Monday, February 23, 2009

Socialism to the rescue... 

...well maybe not.

Below, from the Economic Statistical Annex to the 2008 Venezuelan Presidential report, we see see this:

The above spreadsheet shows the 2008 results for all the "socialist" factories in Venezuela. It gives the number of people employed, what they produced and the number of units produced, and the value of total sales.

Note there are three "socialist" factories listed here that everyone should have heard of: the bicycle factory which actually had Chavez show up to inaugurate it and the Venirauto car factory and the computer factory that has been running for a while.

The bicycle factor made a total of 3,027 bicycles. At this rate in 8,000 years they can make a bicycle for all of Venezueala's 28 million citizens. Of course, in 8,000 years there will probably be a lot more than 28 million Venezuelans. I wonder if they've considered the fact that new Venezuelans seem to be made much faster than new bicycles. But at least this factory gave gainful employment to 52 Venezuelans.

Then we have the car "factory". To the best of my knowledge the most this factory does is assemble some cars from Iranian supplied parts. Further, having seen it from driving by on the highway this factory looks quite small. Seeing it I wondered how they could possibly even assemble cars there. Now I know - they make damn few of them. 2,282 last year to be precise.

At least we can't claim the factory is feather bedded - it only has 271 employees. The other curious thing is it only had about 5 million bolivares in sales or about $2.5 million dollars. Either it is selling cars for $1,000 a pop or it is giving most of its production away for free.

Finally, we get to the computer factory. This was really a computer assembly plant set up by the Chinese, much like the recently inaugurated cell phone "factory". It had maybe the best results making over 8,000 computers (I'll leave it to the reader to calculate how many centuries the average Venezuelan will have to wait to get one of them) with 177 employees.

Oh, and if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Divide the sales by the units produced and you get about $4,800 per computer. Looks like I'll just have to stick with my crappy Dell.

So, stripping away all the fancy lighting, makeup, hoopla, and bravado surrounding this factories when they are inaugurated by Chavez on "Alo Presidente" lets see what we have in sum total:

In sum total all the "socialist" factories have a total of 1,168 employees and sales of around $75 million dollars. Splitting that output among Venezuela's 28 million citizens yields something less than three dollars per person per year. Let's hope people don't rashly spend it all at once.

I've recently heard Chavez says that Venezuela is protected from the current economic crisis because it has implemented "socialist" policies. But looking at these numbers I can't help but think Venezuelans better pray that capitalism pulls out of its death spiral and the price of oil starts going back up because if they actually had to live on the output of these "socialist" factories they would truly be sunk.

Ok, I realize this post is excessively snarky and sarcastic. But I hope people can very clearly see the larger point. The point is that while the inauguration of these "factories" might sound impressive when reading about it in a newspaper when you look at the actual numbers you can see they are essentially nothings. Just one aluminum factory built by CAP blows all these factories away by a factor of 10.

Venezuela can't sit around forever praying for high oil prices - they have to invest and develop other sources of income and wealth. Looking at this they sure seem to be doing WAY too little.

And of course, looking at these numbers we can see that the notion that Venezuela is somehow well on its way to being socialist, Bolivarian or otherwise, is pure poppycock.


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