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miércoles, diciembre 21, 2005

Some commentaries on heating oil

Two more short pieces on Citgo's provision of discounted heating oil to poor U.S. residents:

Annette Fuentes in USA Today breaks down why Northeastern families need Venezuela's generosity -- they aren't getting any from their own country.

First, the other oil majors (most of them U.S.-based companies) refused a request to help with heating costs, despite being "flush with profits about 35% higher than last year's". Second, federal funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program "hasn't kept pace with cost increases or needs", and accounting for inflation, is now $1 billion less than it was in 1982.

"Chavez might be trying to embarrass the Bush administration, but what's really embarrassing is how little help Americans will receive this winter from their own government," concludes Fuentes.

The second is a pointed letter to the editor of the New York Times:

The New York Times
Hugo Chavez's Ace (2 Letters)
Published December 16, 2005

To the Editor

You point out that President Hugo Chavez has used high oil prices "to increase funds for popular social programs for the poor, making him electorally unassailable." You note that this, among other factors, has led to a "dangerous concentration of power."

This suggests that it is a vulgar trick to use profits from Venezuela's resources to win electoral support by social spending and that electoral support from a large number of poor people concentrates more power at the top than gaining the support of smaller numbers of the well-to-do.

Is the real art of democracy, then, to win sufficient electoral support from the well-to-do without spending much of a country's resources on the poor? If so, American democracy is the state of the art.

Ken Safir
Highland Park, N.J., Dec. 10, 2005


By the way, I'm on vacation, so posting may be sporadic (even more so than usual) until January.

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