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Making Atlas Shrug in Venezuela:

State Department folk are undoubtedly scratching their heads over what to do about the looney anti-American leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Here's a suggestion, only partly tongue-in-cheek: Chavez claims that his brand of populist socialism is superior to Yankee capitalism. Well, let the people vote with their feet. Venezuela has a population of approximately 25 million. How about letting any Venezuelan who can pass a basic English test and get ahold of, say, twenty thousand dollars, emigrate to the U.S.? As more and more productive Venezuelans move to the U.S., and Chavez ceases to benefit from the spike in oil prices (which can only work in the long term so long as oil prices climb), Venezuela will inevitably sink into economic straits of Chavez's model, Cuba, and become about as much of a strategic threat to the U.S. as Cuba currently is. And the U.S. will gain a few million productive and grateful citizens, happy to escape Venezuela before it becomes another Cuba. And wouldn't it be fun to watch Venezuelans line up for English classes for the chance to emigrate to The Great Imperalist Enemy?

Ilya Somin:
I agree 100%. We could certainly benefit from an influx of anti-Chavez Venezuelan professionals - just as we have benefited from Cuban and Soviet immigration. Venezuela won't be as badly off as Castro's Cuba because they have a large supply of oil. But this would still be a good way to poke a stick in Chavez's eye at no cost to ourselves (and indeed to our great benefit).
12.5.2006 12:41am
JB:
This is the sort of good idea that will never happen.
12.5.2006 12:52am
Gil (mail) (www):
Sounds fine. But, I'm worried about unintended consequences from such a biased policy.

Maybe people all over the world will vote communists and other wacko leaders into power to boost their chances of emigrating to the U.S.

That would make many people worse off.

I'd prefer applying the same open immigration rules to people from every country.
12.5.2006 1:10am
Brett Bellmore:
Won't happen; It would get in the way of our highest immigration priority: Letting in as many illegal immigrants from Mexico as possible. We have to suppress every other form of immigration, no matter how desirable, to leave room for all the illegals.
12.5.2006 6:24am
Pete Freans (mail):
Chavez ceases to benefit from the spike in oil prices (which can only work in the long term so long as oil prices climb)

Quite right. According to the CIA World Factbook, oil accounts for one-third of Venezuela's GDP and approximately 80% of its export earnings. Should oil production suffer any long-term disruptions, so goes Che- Chavez.
12.5.2006 7:28am
PersonFromPorlock:
Too complicated. Why not a new policy, that we'll act in foreign countries as they accuse us of acting? If they claim we're assassinating their leaders and subverting their government when we're not, why not accommodate them?

It's only respectful, after all, not to make liars of people; and it might tone down the rhetorical wars a bit.
12.5.2006 8:04am
Jeek:
Any Venezuelan who wants to live in the US can already do so, and probably for a lot less than twenty thou. Oh wait, you mean live here legally...

which can only work in the long term so long as oil prices climb

Gee, you expect oil prices to fall in the long term, because we're finding so much more oil than we're using, and people all over the world are tired of using gasoline?

Venezuela is never going to collapse economically, so you might as well get over that idea right now.
12.5.2006 8:28am
Mongoose388:
Nice idea but neglects the law of unintended consequences in two ways. First, if, through lack of qualified workers, Venezuelan oil production drops off with no offsetting increases elsewhere, world oil prices most likely will rise. My bet is oil prices will rise regardless, due to the percieved possible reduction in oil availablity. Also, if Chavez doesn't have enough qualified workers, what makes you think he wouldn't get them elsewhere and be willing to pay for them?
12.5.2006 8:55am
jimbino (mail):
What a joke. Venezuela hasn´t had any useful domestic production for decades. It´s domestic coffee, beer and fruit juices are excellent, but it imports almost everything else of value, from cars to clothes.

That said, it´s a much more fun place to live than the USSA, and if the borders were truly opened, I would be one of the first to leave the USSA to settle in Venezuela! The USSA is the best place to live if you want to work 24/7, but all the illegals know that no person with both money and sense would choose to live there over Mexico, Venezuela or Brazil.
12.5.2006 8:56am
FantasiaWHT:

Gee, you expect oil prices to fall in the long term, because we're finding so much more oil than we're using, and people all over the world are tired of using gasoline?

Venezuela is never going to collapse economically, so you might as well get over that idea right now.


Unless, maybe, as just a thought, America started going after it's own oil and natural gas reserves for a change.

Well, yeah you're right, it'll never happen.
12.5.2006 8:56am
Jeek:
Unless, maybe, as just a thought, America started going after it's own oil and natural gas reserves for a change.

U.S. reserves would only provide three and a half years of oil at current rates of consumption, so yeah, that'll work, we don't need no stinkin' imports.
12.5.2006 9:17am
Abdul (mail):
Chavez gets half is popularity by providing free bread and the other half by staging circuses in which the US plays the bad guy who is only stopped from throttling Venezuelan children in their beds by Brave Hugo.

