Real Reason for The West’s Interest in Venezuela’s Suffering

Venezuela is in deep economic trouble and has a resulting humanitarian crisis on their hands. According to mainstream media reports (even though some contrary anecdotal evidence has been offered up by some far left sources that I am skeptical of; 3 million people not leave their homes for another country for no reason) relay stories of starvation, water shortages, and blackouts. And a ten million-percent inflation on the way by 2020, things look dire for the Latin American country.

What does the West want out of this situation with their sanctions? They want regime change to an oligarchy that get loans from the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and ascending entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowing Western influences upon the affairs of Venezuelan black crude.

But first things first, the American government is trying through sanctions to force out Pres. Nicolas Maduro, a Chavista socialist with the interests of the poor at the fore and replacing him with self-declared interim president Juan Guaido. America wants Guaido to come in and overthrow the peoples’ leader Maduro with an oligarchy that would kowtow to anything Washington orders. American leaders are the puppet masters behind the International sanctions against Venezuela causing most of the peoples pain. This is the reason for the resulting humanitarian crisis in the Bolivarian Republic.

In the interest of credibility here though let me state that these sanctions alone have not created the current economic situation in Venezuela entirely. Previous leader Hugo Chavez spent the money of the Venezuelan people on the poor quite loosely. New schools, new health clinics, new services everywhere were created. But that was all before the price of oil fell precipitously. Oil is the main export of the country and there were no funds saved by Chavez for a “rainy day.” This caused a large deal of the collapse. But the sanctions have further exacerbated all the problems when they were implemented before Chavez’s death and Maduro’s ascension. They have just now been tightened like a vice on the people in the South American nation to an extreme extent.

Venezuela needs a multi-billion-dollar investment to get back on its feet. The U.S. aid trucks sitting in Colombia are nothing but show pieces for Guaido because it would take thousands upon thousands of trucks to make a dent in the Venezuelan crisis. The only real, if I can use that word, solution to the crisis would be loans from the WB, the IMF, and entrance into the WTO. But let me tell you how this will work against the poor of Venezuela.

These financial organizations will demand in return for their loans the smashing of unions and the implementation of neo-liberal and globalist policies. They will only develop oil as the source of revenue Venezuela and will not allow the nation to create a self-sustaining economy. Globalizing small, poor countries with WB/IMF loans produces single exports to sale on the world market, e.g., if Venezuela’s people want to produce rice for the people themselves, the WB/IMF will not allow them saying they could import in from other poor WTO countries, like in Indochina WTO members who are a singular product economy also. And what happens in most cases is that member countries take loans from the WB/IMF, they cannot pay them back. So what happens? They take out further loans and these crooked institutions make further demands upon the member/leant against countries, like further privatizing sectors of industries, and undermining further progressive initiatives. And this repeats. Therefore Maduro insists there is no crisis in his country. He knows that the admitting of this situation would put too much pressure on the people to fool them into letting in these neo-liberal institutions into the country. That is what is at heart of the Venezuelan crisis.

Oh, and on another note, millions upon millions of Venezuela dollars are frozen here in American financial institutions as part of the sanctions. The Trump administration has stated that they will be released if Guaido’s coup succeeds. Now who cares about the suffering masses now?

The Poor Are More Generous Than Wealthy Folks: What This Means – Part One

An article on the Atlantic’s site this week is summed up in one simple line: “The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent.”  The percentage difference is relatively small but certainly significant enough to warrant examination and the implications growing out of this are rather interesting when considering these facts along with some typical debate points.

Three key factors should be addressed:

  • Why is there such a difference?
  • What does this mean in relation to how the U.S. government gives in foreign aid?
  • What does this mean in relation to social policy and economic arguments?

    Know how the Bible says the rich man gets into heaven? Not this way.

Two of the key reasons for the difference are pointed out in the article.  The first is no surprise: the rich are greedy and prefer to hold on to more of their money.  But the second reason is a little more significant and should be considered further: economic segregation.  From the article:

Notably, though, when both groups were exposed to a sympathy-eliciting video on child poverty, the compassion of the wealthier group began to rise, and the groups’ willingness to help others became almost identical…greater exposure to and identification with the challenges of meeting basic needs may create “higher empathy” among lower-income donors…researchers analyzed giving habits across all American ZIP codes. Consistent with previous studies, they found that less affluent ZIP codes gave relatively more.

