Socialism: The View from Venezuela

Protests over starvation and the deteriorating economic and political conditions reveal the end-game in any socialist project.



Protests against the long national nightmare of socialism continue in Venezuela, as the death toll over the last month has risen to 37 and over the weekend demonstrators tore down a statue of Hugo Chavez, the former president who ushered in the era of chavismo, his Latin American flavor of socialism, or "Bolivarian socialism"—the protests represent the inevitable end to any socialist experiment.

In his heyday, Chavez was heralded by a number of leftists in the West as a model of democratic socialism. After Chavez's 2013 death, filmmaker Michael Moore gushed over Chavez's nationalization of the oil industry. "He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all," Moore tweeted. U.K. Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Chavez showed the world that "the poor matter and wealth can be shared" and that he made massive contributions to Venezuela" and the world.

Chavez was succeeded by his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, who continued Chavez's policies sans the kind of charisma that blinded some to the incompetence of Chavez and the incoherence of Bolivarian socialism, and eventually without the high oil prices to subsidize profligate government spending either. Left to its own devices, the centralized planning of socialism has failed spectacularly in Venezuela.

America's favorite homegrown socialist, Bernie Sanders, once pointed to Venezuela as a model too.

"These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger," Sanders wrote in a 2011 op-ed. "Who's the banana republic now?"

Last year, the average Venezuelan living in extreme poverty lost 19 pounds amid mass food shortages largely created and then exacerbated by government price controls—60 percent of Venezuelans said they had to skip at least one meal a day. Maduro joked that the "Maduro diet," as the government-induced starvation has been called, was leading to better sex, to the applause of government workers and party loyalists but few others. There have been shortages of food as well as goods like toilet paper, deodorants, condoms, and even beer.

Some hardline socialists have been more critical of Chavez, criticizing the Western left's infatuation with Chavez, who the Socialist Party of Great Britain complained did not really understand socialism. Their argument boiled down to the fact that, to paraphrase Rick & Morty, Chavez should be trying socialism with extra steps. The Socialist Worker condemned Maduro's slide to authoritarianism earlier this month, even though the authoritarianism started soon after Chavez first came to power. The idea that socialism can ever effectively exclude cronyists when it accumulates the kind of power to which cronyists are attracted is preposterous.

Sanders, when he ran for president last year, no longer brought up the Venezuelan example of socialism. Instead he leaned on Americans' misinformed view of Scandinavian countries as socialist paradises. But Scandinavian countries like Sweden have "deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes," as Johan Norberg wrote last year.

Western leftists should not be allowed to distance themselves from the spoiled fruits of socialism in Venezuela, which they embraced only a few years ago. Countries across South America welcomed different versions of socialism over the last two decades, often to praise in the West, and, as The Economist noted in its latest Democracy Index, South American voters have tired of this left-wing populism and are slowly returning to more sensible, right-of-center free market policies.

Free market policies also happen to be the best antidotes to the currently ascendant populism and economic authoritarianism, as they have the power to best mitigate the kind of economically poor conditions in which populism thrives in the first place.

Maduro, and diehard supporters, blame the United States for Venezuela's woes, an increasingly unbelievable assertion in the face of evidence to the contrary. Even ThinkProgress, in a piece on the catastrophe in Venezuela that manages to avoid mentioning socialism (or chavismo or Bolivarianism for that matter) a single time, dismisses Maduro's fever dreams of U.S. responsibility for Venezuela's self-inflicted economic and political wounds.

The opposition in Venezuela won control of the legislature in elections in 2015, which was followed by the Maduro government working diligently to consolidate power even further. Protesters in Venezuela have demanded early elections, while Maduro has proposed a new constitution protesters call a coup.

The imprisoned opposition leader Leopold Lopez has called for the protests to continue.

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  1. Trump did it.

  2. The end game to government run amuck is death.

    Pay attention trump and Obama.

    1. Yes, but whose?

  3. You might as well give up on reporting about the failures of Marxism. The proggies and the press are in full propaganda mode and will not even address the obvious on this one.

    It would take a jet full of rich American athletes crash landing in Caracus and being burned at the stake to even admit that Venezuela is having some issues, and certainly those issues are not caused by failed government.

    Every story simply says the oil price went south and the government is having problems.

    1. “Every story simply says the oil price went south and the government is having problems.”

      And fails to mention that lower oil prices affect every other oil-producing country, including some whose economies are even less diversified than Venezuela. No explanation is put forth as to why the same cause doesn’t lead to similar effects in those places.

      But oddly enough, they also ignore Maduro’s own, very different explanation: a US-led economic war supposedly steadily waged since Chavez’s election that features such exploits as the CIA seizing billions of worthless Bolivar notes and flying them to hiding places in the Czech Republic. That, and mean poor people like to stand in bread lines when they actually never need to, just to make poor Maduro look bad. If you wonder why even dumb intelligence operatives would do something that useless and devoid of sense, or you doubt anyone who is well-fed likes to stand in food lines looking skeletal, you are already way smarter than Maduro’s intended audience.

      I guess the American press realizes even its lefty readers would start questioning Maduo’s silly accusations, so they have collectively decided to bury his nonsensical spouting.

      1. I think it is far more scary. I think the majority of americans are ignorant and too easily distracted to care. We have 3 generations of americans who have been raised in a Marxists inspired public school system that has praised the likes of FDR, LBJ, and now worship Obama.

        We are talking full on marxist brainwashing in our educational institutions.

        People believing any possible truth coming out of Ven does not hold much hope.
        It is so sad for the Venezuelans but there is little hope of salvation.

        1. Why is there little hope? Why can’t the people save themselves? Why can’t they boycott govt. and run their own lives? Could it be they are incapable of imagining a free market? Do they buy from (support) the black market? I bet they do. I bet they break the law every time it serves them, saves them. So, why is it so difficult for them to draw the conclusion that the out-of-control (free) market works?

