Socialism

The Socialist Fantasy

Central planning always fails.

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Venezuela is a disaster.

Yet 20 years ago, it was the wealthiest country in Latin America. It still has the world's biggest oil reserves. It should be a happy and prosperous nation.

But then Venezuela went socialist. Democratic socialist to be exact. They voted for it. Hugo Chavez promised the poor "social and economic reforms." The majority of voters believed him.

So did many American leftists.

Model Naomi Campbell traveled to Venezuela to give Chavez a hug. She called him "a rebel angel."

Michael Moore said that Chavez used oil money to "eliminate 75 percent of extreme poverty."

But now that the socialists created much more extreme poverty, I would think that progressives would realize that democratic socialism is not the route to paradise.

But no, nothing convinces a dedicated socialist—or much of the media.

A popular Vox video titled "The collapse of Venezuela, explained" never once mentions socialism. Instead, it says Venezuela collapsed because "oil prices plummeted in 2014 and Maduro failed to adjust."

"Blaming socialism for Venezuela's riches to rags story is grossly misleading," said Al Jazeera anchor Ryan Kohls.

Venezuela didn't collapse because of socialism, added comedian John Oliver. "It's a story about epic mismanagement."

But mismanagement is what happens under socialist governments. It always happens.

That's because no group of central planners is wise enough to manage an entire economy. Even if they have good intentions, socialists eventually run out of other people's money.

In Venezuela, the solution was to print more money. That caused massive inflation.

When businesses raised prices to try to keep up with inflation, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro called that "profiteering" and punished many by confiscating their businesses.

The socialists claimed they would run those businesses better than greedy capitalists could because they weren't obsessed with profits. Without the "excess" profits, prices would be lower and more money would go to the poor.

But pursuit of profit is what makes an economy work! I'd think the collapse of nations such as Venezuela, China, Russia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Cuba would have taught the socialists that. But no.

In America, progressives claim that socialism is succeeding in much of Europe. John Oliver claims, "There are plenty of socialist countries that look nothing like Venezuela."

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders agrees, saying: "When I talk about democratic socialism, I am not looking at Venezuela. I'm not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark, like Sweden."

But those countries are not socialist!

Yes, they have big welfare programs, but their economies are more capitalist than America's.

They set no national minimum wage. They impose fewer regulations on businesses. Their leaders even go out of their way to point out that they are not socialist. Denmark's prime minister went on TV to respond Sanders' comments by saying: "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy."

Not only are Scandinavian countries not socialist, lately they've reduced government control of their economies. Denmark privatized the national phone system and the railroads—and sold the Copenhagen airport to a private company.

Swedish economic historian Johan Norberg points out: "We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism, big government that taxed and spent heavily. (But) that's the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south."

So Sweden reduced government's role, too. They privatized businesses and even instituted school choice.

The progressives are just wrong. Scandinavian countries that they call "socialist successes" are not socialist, and they're moving toward more capitalism. It's astounding that the progressives keep winning votes peddling economic nonsense.

At least Venezuelans who escaped their country's socialism understand now that socialism creates poverty.

I asked Stossel TV's Gloria Alvarez to go to Florida to interview recent Venezuelan immigrants about socialism. Most gave answers like "I wouldn't recommend it to anyone" and "It's never gonna work!"

It never will. Never.

As libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises wrote: "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement… They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office, every man but one a subordinate clerk."

Until progressives learn that, tragedies like Venezuela will happen again and again.

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154 responses to “The Socialist Fantasy

  1. Scandanavian countries are socialist. Norway, finland, sweden, denmark all have over ten companies completely owned by the governments. Many more companies partly owned by their respective governments. They have huge tax states and have huge welfare programs. Free speech is controlled by governments.

    Mass emigration under EU rules have revealed the cracks in these nordic socialist paradises. Sweden survived WWII with not being occupied by cooperating with the Socialist Nazis to provide them iron ore to support their war effort. Norway and denmark were not so lucky and were occupied for 5 years. Finland was a co-beligerant of the Nazis mainly to stave off future attacks by the Socialist of the USSR. Scandanavians have worked within the parameters of Socialism for over 100 years. Before that, the King of Sweden ruled much of the region.

    Socialism can sometimes be pulled off for peripds of time, in tight nit communities that function assentionally like families. Nordic countries had that dynamic. Small homogeneous populations of like minded socialists who worked hard and had American capitalism to bail out their failed Socialist policies. Denmark had LEGO. Sweden has IKEA. Norway has oil. Finland has wood pulp and misc exports.

    1. I agree they are socialist. But like you said, it can work in a homogeneous society. I actually am a socialist too, I just think it can only be achieved through capitalism, at least in the USA. The reason is that people here are too competitive, and they will scheme to arbitrage the social welfare system. You can’t get away with that in tight knit communities like in Scandinavia. There is too much shame. Here the government is a faceless bureaucracy, so it’s easy. And then people abuse it and then feel entitled and resentful. The only solution is radical libertarianism so that people learn to appreciate their true worth. The bolshies will say, “People will die in the streets.” And they will extort us with that threat. But people aren’t falling for it any more. The fact is, everyone will be healthy and wealthy beyond anyone’s imagination.

