Yon, Pastor, and the concept of opportunity cost

Maldonado celebrating with Maria Gabriela Chávez

There was a big Twitter-ruckus yesterday after the publication of Yon Goicoechea‘s latest column in El Universal. In it, Goicoechea criticizes Venezuelans for cheering and applauding Pastor Maldonado’s Formula 1 triumph last weekend. He reminds his readers how much Maldonado’s sponsorship has cost Venezuela, how PDVSA has no need to be “promoting” itself on race cars, and how it is issuing debt to, among other things, be able to pay for these exploits.

The backlash was as swift as it was unsurprising. This is a country where absolutely nobody understands the concept of opportunity cost.

Putting aside childish complaints about Goicoechea’s “tone” – I mean, really, after thirteen years of chavismo you would think we would have developed a thicker skin – the main point of the article is absolutely, 100% accurate. Maldonado’s sponsorship is simply another very expensive peg in the Chavista propaganda machine, as the picture in the post attests.

The opposition’s mindless cheering, going along just to get along, is incredibly disappointing. Idiotic, some would say.

So yes, Goicoechea’s tone was harsh and provocative. So what? He got his point across.

Do you think a more measured article, in which he politely wondered out loud whether celebrating Maldonado was a good idea, would have gotten this much attention? As all polemicists do, he tried to convey his point by using attention-grabbing language. Good for him.

But it’s no surprise that Venezuelans want none of this “what did $66 million buy me” crap. This is a country where beauty queens are lionized, and nobody stops to think what this says to little girls, what the consequences are for gender equality and for violence against women.

This is a country where people feel entitled to their Cadivi dollars without thinking how completely regressive a policy it is. This is a country where people think they “deserve” cheap gas because we have a lot of oil and, besides, there has to be some benefit from living in this hell-hole, right?

Next time you get mugged in Caracas, think about the teachers your mugger didn’t have, the cops you didn’t see on the street, or the judicial system that simply isn’t there to prevent the scumbag from being out on the streets. Think about how all of those things could have been bought with the $66 million that PDVSA gives Maldonado each year.

Then, only then, should you go back to celebrating Maldonado’s feat.

125 thoughts on “Yon, Pastor, and the concept of opportunity cost

  1. Oy vey…

    I tried to warn Juan that this column was a bad idea, but…

    You see, I agree with Juan. See you? My problem is with pitching this as a vindication of Yon’s oligophrenic hissy fit. In politics, the tone IS the message, and by just randomly insulting people he doesn’t agree with, Yon sabotaged his own message completely. What an asshole!

    A skilled polemicist brings you over to his side by provoking you into thinking again. A dumb polemicist entrenches your pre-existing position by alienating you into hardening a wrong-headed stance. Yon is not a skilled polemicist.

    To think I excorciated AD for keeping him out of the National Assembly. Gracias, coño, Henry Ramos…nos salvaste!

    If Yon had written the column you wrote, Juan, I’d be all for it. Your post is 10 times smarter than Yon’s ill-humored, ill-judged, ill-timed little hissy fit.

    • Wait, you agree with the column, think it’s an improvement on the original, but you think it’s a bad idea…? Me no compreindoe.

      • Because we are in elections, and we need every single vote. Hard but true. You need to keep tongue tied.

  2. For that article to carry through it needs to be written by Laureno Marquez. I am surprised he hasn’t given it a shot. It is right up his alley.

    • Yon just lacks the maturity. His piece reminded me of Claudio Fermin’s catastrophic run of Op-Eds in 2002-2005, where he managed to piss off basically everyone in the opposition by being right in the most aggressively obnoxious way possible.

      • I respect people who are willing to correctly point out that the Emperor has no clothes, only a $66 million endorsement deal, funded by you and me.

        • A skilled polemicist brings you over to his side by provoking you into thinking again. A dumb polemicist entrenches your pre-existing position by alienating you into hardening a wrong-headed stance. Yon is not a skilled polemicist.

          (You could give him lessons…Dariela can put you in touch!)

          • I actually hadn’t thought much about this Maldonado issue until Goicoechea’s article. So yeah, score one for the skilled polemicist.

    • Have to say … for weekend track level seats + Hotel in Monaco for 4 nights during the grand prix it is quite a bargain at 2000 USD black rate … Just another way to get 4,3 dollars and a nice commission for someone along the line ?

      Who’s not to singing up ?

    • Y Conviasa no estará organizando Un Charter ?

      Con 3 días más en St. Tropez o Cannes ?

      Digo ya que nos llegamos hasta Mónaco …

  3. I am thinking … something along the lines “Pastor … Guardame un rinconcito pa Mónaco” … going along the lines that Monaco is one of the safest place in the world with the highest standard of living.

  4. Actually, I agree with Juan’ point. A more polite article wouldn’t have cause the impact this one did. For proof, check a non visceral, more thoughtful and respectful “correction” of Yon’ article here: http://adricultura.blogspot.com/2012/05/ensenando-goicoechea.html

    The most disturbing part of this issue is not Yon’ insultive article or the 66 Million used by PDVSA to sponsor Maldonado but the fanatic, crazy reaction it caused. From Speedy Gonzalez claiming that Yon should not be Venezuelan to dozens of twitters fiercely supporting this claim. Since when the right to have a Nationality depends of preaching a sports victory and saying only what people want to hear? Free speech limitations are not only government’ work, but ours.

    I wrote more about this in my blog.

    • Julia, thanks for the support. I disagree with you on one thing: Formula 1 is not a sport.

      We watch sports because they elevate the human spirit. We admire athletes’ dedication, years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. But Formula 1? Please…

      • Point taken. You must know that I’m not exactly a sports fan (I actually failed sports in highschool, who does that?) so I wasn’t careful when I picked the word “sport”. Probably Formula 1 tho, includes hard work, bloods, sweat and tears but above all that, it requires money. Loads of money…

        • All sports require money, loads of money. Simply by maintaining a stadium, you’re in over a couple of million. Add doctors (of all sorts you can imagine), managers, the whole administrative branch of a team… It’s astounding the volume of money the goes into and comes out of sport.