          Ultimately, these suffering Venezuelans are victims of their own willful blindness. The solution for ending their suffering is evident if they would allow themselves to see it. But most would kill or beat you for suggesting it.

          Ultimately, Chavez & Maduro gave them what they asked for and they blame them for it. They got a “reality check” and refuse to see it. It’s happening all over the world. People are angry with the results of their choice to support institutionalized violence (govt.) but refuse to examine their premise that being ruled is better than being self governed. They want some else to take care of them, protect them, run their lives, and when they get it and it doesn’t work, they don’t accept responsibility for their choice.

          I have no sympathy for them. I have sympathy for all the voluntarists who were forced by them to live like they do. They didn’t want it. They just wanted to be left alone to suffer or profit, in freedom.

      2. Exactly. You don’t see this happening in places like Saudi Arabia

  4. But I just heard from reliable sources that the protests are being orchestrated by right-wing counter revolutionaries on the payroll of the CIA and the lizard people. Socialism is blameless!!!

    1. Socialism is always blameless.
      But that’s a lie written in blood.

    2. That must be why Mr. Lizard hasn’t posted here in a while.

  5. “Venezuela’s socialism would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling Americans and their dogs Bush and Trump!”

    — Maduro during his arrest and unmasking as a fraud

    1. Hell he would definitely throw Obama in there too. The populist left in Latin America hates pretty much any US president and I think him and Chavez both accused Obama of trying to undermine their regime.

  6. But Scandinavian countries like Sweden have “deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes,”

    Imagine actually owning your land instead of renting it from the town hall.

    1. That would be sweet. But maybe not if it meant paying 50% plus in income tax.

  7. I bet joe is overweight

  8. They just did it wrong.

    Next Time! they need to do it right and all will have equal riches and cool stuff.

    1. Next time the Right People will be in charge!

  9. We should send Michael moore there and they could eat him. After all, he is a rich capitalist.

    1. Or they could render him for lard and burn it for fuel after their oil industry collapses completely.

  10. Whither thou, joe from lowell?

  11. RE: Socialism: The View from Venezuela
    Protests over starvation and the deteriorating economic and political conditions reveal the end-game in any socialist project.

    There is no starvation in Venezuela any more there were people starving in the Ukraine under Stalin.
    Truth is nothing more than capitalist propaganda.

  12. If liberals who want universal healthcare have to answer for Venezuela, then you idiots have to answer for what goes on ungoverned areas (since wanting less government = wanting no government, just as wanting socialized healthcare means wanting socialized everything and a despot on top). Where would you rather live, Venezuela or Somalia?

    1. Jesus Christ, shut the fuck up, Tony.

      1. This article is retarded as fuck and you know it.

        1. I know you’re retarded as fuck, you retarded fuck. Go away.

        2. Tony,
          I hope you will admit here that you think socialism is a good thing if practiced correctly. I know that is what you think.
          Please admit that you think communism and Marxism are good political/economic systems.

          Then, please justify your rational with concrete examples of the successes of central government planning. You can start with Obamacare

          Next, tell us why so many of them fail. Start with Europe.

          1. None of that is true. I don’t care what label you simple-minded morons want to slap on it, I favor a mixed economy, same as every human on earth except Old Mexican, and the only debate is about what we should add to the list of socially-funded programs and what we should subtract from them. I don’t do dogmas because dogmas are dumb.

            1. Define a mixed economy please.

              1. An economy with both private and public enterprises.

                1. That’s it? A little more specific please. Please tell us why a system of gig government imposing regulations and allowing for free stuff, like healthcare, is better than Laissez Faire.

                  1. Because every time humans have even approached something like laissez-faire we got a continuous cycle of major economic booms and busts and most people were left poor and miserable. You have to have a good example of it working to have an actual comparison, you know.

                    And all governments tax and spend. All societies have mixed economies. If there are any that don’t, you don’t want to go there.

                    I’d be perfectly happy if we simply discussed the proper mix rather than debated endlessly about your bullshit self-contradictory first principles.

                    1. And we’d be happier if the folks you support didn’t try to control every aspect of our lives, but neither of those 2 things are going to change, are they? So, the only question that remains is: WTF are you even doing here if you’re not convincing anyone of anything with your comments?

                    2. Don’t be such a disingenuous prick Tony. We’ve had a mixed economy for a very long time and you’re still not content with it. The state is approaching 40% of the economy and that’s still not enough to you. What is? 70%? 90? What industries are you happy to leave fully private?

                      Most people like you are just gradual socialists. There will never be a point short of 100% at which you’ll say, ‘ok, stop, that’s too much.’

                      And that ‘laissez fairs’ economics has coincided with the greatest economic growth and erosion of poverty in human history. Surely we could stop the booms and busts by regulating the economy into oblivion, get a nice stable 0% growth rate, much better.

                    3. Because every time humans have even approached something like laissez-faire we got a continuous cycle of major economic booms and busts

                      Most of which rarely lasted very long, if you bothered to read something more complex than the “Who Was _______” elementary biographies at Barnes and Noble.

                      Leftist whinging to contrary, our country is the most regulated it’s been in the nation’s history, but we still have major economic booms and busts. It’s almost as if an economic system, regardless of its form, is not meant to prevent downturns from happening–Marxist propaganda to the contrary.

                2. That is a pretty vague definition, Joe.

    2. Bernie Sanders and Michael Moore others specifically cited Venezuela as an example of an economic model superior to that of the US. Find me one written by a conservative or libertarian that does the same for Somalia.

      1. Well I think if Bernie Sanders were in charge he’d probably give us a terrible system too. The problem is dogmatism, and you think you don’t have to defend your own because it’s never worked even a little, anywhere. Which is messed up.

        1. That’s moving the goalposts. Citing Venezuela as a failure of socialism, especially in light it being praised as a superior economic model, is not dogmatism.

          1. It’s not a failure of socialism per se, it’s a failure of despotism, corruption, and being a one-commodity state. They really should have seen it coming.

