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Citgo's Gift of Oil

Citgo is planning to distribute heating oil to some low-income Massachusetts residents "at 40 percent below market prices":

Citgo is the Houston, Texas-based subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company and has about 13,500 independently owned U.S. gas stations.

It is offering Massachusetts more than 12 million gallons of discounted heating oil over the next four months, starting in December. [source]

Venezuela's anti-capitalist president, Hugo Chavez, is doing this as a publicity stunt to score points against the Bush administration.

It pains me to disagree with Captain Capitalism on this — we captains have to stick together! — but Chavez's offer doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I think it's great, and I hope all the other states whose governments are propped up by nationalized mineral extraction industries would follow Venezuela's lead.

First, some people in Massachusetts will have cheaper heating oil. This is obviously good for them. They can heat more and/or spend their extra money on other things.

Second, the Venezuelan government is marginally poorer. It should go without saying that making a communist government poorer is a good thing. It leaves that government with fewer resources to wield against its subjects and hastens its eventual collapse.

What about the Venezuelan people? Aren't they harmed by this, because their government will have less to spend on them? Only if you believe that spending by the Venezuelan government is beneficial to them (rather than harmful to them) in the first place. Besides, it's their responsibility to reign in their President, not mine. Chavez is apparently a popular guy.

When a communist offers you a subsidy, you say "yes". It helps you and hurts him. It's really that simple. (When the subsidy is coming from your own government, instead of someone else's, it's not as cut-and-dry.)

UPDATE 2005-11-28 00:46:01 UTC: Skip Oliva comments on Rep. Delahunt, who negotiated the deal with Chavez.

Tiny Island