simply doesn't have the incentive to maintain cutting edge technology and is often too busy extracting the revenue from the agency to invest in enhancements.

The second reason Chavez is making a mistake with the oil decision is that now is the exact time when one would want to open up the fields for competition. The oil market has never been hotter and the investment opportunities would be flowing - all things being equally - to the country. Instead, Chavez has gambled that nationalization will not mean a mass exodus of foreign skilled workers since he believes the state run company can hire many back on contract.

The Venezuelan people for their efforts will soon get to vote on the merits of Chavez's actions. He will be asking for a term extension of 25 years. Yep, that is correct he is looking at democratically asking to having his dictatorship extended.

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