            1. But, they didn’t see it coming, which speaks volumes in itself.

            2. Finally! You said it barack. You think socialism is good if it is just done right.

              You just admitted that you cannot figure out why socialism always leads to despotism and corruption. In fact, the despotism is the product of corruption due to government control A free market does not have to depend on one commodity. There are specializations of labor which begat other forms of commerce and service sectors. Sure, materially wealthy economies might be richer but not having one Marxist idiot control the levers allows individuals to innovate and produce wealth.

              You really are the tell tail Marxist and you don’t even know it. Perfect example of someone whop cannot fathom why his understanding of things does not work.
              oh my god, you finally fell into the trap. Dumb fuck

            3. Tony:

              It’s not a failure of socialism per se, it’s a failure of despotism, corruption, and being a one-commodity state. They really should have seen it coming.

              This is why the left sounds stupid when it comes to Venezuela: what was the problem? “Why, despotism, corruption, and oil dependency.”

              They can’t just come out and say, “Gee, Venezuela was stupid for trying to convert an entire country into a government-run welfare program through nationalization of industry, price controls, subsidies, etc.”

              And that has everything to do with socialism, and not much to do with dictators, corruption, or oil.

              But, they know that already. That’s why they can’t say it. So, it’s dictator’s gotta dictate, then, boom.

            4. No, it’s a failure of price controls, production controls, and government controls on the economy in general. I.e. Socialism. But make up whatever makes you feel better.

      2. Sorry, if you’re asking for a good faith argument with evidence and shit, Tony’s not the person to come to.

        1. If you’re asking for a guy to hold a banner and protest, he’s your guy.

          He has no idea what he is yelling about however.

          But you can bet your ass he’s mad at some rich guy. Because, you know….

    3. Tony,

      I actually don’t think everyone left of center needs to answer for Venezuela, but people who cheered on the regime until the last couple of years (or even after in some cases), such as Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore, Jeremy Corbyn, etc. do need to. I know that everything left of center doesn’t constitute a monolith, and for those who recognized the problems with Chavez and his regime, I don’t think they have anything to answer for. But for the many people who cheered him on for years, it’s a bit naive and idiotic to expect no blowback for the egg on their faces. Somalia is also a completely idiotic example, when did libertarian ideologues take over there? The current state of affairs there is the result of the aftermath of a failed communist regime.

    4. Somalia’s a failed state whose territory is ruled by feuding despots of various authoritarian stripes. This hardly makes it the poster child for libertarian minarchism, but you knew all of that already. Nice deflection attempt, though.

      Charitably I’ll concede that both of these are lazy examples of guilt by association. However, the next time you propose that the government should release its death grip on any aspect of the private economy will be the first, so in this case progressives / liberals of your stripe have far more to answer wrt Venezuela than libertarians or conservatives do wrt Somalia.

      1. Tony knows NOTHING and is capable of learning from NOTHING.

        1. Of course not, he’s a piece of community performance art, not an actual person. This handler will be cycled out for a memory wipe as soon as (s)he begins to question his programming.

          1. My theory is our resident trolls are actually sock puppets controlled by Reason interns.

      2. It’s not my fault you have literally no historical or modern examples of a libertarian state to point to as a model. Liberals in the real world don’t point to Venezuela (okay Bernie, whatever, he’s a loon). They point to the best countries on earth. That’s not cheating–we are evidenced-based people, so it’s only natural that we’d see what the best places on earth are doing. And it ain’t libertarianism.

        1. You’re accusing everyone else of hasty generalizations and guilt by association, but you’re doing the same thing in reverse. First off by conflating liberal with left-wing, though to be fair this is a problem of American political discourse in general. The American left isn’t some monolithic bloc of rational, evidence-based people, and to be fair they aren’t as mindlessly evil or stupid as their opponents make them out to be (same goes for most political groups). The sentiment Bernie expressed in that quote was by no means limited to him and the fringe of the American left until the last couple of years. It was extremely common to see pretty mainstream left of center outlets and commentators praise or defend Chavez and Venezuela. And that loon you referred to got over 40% of the vote in the Democratic primaries.

          1. I don’t care. I’m not a Bernie leftist. I’m not going to defend his stupid mouth noises. And it’s really stupidly untrue to claim that mainstream liberalism in the US ever defended Chavez’s system.

            1. What are you defining as “mainstream liberalism?” I’m not saying most Democratic political leaders openly praised an anti-American foreign leader, but it was not uncommon to see Chavez praise in the media for years, even after his death. See the below article from Salon. Michael Moore was very popular on the left in the 2000s and he praised Chavez repeatedly over the years. In addition to Sanders, there were also some other Democratic members of Congress, such as Jose Serrano and Joe Kennedy, who praised him. And in universities and left-leaning activist and social circles, support for him was even more common. I’m not saying every liberal loved him, but you are seriously rewriting history if you’re trying to argue that only a tiny fringe of the American left viewed Chavez positively.


              1. It’s not something I’ve ever really encountered and I hang out in some pretty lefty circles. If it makes you feel better let me go on record saying I don’t support dictators of any persuasion.

            2. The NYT ran numerous articles that were lukewarm toward Castro, who’s even worse.

        2. Bernie Sanders isn’t a liberal. Neither are you. And i can’t help noticing that what your ilk describe as the “best countries on earth” always seem to have relatively small, homogeneous, lily-white populations. Why so racist, Tony?

          1. I think there’s a lot to the hypothesis that the US goes much slower in implementing social welfare programs than Scandinavia because we are more racially diverse.

            White people hate it when brown people get free shit. It’s pretty much a law of physics.

            1. I agree. The evidence all over the US and Europe for the last decade indicates a massive welfare state and diversity are incompatible and inspire a very specific sort of backlash. Left to pick between the two, I’d pick diversity

            2. I….I actually agree with Tony on this one. Multiculturalism makes it a little more difficult for everyone feel like they are “in it together”.

              “White people hate it when brown people get free shit.”