The best way to stop this is to kill Chavez with kindness. Bush should send birthday cards, foreign aid, and wax poetically about the wonderful paradise his good friend Hugo has created. When the Venezuelans think that Chavez has been compromised by the evil Yankees, they'll turn on him.
12.5.2006 9:38am
anon252 (mail):
Nigeria shows that having lots of oil is no guarantee of prosperity.
12.5.2006 9:47am
Reality Check (mail):
A few million Venzuelans have $20k laying around or can get it quickly? If you're even remotely serious, you have absolutely no clue how poor Venezuela really is.

Even if you weren't so grossly far off, and most of the oil workers left Venezuela, China would happily supply expertise, labor, and any necessary capital to keep the oil flowing. Preferably directly to China.
12.5.2006 9:52am
arthur (mail):
There's nothign worng with changing U.S. immigration law, but the Venezuelan people have already voted with their, uh, votes.

Alternative policy: the U.S. promotes democracy around the world by respecting the results of free and fair elections, even if the outcome displeases Professor Bernstein.

Why does Profesor Bernsetin hate freedom?
12.5.2006 9:57am
Jonah Gelbach (mail) (www):
DB:
Venezuela will inevitably sink into economic straits of Chavez's model, Cuba, and become about as much of a strategic threat to the U.S. as Cuba currently is.
anon252 makes the good point that "Nigeria shows that having lots of oil is no guarantee of prosperity."

In the same spirit, here are two questions for DB:

1. What great source of economic strength is driving the North Korean "economy"?

2. Is North Korea a strategic threat?
12.5.2006 10:08am
liberty (mail) (www):
"There's nothign worng with changing U.S. immigration law, but the Venezuelan people have already voted with their, uh, votes."

Yes, assuming that there was nothing, uh, undemocratic about the election cycles (completely free press, free speech, fair and accurate vote counting etc).


"Alternative policy: the U.S. promotes democracy around the world by respecting the results of free and fair elections, even if the outcome displeases Professor Bernstein.

Why does Profesor Bernsetin hate freedom?"


I think you are also equating freedom with democracy. The two are not the same. Many a democracy has existed with little freedom. At least according to some definitions of democracy.
12.5.2006 10:11am
Nobody (mail):
Sorry for the "me too" post, but I'm with Arthur. I'm amazed that it took until the 17th comment for someone to point out that Chavez is a democratically elected (and now re-elected) leader whom we have already tried to remove by coup at least once.

What's the difference between Bush and Chavez? Chavez got a majority of the popular vote--Twice.

As I understand it, the "conservative" line on Chavez amounts to something like "how dare he try to restrict our access to our oil (which happens to be buried under his country)." A la the right reverend Falwell, let's kill him and take the oil that God obviously wanted US to have. If He didn't want us to have it, why did he put it in our hemisphere?
12.5.2006 10:13am
Bpbatista (mail):
Three words: Mariel Boat Lift. Chavez would simply empty his prisons and ship them to the US like Castro did.
12.5.2006 10:14am
anon252 (mail):
As with the Bay of Pigs, the lesson is that if you are going to support a coup, you better not do it in a half-assed way.
12.5.2006 10:16am
liberty (mail) (www):
I'm not sure I have any idea how poor Venezuela is either. Does anyone have a source for good statistics about the Venezuelan economy. I saw this little film: http://wuzzadem.typepad.com/wuz/2006/10/your_mission_sh.html and then I looked for some stats. So much of the data is very high level aggregation. I would be interested to learn about how the median Venezuelan has done since Chavez came to power.
12.5.2006 10:17am
Bill_C:
Nice in theory and in principle, I think not. There are a lot of rich Venezuelans people who are ambivalent over Chavez's Peronist tactics who are doing quite well under him despite his red tinted rhetoric. I'm not sure a Galt's Gulch immigration policy would work there. Also oil is a commodity that several dictatorships and dictator-fetishists are addicted to -- If he's going to fuel the world's entrenched tyrants and their loving fans, he's going to have a good market in that area even if the US were to cut him off completely by (as I recall fro the novel) inventing an energy generator that pulls energy from the earth's magnetic field.

His elastic is longer than we may give him credit.

As for Bernstein hating freedom. Gimme a break. Have you SEEN, the statements on how he wants to shut down private broadcasters (and even public broadcasters) that don't play into his hands and alter the constitution to further favor elections to his favor, while state broadcasting was posting some results in favor of Chavez when all were to be mum? I'm not worrying as much as some of Chavez's critics but I can see their fears that this may be the last most free and open national election Venezuela could have in a long time. If Chimpy Bush McHitlerburten did a tenth the things Hugo has done over the last few years, Arthur and his friends would be up in arms.
12.5.2006 10:19am
Nobody (mail):
It's a shame Fiji doesn't have any oil. I guess Bush and Prof. Bernstein won't lift a finger (or a blog post) in support of Fiji's democratically elected leadership either...
12.5.2006 10:23am
Steve:
Yes, the best way to prove that socialism isn't as good as our own system is to actively undermine socialist democracies. That'll really show we have the courage of our convictions.

