News of the Weird

In news of the weird, since when did Fidel Castro become a Doctor? We were reading about Hugo Chavez, the Robert Mugabe of Latin America this morning, when our attention was caught by this line in an AP article, “Raising his right hand in Caracas to take the oath of office for another six-year term, Mr. Chavez declared in words reminiscent of Dr. Castro’s famous call to arms: ‘Fatherland, socialism, or death-I swear it.”

Castro is a doctor? A doctor of what? Theft? Thuggery? Demagoguery? Cigar smoking? Four-hour speech making? Incredulous minds want to know!

As for Chavez, all we can say is that there is nothing more entertaining or more dangerous than a man who believes in the justness of his great cause. This goes for any politician, South American, Latin American, North American or Martian. It is simply a highly visible and pernicious flaw in human nature.

Exalted self-importance and a complete lack of respect for the lessons of history are also the sociological symptoms of inflation. All that oil has clearly gone to Hugo Chavez’s head, and, we’re pretty sure, his wallet. He races ahead like an idiot to lead Venezuela to the bottom of Latin America. God help the people of Venezuela (and Zimbabwe).

It is surely no laughing matter. We say inflation is a thief, and that it robs people of the ability to plan for the future, or even put dinner on the table. That would be bad enough if that’s all that happened. But in nationalizing assets, proposing to amend the constitution so he can be leader for life, and suppressing the opposition press, Chavez is actually doing all the things people accuse George Bush of doing. Where is the outrage?

Chavez also reminds us of a term we used when looking at charts of tech stocks in 1999 and 2000. When a stock suddenly went straight up in a needle- like climb, our fellow small-cap analysts would say, “ is going Nasdaq!” “Going Nasdaq” obviously meant the company was headed to the stratosphere, where it would probably explode, destroy investor wealth, and return to the ground in bright, disintegrating pieces. The only question with Chavez is how high he’ll go and how long he’ll stay there before he falls. Unfortunately, Chavez has enough oil to maintain high-altitude for awhile.

Don’t get us wrong. There is plenty of outrage to go around when it comes to ambitious politicians with exalted egos. Deep in a geopolitical whole in Mesopotamia, the American president has chosen to keep digging. If it didn’t have such real, fatal consequences for Americans and Iraqis (and Iranians, and Saudis, and Syrians) alike, we’d try and find some comedy in the whole affair to balance the tragedy. But there’s not much to laugh about.

Dan Denning

Dan Denning examines the geopolitical and economic events that can affect your investments domestically. He raises the questions you need to answer, in order to survive financially in these turbulent times.

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