              I have to push back on that one a little. I believe that if the roles were reversed, so would the behavior in kind.

            3. But you’re not racist?

              You really do need serious help Tony.

            4. White people hate it when brown people get free shit.

              My Hispanic, Democrat-voting relatives don’t really deserve all the free shit they whine for because they’re too dysfunctional to ever craft a stable life for themselves. Leaving them in the cold to starve would actually be a net benefit for society, because giving them government bennies is just throwing money in the furnace.

        3. Best places on Earth:

          * Markets
          * Rule of law
          * Limited government

          They may not be strictly libertarian, but they have the foundations libertarianism recommends. It’s no coincidence that when progressives point to Canada and Scandanavia, they are also pointing at countries that have become MORE free than the U.S. For example, lower corporate taxes and more freedom of the press. And if you count in federal plus state plus local plus miscellaneous taxes and fees, many of these “socialist” nations also have lower levels of personal taxation.

          1. Canada having more freedom of the press is a dubious statement given Canada’s laws against “hate” speech.

            1. I doubt we have lower taxes and more freedom of any kind, either.

        4. They point to the best countries on earth.

          Those whose rankings just happen to correspond with all of the free-market dogmatist’s examples of nations who hew most closely to their principles, as well as those like the World Bank who have similar rankings but aren’t so proud of what they mean as to broadcast their results.

          we are evidenced-based people

          Oh Tony, you cad. If this were accurate you’d at least acknowledge the crowding-out present in literally every action the government takes when it assumes a function already being handled in the private economy, the dead-weight loss of that effect, and how those generally affect growth in a decidedly negative fashion. And then you might take the next step and actually understand why further increasing FedGov’s already ample footprint in the health insurance / healthcare spaces might be cause for concern.

          1. I guess it’s true that if you define best as “lowest corporate taxes” then we’d have a different set of rankings. To clarify, liberals go by things like healthcare outcomes, education level, and poverty abatement. Totally random metrics like that.

            1. So different groups of people may have differing sets of priorities? Maybe there’s a way to organize our government to recognize that fact.

            2. His point was that a lot of the countries people on the left in America point to have policies, such as low corporate taxes as an example, that they would hate if someone tried to implement them here. The argument is that the left picks and chooses the policies they like from those countries and then credits all their success to those policies, and that they’re not just totally unbiased, evidence-based people forming logical conclusions on everything.

              1. This is the basic difference though. I don’t come to the table hoping to satisfy the tents of a dogma. I’m not here to prove that socialism is the best system. I look at the best systems (by my preferred metrics, if you prefer, but I don’t think they’re all that arbitrary) and then suppose that, for example, their superior healthcare outcomes might be due in part to their healthcare policies. Thus I favor some version of that.

                Libertarians come to the table with the sole intention of proving themselves right that small government (whatever that means) is the best system, evidence be absolutely damned.

                1. Tony, I think that’s bullshit. I mean, I don’t even disagree that most libertarians approach things dogmatically, and that there’s no confirmation bias involved. But I think you are totally fooling yourself if you think that isn’t true of most people on the left.

        5. Tony,
          “It’s not my fault you have literally no historical or modern examples of a libertarian state to point to as a model. ”

          Well there is one. It started via a revolution in 1776 in what was called the British Colonies. A bunch of guys who wanted economic freedom and individual liberty started a country with limited government powers and allowed people to exercise their profession free of regulation and the shackles of government intrusion and burdensome taxation.

          Did your proof-reader take the day off or something? You are really freaking stupid.

        6. “. They point to the best countries on earth” – really when do liberals point to our country? What about Australia or England?

          No, they point to socialist countries until they fail, than they try and point to new ones.

          We say Sanders, but Obama, Pelosi and all the democratic leadership was cozy with Chavez. Wait Tony, what about Cuba. That’s a paradise too right? The left says they have the best medicine in the world…if you are a leader. For us common folk not so much.

          What about Russia Tony? Are you pointing there?

        7. In as many respects as not your prized European countries are more libertarian than you’d like. They often have less regulation, lower corporate taxes, lower minimum wages, fewer trade restrictions, et c. Of course every single country that’s richer than the US per capital is like that because they’re an oil state or a tax haven (especially for Americans). Maybe there’s Denmark I guess, but that’s about it. They’re all Microstates too. Also none of them have assimilated near as many poor immigrants as the US historically, which drags down our per capital statistics.

          Actually, there are some other examples: Hong Kong and Singapore, but those don’t exactly serve your narrative.

    5. Somalia is not an anarchy. It’s run by warlords, many of whom are propped up by external governments.

      Besides, it was a shithole when it had a national government, and it’s pretty much the same shithole after it lost a national government. Comparing tax cuts in the US to Somalia is so profoundly stupid that only Tony could do it.

      1. Maybe I didn’t make it clear enough that I was agreeing that it’s profoundly stupid comparison, just as it is to say liberals want Venezuela.

        1. Except that a number of prominent progressives really did express admiration for Chavez and his government, as the article points out, you stupid, stupid little man.

          1. So what country do you point to as the best model for your system? Oh, there aren’t any, because you believe in free-market Scientology?

            1. Perhaps some enterprising organization should put together a series of rankings to provide you with examples?

              Hong Kong
              New Zealand

              Note: keep an eye on Macedonia. They’re trending in the right direction.

              1. All you had to say is Hong Kong and Singapore.
                But don’t smother it with too many bothersome links and evidence; Tony is allergic to facts.

                1. Tony will disappear and ignore all evidence contrary to his opinions. It’s his modus operandi. He doesn’t do reasoned arguments. He’s mainly just trying to convince himself he’s right via vulgar polemics.

                2. Which of those places has a laissez-faire system or anything remotely resembling what you guys endorse? Government literally owns all the land in Hong Kong, and Singapore’s government has been described as “authoritarian-ish.”

    6. Where would you rather live, Venezuela or Somalia?

      So the choice is either a land with one organized gang of thugs and thieves or one with many gangs?