        • I failed gym once in high school because I refused to play volleyball, I didn’t want to break my nails.

      • Let’s not get into that debate again. As an engineer I certainly admire the effort, skill and intelligence required to make a car win. It also requires the use of many disciplines. The driver has to react very fast and have a very strong build in order to control a car under several G’s. It is not more or less commendable than 22 grown man chasing a ball or 2 grown man hitting one whit rackets.

        Are you saying that there aren’t years of dedication, hard work, sweat and tears into building a driving those cars? Please…

        • To quote Lotthar Matthäus, the football player: “I’ve never seen anybody run as much and as fast as Michael (Schumacher) has today and not be cramping on the ground”. Under the same line of thought, then chess shouldn’t be a sport as well. The same amount of intellect goes into one or the other.

          • God I loved watching Matthaüs – most fun defender until Jordi Puyol!

            See, there really is no reasoning with a Sports fan…your comment sent me scurrying to YouTube to look up Matthaüs highlight reels…

      • Just a comment about it not being a sport.

        It is easy to imagine that driving a car on Sunday, albeit going nowhere fast, could lead you to believe there isn’t much to it.

        However, F1 drivers routinely are subjected to up to 5.5 g’s of force during a lap, sideways on their necks. Stopping about 4 g’s, accelerating about 1.5 g’s.
        Multiply that times 50-60 laps, in 2 hours time.

        They don’t have AC in those cars, sometimes track temps reach 102F and more, plus they are wearing fire-suits, long underwear, gloves and a helmet. At 300 kph you can’t “crack open the visor a bit to get refreshed”.

        So basically it’s like driving in Maracaibo with no AC and dressed in thick long underwear, getting your neck pushed at up to 5.5 times the pull of gravity and you are expected to fend off multiple people trying to do the same thing you are.

        I have had the fortune of driving very fast sports cars around race tracks, nothing anywhere near as demanding as an F1 car, and I can tell you that after 60 minutes you begin to give thanks for working out!

        F1 drivers need to be in very athletic shape not because they have to look good for the endorsement deals, but because if they are not they simply won’t last a race if they are not in tip top shape

        So at the very least, Juan, you cannot say it’s a Sunday drive in the park.

        • so an F1 driver has to be in tip top shape because it is required at the moment he performs his non-athletic duty, in which he must face extreme heat and a high-pressure environment?

          kinda sounds like a female bodybuilding competition in downtown Maracaibo, IDK…

          • It’s not a sport for the sacrifices one would have to make in order to perform, but for the skill that is required. I’ve never done it, but driving a car at 300km/h for an hour and a half takes more than just balls, if you ask me.

          • You know, it’s funny how someone who obviously never drove any kind of vehicle in a competitive way can pontificate about it in public.

            Please try to at least make an effort to understand the physics involved.

            If you can’t, that’s OK, just don’t try to tell the rest of us what it’s like.

      • World English Dictionary
        1. an individual or group activity pursued for exercise or pleasure, often involving the testing of physical capabilities and taking the form of a competitive game such as football, tennis, etc
        2. such activities considered collectively
        3. any particular pastime indulged in for pleasure

        I believe Team Engineering and Driving at the highest possible speeds meet at least someone’s criteria for Formula One being a sport.

  5. I personally agree with the way Yon wrote this. It’s probably what Caprilles wanted to say but he can’t. So a young member of the opposition says it like it should be said.

    Everyone is pussy footing around these days waiting for his highness to make the next move. If he keeps saying he’s OK then let’s get on with it. Off with the gloves & let’s campaign.

    Let’s start pointing out all the corruption & failures. Let’s demand that cases like Pudreval be dealt with – not shoved under the table. Let’s insist they take responsibility for A² & all the other evidence that has surfaced. Let’s point out every day how they are breaking the constitution.

    Of course they won’t deal with it but if it gets spread around & yelled about enough people will begin to listen.

    I’ve been thinking that everything is just too quiet – it’s like Semana Santa. It’s time to call the bluff & start really campaigning against Chavez, the man. He says he’s healthy & will be the candidate. Let’s take him at his word.

    • Great article. Thanks!
      50 Friggin’ million dollars a year!!?? Really? I haven’t realized that til now.
      Coño, now I understand Goicoechea’s “hissy fit”. I’m about to go mental just thinking about it.

  6. Politics in Venezuela has tended to legitimize the act of insulting the adversary. Whoever is insulting is putting himself or herself on a morally higher ground. Why is that OK, even if they are right, even if they achieved their purpose of “crear polémica”?

    And Quico, I don’t think Yon doesn’t want to take lessons from anyone. Yon is right to “point out that the Emperor has no clothes”, as Juan said. But I think he lately has put himself in a politically isolated position and it seems that he is OK with that. I think he really likes to ride his own wave and that wave always happens to be going against the tide. He goes solo, and I think it is not only because he thinks he is right, but because he likes going solo. In any case, he is right to “point out that the Emperor has no clothes”.

    But – calling people “imbécil” – is that what we expect and what we want from politicians? Not me. I don’t like insults from Chávez, from chavistas OR from opposition leaders, or from anyone for that matter. On the other hand, maybe Yon doesn’t want to be a politician anymore?

    The problem is: Opposition leaders that actually do not have the custom (or the luxury, because they are running for office and want to win) of isolating themselves politically from the electorate and from their peers. Did they have a choice? Could they really say – “I am not going to celebrate Maldonado?” I don’t think so. Pragmatically.
    Also, Maldonado has been supported for PDVSA for quite some time and I don´t know if anyone but Maria Corina Machado was very vocal about the illegality of this sponsorship. Why criticize Maldonado AFTER he won the thing and not before?

