Το κυριακάτικο ένθετο των New York Times πρόσφατα είχε ένα εκτενές άρθρο για την πολιτική του Ούγο Τσάβες, Προέδρου της Βενεζουέλας, όσον αφορά το πετρέλαιο. Είναι ένα πολύ ενδιαφέρον άρθρο, αξίζει να το διαβάσεις. Τρεις παράγραφοι μου έκαναν την περισσότερη εντύπωση, όμως: Η συντάκτης περιγράφει πώς το πετρέλαιο έχει τρομακτικά αρνητικές συνέπειες, οικονομικές και κοινωνικές, για τις χώρες που το έχουν. Διάβασε:
"Historically, almost every country dependent on the export of oil has answered this question in the same way: badly. It may seem paradoxical, but finding a hole in the ground that spouts money can be one of the worst things to happen to a nation. With one or two exceptions, oil-dependent countries are poorer, more conflict-ridden and despotic. OPEC’s own studies show the perils of relying on oil. Between 1965 and 1998, the economies of OPEC members contracted by 1.3 percent a year. Oil-dependent nations do especially badly by their poor: infant survival, nutrition, life expectancy, literacy, schooling — all are worse in oil-producing countries. The history of oil-dependent countries has produced what Terry Lynn Karl, a Stanford University professor, calls the paradox of plenty.
Oil not only creates very few jobs, it also destroys jobs in other sectors. By pushing up a country’s exchange rate, the export of oil distorts the economy. “Oil rents drive out any other productive activity,” Karl says. “Why would you bother to produce your own food if you could buy it? Why would you bother to develop any kind of export industry if oil makes your money worth more and that hurts all your other exports?” The most successful societies develop a middle class through manufacturing; oil makes this extremely difficult.
Oil concentrates a country’s wealth in the state, creating a culture where money is made by soliciting politicians and bureaucrats rather than by making things and selling them. Oil states also ask their citizens for little in taxes, and where citizens pay little in taxes, they demand little in accountability. Those in power distribute oil money to stay in power. Thus oil states tend to be highly corrupt."