I greatly prefer the society we have here, but if the people of Venezuela prefer to elect Chavez and his politics, why should it bother me? Chavez may win friends by taking cheap shots at President Bush, but as far as I can tell, he poses no threat to our national security whatsoever. So why am I supposed to feel like "something ought to be done about him"?
12.5.2006 10:24am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

Well yet another idea on how to make the life of *legal* applicants for immigration into the US even suckier than before.
12.5.2006 10:28am
Colonel Kong (mail):
I think this a great idea that will of course never happen. The only other thing I would suggest would be to have a corresponding program of immigration from the U.S. for well healed liberals who idolize Chavez. Let all of them immigrate to Venezuela; sort of an addition by subtraction. Not only would the U.S. get millions of hard working grateful Venezuelans, but also it would stick Chavez with Ted Turner and Harry Bellefonte; something that would no doubt greatly increase the speed of the country's downfall.
12.5.2006 10:33am
Colonel Kong (mail):
"Chavez may win friends by taking cheap shots at President Bush, but as far as I can tell, he poses no threat to our national security whatsoever."

Unless of course you count his friendship with Iran. Gee, if you were looking to infiltrate terrorists into the United States, an anti-American ally just down the road in the Western Hemisphere would be nice wouldn't it?

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/07/30/D8J6NURG0.html

"Iran and Venezuela, these two brothers, are and will be together forever"

Chavez is a menace. Someday we will regret not putting a bullet in his head years ago.
12.5.2006 10:38am
Steve:
Unless of course you count his friendship with Iran.

I'm afraid I don't. If you think having good trade and diplomatic relationships with Iran automatically makes a country a threat to our national security, you must pull the covers up awfully high at night.
12.5.2006 10:43am
Bpbatista (mail):
Chavez is not a socialist — he is a communist. He may be "democratically elected" — depending on your definition of "democratically." I don't think shutting down opposition press, firing political opponents from government jobs, mob intimidation, etc., etc. are standard campaign methods in truly democratic and free societies. But fear not: Socialism and/or communism have failed miserably everywhere else they have been tried and Venezuela will not break that losing streak.
12.5.2006 10:44am
Colin (mail):
Jimbino,

USSA?
12.5.2006 10:45am
buck:
Am I the only one who's going to point out that Chavez was 'elected' twice about as legitimately as Hussein was 'elected' by 99% of Iraqis?

You're not democratically elected when you stuff the ballot box, no matter if you're Democrats in Chicago, Russian Politburo members, or the Venezuelan military.

Shutting down Telemundo while it is reporting election results is not the action of a regime which 1) is legitimately winning elections and 2) has nothing to hide.
12.5.2006 10:48am
Rocketeer (mail):
Wow. Just...wow.

It's been my experience that only three types of people will seriously claim Venezuelan elections under Chavez are free and democratic: 1) dupes, 2) leftists and 3) Jimmy Carter. But I repeat myself.
12.5.2006 10:50am
Nobody (mail):
I don't think shutting down opposition press, firing political opponents from government jobs, mob intimidation, etc., etc. are standard campaign methods in truly democratic and free societies.

They worked for Bush!
(See, eg, Bill Maher, K Street Project, 2000 Florida "Brooks Bros. riot," etc.)
12.5.2006 10:51am
hey (mail):
Arthur et al show the gulf between Leftists masquerading as "Liberals" and decent people. As kids they supported the Weathermen, as adults they support Chavez. Anyone who waxes nostalgic about speaking truth to power is part of this group and is a serious and credible threat to bring back domestic terror to the US.

It is time to do what we are accused of, for it is far better to be feared then loved. Bring on the Imperialistic USA and deal with the fifth column at home. Start with the documented traitors and genocide assistants that are the Senators from Mass.
12.5.2006 10:57am
Colonel Kong (mail):
"I'm afraid I don't. If you think having good trade and diplomatic relationships with Iran automatically makes a country a threat to our national security, you must pull the covers up awfully high at night."