      1. For the love of Pete …. the Scandinavian countries are not socialist. They are welfare states that tax capital and labor then redistribute the money. If you are a socialist, why are you posting your nonsense on a Libertarian website moron? I thought you were an Anarchist child. Did Mommie kick you out of her basement?

        1. State-owned enterprises

          The state is a significant company owner in Sweden. The state’s company portfolio contains 48 wholly or partially owned companies, of which two are publicly traded. In addition, two business foundations are administered. In total, the state-owned enterprises employ approximately 137 000 people. The estimated total value of the state company portfolio amounts to SEK 510 billion.

          This is on top of government employees for government offices, like Polit (police).

          Owning and Controlling the means of production in many areas of Sweden. The definition of Socialism does not require that all business in a nation be owned and controlled by the government.

          Nordic countries are run like large US cities where Socialism can work for awhile, until the government runs out of other people’s money (see Detroit).

        2. Click on his handle and you’ll get a very clear picture of exactly the kind of basement-dweller he is.

          Loathsome

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    2. Norway, finland, sweden, denmark all have over ten companies completely owned by the governments. Many more companies partly owned by their respective governments.

      Some is not all.

      They have huge tax states and have huge welfare programs.

      Scandinavian governments are parasites on economies that are mostly capitalist. But they’re not socialist.

    3. re: “Scandanavian countries are socialist.”

      No, they are not. The fact that the government today owns a few companies does not mean that they own all or even most of them. The ones they do own tend to be utilities – industries which in the US are also either government owned or so tightly regulated that they may as well be.

      It is true that the Scandinavian countries are not pure market economies. But nobody is. It is, however, true that they are arguably more market based than even the US despite the companies that the government still owns.

    4. The United States own the post office, which would otherwise be a business. They own Freddie Mac and Fannie Mac, which would otherwise be private businesses, if they existed at all. State governments own universities and farms and oil pipelines. There are “public” internet providers. Hell, the Feds once owned the Mustang Ranch!

      Modern economies are unfortunately mixed economies. Whille there is no such thing as a pure socialist country, neither is there a pure capitalist country. It’s a matter of degree. When people talk about socialist countries, they mean countries where the state controls a significant amount of the means of production. And the US controls more of the means of production than Scandanavian states do.

      Regardless, when Bernie says that Denmark and Sweden are socialist, he implies that they are modeled after the ideas he is championing. They are not. Sweden used to be, but Sweden got away from it. Both have huge welfare states and high taxes, but Bernie isn’t just about ramping up welfare, he’s for actual socialist policies.

      1. Brandybuck, can you name some actual socialist policies which:

        1. Are being advocated by Sanders for the U.S. now, and

        2. Are not being practiced in Western Europe.

        Folks seem to be saying Sanders is more a Soviet-stye communist than a European-style democratic socialist. I hadn’t noticed that about him, so I’m trying to see if I have missed something important.

        1. Then you’re not paying close enough attention.

          1. Yeah, Rufus, that was my premise, that I might not have been attentive enough. Now can you please help me out and answer the question?

        2. Western Europe encompasses many countries. A lot of them have, for example, no minimum wage, but if I said minimum wage your mendacious self could say that it is practiced somewhere in Western Europe.

        3. He is a Marxist through and through. He is just pragmatic about getting elected. If he came out full comm-tard, he wouldn’t get any traction. So he goes for cuddly, “harmless” democratic socialism and the nimrods think “everything that I like stays the same and I get free stuff. I never have to worry about anything financial like adults have to. Bernie is awesome!”

          Bernie endorsed the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a command and control central planning initiative meant to radically change how much power and say the government has in our lives. The Green New Deal is similar to the Soviet and Chi-Coms Great Leaps Forward and Five Year Plans that worked all so well and resulting in the deaths of millions of those countries’ citizens. They aren’t doing the Green New Deal in Europe yet.

    5. Indeed, collectivsm has worked on multiple occasions in and around the United States. The Onida Community in New York State. The Amana Colonies in Iowa. The Mormon settlements in the Utah territory, before the US reached that far. All had a strong sense of community, all were volunteer societies where people who disagreed with the Community were free to leave. All expected every member of the community to work hard, and had customs in place to punish or expell slackers. And every one of them had the fallback of a return to a more capitalist system.

      Socialism, based on the idea that a central bureaucracy can plan every facet of an indistrial society, tends toward failure, as all human enterprises do over time. The fatal flaw is that if Ford Motors blunders badly, it goes out of business or is subsumed by Toyota (or Ben and Jerry’s for all I know). If the Central Bureau blunders it has the power and the incentive to cover up the blunder…until it is a catastrophe. Central planning is fine, so long as the planners get things right, or right enough. Where they get things wrong you getna domino effect, and eventually wverything is in ruins….and you usually also have mass graves because the Central Bureau seldom goes quietly.