    • Going solo and riding the wave towards isolation tend to be a very bad idea if you are a politician…me think YonGo is an asshole

    • Good for him and the showoffs but it’s not worth celebrating a failure of the Ayacucho scholarship program. He used the program to leave the country in the late 70′s and never came back.

      • Are you sure? The Mariscal de Ayacucho program started in June 1974, Reif had already been accepted at Stanford before that, as he began at Stanford in September 1974.

        • As fair as I know if you stayed abroad after getting your degree you had to pay the money you were given by Fundayacucho anyway. Congratulations to the guy, hey, if Maldonado got a unanimous National Assembly congratulating him, Reif at least can get some kudos in Caracas Chronicles.

      • Gabriel, many people studied abroad in the late 70′s without Ayacucho’s money and left. Lot’s of others were there with the program and are no longer in Venezuela, but it was not because of the programs failure.
        The culprit the lack of opportunities in Venezuela for them due to the mediocrity of our governmental institutions and business classes. It just got worse in the last ten years because it is now coupled with a general decay in the standard of living of an amoral society.
        The few that still remain for some reason like me. understand and respect their achievement and are a source of pride in a country in which everyday life is sadly akin to the lyrics of a reggeton song

      • I’ve rechecked my source and he now tells me Mr. Reif MIGHT have been awarded a Ayacucho scholarship. Therefore, I back down my previous comment.

        moctavio:
        You get accepted at a university with your qualifications. When you enroll, then you make a payment. If Rafael Reif got a Ayacucho scholarship, he could easily belong to the first group who got awarded.

        CACR:
        Repayment of Ayacucho scholarships started after the 1983 collapse of the bolivar.

        Hermes Tri:
        Ciência sem fronteiras, the Brazilian version of Fundayacucho, began awarding 75000 state scholarships at a cost of $2 billion. Key facts:
        * Students are required to study career fields to enhance the competitiveness of Brazilian industry. Other fields will not participate in this program.
        * Students must return to Brazil.
        * Students will be granted automatic revalidation of their degree when returning home.
        * Students will have top priority in a state-sponsored job search program if necessary.
        By reading those guidelines I kinda hold Fundayacucho to have worked by chance, not by design. Perhaps calling it failure is an overstatement but the ROI for Venezuela was certainly limited.

        As I said before, good for him. Mr. Reif’s achievement deserves total respect.

        • “* Students will have top priority in a state-sponsored job search program if necessary.”

          That’s something that I have never understood about Fundayacucho. These morons invest a gazillion dollars on people, but there’s absolutely no interest on finding a working place for them. A friend of mine who just finished his master in Germany was told that Fundayacucho was “not an employment agency”, i.e. they have no plan whatsoever for them. I have heard the same story over and over again. And don’t get me started about the son and relatives of Minister that get their scholarships just because of their “revolutionary credentials”…

          • Yep. I can vouch about the “Not an employment agency”. One of my best friends got told exactly the same thing. S/he told me he replied to them that they were not competent or smart. S/he is not returning, and I cannot blame him/her.

        • Yes, but if accepted (In March or April), by June (When Fundayacucho was created) you had to have your financing ready. The only possibility was that Satnford offered him money and he switched to Fundayacucho, which I doubt. In many universities, mostly in sciences and engineering, when you get accepted you are also given either a teaching or a research assistanship. The speed at which Reif finished his Ph.D. suggests he had a reasearch assistanship. When I was a student and applied for my Ph.D. , a year before Reif, every single university that accepted me also offered me an assitanship. From my memory, Fundayacucho did not start sending people to the Boston area until 1975, by that time Reif was already at Stanford. The other possibility is that Simon Bolivar gave him a scholarship, but he was there only one year, possible, given his area of study.

  7. Out of the hundreds of crazy bullshit ways that PDVSA wastes money, out of the thousands of utter moneypits in the state, out of the millions in misappropriated, wasted, squandered dollars, we’re going to pick up on the ONE THING that’s actually made people feel good about themselves and the country?!

    En serio?

    And we think that’s smart politics?

    We think we’re going to make a teaching moment out of this by rebranding ourselves into the Grinch Who Stole Maldonado’s Triumph Party?!

    It doesn’t add up for me.

    • The way I would make politics out of this: use some production capacity to build up an add showing the state of schools, jails, and hospitals… and then show Pastor winning, and endorsing the revolution while showing again how the schools, jails, and hospitals are so fine in the revolution. Problem is we are idiots in the opposition, as Yon pointed out.

    • Uh, well, since this is such a blatant contradiction of a socialist regime, I can see how some people can really riled up, specially if they really care about the living conditions of the poorest among us. I get your point, and I agree, but come on, don’t tell me that the sponssorship and the trips to Mónaco are not mango bajito and infuriating.

      • The problem is that you don’t like *any* sport, Guido, so you don’t have any insight into the peculiar collective insanity that grips sports fans.

        Personally, I think F1 is ridiculous, but I do know what it is to escape completely into a Sports match, be totally absorbed in it, hand over my emotions completely to it for a few hours, and I know the weird, gripping power of it all. It’s a power you need to respect, but that’s hard if you can’t share it.

        More and more, I don’t see it as a mango bajito at all. Unlike hundreds of other money pits that Venezuela gets zero value from – that, in fact, destroy value by misallocating resources – you can’t say Venezuela got nothing out of PDVSA’s investment in Maldonado. Is $2/per person per year a lot or a little to pay for the intense feeling of joy and pride his win brought so many people? Well, we can have an argument about that…but it’d be an argument, not a foregone conclusion.

        Contrast that with, say, the hundreds of millions Venezuela wastes by keeping electric rates frozen, a subsidy that creates the blackouts that eventually drove you out of the country, that destroys livelihoods and capital all for the purpose of…what, exactly?!

