“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Venezuela un-plugged


Thousands of pro and anti-government protesters took part in rival demonstrations in Venezuela’s capital Caracas on Saturday.
Anti-government protesters say they are angry at high levels of crime and the poor state of the economy.
They were also remembering two students killed during a demonstration by an unknown gunman. Both sides accuse the other of being behind the shootings.
The march started peacefully but there were clashes between activists and police as night fell.
In a live TV speech, President Maduro warned the country’s elite that if it tried to topple the democratically elected government, it could expect an armed response.
Maduro has blamed the United States for backing the opposition and being behind a coup plot.
He called on his supporters to take to the streets to march for peace.
“Get out Yankees. Long live Chavez, long live Maduro. Get out saboteurs. We want peace in our homeland, Venezuela,” said one government supporter.

More marches are expected to take place throughout Sunday.


  1. Venezuelan exports of oil and petroleum products to the US have averaged 792,000 barrels a day since Jan 2013, the lowest annual rate seen since 1985. Inflation is over 50%. Mall stores are closing and the minimum wage has been raised 60% in the past year.

  2. Heh, they don't even know that the Seahawks, not the Yanks are Champs.

  3. "Sep 19, 2013 - Next to China, the US is Brazil's biggest trade partner. ... that economic - and thus political - relations between both nations remain strong."

    I did not know that.

    Now if we can only get Farmer Bob to give back some of them Cotten Subsidies.

    1. See previous thread for Brazil links.

    2. Hmmm, Doug, Canada is USA's because biggest trading partner.

    3. Does chicken taste like penguin, ash?

    4. The US exports almost twice as much to Mexico, than it does to China. Does that make Mexico twice as important to US economic development than the importing of massive amounts of stuff from China, but not selling those low income consumers diddly squat?

      The balance of trade DEFICIT with China is five times that of Mexico, ten times greater than Canada.

      The idea that the Chinese would crash their economy, in a dispute with the US, is 'fanciful' bullshit propagated by the military industrial complex, here in the US.

    5. I admit to not paying nearly as much attention to Mexico as that state to our South probably deserves, but from what little I do know of it, I'd have to say that it deserves much more attention than it gets.

      I think I figured out, once, that the GDP of "Mexico City" was larger than Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, combined (or, at least, almost so.)

      I think they're also the world's largest producer of smart phones, and eighth largest auto exporter.

    6. More folks kiled or 'missing' in the Mexican 'Civil War' than in the Syrian.

      Not a word in the NYTimes about it, though.

      No 'Peace Conferences' demanded by the UN, no talk of 'intervention' by John McCain.

      100,000 dead, 30,000 MIA.

  4. America Spends More On Military Than the Other Top 9 Countries Combined

    More than China, Russia, France, England, Italy, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany.

    But the fear mongers want the US public to be afraid of shadows that lurk in the forest of the mind.

    1. Even when the Japanese, English, French, Germans and Italians are all US allies, with US troops stationed on their soil.

    2. Maybe not France, they may not have US troops living there, but the others do.

      There used to be US troops in Saudi Arabia, now they are in Bahrain, where the people are up in arms. Not to worry though, the Saudis have troops that will impose the will of the Saudi King, in Bahrain, if that is needed, again.

  5. Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state-run oil producer known as PDVSA, is sending hundreds of thousands of barrels a day to China to repay loans totaling more than $40 billion since 2008, at a time when its production is shrinking.
    Venezuela is exporting 640,000 barrels a day to China, Ramirez told reporters in Caracas on Nov. 27. About 310,000 barrels a day are used to pay back loans, he said at the time.

    “From a financial point of view, for Venezuela, it’s not very smart,” Russell Dallen, the Miami-based head trader at Caracas Capital Markets, said in a telephone interview. “They obviously have to sell the oil at much cheaper rates because of the freight costs. But it was a political decision.”


    1. Nov 26, 2013

      Venezuela, the fourth-largest exporter of oil to the U.S., plans to maintain reasonable sales volumes to its biggest customer, while increasing shipments to other regions, including China and India.

      Venezuela’s oil sector policy calls for the country to continue diversifying its oil export markets, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said yesterday on state television during a meeting with oil workers and students in Anzoategui state.

