Venezuela — The Most Literate Society In History!

Or, maybe not

Last year the statistics institute launched its own study on the impact of the social missions. This was supposed to be ready by January. But delays in buying equipment mean it has yet to start, according to Irene Gurrea, the economist in charge. Asked if there were any reliable statistics on the impact of Misión Robinson, Ms Gurrea said: “As far as we know, no—that’s why we’re doing the study.”

Staff of an older literacy programme run by Fe y Alegría, a Catholic charity, say they continue to enroll students. In Machiques, near the Colombian border, 100 joined in the past semester. They say that up to 40% of the Warao Indians in the Orinoco delta are illiterate. In 2005 Mr Chávez told local officials to declare their towns officially “illiteracy free”. Knowing this to be untrue, the mayor of Machiques resisted, but gave in to pressure, according to Jesús Vilorio, who works for Fe y Alegría.

It is not hard to find individuals like Ms Silva who say their lives were changed by Misión Robinson. But the missions have gone hand-in-hand with neglect of schools and hospitals. Mr Rodríguez estimates that Robinson spent $1,000 for each of its literate graduates, compared with around $60 for other literacy schemes in Latin America. At the least, that money could have been better spent.

I see how things work in Venezuela:

1. Spend money on a stated goal.
2. ???
3. Claim success!

The underpants gnomes would be proud. Of course, if Chavez thinks like any other bureaucrat, he might call this a success. After all, the bureaucrats in Washington seem to think you measure efficacy of a program by the size of its budget. Why would bureaucrats in Venezuela be any different?

Good work, Hugo. If you’re going to claim success after that boondoggle of an expenditure, I’ve got a bridge to sell you! Prime real estate too, right in Brooklyn!

  • Brian T. Traylor

    Liberty magazine had quite a great article* about the libertarian themes present in South Park.

    The “underpants gnomes” were about the most brilliant of SP’s metaphorical tools for explaining public perception of reality. Sadly, most people actually think that three step model is how capitalism really works. They cannot fathom just how much shit is involved in step 2. Case in point: I, Pencil.

    *”Cartman Shrugged”. Liberty Magazine. September 2007. (I wish I could link you, but it’s among those not posted to the net by the magazine and Google is no help in finding the text itself.)

    Sorry to sound “lectury”.