        THAT’S a mango bajito…

        • Think about sports the same way any person any remote link to Venezuela thinks of beauty pageants. They have no real output, nor are they producing anything of value (other than the occasional “face to face” comment). Yet people went berserk when we won the Miss Universe thing…TWICE…IN A ROW. We’re the same exact country we were the night before she won, who just happens to have the hottest babe on the planet, according to a panel of judges.
          It is that euphoria, nevermind how pointless it may seem from the outside, that makes sports by far the biggest entertainment industry on the planet. I’d quit my job if that were to any good for my team’s chances of winning the Champions, or the World Cup, or that baseball trophy that really isn’t a cup, but a base with a bunch of flags sticking out of it. And you can bet your money to a barndance I’m not the only one who would do it.

        • Maldonado is the pilot of the Williams team. The Williams team is a British (not Venezuelan) F1motor racing team and constructor. The engine of the Williams cars is made by a French manufacturer, Renault. Maldonado is, granted, a Venezuelan born pilot, but he learned his trade racing in Europe. My point is, PDVSA is paying a British racing team with French and British technologies millions of dollars to put their logo on the car. That’s some expensive publicity, isn’t it? The fact that Maldonado happened to be born in Maracay only help to exacerbate our idiotic chauvinism, in this case almost completely unfounded as we as a country have absolutely no merit for Maldonado’s accomplishments. Seeing Maldonado win would put a smile in my face just because of him being my fellow countryman if I did not know that PDVSA is spending millions of dollars as a way to make political propaganda (which, by the way, I am not even sure it works). I feel the same anger as Yon and I understand his position. Nonetheless, I also agree that from the political point of view he is committing suicide.

    • Yeah, they are stealing anyway, so let’s don’t make a big a deal out of this. If that works out for you kudos to you then. Don’t count me among the people feeling “good about themselves and the country”.

    • By that standard, it’s also “smart politics” to leave the price of gas as it is. It’s also incredibly wrong.

    • Right on, quico! It’s funny how people has focused so much on whether F1 is a sport and Yon’s tone was appropriate when I think this is the core of Juan’s article.

      As f***ed up as it is, from the point of view of a Venezuelan if we’re going to give away our money we might as well do it to sponsor Maldonado. The way my parents or my grandparents would put it is: “I’d rather give it to Maldonado than having some boligarch stealing it to buy a mansion in Tampa”. Guys, we’re giving Cuba $10+ million every day. That’s about a dollar per cuban per day! We’re spending zillions buying Russian junk. For God’s sake as I write this I just remember we gave Danny Glover $27 million to make a movie.

      And yes, this is a false dilemma and it’s mediocre but I guess people appreciate certainty over everything else. Gas is a perfect example of this: We can all agree that if gas was not/less subsidized, that money could be better spent. However we don’t know if this will be the case in Venezuela. A lot of people would rather have gas at 10 cents per gallon because if not “Los chavistas se lo robarian todo”

    • There ‘ya go. That’s the situation, rooting against an F1 winner from your own country is contra-indicated.
      PM is taking what’s handed to him and going with it, difficult to blame him (altho I will root even for Hamilton against him) in this situation. I’d just drop it and whine about the waste of money that could have been spent on a big audience in NASCAR.

  8. 100% agreed Juan. It’s theft to take money away from the poor that could go to improve health and education, and give it to a very white collar “athlete”. It’s just wrong, and what Yon did was once again point out the shitness of this opposition that has no principles or standards and makes politics according to the moment or a poll.

    Thank UNT and PJ for not having Yon in the parliament.

  9. Unfortunately, Venezuelan society is one with very bizarre priorities. The fact that people are more concerned about the raise on whisky prices than they are about a complete collapse of anything the public system ought to be taking care of (the healthcare, security, infrastructure, every single company they’ve arbitrarily confiscated ,and a very long etc) kind of gives you an idea of how distorted our view on life is. What they really fear is an intrusion in their lifestyle, not the quality of their life. Quality is long gone, my friend. The day rampant murder, kidnapping, the incapacity to rebuild Vargas, to educate their people, and yet another long etc came to be, was the day that was taken away from us.
    Of course, we now hold on to a deformation of the concept of patriotism, as well as the newly-born cry for national cohesion (“La Vinotinto nos unió como Mandela a los surafricanos”, “Maldonado es bárbaro. Venezolano tenía que ser”) that we like whining over, but hate working towards (of course, this in regards to your average Joe, not politically-inclined fellows like yourselves). People cheer what they can cheer, because we simply don’t see the harm in it. We’re good at many things, but we’re the best at “robar cámara” and “hacerse la vista gorda” at many things. Family and friends that are sick of how corrupt the country is, were among the “Maldonadoists”, in spite of knowing how much this guy’s ordeal costs the nation and how NONE of it is being overseen.
    And I do have to agree with what is said here. It’s not a matter of whether he finally won or not; it’s in the complete malformation that follows. How HE HIMSELF turns his triumph into a political thing, going against any logic. This is the same guy that swore “his engines are at the order of the Proceso”. He’s not running for us, he’s running for himself, as it should be. He just happens to have a very peculiar sponsor, as well as complete lack of integrity and dignity for who you are and what you do as a sportsman, a public person and a citizen.
    Having said all of this, I do have to remind myself that, for as hypocritical as all the opposition figures looked by congratulating him, they have no other choice. Think of the context they’re in and the scenarios they had to phase:
    a- I say nothing about it. This will just guarantee that it IS in fact a Chavista triumph, and that the opposition are nothing but a bunch of bitter people who can’t even cheer a fellow countryman.
    b- I congratulate the guy, and at least hop on that same train everybody is keen on riding. At least I’m no sourpuss; not to the public eye, at least.
    As a friend of mine would say “este es un país de bobos que se creen vivos”. We starve to buy the best shoes and get bigger boobs, instead of figuring out how the hell to get out of this house I had to make myself, because there was no other way. We complain and complain and complain about it all, yet assume that somebody else will come in and do the hard work. And we’re bitter over this whole Maldonado thing because we know how stupid we really are. I guess that after so many slaps to the face, an extra one just makes us more numb.

