Saturday, February 04, 2006

They work hard for their money 

As it is the beginning of the year, and an election year at that, the Venezuelan govevernment is making lots of adjustments to its budget and to things like pay scales. For example, the minimum monthly wage is being increased from 405,000 Bolivares to $465,750 Bolivares (about $200). Additionally the public sector salary scale is being adjusted upwards so that most government workers (and in Venezuela a great many people work for the government) will be getting even larger increases.

In addition to those changes there is one group that will probably be the most benefitted by some of these new initiatives and budget increases - women who work in the home (aka housewives). It first needs to be noted that when Chavez first came to office and a new constitution was written the rights of women, and in particular those who labor only in the home, was recognized for the first time. Here is what Article 88 of the Venezuelan Constitution says:

The State guarantees the equality and equitable treatment of men and women in the exercise of the right to work. The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to Social Security in accordance with law.

To my knowledge Venezuela is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes the value of work in the home and actually declares it eliligible for benefits.

What does this mean in pratical terms? In Fridays Ultimas Noticias they noted that just as the minimum wage is increasing the compensation to low income women working in the home was also increasing. It will be 80% of the minimum wage or 372,600 (which for some reason doesn't actually correspond to 80% of the above given minimum wage numbers which were in the same article - it appears someone made a mistake). It is estimated that about 100,000 women will benefit from this. This probably does not completely meet the need out there but it is a big step. And taken along with already existing programs aimed at the same population segment, such as the discounted food kitchens run out of peoples homes, this means government assistance is almost certianly reaching a very high proportion of the population.

So to summarize. Under Chavez Venezuela radically changes its oil policies and supports OPEC. Oil prices then increase significantly which in turn increases Venezuela's income. The government then uses this income to, among other things, help housewives who have no other means of support. Well, no wonder the Bush administration thinks Chavez is the second coming of Hitler. Personally, though, I'm glad to see my purchases at Citgo are going to some very worthwhile purposes, unlike my taxes which go to bombing people


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