Venezuela

Venezuela Arrests Bakers for Making Rolls, Claims They Were Waging 'Economic War' Against Country

It's not the bakers who are waging "economic war" against the people of Venezuela. It's the government.

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Juan Carlos Hernandez/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The tragedy of Venezuela's modern day experiment in socialism has progressed beyond parody.

Take, for example, the second paragraph of this story from the Miami Herald, which describes how Venezuelan authorities arrested four bakers in response to a national bread shortage. It could easily be mistaken for a few lines from a piece of dystopian fiction, except for the fact that it is all incredibly, terrifyingly real:

"In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad "economic war" aimed at destabilizing the country."

Where to begin?

The perfectly Orwellian "National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights" has to arrest those bakers, I suppose, in order to protect the "socioeconomic rights" (whatever those are) of the people of Venezuela, who apparently are being deprived of their basic right to bread made by those bakers. At that point, I'd be inclined to ask about the "socioeconomic rights" of the bakers, which presumably would include the right to earn a living from their work or, at the bare minimum, not to be arrested by agents of the state? But, yeah, I'm not sure logic works here.

The "economic war" destabilizing in Venezuela and causing long lines for bread was not caused by the bakers. It's very much a product of the national government, as the government's own statement about the arrests actually explains.

The government said the bakers were "using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants." Under state rules in Venezuela, the Miami Herald reported, bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves with government-imported flour and 90 percent of the contents of baked goods must be subject to government price controls.

Price controls create shortages, of course, and that's exactly what Venezuela has been dealing with for months. Despite having some of the world's largest oil reserves, the country has to import pretty much everything else that its people need. The government dramatically reduced imports and imposed price controls in an attempt to stop hyperinflation, but that's led to a predictable scarcity of food and resulted in store shelves being empty, food trucks being hijacked, babies dying of malnutrition, and hungry people rioting in the streets.

A black market for food, partially based on Bitcoin, has helped to keep some Venezuelans fed, as Jim Epstein reported for Reason last year. Thanks to online marketplaces like Amazon's Prime Pantry and Walmart.com, some Venezuelans are doing what the government will not: importing food to feed their families.

Now, President Nicolás Maduro is doubling down on the economic insanity, and the four bakers arrested last week might soon have company in the nation's jails.

According to the Miami Herald, Maduro launched "Plan 700" against what he called a "bread war," ordering officials to do spot checks of bakeries nationwide. As part of the plan to stop long bread lines, the government says it will prohibit people from—get this—standing in line for bread.

Sure, that will work. As surely as socialism ever does.

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  1. “Arresting bakers in the middle of a food shortage is a sign of economic health” – Bernie Sanders, probably

    1. “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 different pastries or 18 different types of bread when children are hungry in this country”

    2. May be they just refused to bake bread for a gay wedding.

    3. If, as Bernie says, standing in lines is proof that socialism works, then I guess the Chavistas are shy and humble and don’t want the world to know how well socialism is working in Venezuela. I can’t think of any other reason for their actions.

  2. This is the logical end of socialism. Socialism is based on the premise that everyone works for the collective and not themselves. So the moment someone works for themselves, they are robbing from the collective. They are also becoming an exploiter by selling their labor instead of giving it to the collective. If you allow people to work on their own, they will stop working for the collective and start exploiting each other. So whenever someone so much as plants a tomato vine in their garden or bakes a loaf of bread, they have committed a crime against society and the people and must be punished.

    It sounds crazy for a government whose people are starving to punish bakers for making loaves of bread. But from the socialist perspective, it makes perfect sense. It is not crazy. It is just that evil.

  3. Epstein was on EconTalk recently talking about his Bitcoin piece, and Russ Roberts was surprisingly circumspect about assigning blame for chronic everything shortages in VZ to the obvious culprit.

    1. That’s just kind of what Roberts does. He likes to take devils advocate positions all the time and generally I think it makes his podcast better.

      I was a little taken back by it, too, though, because the situation in Venezuela truly is a fucking shit show and horrific from everything I’ve read about it, but Roberts really wanted the focus to be about bitcoin and not about how awful Venezuela is.

  4. Maduro, mindful of what happened to the lady purported to have said “Let them eat cake”, has prohibited the baking of cake.

  5. Good thing I live in the USA where bakers are not arrested for political crimes

    1. They’re not arrested, just bankrupted by onerous penalties.

      Get it right, you heteronormative cis-shitlord!

  6. As part of the plan to stop long bread lines, the government says it will prohibit people from?get this?standing in line for bread.

    Of course. Bread lines are bad optics.

  7. As part of the plan to stop long bread lines, the government says it will prohibit people from?get this?standing in line for bread.

    Brilliant. Penalty for standing in line for bread: death.

    1. Penalty for NOT standing in line: starvation.

      It’s a win-win.

  8. where is joe hiding?

