There is an interesting article in the New York Times on the confusion in Caracas.
CARACAS, Venezuela — This country may be an energy colossus, with the largest conventional oil reserves outside the Middle East and one of the world’s mightiest hydroelectric systems, but that has not prevented it from enduring serious electricity and water shortages that seem only to be getting worse.
President Hugo Chávez has been facing a public outcry in recent weeks over power failures that, after six nationwide blackouts in the last two years, are cutting electricity for hours each day in rural areas and in industrial cities like Valencia and Ciudad Guayana. Now, water rationing has been introduced here in the capital.
The deterioration of services is perplexing to many here, especially because the country had grown used to cheap, plentiful electricity and water in recent decades. But even as the oil boom was enriching his government and Mr. Chávez asserted greater control over utilities and other industries in this decade, public services seemed only to decay, adding to residents’ frustrations.
A private business must make a profit to survive. A government bureaucracy is not so encumbered.
The incentives are different. A private business thrives off of profit. A bureaucracy thrives off of rationing. With a private business, there is always push for surplus. With a bureaucracy, there is always a necessity for shortage.