The fact that ZIP codes can determine how generous an area can be is a big part of many problems arising in political debates.  For example, many people on the right (usually wealthy pundits and politicians) make the argument social services aren’t needed and the poor just need to pick themselves up by their own boot straps.  This argument sounds reasonable until you realize the rich likely have no idea what the poor are truly up against in their areas of town and in their personal lives since they generally spend little to no time in poorer areas.

The reality is they do not see the conditions and do not understand the obstacles as our cities become more and more segregated along economic lines.  And if they do not get this part of the debate, what does their argument even mean other than useless rhetoric?  What are they backing this “boots straps” idea up with?  The answer is: nothing, other than their own experiences which does not typically mimic that of the poor given the lack of economic mobility in the U.S.

Another argument that rages on, especially now as the government looks for ways to shrink the budget, is foreign aid.  The wealthy giving less than the poor in terms of percent given is similar to the reality the U.S. gives less than many other countries around the world as a percent in foreign aid.  Whether it’s calculated with percent of GDP or GNI, the United States gives fives times or more less than the most generous countries around the world.

An analogy should be used when showing this difference.  Pretend you have two people who go to church each week, Patriot Jesus and Actual Jesus.  Actual Jesus brings home $100 a week and gives $10 to the church (the usual expectation of Christians in terms of percentage, by the way).  Patriot brings home $1000 a week and gives $20.  Who is more generous?  The guy who gives ten percent of what he makes or the guy who gives two percent?  The answer should be obvious.

Guess which one the United States is in this scenario.

Terrorist Groups Possibly Uniting in Africa, Advanced Countries Compounding the Problem

The head of the United States’ Africa Command is now stating there are three terrorist organizations in Northern Africa possibly banding together to supply each other with more arms and funds to further their cause.  The danger here is obvious but it looks like it might be unstoppable to impede the growth of these organizations if we factor in a few things we know and look at the big picture.

One of these groups, Boko Haram, might be growing its numbers and thriving off of the abysmal socioeconomic conditions in Northern Africa.  The BBC points out:

The reality, however, may be that the real driving forces behind Boko Haram are inequality and poverty in northern Nigeria; a historic grudge between the Nigerian north and south; and an underequipped and corrupt police force.  These issues may be just as important as any links between African jihadists and al-Qaeda.

There is very little doubt inequality and poverty play a big role in people turning to extreme measures to turn their lives around in some way, even if that means joining a terrorist organization.  In addition to that, we also know programs focused on improving living and working conditions have an effect on reducing the number of terrorists around the world (I mentioned this here).  So clearly the remedy for staving off the growth of these groups is through some type of development aid to improve the living conditions in these countries.  And if that aid were to not increase or were it to be cut, we should expect a negative result.  But surely the industrialized world isn’t silly enough to cut aid and knowingly push more people into the ranks of terrorist groups, is it?

Well, it is.  As reported just a few days prior by the BBC, the Eurozone cut its aid to poor countries in the 2010/2011 fiscal year by 1.5% and with the ongoing financial crisis we should probably expect bigger cuts moving forward.  But since it is a U.S. official pointing out the problem, maybe we could count on an American increase in foreign aid since the U.S. lags so far behind most of Europe in development assistance.  I’ll allow a second for the laughter to subside.

In all seriousness, if the United States was actually realistic about fighting these terrorist groups, they might attempt to look at some factors that have worked and the shoddy amount of foreign aid would be one element to examine.  As almost comically pointed out by Oxfam:

Americans spend as much on maintaining their lawns…spend more on caring for pets…as much on candy…as the US government spends on foreign aid. (Emphasis mine)

This isn’t to suggest a doubling of U.S. aid would solve all the problems of the world and stop all terrorism (and if you’ll notice from the chart linked above, even if the U.S. tripled its aid it would still be below the UN development target).  But it is worth pointing out the U.S. clearly sees the problem growing judging from official statements and we can inevitably expect things to get worse.  We also know how to go about reducing the problem.

But the likelihood of that happening is probably around the same likelihood these terrorist groups will give up their arms and ignore their living conditions in order to live in peace.