      “We are selling to China because it is the second-largest economy in the world and soon it will be the largest,” Ramirez said. “While the U.S. and Europe are in crisis, the Chinese economy continues to grow.”

      The nation is exporting 640,000 barrels a day to China and 400,000 barrels a day to India, according to Ramirez ...

      Another Bloomberg, dated but informative

    2. It is a 'Plan", on the part of the Venezuelans, that has been in the works for years

      The Wall Street Journal
      Feb 9, 2012 - CARACAS (Dow Jones)--Venezula plans to send as much oil to China as it does to its traditionally largest buyer, the U.S., within the next three years ...

      Whether or not it is a 'Good' plan ...

  6. The Chinese have made deals like that all over Latin America and in Africa. Deals that will be regrettable to both sides.

  7. However, the deals make sense for China especially while the US has wasted itself in ME wars.

    The economics all favor China. China enjoys a steady growth in the 7-8% range. Their GDP for 2013 was around $9 trillion. The US is growing at around 2% in the past years and GDP is in $16 trillion range.

    If China consistently grows at around 7% and the US around 2%, China will be the largest economy around 2020 – 2025.

    1. Just one problem. They would have to come up with, at a minimum, another 7 or 8 Million bbl/day of Oil. And, that oil ain't there. Anywhere.

    2. It is the largest country in the world, why shouldn't it have the largest economy?.

      But if the economies of Canada, Mexico and the US are combined, in a package, as they are in reality, then the Chinese are a long way off, even if their 'trendline' does flow, uninterrupted. Which is not assured.

      The political and social instability in Mexico is the greatest 'global' threat to the US, today.

    3. The only way the Chinese could come up with enough oil for that kind of growth would be to just completely outbid the U.S. and Europe for what they've been buying. However, that would cause petroleum to be in such shortage, and so pricey in the EU and U.S. that both economies would Completely Crash, and there would be no market for all those Chinese Exports. Then, they would crash.

    4. Look at the wiki table that ash linked to.

      Combine the Mexican and Canadian numbers, they far surpass the Chinese.

      Five times the exports to them, than to China.
      $600 billion in imports from our neighbors compared to $425 billion from China.

      North America is a formidable economic engine, far surpassing even the dreams of the Chinese.
      Those that tout the 'threat' from China discount that reality, for purposes of their own.

      There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

    5. "Limits" are not a Communist/Ecocrazy/Name your favorite ism Conspiracy.

    6. North American oil reserves are huge.
      North American solar opportunities are gargantuan.
      With more acres of sunshine than you could see in a lifetime.
      Known coal reserves, North America leads the world.

      Wind and Hydroelectric, unlimited opportunities.
      And only 500 million mouths to feed, in the breadbasket of the world
      Not one billion consumers on a parched, water starved continent.

    7. Which is why I'm on record as saying that we'll be "the last man standing."

      If we'll just get our heads out of our asses, and quit squandering all of our present, and future treasure on ludicrous ME military adventures.

    8. Too tired to type; good night.

  8. An inconvenient truth:
    * The US is the only major economy that absorbs more CO2 than it emits (Columbia University Record, vol 24 #7)
    * Prevailing winds blowing on to the US west coast (from China) have a higher CO2 content than the prevailing winds blowing off the
    US East Coast

    Still, we have this from NASA: — NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.

  9. Did you know?

    The cycles of the past have shown that about 90,000 of every 100,000 years have been ice ages. It's been 12,000 years since the last one.

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  12. The big oil companies just aren't finding much oil. Last year was the worst for "discoveries" in a long, long time. As a result, they're pulling back on the Exploration budgets, dramatically, and some (Shell, for ex.) are selling assets in order to pay dividends.

    This ain't good.

    1. Meanwhile, California continues to routinely hit 3,200 Megawatts of Solar (up from about 300 two years ago.)

      This IS Good

    2. Of course, that's nothing compared to "Texas wind." Wind output hit 9,674 Megawatts in Texas on May 2, 2013.

      They have over 12,000 Megawatts capacity, and almost twice that much in the queue.

      AWEA Data for Texas

    3. Meantime, Nat Gas is getting close to that "Triple" (up 185% from the now legendary "Rufus Call.")


    4. Btw, Venezuelan oil production is down about 40% from its high in the mid-90's (approx. 2.1 million bbl/day vs. 3.4 million bbl/day.