Boston Globe on Chavez’ donations

November 26, 2005

Two days ago there was a somewhat distressing Editorial in the Boston Globe
entitled Venezuela’s largesse, thanking Venezuela for the cheap oil given to the poor of
Massachusetts. Distressing because we were surprised that that paper
could be fooled by Chavez’ strategy of self-promotion. Well, a Globe
staff reporter was not fooled and while I have yet to see any of the
letters written to the Globe that have circulated through my email, it
was quite satisfying to see that someone does get and was allowed to get
his point across in the same pages that praised Chavez ‘ donation
in a sort of rebuttal entitled “Cost is high for largesse”. I
found two of the arguments quite compelling, one, that of the
differences in per capita income between Venezuela and some of the
beneficiaries of Chavez’ largesse, the second one, the examples of how
people would react to similar donations from poor African countries
which the average American understands quite clearly are too poor to give gifts to rich Massachusetts:

We appreciate the help, of course. But Chavez has
plenty to do at home rather grandstanding in the United States.

For instance: Venezuela’s per capita income is
$4,768. Massachusetts, the object of Chavez’s largesse, has the nation’s
second-highest per capita income, $41,801.

According to the World Bank, 49 percent of all
Venezuelans lived in poverty in 2000 — meaning they got by on household income
of less than $2 a day. That’s $2 a day, the price of a gallon of gasoline here.
About 24 percent lived in extreme poverty — or on less than $1 a day. The
poverty numbers are up substantially from a decade ago.

Maybe Congressman William Delahunt could arrange
for Somalia to send discounted beef, the desperately poor African country’s
leading export. Its poor neighbor, Ethiopia, could help out by sending cheap
coffee. And Afghanistan could send heroin. (But, then, it already

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