“Nationalization. Price controls. Shortages. Forced allocation. Currency inflation. More seizure. Punishment. Mass shortages. Hyperinflation…. All to stamp out private property and profit/loss exchange.”
The Progressive intellectual class does not quite know what to think about the carnage in Venezuela. They see the results and speak only of bad government–and even in this case lower oil prices for a government dependent on oil revenue.
The latest example comes from the New York Times (December 18, 2017). Yesterday, the so-called “newspaper of record” published a 12-page Special Report, “As Venezuela Collapses, Children Die of Hunger,” vividly detailing the total chaos and mass misery (outside of the government class) of a country that should be one of the most prosperous in the world.
This article’s pictures of malnutrition and death are followed by three titles:
‘Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But in the last three years its economy has collapsed.’
‘Hunger has gripped the nation for years. Now, it’s killing children’
‘The Venezuelan government knows, but won’t admit it.’
The formal article begins:
Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.
Why, why? The reader surely wants to know.
“Economic mismanagement” is the Times‘ short answer, exacerbated by lower oil prices and the government’s refusal to accept international aid. In the article’s words:
… many economists contend that years of economic mismanagement set the stage for the current disaster. The damage was masked when oil prices were high, giving the government large resources. But when oil prices began a steep fall at the end of 2014, scarcities became common and food prices skyrocketed. Inflation could reach 2,300 percent next year, the International Monetary Fund warned in October.
The scandal is that the government is not facing up to the problem and asking for, and accepting, foreign aid.
President Nicolás Maduro has acknowledged that people are hungry in Venezuela, but he has refused to accept international aid, often saying that Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by foreign adversaries like the United States, which he says is waging an economic war against his country.
A hint of the real underlying problem comes in this paragraph that mentions, almost in passing, the form of government that is responsible for the continuing carnage (emphasized in bold red):
The Venezuelan government has used food to keep the Socialists in power, critics say. Before recent elections, people living in government housing projects said they were visited by representatives of their local Socialist community councils — the government-aligned groups that organize the delivery of boxes of cheap food — and threatened with being cut off if they did not vote for the government.
Socialists! As in Socialism. Tell us more! (The authors do not)
And why not Marxism? It is an open secret that President Nicolás Maduro is a Marxist, no?
One would expect a great newspaper to connect the simple dots to vilify socialism/Marxism and praise its opposite. If not in this essay, then in an editorial.
Nationalization. Price controls. Shortages. Forced allocation. Currency inflation. Seizure. Punishment. Mass shortages. Hyperinflation…. All to stamp out private property and profit/loss.
It always seems to end this way, with worsening conditions leading to more, not less, government.
Enter Ludwig von Mises and his description of the socialism/Marxism’s “planned chaos.” How about Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, where a once rich country (the US) spirals into poverty and chaos via interventionism turning into authoritarianism.
A very teachable moment is at the Times fingertips.