  2. I grew up with bolshies. I know what makes them tick. Debunking them will be easy, compared to addiction, Trumpkinism and Zionism. The funny thing is they will destroy themselves. Bernie prohibited them from bullying, which was their primary weapon. So now they will just block anyone who dissents and then radicalize in their echo chambers, and we’ll laugh as they bring bills to a vote, thinking everyone supports them and discover to their chagrin they have nothing.

    1. So I clicked on your handle and was rewarded with this little gem:

      “My heart grieves for the 6 million Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. But based on the behavior of the Jews alive today, the vast majority would not have lifted a finger to protect or defend me ? even as I risked my freedom and safety to fight for them. They would be silent as I was punched in the face, kicked in the head, and then threatened to be killed if I returned for being gay, capitalist, liberal, lefty, antisemitic, anti-Zionist, BDS supporter, terrorist sympathizer, holocaust denier, not shomer shabbas, fake Jew, mentally ill, convicted criminal, and a litany of other faults. They would have eagerly conspired to hand me over to the Nazis (or today, to the Atomwaffen), even as the rabbis squabbled over the exact nature of my transgression.”

      You’re a rabid anti-semite.

      1. Not to mention a complete loon

        1. It’s the complete basket of loonery filled to the brim with virulent anti-semitism.
          Now I need to shower.

          1. This false accusation of ‘antisemitism’ helps to explain why we keep getting slaughtered. Because we mistake love for hate. I love the Jews more than life itself.

            1. Take your Mein Kampfery and slither back to under the rock you came from.

              1. The rabbis called it ‘sinat hinam’ – baseless hatred. They credited it with the destruction of the Second Temple and many other disasters that have befallen the Jewish peoples. I’m amazed only that I’m the first person to rediscover this dynamic in the internet age. #amyisroelchai

                1. For those of you responding to this chuckle monkey, bear in mind that his name is arabic for the antichrist.

                  1. You’re thinking of dajjal. Speaking of which, what ever happened to him?

                    1. He capitalized his name.

      2. I am Jewish and love myself and all the Jewish peoples. This article is an expression of disappointment and compassion, not hate. But – I like that you care enough about Jews to condemn antisemitism! We need all the love we can get.

        1. Perhaps this hasdidic legend you know Dajjal.

          The story goes. The congregation on Yom Kippur had prayed and fasted all day.

          At the end a young Shepard boy who could hardly read nor speak came to the shul.

          He was Jewish yet raised far from the community. He was overwhelmed by all of what was happening.

          He took a flute from his pack and began to play.

          The congregation was horrified as playing of musical instuments is forbidden on this day.

          The rebbi stood and the hassidism were silent.

          The rebbi said ” until this moment, all of our prayers and supplications were locked here in this room. When this boy came, the gates of heaven, shamayim, opened and our prayers were heard”

          Perhaps you know this tale.

          Shalom

  3. That’s because no group of central planners is wise enough to manage an entire economy.

    This is the only assertion I’m willing to contend with.

    I don’t think this statement is universally true. It certainly has plenty of anecdotal evidence when applied to socialist governments. But is all central planning automatically suspect on account of such? I think not.

    Obviously, the more you scale up, the more challenging a central planning system becomes. But what about scaling down?

    Also, the essential premise of corporate franchising is essentially central planning — a basic guide for every iteration of a given business concept to follow certain guidelines. Any given iteration that fails to follow the tried-and-true method of the corporate guidelines is left to experiment with success.

    1. “What about scaling down?”

      Talk about moving goalposts! Sure, go ahead, scale socialism down to … family size? Doesn’t work too well there when husband and wife both work; they have to compromise on all sorts of stuff to both have good jobs with compatible locations and hours.

      Small businesses? Everybody has to take a vacation at the same time. Holidays and weekends require some dictator making decisions for everybody. Shen someone is sick, everyone else suffers.

      Fuck off, slaver. Central planning is ALWAYS a disaster.

    2. Your example of franchises is telling, because that is an excellent example of central planning’s capabilities — it can mass-produce the same thing over and over. You want every McD to look the same? Central planning is great. You want different choices at different restaurants? Central planning cannot do it.

      Jeez. Try thinking next time. Oh wait, the central planners didn’t provide a talking point for that.

      1. Its almost like central planners can’t figure out the difference between micro and macro. And if they are too lazy to read Hayek then that’s on them.

      2. Alphabet Soup: 2:54 am Central planning is ALWAYS a disaster.

        Alphabet soup 2:56 am Central planning is great.

        Make up your mind!

    3. What part of “an entire economy” don’t you understand? If I say you can’t live on just Twizzlers and root beer, pointing out that you have a pack of Twizzlers and a bottle of root beer every day doesn’t disprove the point unless you’re claiming that that’s all you eat.