    1. If the evil USA didn’t interfere with the noble government of Venezuela, which is just trying to do it’s best to provide for its citizens in a fair and equitable manner…

      /joe?

      (I don’t know what Joe’s “voice” is like, so just repeating generic progressive talking points)

  9. I’m starting deprogramming mode for my daughter, who now brings home homework which wants them to craft arguments as to what’s wrong with capitalism. Seriously.

    1. My Pa spent quite a bit of time undoing the teachings of the public skool system, but we never had to write any anti-capitalist propaganda!

      1. It’s not that overt, it’s subtle, but it gets my blood up. The questions and topics are carefully worded to guide them towards the conclusion that capitalism is inherently unfair, and their answers are supposed to show why.

        I saw a video from a young woman (who’s obviously been in public school more recently than I) and she explained that the school system essentially taught her that communism and socialism means well, but sometimes doesn’t work out as planned. It’s always soft-pedaling the dangerous and inevitable outcome of a command-and-control state.

        1. school system essentially taught her that communism and socialism means well, but sometimes doesn’t work out as planned

          They tried teaching this to me in the 90s. I was always skeptical of it and then I got a degree in economics from a bunch of libertarian-leaning professors.

    2. Now, President Nicol?s Maduro is doubling down on the economic insanity, and the four bakers arrested last week might soon have company in the nation’s jails.

      During one of my talks with my daughter, she didn’t understand why governments were mean to people. I had to explain to her that tightening and cracking down are the only tools left to a failed socialist state. The only other ‘tool’–if you can call it that– is to admit that socialism is inherently a failed concept. Unfortunately for those in power, that never happens without some kind of revolution. A draining of the swamp, if you will.

    3. So she turns in a blank sheet of paper. Guaranteed A+.

    4. Jesus. My kid is in Civics right now, which would be ripe for that kind of propagandizing, but her teacher seems to be sticking with the nuts and bolts of how the government functions without getting into ideology.

      I’m proud of my kid. She spent last fall rolling her eyes at all of her classmates’ freakouts over the presidential election, and she’s run a series of small businesses selling craft projects to her friends.

      1. and she’s run a series of small businesses selling craft projects to her friends

        So you’re daughter’s a racist.

        1. Well, she’s a capitalist, so yes.

    5. Okay, let’s not sit here and pretend there’s nothing wrong with capitalism.

      Just because it’s better than all alternatives doesn’t mean it is without faults.

  10. At that point, I’d be inclined to ask about the “socioeconomic rights” of the bakers, which presumably would include the right to earn a living from their work or, at the bare minimum, not to be arrested by agents of the state? But, yeah, I’m not sure logic works here.

    Or the right of the people to not have shortages, which is what these bakers are attempting to alleviate.

  11. …the four bakers arrested last week might soon have company in the nation’s jails.

    According to the Miami Herald, Maduro launched “Plan 700” against what he called a “bread war,”…

    Dumbass:

    Thanks to online marketplaces like Amazon’s Prime Pantry and Walmart.com,…

    Do you even authoritate, broh?

  12. As much as I detest the power-hungry idiots who make up the US government, I have to admit that when you compare them to the slobbering helmet-headed retards who run Venezuela, the US government elites actually come off as reasoned, logical, and somewhat wise statesmen.

    Seriously, a roomful of elementary school students in a remedial reading program could do a far better job of running Venezuela than the chupa-Chavez twits they have in there now.

    1. Have you been listening to the Gorsuch hearings or the health care debates? I guess the reasoned, logical, somewhat wise parts are during the commercials.

      1. not familiar with the “when you compare them to” literary maneuver?

      2. No, I have not been listening to either, but you may have a point.

        Perhaps the underlying problem is that the type of person who seeks out/pursues a position of power is exactly the type of person you want to keep far away from any power.

        It’s not just a case of power corrupting. If it were, we would often see people who go into politics with good intentions and then backslide into tyranny. Instead it’s the least desirable people (bullies with narcissistic personality disorder and not-so-high IQs) who self-select to go into politics.

    2. As much as I detest the power-hungry idiots who make up the US government, I have to admit that when you compare them to the slobbering helmet-headed retards who run Venezuela, the US government elites actually come off as reasoned, logical, and somewhat wise statesmen.

      Those helmet-head retards are everywhere in America, and they’re not sleeping.

      1. They want cake, and they suspect you’re hiding it from them.

        1. In Venezuela, your choice is “or death…”

          1. It’s what happens when you run out of tea and cake.

  13. Well ,yeah, but the US controls on the health care system and the health insurance system are different.

  14. I bet this all started because someone made a penis-shaped cake and marketed it as a “Maduro”.

  15. We often lament the fact that other countries don’t have a George Washington or James Madison. It sounds like that right now Venezuela could use its own Mikhail Gorbachev, someone who recognized the utter idiocy that was this kind of economic system and destroyed it by trying to reform it.

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