      Skitter back into your borehole, cockroach.

    7. Somalia is a failed Marxist state. Please try again.

    8. I’d be happy if only people who explicitly praised Chaves/ Venezuela/ Maduro had to answer to Venezuela.

      Also, Somalia is not ungoverned. It’s differently governed. And maybe that’s the inevitable outcome of anarchy, but most of the folks who comment at Reason don’t advocate total anarchy.

    9. Somalia is the messy result of their socialist dictatorship being overthrown. Soon enough statists of the left will be citing Venezuela as an example of a libertarian paradise.

    10. Somalia, true country so libertarian it banned Christmas. You stupid fuck

      1. Stupid autocorrect. “The country”

      2. More news from the government-free paradise of Somalia: government soldiers murdered the minister of public works.

        1. See! Anarchist governments are the worst! Proof freedom is bad!

    11. then you idiots have to answer for what goes on ungoverned areas

      Somalia has a government. It’s venal, tribal, and inherently corrupt, but it’s a government.

  13. The Journal ran a fantastically detailed article on this same, inexplicable phenomenon on Sunday. Worth a read if you can get around the paywall.

    Venezuela Is Starving
    Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls. The resulting hunger and malnutrition are an unfolding tragedy.

    My favorite part is the bit about a pig farmer, and the accompanying picture of emaciated hogs.

    The farm has gone from 200 female pigs, each producing a dozen piglets, to 50. Mr. Troiani can’t afford the high-protein feed and medicines he once used. Full-grown pigs now weigh 175 pounds instead of 240 pounds.

    What is worse, he said, walking past half-empty pens, is seeing his pigs sometimes bite off the tails and ears of others.

    “We used to send 120 to 150 pigs a month to slaughter,” Mr. Troiani said. “Now it’s 50, 60 animals, a joke.” He makes 93 cents per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of meat, he said, but needs $1.17 to make a profit. Since 2012, 82% of Venezuela’s pig producers have closed, and production has fallen 71%, according to industry representatives.

    1. And the sad reality of the Maduro Diet:

      Nine in 10 homes said they don’t make enough money to buy all their food, according to the poll of living conditions. Nearly a third of Venezuelans, 9.6 million people, eat two or fewer meals a day, up from 12.1% in 2015, the poll found; four of out five in the nation are now poor.

      1. Better than the Ayds Diet.

      2. Oh, so they’re using that new diet that Cosmo was talking about (Cosmo actually wrote an article praising the fact that North Korea is the only country in the world that does not suffer from obesity).

    2. What is worse, he said, walking past half-empty pens, is seeing his pigs sometimes bite off the tails and ears of others.

      Sounds like what the populace will be doing before long.

      1. ?C?mo se dice “Soylent Green” en espa?ol?

  14. One of my favorite gripes is so-called freedom lovers who think they have to help beat socialist countries and dictators in general. The USSR would have collapsed on its own; Regan may have given the final push, but it wasn’t necessary, and he was the first President to stop paying down the WW II national debt; he tripled it instead. Not a great legacy.

    The Cuban embargo was the best gift the US could have handed Castro. Same for the Ayatollah, Dear Reader, and every other dictator. The best way to bring them down is keep trading and stop undermining them; the undermining is just an excuse for the dictators to point to the US as obstructing their revolutions, while the trade keeps their people familiar with the fact that the US makes lots of good stuff, and it puts the burden on their leaders to hide how good our life is.

    I have no doubt that most of the Chavista propaganda about the US counter-revolution activity was wrong, but I also have no doubt that every US President has been sticking fingers in there, and they have done more harm than good.

    1. A major reason South America loves socialism so much is because American neoliberals kept toppling their governments and insisting on imposing free-market experiments on them.

      1. Yeah, how’s that working out for Chile right now versus the #Resistance of Cuba and Venezuela?

      2. For a Clintonite, you sound a lot like a Bernie Sanders fan right now. For the record, I actually agree with you that the US supporting dictatorships and militias in Latin America led to a lot of blowback and support for populist left-wingers. That said, the way you frame it, with references to neoliberals and free-market experiments makes you come off like a bitter Chavista. While the regimes the US supported were anti-communist, which ones other than Chile could be described even remotely as free-market experiments? Who exactly are the neoliberals you’re referring to? Most of the coups took under Nixon or before (as far back as the early 1900s), Carter is the first president I’ve ever seen reasonably described as neoliberal (to the extent that term even has valid meaning, in my experience it gets used more a slur to describe everyone on the political spectrum between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump including your beloved Obama and the Clintons) and more often Reagan. There were some examples from the 80s (support for the Salvadoran regime and the Contras, for example) but mostly it was early 70s or before.

        1. I realize the last sentence is kind of awkward in context, but it should be clear that the examples I’m referring to are the coups and militia support, not examples of neoliberal presidents.

        2. Bernistas throw around a lot of words they don’t know the definitions to. I won’t go into the history because people will just accuse me of reading Naomi Klein, which is apparently enough to render any argument invalid, but you get the point.

          1. If you’re calling Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon neoliberals, you don’t seem to understand the term either.

            1. I wasn’t really talking about presidents.

              1. Then who the hell were the “American neoliberals” who “kept toppling governments?” That comment makes no sense if you weren’t talking about presidents and the other leaders responsible for the events you’re talking about. Unless you think there’s some shadowy neoliberal cabal behind it all, akin to the (((globalist))) conspiracy theories of the alt-right.

              2. You don’t know what ‘neo-liberal’ means.

                And what free market experiments specifically are you referring to? Right, you don’t know what free market means either.

                Numerous East Asian former colonial states are paragons of successful market economies despite worse odds and fewer natural resources than Africa.

                Also, if you really want to learn about economic history I’d suggest you read Angus Maddison. Of course he presents evidence that one of the biggest factors in underdevelopment is a shortage of capital investment (private investment particularly); countries with extensive capital controls tend to do poorly. Protectionism and central planning do more harm than the ‘neocolonialism ‘ they’re supposed to prevent.