    4. Central planning arguably works if you have a clear short-term goal, that is more or less in the public interest – building a pyramid, marshaling resources to win a war, landing a man on the moon. But even in those cases, the bureaucracy created tends to perpetuate itself and create inefficiencies long after the goal has been achieved.

      1. But your examples require either totalitarian control or a large wealth-producing (i.e. free market) sector, or both.

      2. granite state, you make a good point, which can be expanded by comparing central planning to other methods, including free market methods. One way to do the comparison is to list the goals you want accomplished, and then see how each method fares at its best, and at its worst, and just generally.

        Free market advocates point with justification to that method’s advantages for maximizing wealth, but that doesn’t necessarily encompass the narrower tasks you listed. An open question today is whether free market methods are doing an adequate job distributing wealth, and whether more centralized management could do a better job, even at the cost of having a smaller pie to distribute.

        1. Congratulations! You’ve decided that the free market does a poor job distributing wealth. Now what?

          Fuck off slaver.

          1. Chipper, maybe you should reflect a little. Wealth distribution is as much a part of an economic system as wealth creation. Arguably, distribution is the more important of the two. Why? Because an adequately functioning distribution system prevents questions of relative wealth from becoming too much a focus in politics.

            All the horrible results which libertarians fear from socialism could be avoided by a capitalism deft enough to convince everyone that distribution was adequately and fairly handled. This nation had such a system while I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, and of course socialism then was an anathema. Libertarians want socialism to be anathema now, too. But you can’t have that with an economic system which is so flagrantly failing its distribution responsibility, and thus inviting urgent political intervention.

            If libertarians want free market capitalism, they need to figure out how to make it pass the distribution test. Otherwise, they need to face the fact that what they advocate will be widely perceived as tyrannical, and if it is to continue, it will do so only by suppressing political liberty with force?betraying libertarian ideals to impose ideological purity in economics.

            1. an economic system which is so flagrantly failing its distribution responsibility

              An economic system has distribution responsibility?

              ideological purity in economics

              Economic science is descriptive: its ‘purity’ is as much ideological as the ‘purity’ of Euclidean geometry. Political economy is a different animal: that isn’t a science.

              1. Neither, neoteny, is mathematical economics a science. Don’t believe me? Try to find one leading professor of economics to say it is.

    5. Also, the essential premise of corporate franchising is essentially central planning

      Technically, I guess it’s central planning, but not in the sense that they are planning an economy on a macro level. At best they are planning a strategy that protects their brand, and leasing their brand to store owners with stipulations. McDonald’s clearly operates in a market where if they don’t please their customers (or franchisees) or offer them some value that they’re looking for they will go to one of the other fast food hamburger joints, or a new one will pop up that will fill the market’s need.

      Central planning on the macro level, absent a free market, is what is being discussed here. In this model, you can’t simply go somewhere else, because the planners have a monopoly on power and the use of force. If you don’t agree with McDonald’s philosophy of what belongs on a hamburger, you go to Burger King. If this happens enough, the “planners” at McDonalds change course or go out of business. If you didn’t agree with Stalin’s 5 year plan, you got shot or sentenced to hard labor.

    6. “I don’t think this statement is universally true.”

      We don’t care what you ‘think’; it is.

    7. If a corporate franchising scheme isn’t efficient and doesn’t give people something they want, they will change or fail. They are a replaceable part of the economy, they aren’t trying to run the whole thing.

    8. re: “the essential premise of corporate franchising is essentially central planning”

      No, it’s not. The essential premise of corporate franchising is economies of scale without central planning. If you buy a franchise and set it up in the wrong part of town (by which I mean someplace with too much competition or not enough demand), no one is going to bail you out. You and your franchise are going to go bankrupt.

      The only thing the franchise owner will do is let you in on their economies of scale in purchasing products, supplies and marketing – all in exchange for agreeing to the standardization that makes those economies of scale work.

      When comparing corporate franchises with wholly-owned corporate subsidiaries, franchises are far less centrally planned than the default corporate structure.

      1. Rossami, try buying a McDonald’s franchise and setting up anywhere but where they tell you to. Or adding different stuff to the menu. Didn’t you even see the movie?

        1. I do not understand. Not all McDonalds are alike anymore. Some serve breakfast all day, some do not. Some are open 24/7, some are not. Some only have the drive thru open 24/7, some do not. Some, in New England offer lobster rolls in the summer, some do not.

          Maybe they push their “central planning” down far enough where it works? Maybe they realize that what works in LA may not work in Auburn, ME

    9. > the essential premise of corporate franchising is essentially central planning

      Actually no. Franchising decentralizes the corporation. Al the franchises may be centrally owned, but the center keeps a largely hands off approach, letting local managers making local decisions, instead of managing from the boardroom.

      In fact, corporations have a very hard time scaling up beyond a certain level without franchising, or without state grants of monopoly.

    10. It’s not and never has been about central planning. Socialism is slavery of an entire country and always leads murder, poverty and oppression.

