Venezuela is one of the most unequal nations on earth: as USD 1 trillion passed through the hands of the state since 1999, top political leaders wound up with far more wealth than many millions of families on the bottom, who are still relatively poor
Venezuela was spinning in this tornado of self-defeatism for a long time before Chavez perfected the spin and called it a revolution. The policy victims are the bottom half of the economic pyramid, people who are confused by getting bigger handouts for consumption each year but which make them poorer through inflation.
The question facing Venezuela is whether to continue down the path of failure or to strike a new path toward prosperity. The choice sounds simple but is not because the power elites profit enormously from top-down waste, corruption and inequality. Venezuela is one of the most unequal nations on earth: as USD 1 trillion passed through the hands of the state since 1999, top political leaders wound up with far more wealth than many millions of families on the bottom, who are still relatively poor.
In 2006, I showed in "Getting Over Chavez and Poverty" that the bottom Venezuelan families could work themselves into the middle classes through a capital investment of USD 48 billion in money-making equipment, small businesses, housing mortgages, and education. The key to bottom-up wealth is having private families own the credit, equipment, business, housing and education –not the state. Families need the independent work of making investments pay off for their children. As a result, they become self-reliant, middle-class, independent actors that the state cannot push around at will. This is what happened in Alaska, Norway and now Brazil, which sowed their oil in the bottom of the society in order to set them free. Why this commonplace and common sense solution has never been tried in Venezuela remains a mystery.
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.