Distortion vs. Distortion

The thing about the Spaghetti-bowl style accumulation of weirdly irrational economic policies isn’t just the absurdities that each engenders, but the way each has unforeseeable knock-on effects on entirely different areas.

Consider this: to patch up the problems caused by a grotesquely distorted electricity market, the government has now ordered large-scale electric consumers to install their own generation capacity…except, the machinery involved isn’t produced in Venezuela, so it will have to be imported, which is impossible, because the government’s grotesquely distorted Currency Exchange regime won’t approve the foreign currency it would take to buy it!

And so bonehead policy in one area makes the problems created by bonehead policy in another area insoluble. De pinga, ¿no?

Quote of the Day: “Hay un error, no tiene ningún sentido, hay que pedir una aclaratoria.”

43 thoughts on “Distortion vs. Distortion

  1. The absurdity is at high level, selling Arepas is a must for this government, producing electricity will be delegated to the consumers. Don’t be amazed if the next step is the obligation to use your car battery for the home appliances!

  2. Right now in Margarita we are receiving electricity with only 106 volts in our area.
    I’ve had to turn off the A/C to prevent another burned out compressor (2 in the last month caused by low voltage).
    We had to replace a 24,000 BTU A/C (with a burned out compressor) with 2 of 12,000 because the larger unit would not start because of voltages under 120. The smaller units mostly will start the compressors even with the lower voltage as long as it’s above 110.

    We woke at 5 AM to a 1 hour 15 minute cutoff which is now almost daily & normally is of 2 & half hours duration.
    The government wants us all to cut back at least 10% in usage – not hard when you are without electricity for 10% each day although I wonder how much extra electricity we use re-cooling rooms, fridges & freezers.

    It’s really a shame that some much beauty & potential is ruined by such incompetence. It’s really frustrating!

    • At least in Jan/Feb SENECA posted the schedule of blackouts and adhered to it . Now that the idiots in CORPOLEC are calling the shots and Jefe is in Cuba, it is total crap shoot here in NE..

  3. Simple question: Why in rural areas where electricity service is such a pain the chavistas always win the elections?

    • Because
      1) the “national leaders of alternative parties (and I don’t mean the candidate for president but, say, the top 10) don’t go there. They don’t go even to small cities, but for some exceptions. When you say “rural” most Caraquenos/maracuchos/valencianos think of Calabozo (which is not: that’s a small city).
      2) because the alternative forces are represented in those areas either by some AD or COPEI dinosaur or by some big landowner with no connection to the people.
      3) because although those areas have got only crumbles, those crumbles – at $110 a barrel – are more than what they got in the nineties and the vast majority of those persons living there don’t fully know how much money the country is getting now. They get Mercal – which matters more for them than for you or me), they got better schools than what they got in the nineties even if those schools are crap and getting crappier
      4) because those who go there from Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo, do not feel at ease there, they know nothing about those areas, about their particularities, about the regional (and actually national ) histories , so even an idiot as Chávez can impress those people with “local knowledge”.
      5) because 70% of Venezuelans do not have Internet, cannot watch cable, do not read much (actually the number is higher) and the alternative forces think they can tweat Chávez away.
      6) because the alternative forces are short of money and they do not share logistics, they only agree on a unique candidate if need be, so they are like 50 parties duplicating lots of efforts, something unique to Venezuela and Somalia.
      Those are some of the reasons, I think.

      • Kepler, for all that we know, they might take a hit in votes next elections if they cannot fix this quickly. In many areas, actually, everywhere that I am familiar with, these kind of electrical issues are completely unheard of. Not even in the worst times of the Cuarta.

        • They might, they might. I also hear blackouts there are are rather the norm. Still, they will get some crumbles in the months to come. And the thing is: can we count on Chávez voting us IN?

          • No, we cannot. That has been the strategy so far. Wait until the country is unlivable, so the masses vote for whatever is opposing CHávez.

      • Kepler, you are right, but you have to take into account that most rural areas are now controlled by the FARC, FLB, ELN and other gangs and subversive groups. People are really afraid in those places, people get killed for nothing. To top all that, these groups are protected by the military and the PSUV.

        I know that we have to get to those places and talk to these people, but it is not an easy task, in fact its really dangerous. Think of the Taliban and then take away the religion part of it.

