Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why Things Will Never Be Perfect....

....and why I am up to my ears in commentary about why paying my taxes is a good thing- if I lived in Venezuela.

The best critical and most rational analysis by far is here at publiez:

But that being said, one has to wonder if the author- presumably French- understands the mechanics of social revolution that took place in France at the end of the 18th century. I see a similar process in play in Venezuela and it is a response to and blowback for previous deregulatory policies that did not serve the interests of anyone except a tiny minority of the population.

There is much to be said that Bolivar's vision of popular democracy was significantly different from Washington's and Jefferson's vision of a republic. There is also much to be said that Bolivar in his exuberance alienated other South American heroes like De San Martin the liberator of the Andes who did advocate the Jeffersonian model.

At the same time, the tremendous human and popular explosion that came out of Venezuela is very real. It is the kind of movement that politicians normally salivate over and it has released a portion of the potential of the population that has never been released before.

All that said, the author of Publiez is right to say that materially nothing has changed, the poor are still poor, but what many have said is that the perception of poverty is tempered by the fact that they know exactly where their republic stands on issues and their local councils get to decide how affairs are managed without as many corrupting influences. I cannot emphasize how important this is for a society, its perception that its government listens to its members and its leaders are truly compassionate for its people in a profound way- guide and shape how policy and successful populism can work. Every social order is an experiment, the one in Venezuela is just getting started, it is fueled by soaring profits and an economy that is exploding with growth so that the growth and development of a broader middle class is for the first time a real possibility.

The disturbing trends that need to be addressed in Venezuela have nothing to do with this social explosion. They have to do with the centralization of power, the fact the our very own Rudy Giuliani's consulting firm was working for the Chavez government,, something I have no problem with for a private industry, but have a serious problem with for a public official- given our policy is currently opposed to Chavez's brand of "socialism" but that if we want to be brutally honest is not any more socialistic than the North American kind. The development of economic majority-ism for a class of people politically aligned to President Chavez only, is problematic because it reflects trends that are less Simon Bolivar and more personal aggrandizement. It would be better for Venezuela if they stuck to Bolivar's Doctrine of Latin America that the rest of the Organization of American States agrees to.

Simon Bolivar's vision was one of the most profound and important achievements of any American at any time and he is arguably the greatest liberator in the history of the world. He is a worthy model of emulation for all Americans on these grounds alone.

At the same time, many in the frontier region live in constant fear of the FARC who since a left leaning government took over Venezuela have moved through that part of the country and caused more than a little concern for local border towns. But these border towns are no more terrorized then our own near Mexico, and when Chavez sent the army to the border one can assume it was as much a reaction to this trend as it was to the looming crisis with Colombia.

These social problems in Venezuela are matched by a profound isolation of the country and many movements by the US government to isolate its people. These have been well documented by the Irish in the movie the "Revolution will not be Televised." While at the same time, there is something to be said for positing a model that is alternative to the one currently driving our American government into one system of globalization that is uniform and often brutal, I mean positing an alternative that is less so; as a libertarian what I object to in Venezuela I also object to in Delaware and in the United States, the forced redistribution of wealth through taxes and social engineering of "how" society should look and people should act.

Point is, if I paid my taxes there at least I would know I could have access to a free Cuban doctor for my medical needs and get reduced price milk. Here, I am not so sure I'll have access to anything. Things will never be perfect, but they must not be engineered into a social utopia, we have had enough of those, if taxes are necessary there should be specifically defined benefits attached to them. For each dollar that comes in or goes out a proper accounting should be done and open to public scrutiny.

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