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  5. The socialists claimed they would run those businesses better than greedy capitalists could because they weren’t obsessed with profits.

    And did they then go out and create competing businesses to prove their point? No, they simply stole the existing businesses that capitalists had created. And then ran them into the ground because they don’t grasp that seed corn ain’t for eating no matter how delicious it looks. Like a three-year old who knows Mommy’s lying about not being able to afford that new toy he wants because he knows she has a checkbook and knows if he got his hands on the checkbook he’d damn sure have that toy.

    As I’ve said many times, capitalism is a system for creating wealth and socialism is a system for distributing wealth. Socialism works fine as long as the flying unicorns keep shitting gold nuggets but otherwise you need a system of saving and investing and maximizing returns on your saving and investing – which is capitalism. And since nobody is as smart as everybody, diversifying your investments by means of allowing everybody to decide for themselves which investments might be most lucrative is the best bet for maximizing your returns. Free market capitalism is essentially a mutual fund, you’re going to have some winners and some losers but over the long term your investment is safer than betting everything on a single stock.

    1. And of course socialists are blinded by the survivors bias – they look at Bill Gates and think it’s not fair that he has so much wealth without seeing the thousands of would-be Bill Gateses that went bankrupt trying to become Bill Gates. For every Microsoft and Apple there’s a dozen Ataris and Tandys, if you’re going to socialize Microsoft’s profits are you going to socialize their losses as well? Why? What possible sense does it make to subsidize the production of shit people don’t want and aren’t willing to voluntarily pay for? (I’m looking at you, GM. AMC was forced to stop wasting valuable resources by turning those valuable resources into shitty cars, what makes you any different than AMC?)

    2. Just as important is motivation to work, i.e. be productive, for both individuals and groups. Socialists offer platitudes and badges, which might even work for a few people, at least for a while. The rest of us look for maximum returns for our efforts, just like we look for maximum PERSONAL value when we trade our returns for other things.

      Why is this so hard to understand?

      1. You should see all the medals the teachers at my school in the former post-Soviet I country I live in wear to the celebrations. I’m kind of jealous.

  6. I don’t buy the “we’re not socialists” argument but a “welfare state”. Production in private companies is controlled by regulatory oversight and even though the profits are not taken at the corporate level, they are taken at the individual level. A little bit socialist is like being a little bit pregnant.

    1. Regulation is oversight of private companies. Ideally, Libertarians try to keep this to a minimum.

      Socialism is the control of the means of production with control. Social Security is an example of government control and ownership or a huge swath of retirement for Americans. Until 401ks became super popular, Social Security was a huge part of American’s retirement. Some had private pensions. Some retirees had public pensions. Some poelpe had cash and assets to retire on.

      Either way, before 401ks got popular the government mostly controlled retirement programs.

  7. You right-wing, ignorant, fear-mongering racist rapists. NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE YOUR MEANS OF PRODUCTION AWAY.

    1. Just the production.

      1. And the means.

        You can keep the “of”, though!

    2. Yeah, just like no one wants to take our guns. Or our freedom of speech.
      I think this is what they call “gaslighting.”

  8. If the government nationalizes industry but still plays by the rules of a market economy, what is that? Fascist?

  9. Yet 20 years ago, it was the wealthiest country in Latin America. It still has the world’s biggest oil reserves. It should be a happy and prosperous nation.

    No it wasn’t. Venezuela was long long ago passed by Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Costa Rica and some of the islands. It was in the second-tier with places like Brazil and Panama. And its oil has, like most places that depend on commodities, mostly been a curse. It was never happy and prosperous because it has always been cronyist/corrupt at the top with virtually no economic opportunity at the bottom/middle and the US has always sided with those corrupt elites and sold a bunch of trickle-down nonsense.

    That is WHY socialism appealed there. Not because there were a bunch of ‘dorm-room vanguards’ there with Che posters on their wall reading Marx and waving little red books. But because POPULISM always works politically when the economic system ain’t working for most people. And in Latin America, populism often comes in the guise of a corrupt authoritarian caudillo yapping about the Yanquis.

    I know this story ain’t really about Venezuela but is a medieval morality play about AOC and Sanders. But still – the only way to actually understand why socialism appeals is to understand why ‘capitalism’ (in the specific form that it appears locally – and whatever word is used to describe it) fails/failed to work there.

    1. If you insist on lying, (as you do) you ought not do it so transparently:

      “Venezuela was once South America’s richest country. Here’s what went wrong”
      […]
      “An economy in freefall
      The heady days of 2001 ? when Venezuela was the richest country on the continent ? are long gone….”
      http://www.weforum.org/agenda/…..explained/

      And, no, this isn’t a ‘morality play’; it’s an attempt to explain to even idiots like you that socialism is a killer. Everywhere and always.
      Man, you are one stupid piece of shit!

      1. Wonderful. Yet another assertion about the past that has zero actual evidence IN THAT ARTICLE to back it up. Just an assertion to set the mood (which is in fact how morality plays work) to immediately transition to talking about what a fucked up place it is now (which I am not questioning you fucking dimbulb). I’m sure you can also link to a ton of other unsubstantiated assertions.

