Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Devil's personal economist

Yesterday, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez spoke to the UN General Assembly in New York. At the start of his talk, Chávez held up a copy of Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance” and recommended it to the American people. He called US consumerism “madness”, saying Americans have wasteful habits in using oil and energy. Consuming less should be an environmental priority, instead of looking for oil through the war in Iraq, he said.

But what has consuming got to do with the environment? At least, that’s what one would ask Chávez if one believed the Economist’s special survey on climate change in a recent issue. The fanatics at the magazine, who are the self-styled spokespersons for the business world and especially western interests, apparently see no connection between consumerism and environmental depredation. In the 24-page survey report made up of 14,000 words, the word “conservation” shows up only once (that too, as part of a proper noun). On the other hand, “mitigation” and “credit” (as in carbon credit) show up eight and nine times respectively. Obviously, while the business of environmental mitigation and carbon credits has become a big industry in itself, cutting down on consumption brings nothing to the cash register. Viva la Economista!

Also, during his talk Chavez called George W Bush a ‘devil’ and continued to refer to him by that word, at least eight times in his speech. Yes, in front of the UN General Assembly. One of his lines: “The president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world”. What a nutjob! Maybe not.

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