      3. To Tony, free market is a euphemism for tinpot military dictatorship.

        But it’s strange how a military dictatorship in a socialist manner is not a euphemism for free markets.

      4. A major reason South America loves socialism so much is because American neoliberals kept toppling their governments and insisting on imposing free-market experiments on them.

        A major reason is that the people of South and Central America are predominantly members of the Catholic religion, which has the same moral or ethical premises as Marxism – namely that an action is moral only if the beneficiary of it is someone else. If it benefits only the actor, it gets no moral credit.

        1. Pope John Paul II disagrees, but I’m sure you’re more educated on the subject.

  15. That $100/barrel oil really tied the country together, did it not?

  16. You ever notice how our leftist trolls almost never show up on these kinds of threads?

    1. Should have refreshed before posting that…

      1. He couldn’t even be bothered to try harder than “LIBRUHTERNISM = SOMALIA.” It’s pathetic, and i’m a little bit insulted.

        1. Yeah, my point is that “liberalism = Venezuela” is equally as retarded.

          1. Uh huh. When socialism fails, as it always has, it’s because the remaining capitalist countries undermined it. It’s fragile, see. Whereas when free markets work by exposing failures and correcting them, that’s just the excuse proggies need for more government corruption.

            Interesting how one drop of capitalism can destroy socialism, just as one drop of non-white blood can destroy white blood. The fanbois of each are so blind they can’t even recognize that they are illustrating the fragility of their preferred paradigm.

            1. You aren’t making any sense. I am for a mixed economy, and although I’m extremely vain, I’m not vain enough to claim that I know precisely what mix is best for a society as complex as the US. You’re the dogmatist, not me.

              1. It’s always about you, isn’t it?

              2. You are in fact a dogmatist. You’re lack of a precise position is just cover for your dogma: you want *more.* more taxation, more government spending, more entitlements, more government control over pricing and production. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. If you lived in a country where the average tax rate were 60% you’d be arguing for 65%.

                You’re not a pragmatist when you demand x + 1 no matter how high x gets, you’re just a dogmatist who hasn’t realized it yet.

                1. But that’s not a position I hold. I want less government in certain areas. Such as women’s vaginas.

                  1. So you agree with the notion that the feds shouldn’t pay for birth control or abortions? There may be hope for you yet.

          2. It’s a hell of a stretch to call whatever you had there a point.

          3. Not really. Venezuela is actually socialist. Somalia isn’t remotely libertarian.

        2. Prove that Libertarianism != The Great Lord Satan? Can’t, can you? Checkmate, atheists.

  17. As late as last Friday some workers were explaining over lunch that Venezuela’s problems were just because oil prices had dropped.

    Really? Than how come Venezuela was the only OPEC nation experiencing hyperinflation and despotism? You don’t see Qatar nationalizing toilet paper and bakeries.

    1. Dumbest argument ever. These are the same people who will also turn around and say that Texas’ economy is only strong because of all that oil. Which is it? Oil prices bankrupted Venezuela or oil has made Texas’ economy strong?

      These people need to admit that they don’t really get economics or anything about the world all that much

      1. Texas went from 3rd strongest economy in the country to 21st as a result of low oil prices. Is it not to be expected that economies dependent on oil will suffer from oil gluts?

        For the record, by this measure the only two Red states to make the top 10 are Tennessee and Utah. Massachusetts, not dependent on oil, socialist as fuck, and doing better than everyone else. Huh.

        1. What are you smoking? Texas has the second largest economy in the country by measure of Gross State Product. It’s economy has not declined, despite the decline in oil prices. Their unemployment rate continues to track below the national average and it boasts the highest number of in-migration in the country.

          1. Gross state product wasn’t the metric the thing I was looking at was going by, because that would be dumb since Texas is a large population state. But even that doesn’t support whatever case you think you’re making, since California consistently outranks it. What was the point again? That oil prices don’t affect economies based on oil?

            1. You realize that California relies on oil as much as Texas, right? You do understand that you are a moron, of course

              1. California does have a big oil sector but it also has other large sectors and its economy thus does not depend on the price of oil being high. Texas doesn’t entirely either, but Oklahoma sure does and so does Venezuela and many other places where oil is the biggest sector. Why is this conversation even happening? I thought you were the experts on econ for kindergarteners.

            2. What exactly were you looking at? I don’t even get why you’re going down this road in context, whatever trouble Texas has had due to high oil prices is nothing like Venezuela. GSP isn’t a great metric by itself, true, but even GSP per capita or median income aren’t that great if you don’t adjust for cost of living.

              1. *low oil prices

        2. Christ, you’re dumb. MA economy doesn’t even crack the top five in terms of growth or size.

          1. Tony’s obviously a racist, but I’m not so sure he’s also a moron. I think it’s more likely that he simply makes stuff up when he can’t find anything to support his argument.

            Might work for him on Breitbart but here, not so much.

        3. Sigh. I do tire of explaining this:
          1) if you control for living costs, the blue state advantage in income evaporates. Blue states have higher living costs, that’s why they’re ‘richer.’ It’s a nominal difference thanks to regional inflation, largely thanks to blue states overregulating property use and well everything else.

          2) thanks in large part to blue state overregulation driving up housing costs, there is massive net migration from blue state to red state among poor people. Tell us, Tony, if Massachusetts and New York are workers’ paradises, why are more people leaving them for Texas than vice versa?

          Many blue states price poor people out of the housing market driving them to neighboring red states, driving down the latter’s median income and driving up the former’s. Hell, there’s even a clear pattern of workers leaving high minimum wage states to low minimum wage states to find work. Not a vote of confidence for leftist policy. But it sure excites idiots like Tony who don’t know what a confounding variable is.

          1. Uh, by those folks deciding to leave the high-cost area, that lowers labor supply, making the market wage go up. YOU HAVE BEEN PWNED!