  10. I agree with Yon, and was called a radical by a friend for doing so. It seems the guabineo is in and you can’t have a no compromise political stand nowadays with some issues, but I do. This whole F1/Maldonado thing is immoral and I cringe every time I see venezuelans celebrating this charade.

    But then again, one of the reasons Hugo is still there is because of people that don’t give a s… about things like this and just look the other way or say “but they are stealing money anyway, so at least this is something we can celebrate”.

    • un país serio, chico… don’t you find it hilarious how the stage was ruched by scene stealing deputies, such as Serra and some guy who’s all dressed in black? just look at where they are sitting in 0:02, and then less than a minute and a half later they’re just hogging the spotlight…

  11. Outside of the country, people who follow Fi have come forward congratulating me on “our” win!
    …sigh….
    Gave up trying to explain, said thanks, and carried on.

    BTW OT reading “switch” loving the Rider, Elephant, Path mind construct.
    Many insights for the change Managmenet required in Venezuela.

  12. One thing I think is wrong to say is that the money could have gone to hospitals and schools. It always sounds too MariaAlejandraLopez for me.
    Instead I would ask these questions:

    How many other athletes are being sponsored by PDVSA?
    Why is PDVSA sponsoring Maldonado acting like it was a private company? Where there any other private companies willing to do it?
    And why PDVSA is sponsoring an athlete, if there is a Ministerio del Deporte that should look after programs and grants for outstanding athletes?
    Does an athlete need a PSUV’s card to get a grant?
    How much money needs a single athlete to live and to train for a year?
    How many gold medals are we aiming to get in the next Olympic Games?

    I will leave it there. All this is so wrong in so many levels.

    • Love this comment Carolina, that’s what I have told people here that “congratulated” me on “our” win”: sorry but so many athletes don’t get even the CADIVI dollars they need to go to the Olympics, where they classified thanks to their own merit and not because an sponsor gave them the place, that I can’t feel happy for this. Good for him, he must be a good pilot, but I don’t feel this is something that reflects anything positive about our country.

  13. “Do you think a more measured article, in which he politely wondered out loud whether celebrating Maldonado was a good idea, would have gotten this much attention? As all polemicists do, he tried to convey his point by using attention-grabbing language. Good for him.” So you agree with Mario Silva’s method too, uh? Good for you… -1 reader for your blog

      • that’s your best answer? that’s exactly the problem here! people can point out other people’s problems but they can’t realize when they make the EXACT same mistake?

        • dude, I agree 100% with what Yon said. And I think is completely uncontroversial. They are using my petrodollars to do something that I deem banal and de paso political. So yes, the opposition are idiots. The accountability about this deal Williams – PDVSA is really shy. What are the benefits of such partnership for the oil industry?

  14. I recall one of the ladys of the chavista youth a few years ago (2007, perhaps?) criticizing the Venezuelan university students that wasted their time building racing cars* instead of tractors for agriculture.
    So far, I haven’t hear a single peep from that lady regarding the $250millions “investment” made by PDVSA/Chavez on Maldonado. How many tractors would $250millions buy? I wonder what happened to her…

    * http://www.fsaeucv.org/2main.html and http://www.formulasae.grupos.usb.ve/

  15. I am sorry, but I am still not completely buying this “those 66 million dollars should have been used to build schools instead” argument, when just phrased like that. Let’s imagine for a moment that, in a less unfortunate parallel world, those 66 million dollars per year in advertisement somehow generated 70 million additional dollars in revenue for PDVSA. Would then the issue be that PDVSA is using that money to pay a guy to drive around in circles each Sunday and not building schools instead?

    • PDVSA doesn’t need advertising to sell more oil, they need to be able to PRODUCE more oil at a reasonable cost and not give away the little that they produce. It’s not like someone is going to see the PDVSA logo and think, hey I like that logo I might buy myself a couple of oil barrels next time I am in the supermarket.
      But I agree, the issue is not schools or hospitals, for me the issue is how many athletes could have decent trainning so we can have a better show at the olympics for example.

  16. OK, here’s my $0.02 on this issue:

    First, on Yon: I like F1 and I enjoyed watching Pastor Maldonado’s superb driving on a sunday morning. If I like it or not, that’s my problem, and I don’t need a *kid* like Yon coming in and tell me that I am an idiot because I cheered for the guy to win. And I bet you that I can find thousands of things that Yon likes that I may dislike, but I don’t go to his face and say that he’s an idiot.

    (You can tell that Yon’s writing clearly annoyed and alienated me)

    Second, what really drives me (no pun intended) nuts with the PDVSA’s sponsorship of Pastor Maldonado is that it is not meant to be part of a meaningful worldwide marketing effort by PDVSA but a lone effort akin to a lottery ticket bought by Pastor Maldonado. I’m going to go on a roll here and say that I truly believe that, if there is a sport (for the argument’s sake, let’s assume that motorsports are a sport – which I believe they are, btw) that could make sense for PDVSA to sponsor it would be motorsports. It’s just a perfect fit: an oil company sponsoring a racing team, like Petronas sponsoring the Sauber team or Petrobras naming the Brazilian GP.

    However, this is not part of a bigger marketing scheme, because it begins and ends with Pastor Maldonado. What does PDVSA have to gain from this, from a marketing standpoint? Very little, considering that, for example, CITGO (who sells gasoline in the US) could get a boost on sales – if F1 was a popular sport in the US, which is not. What difference does it make if a guy living in, say, Thailand or Serbia, now knows that the Williams F1 team is sponsored by some company called PDVSA?

    So, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the argument that PDVSA, instead of spending money on an oligarch-driven sport like F1 on a standalone basis, should be spending money in building schools. But I really believe that PDVSA has to have a marketing budget but it definitely should be spent more wisely.

    • Problem is, nothing makes sense right now about PDVSA or Venezuela for that matter. From the silliness about the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Socialism, that sells oil to the U.S.A., that sponsors an elite sport that nobody practices if not professionally, and then doing it by putting it all on the one Venezuelan pilot, instead of having a sponsorship and advertising strategy that would maximize exposure and returns.

