Sunday, December 10, 2006

Just What is it?

Which Juan Forero do we believe? The one on November 27, 2006 who broadcast an economist in Venezuela complaining that the Chavez government would be "better off spending its gasoline subsidies to promote mass transit" or yesterday's Forero who noted "all the money the [Chavez] government is spending at home. Venezuela’s government is building subway lines..." Hmm...sounds like mass transit to me!

In yesterday's piece, we hear how "the economic growth has been astounding here since 2003," BUT "many economists and businessmen here say the economy is far from healthy and in fact what it is is schizophrenic – it is one of the world’s fastest growing but it produces few jobs, consumerism is rampant, but few want to invest."

The main thrust of yesterday's piece is to claim that Venezuela's economy is only doing all right because of the "oil boom" -- even though economist Mark Weisbrot has noted "the government has budgeted conservatively to create a cushion against any decline in oil prices. It has based its 2007 budget on an average oil price of $29 a barrel — far below this year's average of $58 a barrel." Forero uses telling phrases that reveal his anti-Chavez bias:
  • schizophrenic: describing the economy as such is both offensive to people with schizophrenia and a way of writing off the economic achievements of Venezuela under the Chavez government.
  • The Bolivarian bourgeoisie: How Forero describes those profiting from "lucrative" government contracts. The implication is that there is at best hypocrisy in the claims of socialism of the government and perhaps even corruption.
  • A fine veneer: how Forero describes the effects of Venezuelan government spending on infrastructure projects. Frankly, I'd be happy for a little veneer of social spending on schools, transportation, and health care here in the USA!
As I've noted before, Forero has a less than shining history as a journalist. His low point came when he parroted the US Government line about the coup against Chavez back in 2002. Forero's track record really has to make you wonder who he works for besides NPR and the NY Times.

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