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How to Read the News Like a Pro

When it's your job to read the news, you come across a lot of stupid, badly written, and just plain wrong "news" reports. They're not necessarily fake news, but these godawful stories do serve as an important reminder... but let's stick a pin in that thought for a moment.

This morning I ran across a Reuters report on Venezuela which is such a perfect example of "stupid, badly written, and just plain wrong" that I have to share it with you.

Let's approach it in old-school fisking style, but abbreviated.

First the headline, which reads: "Once oil wealthy, Venezuela's largest state struggles to keep the lights on."

That headline gives the impression that Venezuela has run out of oil, but nothing could be further from the truth. The country still possesses the world's largest oil reserves, so there's plenty of oil wealth. It's still right there in the ground. It hasn't gone anywhere. The problem is that Bolivarian socialism has ruined the country's extraction industry, but you wouldn't know that from anything in the entire story.

Here's the second graf:

The rolling power blackouts in the state of Zulia pile more misery on Venezuelans living under a fifth year of an economic crisis that has sparked malnutrition, hyperinflation and mass emigration. OPEC member Venezuela’s once-thriving socialist economy has collapsed since the 2014 fall of oil prices.

When Hugo Chavez took over the country in 1998 and began imposing his socialist regime, oil prices were at around $18 a barrel. Twenty years later they've "collapsed" to... about $70, with some temporary lows around $40 or so.

That is to say, oil prices since 2014 have averaged about triple what they were in 1998. And from '98 to 2014, oil was mostly on an upward trajectory and routinely went for well over $100. So the question isn't how this "crisis" was caused by a "collapse" in oil prices. The question is: What the hell did Maduro and Chavez do with all the damn money?

Skipping down further:

The six state-owned power stations throughout Zulia have plenty of oil to generate electricity but a lack of maintenance and spare parts causes frequent breakdowns, leaving the plants running at 20 percent capacity, said Angel Navas, the president of the national Federation of Electrical Workers.

Here we finally get a tacit admission that Venezuela is still oil rich. But it's juxtaposed against the fact that the country is no longer able to maintain its power plants... without explanation.

More:

Although Caracas has fared far better than Maracaibo, a major outage hit the capital city on Tuesday morning for around two hours due to a fault at a substation. The energy minister said “heavy rains” had been reported near the substation.