      If it were PDVSA sponsorship only, in a normal enough situation where other sports are sponsored adequately, I agree, Yon is talking sh*t. But this is not that situation and Venezuelans went cuckoo over it, all the while other sports and the country are falling apart. In this situation at at this moment the guy makes sense and there’s not a single claim he makes that is not true. Maybe the subjective parts are harsh.

  17. Maldonado supporters are saying don’t mix politics with sports, sorry, but it was Maldonado that started it:

    Por eso estamos como estamos.

  18. People, F1 is a sport. F1 drivers have best physical conditions than baseball players…or am I wrong? these guys have intense physical and mental training and it does require a lot of work. However, this is not the issue here. The ISSUE HERE is that we have real problems in Venezuela, lack of budget for educational projects, a poor health care system, insecurity, corruption, bad public services, incompetent government, etc. just to name a few. We could really use those 66M to address this issues, don’t you think? But this is the problem…we keep on derailing of the really important topics of our political and economical problems. We have to focus and pay attention to the really important stuff in order for us to win 07/10 elections. Attacking Maldonado will not solve the fact that PDVSA is not only giving away money to him, but to all LATAM countries, venezuelan corrupted officials, AND…on top of everything, it’s practically destroying our OIL INDUSTRY.

    Enough of being polite and having a soft tongue. However, I do agree Jon’s way to get your attention is not that smart…BUT! He got his point across, SO IT WAS EFFECTIVE.

  19. I for one, am happy Goicochea called it like it is. It takes courage to do so. He is a smart guy and I have no doubt he weighed the consequences of his column and anticipated the reaction.

    How many politicians do you know that can call it like it is? He started a debate and that is good.

    • That Thaelman Urguelles piece very neatly illustrates why Yon’s article was a failure.

      Did our public sphere gain a deeper appreciation of Opportunity Cost? Did Yon raise the level of debate surrounding PDVSA’s spending priorities?

      No! All he did is provoke even serious intellectuals into spewing streams of idiocies!

      • That’s a mighty high standard you’re setting for an article. So it was a failure because it didn’t beat the idiocy out of idiots, as Omar’s Avatar would like us to believe is possible? It was a failure because people still don’t understand opportunity cost? I dunno.

        I think the article should be judged on the correctness and timeliness of its premise.

      • I beg to differ. I don’t know who this guy Urguelles is, but his article is not much better than Goicoechea’s “hissy fit”. So, instead of discussing the topic he goes on a rant insulting and belittling Goicoechea. And to add insult to injury, the immature response of Urguelles is Goicoechea’s fault. Urguelles is entitled to hate Goicoechea’s guts as much as he wants, but this is ludicrous.

        William Zitser’s article in panfletonegro (link courtesy of Pixar) is dead on. It’s not about opportunity cost or what not. It’s about a really poor country with very poor people wasting money on something frivolous and bourgeois. Venezuela is a fucking POOR country. Sad thing is that nobody seems to realize that. Not Arguelles, not Chavez, not Maldonado, not the countless pundits and bloggers talking about it.

        Venezuela wasting $250millions on a F1 racing car is like the jobless person borrowing money to buy a Corvette. It might seem cool, but it’s actually incredibly stupid. The kind of stupidity that makes me go mental.

  20. The best defense yet of Yon Goicochea’s right to say what he said was mounted by El Chiguire Bipolar in these two entries

    http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/15-05-2012/defensores-de-la-libertad-de-expresion-piden-a-yon-goicochea-no-decir-lo-que-piensa/#more-8248

    http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/16-05-2012/venetur-ofrece-paquete-ironico-dolares-socialistas-para-ver-deporte-elitista-en-monaco/

    Besides, think what you may of Goicochea and his exasperated style and opinions. But apart from his opinions, there is not a single thing he says in that short article to support those opinions that is not strictly true. And after reading them and having a taste of fact, Venezuelans (and particularly those of opposition persuasion) celebrating this triumph do not shine across as beacons of common sense, social conscience or intelligence.

    Little Yon was too candid, he cried that “Hey! They have no clothes on!” and was promptly lynched.

  21. Apparently, there’s a lot of money in our country and we no longer remember the years when 66 million dollars, or whatever they spent in Maldonado, would’ve been just too much real for the state to spend sponsoring a Formula 1 driver. Even an irresponsible, corrupt, unaccountable and bully state like ours.

    The worst part is: There’s no freaking way to bring this to the fore in the public arena without sounding ‘bitter’. It was already difficult before Maldonado won, but now it’s pretty much impossible. Yon just made it sound worse given his poor choice of words and tone, but even if he had used tempered language, his comment would have anyway been dismissed as irrelevant, inappropriate, or… plain idiotic.

    We are pretty much powerless to force the government engage in a serious conversation about why it’s convenient for PDVSA to foot Maldonado’s bill, or even consider doing so. No justifications. Zero. And now Maldonado wins this race (wait for more to come?) and not only the government, but a lot of people consider it a worthwhile investment, excellent for our reputation abroad in many respects, a blessing that gathers Venezuela ’round their beloved flag and help us forget our social, political and economic cleavages…. en fin….
    *******

    I hate to make comparisons of this kind, but it’s just ironic that in the mean time, in a global, wealthy city like Melbourne, with a low single-digit poverty rate and efficient public services, they are still thinking about scrapping the Australian GP because ‘$50 million of taxpayers’ money for sponsoring a Formula 1 race might be just too much for a race’. See:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-01-25/melbourne-mayor-seeks-to-scrap-grand-prix/1917752

  22. OT: Press confenece of the MUD, Marino Gonzalez is the spokeperson. Live on Globovision.
    1. PPT officially joins the MUD.
    2. There will be a “tarjeta unica”, but political parties will join it voluntarily. Its scope will depend on CNE’s rules, yet to be decided.