        The chaos spaghetti Chavez unleashed in rural areas is amazing, only his voice gets there – via radio and tv- and they are guarded by armed extremist. So how do you untangle those areas from Chavez grip? and I mean peacefully. I have no idea…

        • Jau,
          One of the things I am trying to say is most in Caracas-Maracaibo-Valencia got the demographics wrong. Mind: I was born and grew up in one of those cities and lived for years in another. The majority of Venezuelan visitors of these blogs come from those areas, specially Greater Caracas.
          I link here to a map I prepared with the latest CNE data: those municipios in red all together make up 30% of the population. Mind: the largest municipio of them all is Maturín and most people in Maturín live in Maturín city proper. If you had the pink municipios, you get 50% of the votes. If you go also to yellow, you get 60% and with the blue, 70%. We are hardly covering poor Southern Valencia (red municipio in this map) but on election time. I know that for a fact. I defended signatures in Carabobo’s Libertador, which is the most dangerous municipio in Carabobo. It is possible but we need to go in numbers. We really go like 5 people while we have thousands and thousands who gather in the upper-middle class areas of Valencia. Los Guayos is a “village” with about 80000 voters, 5 minutes from the Valencia airport and on the right of the road Borges from PJ uses very very very often. No national leader from the alternative forces has been to Los Guayos. The same for Guacara with 100 000 people just on the north. In Guárico, the big yellow municipio has most people in one city: Calabozo. How do we go there? When I studied in Venezuela I did not have a car. I used what still now most Venezuelans use: a bus. And then I travelled a lot in buses in Venezuela for the fun of it, although we know how roads and drivers are in Venezuela.
          Well, I tell you: study bus stations, get a plan, go to the bus stations. Go to the buses for Maturín, Calabozo, Barinas, Puerto Cabello, etc, etc. Distribute flyers. Disperse. I suggested bus stations to some people in the opposition and shortly afterwards they did exactly that. But: they all went with yellow shirts (indeed PJ), they all went without knowing the routes, not prepared for the police of that municipio to bother, they took a long time and then the police detained a couple of them and then freed thm. There were some pushes and Chavista thugs bothering, but no pictures were taken (but a bad one too late) because people were not prepared. Come on, guys! We must be prepared. We need to hav witneses and witnesses for them, an exit plan, journalists’ phones, also from foreign outlets.
          When I backed up the firmazo in Libertador (Carabobo), the guys who organized it (some friends of mine) did a great job in spite of hardly any support from the Salas et alia. We actually waited for the signatures and then departed in 2 cars so that the thugs did not know which one had the real ones. One of them followed us and yet we had already prepared that two other cars were waiting for us. The Chavistas stopped following us. That was the Firmazo, where we had to remain in one place until night. To distribute flyers – well made flyers – we need less. In those flyers explain truths, think about how Chavismo would try to refute that. Don’t take people from those areas for idiots. They are very ignorant, like most also in posh areas, but as intelligent as anyone elsewhere. Just give them the information they do not know where to find. Do use very simply charts: this is what we got, this is what we get. Localize your examples with knowledg of those regions.
          And beware: CHavista thugs are indeed prepared to provoke violence. They got that from the extreme left, who had used that method for over a century. Chavistas know not a single thing about how to manage a country and most professional ones are mediocre at best. Still they are good at provoking violence. They tease and hope you lose your nerves or get caught without witnesses. Avoid that. Even our deputies at the AN still don’t get it as the “fight” between the UNT guy and a Chavista showed. We need to have plans. And again: FARC is not everywhere.

          • Correction for Los Guayos and Guacara: I mean VOTERS. There were 85.989 voters in Los Guayos alone in 2010. You can get to Los Guayos city centre with a normal car. From the Panamericana it takes a couple of minutes, same from Valencia proper. Los Guayos is the most densely populated municipio of Carabobo. Guacara is in a similar situation. I would love to put a GPS locator to the ankles of the 10 top leaders of “national parties” in Venezuela and see on a map where they have been in the last year. I know loads of people there. Those who vote for our parties do not do that because they had got any messag from our parties. Abstention is 10% higher in those areas than in opposition-dominated areas and those people are not going to Chavez anymore but neither will they go to us as long as 1) there are some goodies to distribute and 2) we do not go listen to them and give them a better vision.

            Try to find on the Internet what Primero Justicia Lara has concretely. There is a twitter account for Lara. There is a sede in Barquisimeto and an email from a PJ representative there. That is for a state with more than 1.1 million VOTERS. Could they not set up within PJ’s site two pages where they update the tasks, the problems for Lara, their vision? OK, enough ranting. I know we try to do their best. We can do better.