      2. The main factor causing Venezuela’s economic decline is the destruction of the country’s economy and productive sector by Chavez and Maduro policies. They used a combination of nationalizations, import/export control bureaucracy, price controls, and currency exchange controls to destroy national production. This was coupled to extreme corruption and a significant amount of transfers of oil and cash to Cuba and other nations with friendly regimes. The steep increase in crime and deterioration of infrastructure were also factors.

        This decay and destruction were papered over by the oil price increases we saw from 1999 (when Chavez became president) to 2014 (when USA production increases and a price war between Iran and Saudi Arabia caused a price collapse). The cut to $30 per barrel caused enormous strains because the chavista/Madurista regimes didn’t save some of the oil bonanza. Instead they had taken on debt and neglected to pay their bills (today they are only doing business with cash up front).

        Please do take into account that today’s oil price (ca. $50 per barrel) is a lot higher than the price in 1999 (ca. $15 per barrel). Even when corrected for inflation the price yields higher cash flow. Thus the core problem is the economic destruction, theft, corruption, and social decay caused by Chavez & Maduro.

  18. Speaking of socialism:

    Source: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will not seek re-election

    SEATTLE — Sources tell KOMO News Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will not run for re-election.
    The source says Murray is expected to make the announcement Tuesday. Murray has not commented on the report. The source says Murray is expected to complete his current term.
    Murray is currently facing sexual abuse allegations that he paid to have sex with at least one local man during the 1980’s.

    Progressivism just collapsed on itself– at least in Murray’s world.

    The bad news is that there are like for card-carrying commies running for Mayor in Seattle. 20 years ago they would have been ‘fringe’ candidate. Now, they have an honest-to-god shot at winning.

    Left harder, not smarter.

  19. The Socialist Worker condemned Maduro’s slide to authoritarianism earlier this month, even though the authoritarianism started soon after Chavez first came to power.

    Socialism HAS to slide into authoritarianism or it won’t work.

  20. “Socialism: The View from Venezuela”

    I imagine the view is a very up-close vision of the sole of a jackboot.

  21. Protests against the long national nightmare of socialism continue…, as the death toll over the last month has risen to 37.

    For a moment I thought this was about Chicago.

  22. I am for a mixed economy, and although I’m extremely vain, I’m not vain enough to claim that I know precisely what mix is best for a society as complex as the US.

    But there’s a Top Man who does know, and he has Tony’s vote.

    1. Ah, you’re one of those dogmatists who follows mindlessly the senseless doctrine that people should be left to make and sell things as they please at prices they choose and spend the money they earn as they would like. What cult is this?

  23. And if 3 million of them hop on boats and buses to come here, will Reason Magazine continue to insist that they have a limitless right to do so? Because I can’t see how this is different from their view of Mexico

  24. One has to wonder where the likes of Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone are on the subject? They were such great apologists for both the man and his socialist system.

    We need a Congressional investigation!

  25. The problem is more that the people ruling the country are idiots to start with. They attempted to force prices so low that it was impossible to produce almost anything at the allowed price. So all production came to a halt. The Russians at least had a “black market” to allow people to buy what they needed at a price high enough to make it profitable to make and provide the things sold. The idiots running the country simply ignored every bit of history on how to run an economy.

  26. I suggest we stop using the socialist terminology, “planned economy”. Who could be against planning? What is the opposite, no planning, chaos? I suggest we focus on what they really mean: authoritarian elite planning instead of free market spontaneous order.

    Also, we should point out the hypocrisy of western socialists who love to show us a working socialist economy, until it doesn’t work, and then pretend they didn’t and claim “I don’t want that kind of socialism.” The examples are endless but where are the exposes? We should hold their feet to the fire until they are discredited.

  27. Note to Ed Krayewski:

    The article about Venezuela is well written and comprehensive, but it leaves out a description of the close relationship between Chavez and Fidel Castro, and Maduro and Ra?l Castro. This close relationship, and their actions (including travel patterns), tells us the current drive towards a hard core communist dictatorship is a planned end point. There’s also evidence the eventual outcome they have in mind is a Federated Union of Communist Latinamerican and Caribbean States.

    The USA State Department is focused on E. Hemisphere affairs, and the same applies to the media. This is probably the reason why we saw Obama commit a huge blunder when he visited Cuba, took his family, and attended a baseball game with Ra?l Castro. This move legitimized the Castro dictatorship and gave the green light to other potential communist dictators/autocrats.

    Since Obama’s visit we saw an unconstitutional run for the presidency by Ortega in Nicaragua, a move by Maduro to become a full fledged dictator, election fraud in Ecuador to put Lenin Moreno in power, and an lot of destabilizing and well coordinated activity in other nations. Coupled to the insanity of leaving an open border and even have political actors encourage an invasion of criminal gangs and illegal aliens, the current set up reminds me of the missteps which led to Dunkirk and USA involvement in the European theater in WWII.

  28. “the end-game in any socialist project” usually comes about with covert interference by the USA. When asked why he thought the US had something to do with the overthrow of Zelaya in Honduras, and (briefly) of Chavez in Venezuela, historian William Blum answered “Well, that’s like asking me why I think the sun will come up tomorrow morning.”

    But of course since Trump has been in power, the policy of subverting any experiment in socialist-like government (some 70 interventions since 1945, up to and including torture and murder; see Blum’s list) has been abandoned. So, no, the USA has nothing whatsoever to do with the unrest in Venezuela.

