The coverage of Hugo Chavez’s death has been almost universally terrible. But this piece from Associated Press business reporter Pamela Simpson takes the cake:
Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.
The true sign of national greatness–absurdly large skyscrapers and nice things for rich people.
This sums up much about the business community’s beliefs in 2013. Health care and education for the poor is a waste of money. Glitter and income inequality, that’s the ticket.
Jim Naureckas with more:
In case you’re curious about what kind of results this kooky agenda had, here’s a chart (NACLA, 10/8/12) based on World Bank poverty stats–showing the proportion of Venezuelans living on less than $2 a day falling from 35 percent to 13 percent over three years. (For comparison purposes, there’s a similar stat for Brazil, which made substantial but less dramatic progress against poverty over the same time period.)
Of course, during this time, the number of Venezuelans living in the world’s tallest building went from 0 percent to 0 percent, while the number of copies of the Mona Lisa remained flat, at none. So you have to say that Chavez’s presidency was overall pretty disappointing–at least by AP’s standards.
The new Gilded Age indeed.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball provided its own classy moment, refusing to honor the request of the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team for a moment of silence before an exhibition game against the Marlins.
Given that Jeffrey Loria is a far greater monster than Hugo Chavez could ever dream of being, this is particularly egregious. But at least Major League Baseball can now return to the unregulated exploitation of young Venezuelan boys.