          • Kepler, I was talking bajo Apure rural.

            I finally get your point! I thought that the opposition went to the Los Guayos of Venezuela, but apparently not. You are right, they should, its not so difficult.

            The more I think about it, the more I am convenced that we need is Carlos Ocariz, that guy has been inside Petare for more than 10 years now and he keeps going every day, talking, fixing, educating, showing the right way. He is an exceptional guy, very humble and calm, a true good guy. He leads by example and does not talk BS. Hopefully Venezuelans will see that sooner than later.

            • I agree about Ocariz.
              I actually warote about him on very good terms a couple of years ago… (in German so I guess the guys from the Konrad Adenauer Academy and two others found out :-p ).
              He does need to work on giving speeches, but he does work.

              I may get some reaction here but I think it helps he is 1) from Maracay (and I am talking as a Valenciano), 2) he is not another lawyer, economist or – God forbid – military but an engineer (not that lawyers and economists are bad, but we badly need different perspectives, like we need people like the mayor of San Diego, who is a hands-on entrepreneur)
              and 3) his family background is somehow more average (sorry, but it helps…that’s life).

              There were some oppos who timidly went to Los Guayos for the elections in 2008, once as far as I know, and there were some Chavista thugs trying to attack them, but things did not get to much. Things have changed, but in general what I am telling the opposition is that they must get more discipline, plan ahead. They really are taking this like viejitos y viejitas que organizan un día de caminatas por el Ávila. If you go to such an area, you need to have an analysis beforehand, a good one. You need to know people there, security issues. You need to know a bit about its specific problems and about its myths, its history (you don’t need to go to the Biblioteca Nacional for that).

              You need to go with several people who know what to do. You need to keep cool and avoid violence. You need mobiles and you need several people in different places. You do NOT need for Goodness sake, to dress up as PARTY X, SHOOT ME, I AM A DUCK! You need your flyers in a language that is clear, simple but really informative and does not take humble people for idiots. I tell you: we are not doing it

        • I would imagine that with time they become fed up as well and things start to change. But I’ll cede to you as most of you here are more familiar with the country.

        • jau – do us all a favor and think before you write unfounded BS. At the end you say “i have no idea”. You do not need any idea, jau, since this threat only exists in your own head. Get some good shrink to help you.

          It’s like th story about a whole cinema being robbed at gunpoint in the Caracas Sambil. All rumnors and BS put out to scare people. I tell you, if what you wrote had any grain of truth in it I and my family owuld be long gone.

          • Nicht füttern den Troll. Ne nourrissez pas le troll. No alimente al troll. Don’t feed the troll.

          • Arturo, everything is so cool that you should light up a joint and ride your burrita to Guasdalito, once there talk to one of the guys with a thick Colombian accent, and tell them that you come from a rich family and that you are doing tourism around the area.
            If in a day or two you find yourself in the jungle, tied like a dog to a tree, dont become sad, you could always believe that your captors are paracos under the orders of the MUD. That will make you really happy that your master and commander has not betrayed you or your family.

  4. Right now they are running from one end of the country to another trying to put band aids on each problem as it pops up. eg. 5 transformers from Guri to Maracaibo. The problem is now out of control & resources are not arriving fast enough to solve the problem.

    AN Diputado Dugarte has proof that the opposition is behind all the blackouts & will present proof next week.
    Do people actually believe this bullshit?


  5. I just showed, the link posted by Island Canuck, with the quote from a PSUV Deputy to the AN, to my cleaning lady. Now, she is not the most educated person in Venezuela and has bought into the Chavista propaganda in the past, but she was actually incensed reading this saying, “Que mentiroso, desgraciado!”

    However, once Chavez gets back in the saddle, he has a knack for getting his herd in line. El conoce bien su ganado. So, we will get a chance to see whether or not he still has the magic touch. In the meantime, to the Opposition, I say, when your enemy is shooting himself in the foot, help him! Demand that these miscreants who are sabotaging the electrical system be investigated and prosecuted.

  6. Socialism: Spaghetti Code in the HS (Human Society) Programming Language.

    Which is what naturally happens when you try to condense all the classes (and particular instances) in Human Society into The One Algorithm.

  7. Not to mention that Venezuela is probably importing the fuel oil, that will feed the electric plants, that will need the dollars to be imported, that were depleted by importing the fuel oil. Se entendio?

