Bob's Links and Rants

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bolivarian University of Venezuela

The Washington Post has an article about the higher end of Hugo Chavez's education plans in Venezuela: The Bolivarian University of Venezuela, free and open to all. The goal is to eventually have one million students enrolled at various campuses around the nation, and to develop local leaders in government, business, health care, and more.

The Post focuses, perhaps appropriately, on the leftist bent of the University and how its courses tend to fit right in with Chavez's plans for the country. Besides stating the basic facts, however, they don't pay any attention to the idea that Venezuela is the one place in the world where $70 a barrel oil is actually improving life for the majority of the population.

Jonathan at A Tiny Revolution notes the serious incongruity in these two sentences from the article:
Most of the buildings, including those on the main Caracas campus, once served as headquarters for the state petroleum company, an institution purged of many anti-Chavez employees after a crippling strike against the government in 2002. Offices once reserved for executives who favored free-market economics are now decorated with posters of the socialist icon Che Guevara.
Jonathan's point is that there is nothing "free-market" about a "state petroleum company." This highlights the main point of Dean Baker's little book "The Conservative Nanny State" (available for free download here): Right-wingers don't believe in keeping the government out of controlling markets--they just want the government to control markets for their benefit.