        Here’s ACTUAL past evidence (in this case GDP/capita) of where they were in 2001. Behind every country I mentioned.

        1. Gee, my mistake.
          It was 2008 when Venezuela was not quite the wealthiest; Chili’s GDP was slightly higher ($10,758 compared to $10,464) Argentina and Uruguay were far behind. The other countries you mention are not South American. Wanna pick some more cherries?
          Suffice to say, if it wasn’t THE wealthiest it was damn close to it before Chavez and then Maduro turned it into a socialist hell-hole.
          Fuck off.

          1. The link I provided has various info sources dating back to the 70’s. Even when high oil prices make it appear as if VZ is making macro-progress, it has NEVER trickled down to the average juan/juanita. But you would never understand gini indices, so I won’t link to that stuff. When oil prices have dropped, average juan/juanita are the first to get screwed and riot (that particular 1989 riot was where Chavez himself changed sides).

            My point being – VZ has long been an exploited economy. The US has always been on the side of the corrupt/elites/12 Apostles. Which is why the US is not credible there re any market-based reform. Which is why the caudillos like Chavez end up filling the vacuum.

            1. “The link I provided has various info sources dating back to the 70’s. Even when high oil prices make it appear as if VZ is making macro-progress, it has NEVER trickled down to the average juan/juanita. But you would never understand gini indices, so I won’t link to that stuff. When oil prices have dropped, average juan/juanita are the first to get screwed and riot (that particular 1989 riot was where Chavez himself changed sides).”
              Since you are incapable of understanding econ, I won’t bother linking to that stuff, but your assertion is not backed by your link to the riot; they were rioting because of a drop in subsidies from an already lefty government.

              “My point being – VZ has long been an exploited economy. The US has always been on the side of the corrupt/elites/12 Apostles. Which is why the US is not credible there re any market-based reform. Which is why the caudillos like Chavez end up filling the vacuum.”
              My point: The US has been opposed to lefty governments all over SA, and yet it takes a socialist like Chavez and Maduro to truly ruin an economy.

              1. they were rioting because of a drop in subsidies from an already lefty government.

                THAT is what happens in those oil economies when oil prices drop. When oil prices are high, govts subsidize gasoline prices — when oil prices drop, govts have to eliminate those subsidies and local gasoline prices actually go UP. It is one of the dozens of reasons why the oil resource is a curse for them.

                And Perez was not a ‘lefty’. He was a useful corrupt idiot who imposed the neoliberal IMF ‘austerity measures’ (known as the Washington Consensus) which always specifically call for eliminating those subsidies no matter what the outcome as the condition for loans. The riots were in RESPONSE to that.

        2. Interesting. So saying Scandinavia is socialist is about as stupid/incorrect as saying Venezuela was the richest country in South America not long ago. Venezuela has never (as far as I can tell) been the richest country in South America.

            1. GDP/capita. However, they do have the largest oil reserves in the world. I think it would be fair to say that cronyism/corporatism prevented them from being wealthier and the transition to socialism completely impoverished them…..which, I believe, is the point JFree was making.

              1. “GDP/capita.”
                If not, it was damn close to it.

                “However, they do have the largest oil reserves in the world. I think it would be fair to say that cronyism/corporatism prevented them from being wealthier and the transition to socialism completely impoverished them…..which, I believe, is the point JFree was making.”
                I would think it is fair to say that you are a useful idiot:
                “How it happened
                Controls on foreign exchange and prices of basic goods have caused significant issues. So too have unrestrained public spending and the state siphoning from private industry.
                Another key cause is the mismanagement of the state-owned petroleum company, PDVSA, which provides almost all of Venezuela’s export revenues.
                In its heyday, the Venezuelan economy was fuelled by oil revenue. Venezuelans look back wistfully to a time when oil was priced at $100 a barrel.
                The plummeting price of oil, which sank as low as $21 a barrel last year, has come as a hammer blow.
                This has been further exacerbated by falling levels of production. Output fell by 10% last year and no rise is likely in 2017.”
                http://www.weforum.org/agenda/…..explained/

                Of course there is cronyism; that’s the way socialism works. But cronyism doesn’t nationalize the oil industry.

              2. I think by average INCOME, not GDP, they have been, or were basically in a tie with Argentina/etc at various points. GDP and actual income are not directly related a lot of the time, especially in resource rich/exporting countries.

                The general point that they were doing AWESOME, and then completely fucked themselves over with socialist bullshit is 100% accurate though, whether they were 3rd richest or 1st or whatever.

                1. The general point that they were doing AWESOME, and then completely fucked themselves over with socialist bullshit is 100% accurate though, whether they were 3rd richest or 1st or whatever.

                  Agreed.