  8. In the end, everything will stay calm until (and if) the “racionamiento” hits Caracas. It seems to me that the government is doing everything in is power to avoid this…

  9. The funny thing about this is that there is simply no solution. Imagine you are a company and decide that, what the hell, decreasing your consumption in 10% is too costly, and that you’d rather suck it up and pay the fine. In effect, what the government is doing is raising your rates. Now, normally, that would be a good thing, because the rise in prices could compensate for the excess generating capacity that the country requires. However, in this case, a rise in prices doesn’t do squat because the incentives of the state-owned generator as well as its (in)ability to increase supply are completely driven by other factors.

    La Unión Soviética no colapsó por falta de planificación precisamente…

  10. Juan remember this is not the Soviet Union, this is Venezuela.
    Compare it to some African country,just a light version.

  11. It has always been my observation that the difference between a warning and an excuse is timing. That is, if you say why something could go wrong before it happens, it’s a warning. If you explain why something went wrong after it happens, it’s an excuse. Well, it’s the job of the opposition to make the warnings and preempt the excuses.

    • Very good point. Still be prepare for what they will say: that we are sabotaging things by sending CIA-trained iguanas to engines and stuff.

  12. Has anyone studied how much extra power is used by going to bed half an hour later? That’s another signature Homer Simpson moment of Chavez.
    Hey, China makes solar panels, might as well go green!

  13. Yet they say that electricity is a public good. Well I say that public ownership has been tried, tested, and failed. Time to give the market a chance because the government obviously does not know what it is doing in this regard.

    • Eventually, the Socialist Revolution will make Venezuelans partisans of the free market, if not explicitly, at least implicitly and through every action.

      In Europe, public means managed, and at times monopolized by the government. And it kind of works. Not that efficient or much in the way of customer service, hideously expensive whereas it could be paying for itself or even earning something; but there is universal, but at times delayed access.

      In Venezuela it means nobody has to pay for it, really, and that to different extents, every person can help themselves to everything it for free. Therefore, public as understood in Venezuela, is completely unworkable, more or less like a perpetual motion machine.

      • There seems to be a complete lack of faith in private distribution of goods there. What do the socialists and Communists make of the United States during the Gilded Age? There were very little government interventions back then, and the country experienced tremendous growth. Why can’t it work now when it worked then?

          • Tony, I am no socialist and no communist, I am for free trade (as real free trade, both ways, not a pretense thereof) and private enterprise. I think all you seem to see is the States and the world according to your vision of the States, with hardly any knowledge of the conditions, the history of everything else.
            From a very limited interpretation of the possible reasons for the US expansion at that time you go on to develop a whole “philosophy” as if this were some exact science. And you know nothing about Venezuela. You obviously have your economic view and you try to explain those times with that view without apparently trying to see other factors. The United States had in the previously decades invaded a huge amount of territory, a territory that profitted from the new cultures (wheat) and new technology. The United States government was in reality highly protectionistic, perhaps more so than China is now. Its free trade policy was very much one-way free trade. The dynamics from high immigration of relatively high-skilled workers (even the illiterate Sicilian one was compared to someone who had been dealing with agriculture at a different technological level as Native Americans were – remember agriculture took hold much later in North America than in Eurasia) entering that vast state and the very low competition from huge regions that had at that time miserable education levels (Spanish America) are just some of the factors that play a role. Anyway: that is completely OT and I think your discussion is better off in blogs about the States. I won’t go further into that, but I think you are just posting very much OT

        • They vote you down because they seem to forget that maybe the U.S. entered a recession and this supposedly was a fault of free markets. According to people who were and are cheerleaders for much worse alternatives than just your downward turn in the economic cycle.

          Most of the world at the same time did a lot more than enter a recession; or was worse off having nothing to do with being prosperous and having civil liberties. Essentially, developments in the late 20s and early 30s paved the way to World War II.

  14. And every liter of petrol burned in those required new generators will be paid for by the government.

    The waste caused by the subsidy of one resource generates even greater waste and costs thru demand for yet another resource.


  15. Are any people in Chavista land starting to worry about the direction the country is going? Things seem to be getting bad enough where some cracks should be showing in the movement.

  16. The most interesting part, is that this is the Government that nationalized all independent power producers that were growing fast and providing power in industrial areas with more energy efficient solutions. They have not grown since.

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