Yes, anyone who actually pays attention to the threats confronting the U.S. in the world is a coward. Interesting how people can twist language. Blythly ignoring real threats is not a sign of moral cowardice but instead a sign of courage. There are numorous reports of close ties between Iranian and Venzualan intelligence services with the Venzualans giving fake documentation and transit into the U.S. to the Iranians.

http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1213

But hey, there is nothing to see here. No threat at all.
12.5.2006 10:57am
Steve:
Yes, yes, if you don't accept as gospel everything that "DEBKAfile’s Exclusive intelligence and counter-terror sources" tell you, you're sticking your head in the sand. I get it.
12.5.2006 10:59am
Rocketeer (mail):
Well, yes...Democratic Party attempts at voter suppression and vote-gaming (see, e.g., tire slashing in Milwaukee, extending polling hours in St. Louis, brownshirt-style vandalism and intimidation at various Republican headquarters, etc.) certainly did work for Bush!
12.5.2006 10:59am
Colonel Kong (mail):
"Yes, yes, if you don't accept as gospel everything that "DEBKAfile’s Exclusive intelligence and counter-terror sources" tell you, you're sticking your head in the sand. I get it"

That is not the only place where that is claimed and of course they are Jews so they are no doubt immediately suspect by you and your ilk.

http://commdocs.house.gov/ committees/intlrel/ hfa28638.000/hfa28638_0.HTM

Of course the House of Representatives is also part of the Zionist conspiracy.
12.5.2006 11:07am
George B:
I would start an equivalent to the H-1B visa program for workers in the petroleum industry. Get a job with a US energy company and earn a green card in about 6 years. Imagine the pressure the US could exert on Venezuela and many other oil exporters if we took all their best oil workers. As a bonus, we might be able to eventually force the transfer of oil exploration and production from government monopolies to US oil companies.
12.5.2006 11:08am
nbpundit (mail):
The people of Venezuela can vote with their feet,
their pocketbook and by ballot.
As to Chavez dreaming he can make communism work,
just more insanity for the rest of the world to
witness and the people experience it. When they
finally get tired of the pain and poverty they
will either flee or fight.
12.5.2006 11:10am
Colonel Kong (mail):
The problem with this idea is that Chavez would just put up fences and guards to keep people in and make Venzuala into a prison state, like his hero Castro has done to Cuba. If people were allowed to freely vote with their feet there never would be any socialist or communist countries because no one would live there. Socialists always have to turn to the gun to make sure the people do what is good for them.
12.5.2006 11:13am
Jeek:
Don't forget, they not only make it impossible to flee, they also make it impossible to fight.
12.5.2006 11:20am
Harry Eagar (mail):
I think letting people immigrate if they have money is a bad, classist idea. I opposed it when Reagan pushed it -- on the specious grounds that we needed the investment capital; we have more capital than we have any idea what to do with.

Who were the most valuable immigrants to the U.S. in the '30s? Right, the penniless Central European intellectuals.

A general comment. I doubt Venezuela has a great many intellectuals.
12.5.2006 11:23am
Bill_C:

Chavez is not a socialist — he is a communist.

He's no Ortega or Castro. He's more of a hybrid between a self-styled Marxist of convenience and an old-school Peronist, we haven't seen his style in a long time. I call him a Peron in a red dress. But a dictator wannabe is a dictator wannabe no matter what he wears before or after labor day.

The Manolo, he would not approve of much of anything in the Hugo's closet.
12.5.2006 11:25am
Steve:
That is not the only place where that is claimed and of course they are Jews so they are no doubt immediately suspect by you and your ilk.

I guess most people shrug this sort of thing off as a typical Internet jibe. As a Jew, though, it really pisses me off. It's going to be hard to get people to ever take anti-semitism seriously again after conservatives get tired of flinging the accusation around like so much feces.
12.5.2006 11:27am
Superstar Unlimited:
No it would most certainly not be fun to watch Venezuelans line up to take a citizenship test, we already have far too many wetbacks as it is.
12.5.2006 11:32am
Nobody (mail):
I'm Jewish too, and I think Prof. Bernstein's post (and most of the comments above) are seriously misguided.
12.5.2006 11:32am
Steve:
Well, I certainly wouldn't put Prof. Bernstein's post in the same category as comments which claim that anyone who disagrees is obviously a Jew-hater. It makes you wonder why the VC even bothers with a comment policy.
12.5.2006 11:39am
sbron:
Both libertarians and the Left (for different reasons)
seem to believe that the solution to all of the
U.S.'s problems is massive immigration. The view
of these latter groups is that Americans are inherently
lazy, uncultured and uneducated, and only the energy
and cultural renewal of immigrants can save us.

Mass emigration from Mexico to the US has certainly not forced that country to improve its educational and economic
opportunities, and I don't believe Cuban-style emigration
from Venezuela would remove Chavez from power.
Indeed, Castro seems to be persisting even in near-death.

Many Americans feel insulted by cheerleaders for
mass immigration who talk about "jobs Americans won't do"
and our supposed skills and culture deficit.
12.5.2006 11:45am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
No reason to screw over the poor people in venezuela. Chavez is annoying like pat robertson not a real threat.
12.5.2006 11:51am
Paddy O. (mail):
Chavez is a caudillo in the same style that has afflicted South America since Spain wandered by. These revolutionaries hold onto power by inspiring the people, only to leave the people with less than ever before.