    • So, ni uno ni lo otro, sino mas de lo mismo. Isn’t it an oxymoron to call it a “tarjeta única” if there’s a really big chance it might not be one?

      • It sounded more or less like you are describing. Really anti-climatic. Lame.

        • the worst part is this is the result of months of arguing and bickering from those for and against. If there’s something that resulted as unaltered as the western front in WWI, it has to be this.

          • It’s just bizarre and typical at the same time. Even in the 21th Century. :(

  23. I don’t know why the issue of the money spent on F1 is the forefront, when it’s just the symptom. The root is the petro-state model; it’s just got to go. But what is saddest to me is that those criticizing the F1 spending are just stating how they would spend it if they were in control of the money, not giving up it’s control, though.

    We’re back to the Lord of the Rings syndrome: if only I had it then it would be used for good… Didn’t we learn anything from Tolkien? Destroy the ring!

  24. It’s not unitaria if it’s not unitaria. They can call it whatever way they want. I deeply wish the MUD leadership would raise to the occasion, overcome the divisive institutional and structural incentives of our ‘hybrid authoritarian’ regime, and actually form a single, united party to challenge the PSUV.

    If not, I’m afraid their future looks less like Concertacion, and more like the unitary movements in The Philippines and Nicaragua (provided they make it to power). And, since the future of the PSUV is looking more and more like Peronism after Peron, oh well… Dios nos agarre confesados.

  25. Considering that just for this race some 2 billion people will have senn shots of Maldonado and PDVSA logo, be aware of Venezuela and even know now what the national hymn sounds like plus replays, plus internet, plus newspaper reports plus the fact there are 20 races in a season $66 million is dirt cheap. Even if my consrvative figure for just this race of 2 billion people is a one off event this is equivalent of just 3 US cents per person becoming aware of Venezuela.

    (And no – I am not talking about the live TV auduence – I am talking about all media reports worldwide with PDVSA’s logo. Anyway no one knows how much this sponsorship costs. Just because Ravell says $66 million or it could be €66 million or even a $150 million – it is all speculation. Ravell has not said one word of truth for years and you believe the ass)

    This is a brilliant national promotion campaign by the President of the Bolivarain Republic of Venezuela for PDVSA and by the end of the season the hit cost per person could be down to as little as 0,0015 US cents per view of PDVSA’s logo.

    It is brilliant and working or people such as Yongo and Nagel among others would not be so upset and scrabbling round in the complaints trough for criticisms.

    If Maldonado wins in Monacoor any other race this season what are you going to do – slash your wrists?

    Politically Yongo will never be able to be clean of his unpatritoic opinions since the political opposition will not let this one die….ever!

    • Why does PDVSA need “publicity”? Are there people who buy oil who don’t know PDVSA sells oil? Am I missing something?

      • and why no one has considered that we have to borrow from the Chinese to pay for this? The libertarian perspective sees this as child abuse. We are imposing future taxes, and interest payments on our children on projects with negative NPV.

    • “If Maldonado wins in Monaco any other race this season what are you going to do – slash your wrists? ”

      On the other hand, what will Chavistaland do if Maldonado cannot finish another race for the rest of the season? His ego is sky high and he cannot afford to take on the Chavista attitudes of risk is not a problem.

    • Yes, as usual the opposition has absolutely no evidence to back up its claims. But who needs evidence when some random person gives a random number and every opposition member on this blog just repeats it because they want to believe it.

    • Actually that is a sensible comment on the nature of F1 sponsorship. For worldwide branding and name recognition, sponsoring a traditional F1 team like Williams, means you will get a lot of eyeballs no matter how down the grid they are. From a purely “Formula One racing” point of view spending that money this past year has been a bargain, when compared to recent entries like Ford or Toyota that blew hundreds of millions of dollars and didn’t even get a race win.
      Then there is the business to business side of F1 sponsorship – probably more important than the retail side. Bernie Eccelstones tightly controlled F1 paddock is one of the best places to do business in the world – a place to connect with Fortune 500 CEO’s, Oil Sheikhs, Russian Oligarchs, top Chinese apparatchicks etc. The F1 circus lands in North America, Europe, the BRIC countries, Middle East, and has some of the biggest oil companies as sponsors. An oil company could use the paddock smartly as a way to generate contracts and associate itself with suppliers and partners. (doubt PDVSA does it though).
      A second aspect of the business to business side, is that you can leverage a main sponsorship by having your suppliers and subcontractors come in as co-sponsors and contribute monetarily towards the annual budget in exchange for a logo on the car. Oil companies can do that with equipment suppliers, service providers or joint-venture partners, I see only one such sticker on the car from a drilling contractor, so its obvious that PDVSA didn’t do much to defray the costs.
      As far as the view that PDVSA is not a “retail” brand worth promoting, you can argue that top-10 oil and gas companies should invest in promoting their brand worldwide due to the very nature of the business. 10 years down the road, it could well enter the retail gasoline market in a number of countries or list itself in a stock exchange. It enters having some name recognition and goodwill due to international sponsorship. I can think of the case of Repsol (at one point also a State owned company) that through its long-term sponsorship of Motorcycle racing (mick doohan, rossi, etc) actually help build its brand before it even went international and got confiscated by Christina.
      All that being said, I doubt that PDVSA managers use this sponsorship in any meaningful or strategic manner.

  26. Don’t wanted to say I TOLD YOU SO… but I did said in this blog, the negative effects of publishing the kind of articles that Francisco made, with his rant against Maldonado and F1. Now Yon here, made an atrocious attempt to make his righteous point. From most part I agree with Yon, but calling people “Idiots”, that was uncalled for, that’s not how you should start a civilized conversation with anybody, because people will often reply you in the same way or worst retaliate.

    Remember people, we are in a electoral year, this is not any election, people’s lives and future are at stake, Venezuelan future is at stake, and now every chavista media outlet is going to use this moment, amplify it as much as possible, associate the Yon’s message to opposition as much as possible, fill the streets with nationalism and patriotism propaganda.

