Saturday, March 01, 2008

From pill popping to opinion polls 

In todays Ultimas Noticias we learn that Venezuela has become a nation of pill poppers. This comes via a statement by the head of the chamber of pharmacies who assures the public that there is no longer any significant shortages of medications. Out of 9,800 prinncipal medications only 2 or 3 are at all in short supply we are told.

This comes in spite of the fact that the consumption of medications has skyrocketed from 325 million units in 1998 to 480 million units in 2007. Per capita consumption of medications went from 14 in 1998 to an estimated 22 in 2008 according Stefano Zampa, head of the chamber.

Do all these pills really solve people's problems - probably not. But who knows, maybe they have a placebo effect.

In any event, once again we see that "shortages" in Venezuela, more than being true shortages, are really a boom in consumption outstripping supply.

Of course, part of the reason consumption has gone up so much is that more people have jobs. We learned yesterday from the National Statistical Institue that January's unemployment rate was 10.2%, down from 11.1% the year before.

Better still over the past year 276,666 new jobs have been created in the formal sector. The percentage of the workforce in the formal sector has now increased to 57.8% and those in those in the informal sector have declined to 42.2%. So clearly Venezuela has good news on the job front.

Finally, there are new polling numbers out showing that support for Chavez is once again rising. According to an IVAD poll Chavez's approval rating increased between December and February from 57.9% to 67.3%. This is an increase of 9.4%

Of course, whether this is a temporary boost from stopgap measures remains to be seen.

The same poll indiated that 72.1% of the population through crime was a big problem, 53.7% thought shortages were and 29.1% thought unemployment is a problem. Clearly Chavez needs to make sure his government focusses like a laser beam on the issue of crime.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Ready to Lie from Day One" 

Thanks to BoRevNet I got to read this fun, well written, and very ACCURATE account of how Hillary Clinton lies with abandon. Here is one snippet:

So, according to Senator Hillary Clinton, the leader of Venezuela is a dictator.

It's hard to imagine that Hillary is so uninformed - and has such incompetent foreign policy advisers - that she doesn't know that President Hugo Chávez and his government have won multiple elections that were characterized as free and fair by international observers. But if she knows this, then she is lying.

For example, this is what the Carter Center delegation said about the 2004 presidential recall referendum:

"On Aug. 15, 2004, Venezuelans came out in record numbers to participate in the first popularly mandated presidential recall referendum ever to be held. In doing so, the Venezuelan people voted not to recall President Chávez from office, with 59 percent of the population voting for Chávez and 41 percent voting against him. It is the opinion of The Carter Center that the Aug. 15 vote clearly expressed the will of the Venezuelan electorate."

Its good to see someone is actually paying attention to this stuff and not letting it go unchallenged. Generally I don't bother. I mean, since when do U.S. politicians ever tell the truth?


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The puppets can't survive without the puppeteers 

Sometimes things get said that seem to be insignificant and pass little noticed but that are in reality quite telling. This statement today from U.S. presidential candidate John McCain is a clear example:

"And my friends, if we left, they (al-Qaida) wouldn't be establishing a base," McCain said Wednesday. "They'd be taking a country, and I'm not going to allow that to happen, my friends. I will not surrender. I will not surrender to al-Qaida."

Now of course, you do have to read between the lines a little bit. When McCain says "al-Qaida" he doesn't really mean "al-Qaida". That is a very small organization which is not capable of taking over a country like Iraq.

What he really means is that the people fighting against the United States occupation - the Sunni and Shia insurgents - would topple the government and take over the country if the U.S. military left. THAT is almost certainly true.

Moreover, that is a huge admission of what a pack of lies the U.S. government tells to justify this war. The U.S. government constantly claims that the insurgents are a small and unpopular minority who are losing the war and that the Iraqi government is both legitimate and popular.

Now if that is true how are we to explain McCain's statement? We are to believe a small band of unpopular thugs is going to overthrow a government that is backed by the great majority of Iraq's 25 million people plus the immense material resources given to it by the U.S. if U.S. troops were to leave? This government couldn't do any better than the former U.S. puppets in Saigon or the former Soviet puppets in Kabul - i.e. the Iraqi people who supposedly support it wouldn't defend it?

It would appear not - the lies of the U.S. about supporting a legitimate and popular government not withstanding.

Of course, given that the U.S. has a largely pliant and passive media John McCain and the other U.S. propogandists can rest assured that they are unlikely to have anyone badger them about their obviously false statements about this ongoing war.


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