That we care about Chavez only for his oil is ludicrous. America's foreign policy is one of a merchant not an empire. We want trading partners to be rich and successful and prosperous, with Japan as the perfect model.

We tire of Chavez because he's such old news, and this hemisphere has dealt with centuries of his ilk, always throwing the region into more trouble and never, ever getting around to really helping the poor by investing in a poverty preventing infrastructure. Chavez has no interest in the long term help of the poor. He needs their plight and their rage in order to solidify is own ego boosting attempts at power.
12.5.2006 12:04pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
The best way to stop this is to kill Chavez with kindness. Bush should send birthday cards, foreign aid, and wax poetically about the wonderful paradise his good friend Hugo has created.

Not to mention non-encoded telegrams with cryptic messages like: "The Company likes the job you have been doing. Payment will be made in the usual manner."
12.5.2006 12:05pm
CJColucci:
Why do we have to "do something" about Chavez at all? Whatever we may think of him, or he of us, he is the duly-enough elected leader of a sovereign nation. In all likelihood, he will run Venezuela into the ground -- a misfortune for Venezuelans, but not our problem. If and when he does something actually threatening to us -- and his options there are extremely limited --we can squash him like a bug. Our record with "regime change," however, isn't encouraging. Given the current situation in Iran, for example, maybe toppling Mossadeqh wasn't such a smart idea after all.
12.5.2006 12:11pm
MnZ (mail):
Chavez is a caudillo in the same style that has afflicted South America since Spain wandered by. These revolutionaries hold onto power by inspiring the people, only to leave the people with less than ever before.


I wonder if the problem has become worse rather than better over time. South America was much richer relative to the rest of the world in the 19th century. For example, around 1900, Argentina had per capita income on par with "rich" countries like France. However, during the 20th century, South American economic growth was relatively stagnant.
12.5.2006 12:29pm
r78:
Another idea: We can puff up tin-can buffoons into scary threats so we can avoid facing the fact that we live in a country where the president has arrogated the power to imprison US citizens without charges in solitary confinement for years at a time . .

Let's all sing together: la te da te da
12.5.2006 12:37pm
phrk:
We should trade Venezualian anti-Chavez folks for US libs who love the thug. Most of these effite liberals wouldn't last a day in Chavez's workers paradise. They could trade in the riches they earn in the US under the evil Bush for 12 hours of manual labor for benevolent Chavez.
12.5.2006 12:38pm
Tom952 (mail):
Socialism can work in a country with a free money engine supporting the economy, such as Venezuela has in oil. We need to be sure we don't get caught up in conflict for purely idealogical reasons. He was elected by the people of Venezuela, so go with the flow.
12.5.2006 12:45pm
Jeek:
Socialism can work in a country with a free money engine supporting the economy, such as Venezuela has in oil.

The Soviets had plenty of oil, but still couldn't make socialism work. Next theory?
12.5.2006 12:57pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Not to mention non-encoded telegrams with cryptic messages like: "The Company likes the job you have been doing. Payment will be made in the usual manner."


ROTFLMAO!! Talk about your poetic justice – a conspiracy theorist who preys on people’s fears about the United States is discredited in the eyes of his supporters who start to believe that he’s actually part of the conspiracy.

Sweet.
12.5.2006 1:05pm
Russ (mail):
Nobody said:
"They worked for Bush!
(See, eg, Bill Maher, K Street Project, 2000 Florida "Brooks Bros. riot," etc.)"


Um, last I checked, Maher still had a TV show on HBO. Additionally, wasn't it the sponsors who called for him to go off of ABC, not the government? You can say anything you want, but we don't have to listen. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism.

As for Bush shutting down the press like Chavez, I can only assume you have no TV, radio, newspaper, or Internet connection in your house, or else you might have seen the anti-Bush media going non-stop for several years now. Maybe b/c there are some who don't bash him as Chimpy McBusHitler, you think that's suppression of the press in the same vein as Chavez.

You need a serious look at perspective. You seem like the kind of guy who would look at someone dying of cancer and say something stupid like, "Yeah, well I've got a cold, and that's just as bad."
12.5.2006 1:08pm
Russ (mail):
Jeek said,
U.S. reserves would only provide three and a half years of oil at current rates of consumption, so yeah, that'll work, we don't need no stinkin' imports.

Could you please let me know where you got this information. How could we know that since we aren't allowed to even explore ANWR, off the coast of California, or in the Gulf of Mexico?
12.5.2006 1:10pm
otis wildflower (mail):
This is already happening a bit, head on over to the google and search the internets for venezuelan oil workers relocating to ft. mcmurray (mcmoney) in alberta, CA.
12.5.2006 1:16pm
Steve:
Maybe b/c there are some who don't bash him as Chimpy McBusHitler, you think that's suppression of the press in the same vein as Chavez.