                  1. Although I wouldn’t say they were doing AWESOME. They still about a 50% poverty rate…..

                    1. Which, I guess, is AWESOME compared to the 90% they now have.

  10. Good old John Stossel, one of the only reason I still bother sticking around. Frankly, sometimes ‘m surprised he hasn’t been blacklisted here!

    1. He needs to be put in charge of the whole magazine. He’d actually bring in sane, non cosmotarian writers I suspect. This total left-libertarian takeover of all the biggest libertarian organizations/publications is out of control.

      1. It’s gotten pretty bad. Having to read stuff from Reason defending Obamacare is just too much. You can’t hardly find a more overreaching, big-state program that grows Leviathan than Obamacare (except maybe the income tax) and here they are complaining about it being attacked. It’s blowing my mind.

        1. Yeh don’t know what’s up with that. And Dalmia’s screeds don’t help. I’m not so sure Reason’s position on illegal immigration is reasoned in as much as it ‘you just have to let them in’.

        2. At least Sheldon Richman isn’t being published here anymore. Would be nice if they got rid of Dalmia though.

  11. What we need is a “kinder, gentler socialism”. You know, capitalism.

  12. If Sanders is pointing toward countries which are not socialist as examples of what he wants to see, why are right wingers in a lather about Sanders and socialism?

    1. maybe because he calls himself a socialist and always has?

      1. chipper, because that doesn’t take any account of the question about where Sanders is pointing, it does’t seem to be a good answer to it.

        1. Because that is not ALL he has said. Sure he admires Norway which isn’t as Socialist as Venezuela but that admiration is not the sum total of all he has said and done.

          You are creating a straw man here by trying to make the conversation entirely about his admiration for north european socialism-lite as if that is the only socialist thing about Sanders. It’s not.

    2. Are you for real?

      He plainly states he’s a socialists and has made endless streams of socialist comments. Not to mention he was part of a fricken communist organization if memory serves me right.

      He’s a die hard socialist with actual socialist thoughts and ideas.

      You can’t get more socialist unless you want to lie – which is what prog have a natural affinity for.

      1. We used to use the convenient phrase “Card Carrying Communist” to describe people like Sanders and AOC both of when make no effort to hide their membership in socialist organizations.

        1. Trainer, do you know whether either Sanders or AOC carries a Communist Party card? If you do not, why suggest it?

          1. A “convenient phrase” does not require something to be literal or provable because it’s, well, it’s a convenient phrase. Whether they actually carry a card or have a commie chip implanted or just pray to a fallen statue of Stalin every night is immaterial if they are or have been members of organizations working toward communism and proud of it.

            1. In short, you want the epithet, regardless of whether it is true or not. That’s the behavior known as red baiting. It isn’t as common now as it was in the 50s, so you are sort of a throwback.

              1. Guilty as charged, my friend. Only now I’m living in a country full of people who really have been card carrying communists so it’s added a whole new dimension to my life as a throwback.

        2. Trainer, you should actually look up facts before spouting off. Both of the official socialist parties in the US publicly said that Sanders was a run of the mill Democrat, and had nothing in common with socialism.

          As for AOC, she’s new and powerless. But she does force people to think about the common good, so maybe she’ll do something good for America. The Right has been lock-step behind McConnell too long. It would be refreshing to see someone in Congress think differently.

          1. You
            Are
            Full
            Of
            Shit.
            Fuck off, slaver.

          2. Mike, so many things wrong with that comment…….

          3. The last time I held a socialist party, Sanders was there.

    3. The dude said bread lines are a good thing. At best that’s psychotic lunacy.

      1. Chipper Jones, apparently in 1985, Sanders said this: “It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That is a good thing! In other countries, people don’t line up for food. The rich get the food and the poor starve to death.” Does that really sound psychotic to you?

        Or are you suggesting that hasn’t happened? I don’t know what instance Sanders might have had in mind. Of several examples which came to my mind, the first was the Bengal famine of 1943, which went pretty much exactly as Sanders described. About 4 million poor people died as a result of food hoarding by merchants and speculators. Then, too late, the catastrophe was brought to a close, when central planners arranged for people to line up for food.

        More generally, pro-free-market commenters have been quick to point to the worst examples (examples which abound, of course) from economic systems they don’t like, but never seem to remember (or maybe even know about) comparable examples (which also abound) delivered by unregulated free-market systems.

        To be helpful, discussion must be forthright and inclusive when discussing successes and failures of all economic systems. An ideological approach too often features attempts to begin with ideological axioms, and then reason from those to prove facts?even “facts” of history, which is a peculiar thing for anyone to suppose would be possible.

        1. Stephen Lathrop|3.27.19 @ 5:23PM|#
          “More generally, pro-free-market commenters have been quick to point to the worst examples (examples which abound, of course) from economic systems they don’t like, but never seem to remember (or maybe even know about) comparable examples (which also abound) delivered by unregulated free-market systems.”

          And our irregular lefty liar seems incapable of citing anthing to support a lefty liar’s claim. Is that because the lefty liar is a liar? I think so.
          Like that idiot trueman, you post these supposedly ‘considered’ comments and somehow never have any support for them.
          Fuck off.

