Wednesday, November 23, 2005
"Be Ye Filled and Warmed"
Houston-- Politics makes for strange bed fellows and business partners…Would you believe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is shipping cheap heating oil to the Northeast to help less-fortunate Americans weather the winter chill this season?
The Chavez administration is not a big fan of the Bush administration, so Venezuela’s state-owned oil company is supplying oil at 40% below market price through it’s US subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum, to be distributed through a couple of non-profit groups, Citizens Energy Corp and the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance.
Under an agreement brokered by Democrat Representative William Delahunt with the Chavez government, low-income Massachusetts residents could receive discounted home heating oil this winter. Remember the Chavez government is a political adversary of Mr. Bush. Remember, too, that most Northeastern congressmen have staunchly resisted development of petroleum reserves along the East Coast over the years. So, apparently, it's far less difficult to negotiate for cheap oil from one of America's "least-favored" foreign neighbors than it is to develop and provide energy domestically.
Is this a blatant grab for positive PR by the Chavez government, or a literal illustration of the political theory of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend?” It obviously is a pitch for headlines for the Democrat Representative of that fair state, apparently willing to go to any lengths to embarass George Bush. Makes you wonder…
It’s pretty embarrassing for Congress, however, which supported Venezuela’s previous, "new" government after a coup in 2002. That leadership was subsequently booted out of office--which was re-taken by Chavez, who is now addressing an issue that the US leadership has failed to adequately manage in this country.
Hugo Chavez’ style of governancet is two-fisted: one of velvet, the other of steel. He buys loyalty from his constituents by providing the necessities of life cheaply, while repressing any form of dissent. Chavez believes America’s poor are the result of rampant Capitalism. Hmmm...it's interesting to note the per capita GDP for Venezuela last year was about $5,800...while the US GDP was $40,100. You do the math. Where would you rather live?
Perhaps the perceived trend in this country towards a mentality of looking to the government for sustenance from the womb to the tomb is being exploited by Venezuela as an opportunity to embarrass President Bush and the Republican Leadership, while currying favor from poor (and relatively naive) Americans in the Northeast this winter.
And so the dilemma for Massachusetts’ poor shapes up to be a question of whether you have enough patriotism—and income—to stay warm this winter, or accept the charitable discount from a despotic country willing to turn up the heat on President Bush, at 40%-off. Representative Delahunt seems to have already made up his mind.
While the US government’s operating theory appears to be “be ye warmed and filled,” Hugo Chavez’ message is more like “be ye filled and warmed.”