  29. Here’s real Socialism:
    – BRD Natural Resources: basically none, agricultural “museum”
    – US Natural Resources: Vast minerals/mining, agriculture, coast line w/fisheries
    -BRD Balance of Trade: Never had a deficit & just had largest surplus in its history
    -US Balance of Trade: Last surplus: 1975
    -BRD Fed. Budget: surpluses 4 of past 10 years
    -US Fed.Budget: Last surpluses under Clinton 1998-2001
    -BRD Manuf as a % of GDP: 23.3
    -US Manuf as a % of GDP: 12
    -BRD Manuf employment as pct of employment: 20
    -US Manuf employment as pct of employment: 9
    -BRD Export Size vs. US: out-exported the US ’11, ’13. Prior to ’09, regularly out-exported the US and China
    -BRD Exports 2015: $1,329.47BB
    -US Exports 2015: $1,504.91BB
    -the most unionized country on earth
    -between 2nd fewest workweeks in the world: 34.7/year vs. 43 for the US
    -6 weeks fed. mandated vacation, + a 12 public holidays
    -universal means-tested, hybrid public/private higher quality healthcare than US
    -fully funded public retirement system
    -free/stipended public education through university
    -comprehensive fast, clean, comfortable, convenient, affordable public trans.
    -best infra in world…roads, bridges, tunnels, etc.
    -renewable energy federal investment to 2015: $150bb, the equivalent of the US investing $1.9TT
    -renewable energy: 35%
    -BRD absorption of E. Germany was economic equivalent of the US absorbing Mexico
    -Before the absorption of the 1.2mm ME immigrants in ’14, 1/5 of Germany are immigrants

    1. BRD: A place where you need permission to cut down the tree growing in your own yard (yes, there’s places like that in the USA, too, sad to say). In BRD, you can only cut it down after it dies! Solution? Stick a few copper nails in it, torture it till it dies, THEN cut it down! There’s socialist mercy for you!
      BRD: A place where electricity costs 2-3 times as much as it should, due to WAY excess meddling in (pro-“green”) energy markets. Granny dies for lack of affordable AC in the heat wave? Ah, the costs of progress!!!

      1. As usual, the typical innumerate ‘murrkin who who squats over here and makes up whatever he/she needs to feel better about crappy cars, crappy infrastructure, crappy medical care, crappy air…. crappy products (except the good stuff imported from socialist countries… we thank you for giving us good high paid secure jobs).

        Come on, let see your numbers. Oh…you don’t know what those are. Right.

    2. How cute, thinking that trade deficits, amount invested in renewable energy, and the percentage of your workforce in manufacturing matter.

      And the US did not have surpluses from 98-2001. Put down the reefer.

      1. Another ‘murrkin who can’t use numbers. Just blather.

    3. East Germans didn’t speak German and had never been part of Germany? Interesting.

      1. You believe that? You are really confused.

  30. ” The idea that socialism can ever effectively exclude cronyists when it accumulates the kind of power to which cronyists are attracted is preposterous.”
    I disagree… Socialism DOES have a chance! Just as soon as… And no sooner than… We have a near-100%-reliable brain scanner to weed out any and ALL parasitical power-grabbing bastards from government service! As soon as ALL of the social workers and welfarists and power-sucking politicinas are truly verified to be looking out for the genuine interests of the poor (and the rest of us as well), and not of themselves and their families and cronies… THEN socialism MIGHT work! Invent that near-perfect brain scanner first, and THEN you might persuade me to vote socialist.
    Come the day, I will vote for NO politician who will NOT reveal his or her brain scan results!

    1. Yeah, so the “libertarian” ideology recommends the “magic” of just letting everyone run amok (aka “freedom”).
      “Libertarians” are just like old-style “Communists”… believing in some magical solution that will deal with the inevitabilities of human imperfection.

      Of course, just like old-style “Communists”, they’ve got their enemy system (basically, who knows what they really mean, just like old-style “Communists”) and they are waiting for the dawn of the heaven.

      And, most of all, there is no such thing as a working example. Except, perhaps, Somalia.

  31. Anyone here surprised by problems in Venezuela? I thought not.

  32. Best places on Earth:

    * Markets
    * Rule of law
    * Limited government

    They may not be strictly libertarian, but they have the foundations libertarianism recommends. It’s no coincidence that when progressives point to Canada and Scandanavia, they are also pointing at countries that have become MORE free than the U.S. For example, lower corporate taxes and more freedom of the press. And if you count in federal plus state plus local plus miscellaneous taxes and fees, many of these “socialist” nations also have lower levels of personal taxation
    Sent from Best Jvzoo Review Site

    1. LMFAO. Canada and Scandanavia have “libertarian” foundations?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!!!
      Wow. This an interesting new twist. Ahh, the inventiveness of the desperate: Canada and Scandanavia have lower taxes. And he left off Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium. And, my favorite example that completely unnerves the (seemingly uniformly ignorant Right in ‘Murrkah), Germany.
      They have vastly greater personal and corporate taxes. German corporate tax:
      Combined rate (i.e. corporate income tax, trade tax, solidarity surcharge) approximately 30% to 33%. and this does not include VAT. Which is nevertheless a pass-thru. But unlike the US, the German tax system is not riddled with giant give-aways. These other countries do, however, have trade and industrial policies and these policies provide support to the country’s companies to produce and export and enhance the economic strength and job-creation. In comparison, the US tax system is just a corruption scheme. That’s why the US is 18th on TPI CPI.

      The bogusness of “Libertarianism” is just as bogus as “Communism”. And suffers all the same pathologies of delusion and the hatred of democratic (small s) socialism.

  33. There is something to be said for letting the Invisible Hand figure out the best way to produce & manage the distribution of economic goods. However, there needs to be an equitable distribution at the beginning for the whole system to work. Not long ago in the USA (Clintonian years), the demand of labor was enough for this distribution to happen organically; however, with the End of Work due to very high level of technological efficiency (and as well globalization, although in the end that will be inundated), there needs to be a new way of thinking about top-down redistribution.

    Of course, the simplest way is the one favored by libertarian economists like the great Milton Friedman is Guaranteed Income, and without any nanny-state interference about who can spend on what, etc. But since a lot of Americans seethe in anger about “able-bodied” indolents, there may need to be some job rationing so that everyone can at least have some part-time work so that he is considered “worthy”; now of course, this would be counterproductive, but it may be necessary for the body politic. And if job rationing is viewed as untenable, then the only solution would be make-work programs, which of course would be getting into Chairman Mao shovel brigade territory.

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