      2. That “dude” was Jesus; the original (and probably last) true socialist.

        1. The ‘dude’ never existed.

          1. Jesus was a real person, but in no way a socialist. It’s funny that the on,y time leftist scum have any use for Jesus is to justify their evil. Other than that they are all antichrist atheists who scoff at anything Christian.

    4. The authoritarian party in power has successfully convinced it’s Republican wing to believe that Democrat = Liberal = Socialist and Sanders is the prime example.

      For many decades, our government told us that America was the world’s greatest democracy.
      Now the Right keeps saying we’re not a democracy, we’re a republic. I fear their leaders are trying to get them to disdain the entire concept of democracy.

      1. “I fear their leaders are trying to get them to disdain the entire concept of democracy.”

        I’m certain you have no idea what you are posting about.

  13. But mismanagement is what happens under socialist governments. It always happens.

    So does murder and oppression. Go figure.

    1. Trainer, presumably you don’t number among socialist governments the U.S. during the interval from the founding to the end of Jim Crow. Nor deny that during that interval murder and oppression not only occurred, but were systematized both socially, and as a matter of government policy.

      1. A matter of STATE government policy, the states involved being those of the confederacy. Federal policy was completely different, and there is every reason to believe that, if Lincoln had not been assinated, Jim Crow would never have existed. When he was killed, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, became president, and ended Reconstruction and federal occupation of the confederacy.

        1. Denver J, you apparently know little of federal policy during the times mentioned, nor anything about who ended Reconstruction, nor when, (hint, you’ve got Reconstruction ending before it actually began, during the Grant administration). Getting the history at least close to right is fundamental. You are choosing to number yourself among ideologues, who are content to argue theories, and fool themselves into belief they can use theories to prove facts, including historical facts. If doing that isn’t to your taste, then you can avoid it by reading up on what actually happened. History and biography will help.

          1. I appreciate your glowing intellect. Tell us more…

      2. Stephen Lathrop|3.27.19 @ 5:30PM|#
        “Trainer, presumably you don’t number among socialist governments the U.S. during the interval from the founding to the end of Jim Crow.”

        The reason for that is it is not true; you are an ignoramus.

      3. How does this contradict Trainer’s comment? He said: murder & oppression always happen under socialism. You replied: but what about blacks in the U.S.? A total non sequitur!

        1. Ed, I’ll cop to a tu quoque there. But more generally, I have been criticizing the tendency of free-marketeers to suggest that violence is a feature of socialism?which is true of course. But the clear implication that free-market policy is not violent is not true. So examples from history of especially violent free-market societies do seem useful and justified. Unfortunately, during most of its history, the U.S. has been one such example.

  14. Venezuela’s been socialist since 1958 when 3 parties converged to govern, 2 of the parties had “Socialist” in their names. They didn’t take over ownership of the oil industry until 1976,so they did control the major means of production in that country. Chavez was an pig ignorant Comandante typically found in South America. Dumb as fuck and a control freak and a socialist. The current opposition leader, Juan Guaido , is also a socialist.

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  16. Stossel is right, as he always has been. One thing John left out: When the USA goes socialist “enough,” the smart people will LEAVE and go somewhere where there is liberty. I am watching the smart people.

    1. re: “go somewhere where there is liberty”
      I’ve got bad news for you — there won’t be anywhere else to go.

  17. I read Lenin’s Tomb back in the 90s and I think the most important point that was missed here is that Socilism is a corrupting force as all governments are. The longer a single party controls a government, the more corrupt it becomes. This affects Democracies too. Why multi-party democracies succeed is one party takes over for the other and makes corrections and cleans up the previous party’s messes.

    1. There will always be corrupting forces because people suck but the corruption, the murder, the oppression- they are The Revolution. Socialism can only come to power using them. they are the process and the means of a socialist government. Fortunately, most governments have a system to keep them in check. In socialism, they are the system.

  18. Venezuela was never socialist. It has often been a dictatorship. I don’t understand why some people, mainly those on the Right, talk about Venezuela so much. It’s a strawman argument, where an unskilled debater will counter an argument that HASN’T been made. Right Wing leadership wants you to believe that Democrat = liberal = socialist = Venezuela. That’s just stupid.

    Stossel is smart enough to know better. John, I think you phoned this one in.

    1. Mike, you say a lot of stupid shit in the guise of being libertarian when you are clearly a leftist and an apologist for socialism.

  19. mugglemike|3.27.19 @ 8:49PM|#
    “Venezuela was never socialist.”

    You
    Are
    Full
    Of
    Shit.
    Fuck off, slaver.

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  24. Stossel knows he’s not being intellectually honest about what Democratic Socialists are seeking vis-a-vis what happened to Venezuela. That’s just a right-wing scare tactic.

    As long as we keep a healthy ratio between private to public enterprises, our mixed-economic system should continue to thrive for many years.

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