Monday, 16 May 2011

Opinion: All that oil and no power

A story that has done the rounds in the last couple of days (see the BBC's coverage here) is that Venezuelans are facing up to electricity rationing following country-wide blackouts earlier this week.  Power is set to be cut for 3 hours a day in 19 of the country's 23 states.  Lights out.

I certainly won't be the first to point out that this isn't the first time that Chávez has pulled the plug on Venezuela's grid.  2010 was also an infamously patchy year for household appliances as droughts were blamed for energy shortages before rationing was finally lifted in June. 

How ironic - all that oil and no power.  Perhaps not that surprising though; since when have socialism and wide scale government intervention really produced?  Combine that historical lesson with Chávez’s penchant for spending big bucks on regional politico-economic initiatives (at the expense of Venezuela’s own infrastructure) and failing services suddenly seem less remarkable.

Really, then, this energy affair is just a crude (mind the pun) microcosm of 21st century socialism; fight against market forces and expect to land in an unsightly heap of inefficiency and paucity.  Oh, and on a final note, it's worth pointing out that this heap will require more than an hourlong prayer meeting to solve.

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