Those who believe Chavez is no more authoritarian than Bush are cut from the same cloth as those who believe Chavez' election was no more legitimate than those won by Saddam Hussein.
12.5.2006 1:16pm
Eve (mail):
Nobody:

Sorry for the "me too" post, but I'm with Arthur. I'm amazed that it took until the 17th comment for someone to point out that Chavez is a democratically elected (and now re-elected) leader whom we have already tried to remove by coup at least once.

Try reading about something before opening your mouth and sticking your foot right in. "We" did not try to remove him by coup. The extent of the American presence was implicit support for Chavez's removal and ships off the coast to evacuate American citizens just in case. For the real story on the coup read this.

But too briefly sum up what is a rather complicated story,
the coup was percipitated by Chavez's decision to enact Plan Avila, which would have unleashed military firepower upon the hundreds of thousands of oppo marchers. Fearing a massacre, the military leaders refused, setting off events that would lead to the coup which removed Chavez for two days.

As for the second comment, it smacks of such ignorance I'm not even sure where to begin. Did you actually read this on a conservative site, or did you make it up to score some silly points? I couldn't even imagine that someone would be stupid enough to believe it is our oil under foreign soil. Aside from that, the US is the only place Chavez could sell to anyway, cause only we have the equipment to turn Venezuelan heavy crude into something usable with prohibitive expenses (expenses which also prevent him from selling it to China...oil is a fugable resource anyway...once its on the world market you dont where its coming from or going to). In fact, while in 2005 Chavez stepped up his anti-Bush/anti-America rhetoric, Venezuela posted record exports to the US (in terms of billions of dollars).

Chavez tells people it is wrong to be rich while wearing $100 suits and $3000 Cartier Watches. He ordered the creation of the Tacson list, which keeps track of how citizens vote and lists their names, id #s, addresses, where they vote, etc. He has allowed infrastructure to collapse, including roads and hospitals (which often lack basic medical supplies such as gauze and bandages) while spending Venezuelan oil money abroad. He has ordered journalists arrested, intimidated the opposition and divided the country. He walks with tyrants and dictators and calls them brothers--Hussein, Mugabe and Kim Jong Il among others. Poverty has worsened and violence has risen since his rise to power.

What's the difference between President Bush and President Chavez? Bush has to leave office in 2008. Chavez is actively working on setting himself up as President for life (he promised that if he is reelected he will work on changing the Constitution to remove term limits).
12.5.2006 1:43pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
Right on, Russ. The technique of the reactionary left is to set up false parallels. Anyone with a basic grasp of logic can see how lame these are (i.e sponsors pressuring a network to remove a show being the same as the government forcing the cancellation of the show, harassment, imprisonment, possible execution (see Russia, China, and Cuba, in particular) of the journalists who critique them.
12.5.2006 2:01pm
An0n:
Arthur,

Even if you believe Chavez was duly and democratically elected, how does Professor Bernstein's proposal suggest that he hates freedom? It seems to me that letting Venezuelans emigrate to the U.S. if they wished to do so would result in a net increase in freedom. The people of Venezuela are free to elect Chavez. Those who don't like it are (or would be, under Prof. B's proposal) free to leave. Nobody's suggesting that we force anyone to do so. So what's the problem?
12.5.2006 2:29pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
$100 suits, Eve? The profligate sensualist!

I haven't owned a suit in almost 30 years, but the last one I bought cost way over $100.
12.5.2006 2:56pm
Seerak (mail):
I think you are also equating freedom with democracy. The two are not the same. Many a democracy has existed with little freedom. At least according to some definitions of democracy.

A point worth re-iterating. "Democratically elected" is not the source of a government's moral legitimacy; the respect for and protection of individual rights, is. Ask Socrates.

As regards the use of imigration policy to "steal" another country's best, that is completely legitimate. Giving choices to people is, by definition, freedom-friendly. Voting with one's feet is the ultimate form of international democracy (not to mention an expression of the individual's right of free association); money and minds will go where they are treated well.

The more capitalistic a nation is, the greater its advantage in an environment of free migration; capitalistic states attract those seeking to create (and keep) wealth; welfare states only attract those seeking to consume it.
12.5.2006 3:00pm
david b:
Am I the only one who thinks this is a terrible idea for a real reason.

This would be an amazing will to import a couple thousand venezuelan spies.
12.5.2006 3:15pm
Jeek:
Could you please let me know where you got this information. How could we know that since we aren't allowed to even explore ANWR, off the coast of California, or in the Gulf of Mexico?

U.S. proven reserves = 21,371 million barrels.

U.S. consumption = 20,802,000 barrels/day.


21,371 / 20.8 = 1027 days = 2.8 years of oil if we had to rely on our own resources alone.

