[Marxism] Chavez: we need Russia

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 22 08:24:50 MDT 2008

It is reasonable and appropriate for third world countries, even ones with resources
as significant as Venezuela's massive petroleum deposits. At the same time, Venezuela
can secure itself through reaching out to a natural constituency of poor people who
may appreciate the ability to save money on their electricity bills through a simple
thing like more efficient light bulbs, or cheaper home heating oil.

The corporations only care about the bottom line, and utilize charity giving to get
tax breaks and good publicity. Chavez seems to understand the principles of Dale
Carnegie, at least in economic terms. If I could find a CITGO station near where
I live, I would patronize it. No, it wouldn't solve any problem since there are no
individual solutions, but when viewed as part of a broader process of reorienting
ourselves economically, it's possible to see things in a broader light. Possible,
but not guaranteed, of course. Even where, as in the Houston Chronicle editorial
below, things are said which are false (this never happens elsewhere in life, as
we all know), such editorials can be a place where political discussion can then
take place in letters to the editor and other forums. This is all to the good.

JR interviews Russian ambassador

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

EDITORIAL: Heat and light: Venezuelan light bulbs don't require
Houstonians to change views on Chavez.

Jul 22, 2008 (Houston Chronicle - McClatchy-Tribune Information
Services via COMTEX) --

What's free, earth-friendly and designed to generate both light and
heat? Compact fluorescent bulbs, of course, wrapped up and presented
courtesy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Needy Houstonians who have access to the bulbs should happily accept
them, while pondering the diverse ways in which governments can
express themselves without violence.

Last week, Houston-based Citgo Petroleum, which is owned by
Venezuela, announced it was giving out 460,000 superefficient bulbs
in 12 American cities. Houston will get the largest number -- about
140,000 bulbs.

The giveaway is the summer version of the heating oil Chavez has
given to poor New Englanders.

(Dating specialists might know this technique as the "neg" -- in
which the donor tries to gain the upper hand with attention or a gift
with an embedded insult. The message: The Bolivarian Republic sends
its respects in the form of oil and light bulbs for America's poor --
whom the richest country on earth seems unable to assist.)

Working with the Boston-based Citizens Energy nonprofit, Chavez has
bestowed heating oil on New England households for three winters now.
So far, there have been no reports of anyone turning down the compact
bulbs. The president of Sheltering Arms Senior Services, which will
help Citgo identify recipients, told the Chronicle that the bulbs put
control back in the life of some desperate citizens.

One client "had to ask, 'Do I pay my utility bill, do I pay for the
medicine that keeps me out of trouble, or do I feed myself?' " agency
President Robert Phillips said.

U.S. organizations, it should be noted, also supply bulbs: In
Houston, Reliant Energy reportedly distributed 25,000 compact
fluorescents in the past year. But rising electricity costs and the
heat of summer mean many more Houstonians need help.

Because the bulbs use less energy and last far longer than
conventional bulbs, using them truly is a service both to the local
and global environment. That is what is known as a wide-reaching
diplomatic gesture.

Accepting a bit of energy-saving hardware doesn't mean anyone has to
condone Chavez's undemocratic actions or silly charges about the
United States wanting to attack Venezuela. The bulbs may, however,
inspire in their recipients deeper interest in Venezuela. That's all
to the good.

Perhaps they'll prompt better insight about the trade-offs that the
poorest Venezuelans have had to make: badly needed government
attention in exchange for disastrous management of their political
and natural resources.

Similarly, Chavez, who is admirably responsive to his country's poor,
has increased the misery of his neighbors by lionizing Colombia's
narco-trafficking FARC guerrillas. He might even have offered them
arms and money.

Chavez's gift to Houston requires no allegiance in return. But it
could prompt U.S. consumers to pay more attention to Latin America,
to consider its dilemmas and even to mull some of the dangerous
trade-offs we make, ourselves --ideally under the clear, bright light
of earth-friendly bulbs.

Copyright (C) 2008 Houston Chronicle News Provided by

     Los Angeles, California
     Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
     "Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

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