    Because like it or not, patriotism really really sells, and give a lot of political profit for the one that can use it properly, patriotism has a fantastic side effect, it can obnubilate the mind of even the most rational person, and this person becomes a tool for the one holding the flag of patriotism.

    I just hope, that Yon can learn from this, and can make a very good contribution to the country. Because I think he is nice guy and he has genuine concerns about Venezuelan well being.

    • Yeah, but an important point can be made too. Yon Goicochea’s mind is his own, Juan Nagel and Francisco Toro’s minds are their own. I mostly agree with them on this. We don’t share, and don’t pretend to share a Hive or Master Mind. None of us that are opposed to being controlled like chavistas give and follow orders.

      There’s plenty of hope that there’s still one guy who can cry “Idiots, you are all naked!” and endure the character assassination attempts.

      It’s time to tell the chavistas to stuff it tend to their own Master and Commander’s deathbed.

      • loroferoz, Yeah we all been there, we can resort to all kind of stuff to have a normal conversation to some radical chavista, and is like talking to an answering machine or some prerecorded audio tape, and our mere attempt to even talking to them just make them play the prerecorded audio stored in their head.

        “There’s plenty of hope that there’s still one guy who can cry “Idiots, you are all naked!” and endure the character assassination attempts”… so yeah I hope that too.

  27. Thanks for taking a stand on this folks. At the risk of sounding like the nerd patrol. Or unpatriotic.

    I have never seen F1. That being said, I suppose it is no surprise that I honestly don’t see where Yon was that provocative. I thought he was simply saying it like it is, but he is obviously going after a sacred (borrowed) cow.

    I know a 15 year old girl with a wicked tennis swing who doesn’t bloody well have access to a place to play, much less lessons. The reasons for why she can’t do what she excels at have everything to do with the negligence, incompetence and misplaced priorities of this government. The F1 guy obviously deserves recognition- if for nothing else- he is strapped into a bomb flying around at high speeds all day. But YES EXACTLY- what is the cost of that sponsorship in lost opportunities?

    The private sector is good at funding this sort of thing. Not so good at funding extra-curriculars for kids.

    • Now that’s transcendental. Venezuelans who shine in disciplines with real impact on the world have to shine outside Venezuela. Not that the other countries do not have doyennes and race car drivers and footballers and Misses and Big Brother contestants who make headlines regularly. It’s that there is a “more aware” part of those countries that is listening, remembering and cheering, that can get the news out when scientists, engineers, artists and humanitarians do something worthwhile.

      For example, it would have been worthwhile news that Pastor Maldonado’s design, innovation and maintenance teams were Venezuelan.

  28. My take on it was that any honor we might have gained from the triumph would dissipate in shame if the world knew how we paid for it.

    “… ningún poblado como el nuestro puede convertirse en una nación a punta de carreras de Formula 1 ganadas y pagadas con 66 millones de dólares de nuestras resultas petroleras… más de seguro gasolina regalada. De saber estos detalles el mundo no tendríamos donde escondernos de pura vergüenza. Una nación se construye, no se compra.”

    • Precisely. It would have been great news to hear that Venezuelan engineers and technicians had helped produce this result, and were set to produce some more. Alas! nary one of those!

      In some ways it’s like the Chinese satellite that is allegedly Venezuelan. I would not say like a Venezuelan astronaut, for astronauts are skilled and brave too, but also out to DO something important that goes way beyond showbiz, and are usually accompanied by a technical team from their nation.

  29. I agree with Rodrigo ‘Let’s not get into that debate again. As an engineer I certainly admire the effort, skill and intelligence required to make a car win.’

    There is so much effort and hard work that goes into F1 to be successful. It is so soul destroying to see childish behaviour soiling the ethics. Lets try keep politics out of Formula1

  30. Venezuela crumbling and our mediocre government spending millions on sports cars and what so not. It is absolutely ridiculous. This victory is nothing to cheer about.

  31. The revised 2012 list of Chavista accomplishments and costs
    1. Financed Maldonado race car win -$82 million
    2. Financed prices really low gas prices- $12-15 billion in lost revenues
    3. Financed Cuban cancer treatments- $13 million so far
    4. Financed housing for everyone- $2 million for advertising and nothing for housing-good deal
    5. Financed free medical care- $1000 for aspirins for Cuban doctors plus $4 billion for Castro
    6. Financed Russian Arms purchases – $14 billion for tanks, airplanes, helicopters, submarines, etc that will eventually rust, crash, leak, or break down.
    7. Financed dictators around the world -$4 billion or more
    8. Financed prison system that can hold 5 times the design amount of prisoners-$500 for video of new paint on same old buildings
    9. Received financing from China- nothing today but $25 billion in future oil discounts for China
    etc.

  32. I’d like to point out that this blog heavily supports the Vinotinto. Isn’t there a contradiction here?

    Not that I really care, I just think sports, which cannot in the end account for all that much of the gov’s expenditure, is not necessarily the thing to focus on.

    We might be getting carried away by a slightly different version of “Did you see what Chavez called so-and-so yesterday?!”

    • Well, to me they are quite different. First, the Vinotinto is Venezuela’s team. Maldonado races for Williams. Second, futbol/soccer is very popular in Venezuela and kids also play it. But I would like to note that not until this year did the Vinotinto get funding from the Government. I also think that it should not be PDVSA that does it, but that is another story, besides the fact that PDVSA stole teh contract from Polar, who had financed the Vintinto since it began getting better under Paez (The trainer, not the President)

      • And, you do not need a multi million dollar infrastructure to play a caimanera. Even I enjoy doing it every now and then. Probably every single child in Venezuela capable has done it at least at school. How many of us have diven an F1 car?

      • No acknowledgement of my actual premise?

        I don’t want to be the smartass here, but a lot of people like F1 too.

        Why are we even focusing on this fucking distraction of a non-issue?!

        This is their game we are playing now.

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