We know what's in ANWR and offshore. It's not enough to keep the Hummers rolling very long.
12.5.2006 3:27pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I could only support this idea if it was reciprocal. Venezuala would have to accept any Amerian with $20k who yearned to live fre in a workers' paradise.
12.5.2006 3:45pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Jeek,

You don't have proven reserves if you can't drill. If we knew the rserves of ANWR and all offshore fields, then there would be no need to drill. I remember folks in the Seventies assuring us that at then current consumption rates we would exhaust all US oil by 2000.

The estimates (not proven reserves) of all US Rocky Mountain oil shale and sands exceed all of OPEC estimated (not proven)reserves. The Canadians have even more.

However, current environmental thinking considers ignorance to be bliss. If you don't find out what is there so you don't have to argue against using it.
12.5.2006 3:52pm
TM Lutas (mail) (www):
First, we should remember the old saw about diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggie' while reaching for a rock. We're reaching for the rock with Venezuela and all the troublesome oil powers by very quietly pushing alternative energy based vehicles based on hydrogen fuel cells and sustainable hydrogen production via a variety of pathways (some renewable, others not). We are also looking at cellulose based ethanol (plant stalks, etc) and a number of other alternatives. The official government goals are to get a gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) down from the start of the decade where it was $10 down to $3. The last I heard, at the beginning of 2006 we had it down to $6 and some neat advances in electrolysis efficiency dropped it down to $4/gge late this year (nanoparticle nickel electrodes). This means that, as a practical matter gasoline can't go above $4/gallon untaxed today without a massive switchover to alternate energy, a switchover that will permanently dent demand. By 2010, it's reasonable to predict $3/gge hydrogen and $2/gge by 2015. At some point the lines will cross and the money printing machine will end.

All we really need do is keep on saying 'nice doggie' and make sure that no crazy millenialists (like Iran's Hojjatieh) upsets the applecart before we're ready to remake the world's energy map on our own schedule.

To that end, I'm somewhat cool to the immigration scheme. Venezuelans should come if they want to be americans but they should not be enticed any more than anybody else is.
12.5.2006 4:14pm
Russ (mail):
Jeek said:
"We know what's in ANWR and offshore. It's not enough to keep the Hummers rolling very long."

Maybe I'm just kooky here, but I don't understand how you can "know" what's there if you can't explore for it. You can guess, you can estimate, but you can't know.

I went to the website you gave, and that's absurd. It is refering to what we have that we have explored for, not what we don't know is there. That's kinda why they're called "proven oil reserves." When you get x-ray vision and can tell me for sure what you know to be underground in ANWR or off the coasts, then I'll understand. Until then, you're guessing...while our oil prices are still going up and being controlled by people like Chavez.
12.5.2006 4:20pm
The Anonymous Stranger (mail):
Jeek, all the oil companies worldwide are making their investment decisions with the expectation oil prices will fall to an average of $45-a-barrel in the long term. What do you know that they don't about oil reserves?

Nobody, the U.S. recognized the new government in Thailand as the de facto government after the coup. Does that make the Thai coup a U.S. action too?
12.5.2006 4:29pm
Steve:
I used to work for a major oil company in Alaska. I can assure you with confidence that everyone in the industry knows how much oil is in ANWR.

How do we know anything without drilling? Well gosh... how do we know that we want to open up ANWR, as opposed to, say, New Hampshire. Obviously we know somehow that there's a lot of oil down there. The "somehow" is engineering and geological surveys.

Now, what we don't know is how much of the oil is producible (which is the same thing as asking how much of the oil reserves are "proven"). Depending on how things are really arranged down there, it might be economically infeasible to extract some of the oil. You can't know that without drilling exploration wells and having a look. But we can be pretty confident of the upside boundary.
12.5.2006 4:32pm
Kelvin McCabe (mail):
I dont really care for Chavez. Nor do i care for Fidel Castro - - but - can we seriously blame Chavez for riding to popularity his "anti-american imperialism" platform? What about the School of the Americas? Death Squads? To ignore our own government's deliberate and well-documented attempts to transform the region's governments to our own liking is folly.

Does this mean that Chavez is given carte-blance to erode basic democratic freedoms for his people: No. But to ignore decades of official and non-official meddling in other countries' internal business in Central and South America, by our own government, would be like invading Iraq, removing the entire government apparatus and having no idea what to replace it with while at the same time being completely ignorant of the various ethnic and religious differences that make up the people of Iraq. Oh wait...

