Transterrestrial Musings  

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Watch
NASA Space Flight
Hobby Space
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
Mars Blog
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Space Cynic
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Selenian Boondocks
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
True Anomaly
Kevin Parkin
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
Saturn Follies
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
The Ombudsgod
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
Joanne Jacobs

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« This Isn't Exactly News, But... | Main | Boy, Does This Need A Follow Up »

A Tale Of Two Oil Despots

To paraphrase Euripides, those whom the modern-day gods would destroy, they first give too much oil and power.

We have today two stories of oil-fueled despots in alliance. First, Iran's Ahmadinejad's economic illiteracy is coming home to roost:

Ahmadinejad, with his peculiar and literal belief that he has divine backing, was not inhibited by this record of prudence. With a total oil revenue in the first two years of his presidency of $120 billion (61billion) more than Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had in his eight years as President the administration still found it necessary to deplete the emergency oil reserve fund set up by Ahmadinejad's presidential predecessor, Mohammed Khatami. According to the Iranian central bank he took $35.3 billion from the fund in his first year and $43 billion in his second year, as a new book, Ahmadinejad, by Kasra Naji, records.

Nor is it easy to work out what Ahmadinejad has spent it on, because he has channelled much of it through religious foundations and to contracts of his own nomination rather than leaving it under the control of ministers and elected parliamentarians. But the predictable result of the spending was inflation, rising from 12 to 19 per cent. Many were put out of work by his sudden decision to raise the minimum wage by nearly half. The climax of this spectacle was the petrol rationing announced so suddenly on June 27, 2007, that motorists could not complete their journeys. For the fourth-largest exporter of oil in the world, that is a humiliation. In the run-up to the March elections to the parliament, the Majlis, there have been signs of a rift between Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme religious leader. The President's critics, once silenced, are now allowed full voice. MPs say openly that the real jobless figure is near 20, not 10, per cent.

Emphasis mine. Presumably, this is earmarking, Tehran style. In any event, divine will or not, he may be on his way out. Meanwhile, over in the western hemisphere, Hugo is losing his support among the poor, his key constituency, as a result of high crime rates and potholes:

Ninety percent of Venezuelans believe Chavez is doing too little to catch criminals, according to a report by pollster Datanalisis in the El Nacional newspaper this month.

Half the population was a victim of crime between 2006 and 2007, making Venezuela the most crime-ridden nation in the Americas, the Latinobarometro survey group says.

"The government is in a severely tight spot," said Edgardo Lander, a sociologist at the Venezuelan Central University. "It could face an electoral catastrophe if there aren't signs of change by the middle of the year."

The common denominator is the black gold that provides far too much wealth and power to those unfit for it. The dictators may go away, but there's no guarantee that those who replace them will be any better as long as this moral hazard continues to exist. Ideally, nation's oil wealth and revenue would be privatized, perhaps by distributing stock to the citizenry. But that would require a real revolution, which is the last thing that these faux revolutionaries want.

Posted by Rand Simberg at January 17, 2008 11:02 AM
TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference this post from Transterrestrial Musings.