Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pobre Venezuela

April 19 marked a year since President Nicolás Maduro assumed power in Venezuela, and the figures would not make his mentor Hugo Chávez proud.
Annual inflation was 56.2%, the highest in the entire Bolivarian period, the homicide rate keeps growing unchecked, and there are shortages of consumer products.
Last weekend, the INE national statistics office added another layer of bad news: the extreme poverty rate rose from 7.1% in the second quarter of 2012 to 9.8% in the same period of 2013. This means that 737,364 Venezuelans slid into extreme poverty in that period, joining a group of nearly 2.8 million citizens in a country of 30 million.
But does that mean they can't find something to complain about elsewhere (next door to Venezuela)? ¡Sí, se puede!;
[Columbians] live in a country whose economy has grown at an annual average rate of 4.7 percent in the last four years, where foreign direct investment grew eight percent in 2013 from a year earlier to reach nearly $16.8 billion, and where inflation is a mere 2.3 percent. Even unemployment, which was 9.6 percent last year, is going down.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just praised the macroeconomic orthodoxy of Latin America’s fourth largest economy, a place where the middle class has grown to 27 percent (still low compared with Chile or Mexico) and where, as President Juan Manuel Santos likes to point out, 2.5 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the last four years.
But while all this is happening, one thing has barely changed at all: inequality. In Colombia, the gap between rich and poor is among the biggest in Latin America and in the world. 
Round up the usual suspect;
Juliana Londoño, a Colombian PhD student at Berkeley University in California, has put numbers to this phenomenon: the wealthiest one percent own 20 percent of total wealth.
“That is one of the highest concentrations, as high as in the United States,” she explains. Londoño’s findings on Colombia were included in a book that has recently shaken up the public and scholarly debate, Capital in the 21st Century, by the French economist Thomas Piketty. 
Which book claims the solution is to tax the rich; to destroy them in the name of fighting for the poor. Which has never improved their lot anywhere it's been tried.

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