Seriously though, people who are poor and cant have basic needs met, tend to be pissed off at the world. Chavez promises them things he likely wont deliver on to meet these basic needs, while at the same time giving his people a very easy and large target to direct their anger at: the USA. The more we meddle, the more we provide ammunition for this to perpetuate itself. Is there a solution? I dont know;(after awhile one would think the people would realize there still poor, unhappy and nothing has changed) but taking all the skilled oil workers, as some suggested, seems like a good way to fill those lucrative independent contractor jobs in Iraq! I hear they could use some help getting their oil infrastructure functioning at capacity since this is (allegedly) going to pay for the muli-billion dollar reconstruction. They pay 20k to get a green card, work for KBR, &Halliburton in Iraq, then they meet an unforunate end. From the tone of some of these posts, that would be the best possible scenario!
12.5.2006 6:21pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I am old enough to remember reading, around 1960, that in those days half the babies born in Venezuela were illegitimate, because that many people were too poor to afford a marriage license.

Venezuela ought to be rich, and not just because it has oil. It is absurd to blame the poor for not being rich. Blame the rich for keeping them poor.

Venezuela, like Mexico, is a failed or failing state, in large part -- maybe even entirely -- because its power elite has not had the decency or the good sense to create a society that benefits the nation, rather than a thin stratum of privilege.

If we are going to let in Venezuelans, I'd a hell of a lot rather let in the poor ones. The rich are a repellant bunch. I hate to wish them on the poor of Venezuela, but I'm not enough of a saint to want them here.
12.5.2006 8:01pm
Enoch:
The estimates (not proven reserves) of all US Rocky Mountain oil shale and sands exceed all of OPEC estimated (not proven)reserves. The Canadians have even more.

Economic and environmental viability of recovering and processing oil shale remains unproven. That's a whole different kettle of fish from drilling for oil.
12.5.2006 11:23pm
Larry Nieves (mail) (www):
Compeling as it might be, I would prefer the US government to completely ignore Chávez forever. Not mentioning him, nor Venezuela would pull one of the sources of Chávez's support from under his feet. That, of course, would not be enough, the US government should stop trying to influence Venezuelans in any way whatsoever. As a venezuelan libertarian I cannot stress enough how counterproductive US' interventionist policies are to our efforts to promote free markets and individualism there.
12.6.2006 7:30am
Bill_C:

Compeling as it might be, I would prefer the US government to completely ignore Chávez forever. Not mentioning him, nor Venezuela would pull one of the sources of Chávez's support from under his feet.


I dunno, Larry. If we treat him as an unruly brat, we should remember that they come in two kinds. The brat who discovers that he really isn't the center of attention and tones down, versus the sociopath in the making who will make darned sure that people pay attention to him, and I'm not just meaning controlling the airwaves of the Venezuelan media for his vanity programming. Plus, most brats don't have their own secret police and private army and Tascon lists :-/. I agree with intervention being a very VERY bad idea but Hugo cannot be ignored, and this American Libertarian doesn't want to ignore what happens to you.

Ignoring Hugo? That's up to Hugo and he won't be ignored.
12.6.2006 10:23am
chris s (mail):
fwiw, there seems to have been an influx of Venezuelans in Atlanta (where I live) in the past few years. from what I see (obviously anecdotal) these seem to be largely middle class folks. anyone posting here noticed something similar in your town?
12.6.2006 10:50am
Larry Nieves (mail) (www):

and this American Libertarian doesn't want to ignore what happens to you.


Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that, but remember I was refering about US government attempts to influence/intervene in Venezuela. I think it's not a matter of wether Chávez decides to tone down his anti-american rethoric or heats it up (or implementing something nastier than rethoric to draw attention). One of the main problems we face in our efforts is the quasi-atomatic association "Anti-Chávez == Pro-Bush" within the pro-Chávez camp. It is very time consuming attempting to first show that our opposition to socialism is not a pro-US-empire-devil-Bush stance. What I feel is that if Bush just shut up, he would make our work a little bit easier.

To wrap it up, I think that any attempt of the US government to "help" us (well intentioned as they could be, though I doubt they are) weaken us instead, by associating us with the "evil empire controled by the greedy multinational capitalist corporations".
12.6.2006 11:08am
Foreigner (mail):
About your comment policy:

...but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible.

After reading this ridiculous mess, I think this blog should start by following its own guidelines. It's patently obvious Bernstein know absolutely nothing about Venezuela, except that Chavez...*gasp*...doesn't like Bush. Basically, you could replace Venezuela and Chavez with practically any country and leader, and the insight (or lack thereof) would be exactly the same.

What an embarrassment.
12.6.2006 2:07pm
Barqui (mail):
As a Venezuelan in the US:
1- if you are rich in Venezuela and was in a somewhat safe area (ever smaller spaces in my former nation) I would never have moved.
2- Chavez may be elected but the methods and complete abuse of the entire resources of the country does not make it a fair election (vote for him or get canned from your job, 100 to 1 time on TV all paid by the oil revenues and complete control of all the rules of engament, I could go on on..)
3- You do not have to wait many of us are here and allready working hard. C.S we are now all over the place. Now you find a small community of venezuelans in any town with a significant pop.
4- About 80% of venezuelans are poor and I do not mean that by US defenition.
12.6.2006 4:27pm