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Free Minds & Free Markets

Venezuela Descends Into Predictable Dictatorship

This is the socialist end game.

A thousand gleeful obituaries have been written for "Kansas' failed experiment" with Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts. But if Kansas' economy provides a cautionary tale for supply-siders on the right, then Venezuela provides an even more stark warning for socialist sympathizers on the left.

Last weekend, president Nicolas Maduro used a sham election to consolidate power, and by Tuesday armed thugs were rounding up opposition leaders. This is the all but inevitable outcome of the Venezuelan government's economic policies, which have driven the richest nation in Latin America—a country with more oil than Saudi Arabia—into shocking destitution.

Basic necessities such as diapers, toilet paper, and toothpaste have become rare luxuries. Infant mortality has skyrocketed, and is now higher in Venezuela than in Syria. Inflation has reached an annual rate of 700 percent. The government has responded by "scrambling to print new bills fast enough to keep up with the torrid pace of price increases," as Bloomberg noted a year ago, which of course has only made the problem worse.

As have price controls. "The government sets price caps on some basic food items, such as pasta, rice and flour," The Washington Post reported last month. "But those items can usually be obtained only by standing in lines for hours or by signing up to receive a subsidized monthly grocery box from the government with enough to feed a family of five for about a week. ... The proportion of Venezuelan families in poverty has soared from 48 percent to 82 percent. ... Fifty-two percent of families live in extreme poverty ... and about 31 percent survive on two meals per day at most."

Defenders of the government blame falling oil prices. Funny thing, though: While many nations depend on oil revenue, only Venezuela has sunk to such depths. Maybe the problem lies elsewhere.

And make no mistake: Venezuela's government has had not just defenders, but outright cheerleaders. We're not talking about just the usual Hollywood idiots like Sean Penn and Michael Moore, who praised Venezuela for providing "free health & education 4 all."

Supposedly serious people, from "Shock Doctrine" author Naomi Klein and leftist heartthrob Jeremy Corbyn to Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano, also sang its praises—although they have fallen conspicuously silent of late. Not so for others: On Tuesday "Red" Ken Livingtstone, a former mayor of London, blamed the country's current problems on one simple fact: "Hugo Chávez did not execute the establishment elite."

It may come to that, if popular unrest continues and Maduro grows even more desperate.

Venezuela's descent into socialist hell was entirely predictable. Friedrich Hayek predicted it three-quarters of a century ago, in "The Road to Serfdom." And Darío Paya, former Chilean ambassador to the Organization of American States, succinctly described the metastasis of economic dictatorship to complete dictatorship just about a year ago:

"Populists and socialists destroy their societies in predictable ways. It's not like one day a populist gets up and says, 'I'm going to ruin this country.' Rather, he starts out wanting to spread the wealth and finds that the easiest way to hand out cash is by simply printing lots of it. Which creates a new problem: As the currency weakens, prices rise. But the populist finds there's an answer for that too. If bread is getting expensive, he can fix its price, and he gets to vilify the baker as a greedy capitalist.

"But then the baker stops producing bread because he can't afford to make it, what with the rising price of flour. And so what does the populist do next? He fixes the prices of flour. When that doesn't work, the politically expedient thing to do will be to take over the bakery and the farms and hand them to the folks in the party's local committees, who prove to be rather less apt at farming and baking. ...

"And if violence does erupt, it can be denounced as the doing of enemies of the state and used as a pretext for renewed crackdowns: 'We're going to tell the imperialism and the international right that the people are present, with their farm instruments in one hand and a gun in the other,' Maduro told a Caracas crowd. And soon, Mr. Populist finds himself with a good reason to suspend the country's constitution. Thus does a tyrannical attitude toward the shop-owner selling bread lead to a tyranny over a whole nation."

There, in three paragraphs, is the grim history of Venezuela over the past two decades. It should be everyone's fervent hope that the country's socialist government dies quickly—before more of its people do.

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • sarcasmic||

    Something about the road to hell and good intentions or something.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Hmm, gotta go against you on that one. I think you wouldn't be able to find any good intentions even if you used a very powerful microscope.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think that most socialist rulers really do feel that they are benevolent masters who are providing for the people by eliminating greedy capitalism. I don't think they are intentionally starving their people. They truly feel that a command and control economy can work, and truly don't understand why it fails. Like all leftists, they feel that good intentions create good results, and when they opposite happens there must be someone else to blame.

  • Libertarian||

    I am constantly having this argument. No need to ascribe terrible systems to nefarious impulses when economic ignorance is so rampant.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I disagree. I think most socialists want to be benevolent masters. But socialist RULERS? They are the rat bastards who grab the reins of power and liquidate the intellectual nitwits who thought they were running the revolution. Lenin, Stalin, Mao? Monsters. They knew damned well that what they were doing would result in misery and murder, but to served THEM, so they did it anyway.

    And I think that's they way it goes. Well meaning goddamned fools fuel the shift to socialism, but the ones who tighten the screws? They are bastards from the get-go.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well meaning goddamned fools fuel the shift to socialism, but the ones who tighten the screws? They are bastards from the get-go.

    Maybe. Or perhaps they start off with good intentions but when that leads to hell they shift into doing anything to stay in power. I dunno. But I try to think most people have good intentions. Even when the results are shit.

  • Johnny B||

    I don't think it is good intentions that the "well meaning goddamned fools" have, but good rationalizations.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "But I try to think most people have good intentions."

    It's a nice philosophy, but it collapses in the face of somebody like Stalin, Mao, or even Che Guevara (who, contrary to his dashing image, was Castro's torturer and showed every sign of being a sadistic psychopath). Some people just are evil. And a lot of the most successful ones have learned a snappy patter of socialist revolutionary bullshit and garnered themselves a devoted Progressive fan club. Who, even after the mass graves are found, will say "but he meant well". Meant well?! On what evidence do you base that?!

  • Joe Clave||

    I think the moral hierarchy goes something like this:

    Intentions > Ends > Means

  • Rhywun||

    Yes. In the end it is always "evil", not "stupid". "Stupid" would be if Maduro and his cronies weren't purposefully sucking all the wealth out of their people & were instead living the simple life that they preach.

    No, they are evil. Always.

  • Eman||

    Really, really not mutually exclusive.

  • H. Farnham||

    Socialist systems, by there nature, offer a lot of power to those in positions of authority. It's probably some combination of "power corrupts" and "power attracts those who are corrupt". Overall, though, I have to agree; it's hard to see how anyone can maintain a naïve sense of well-meaning in the face of such overwhelming evidence that what they're implementing is directly causing so much harm.

  • damikesc||

    Lenin, Stalin, Mao? Monsters. They knew damned well that what they were doing would result in misery and murder, but to served THEM, so they did it anyway.

  • timbo||

    Certainly it depends on the socialist. Mao, Stalin, castro and Che all believed in murder right out of the shoot.

    Jimmy Carter and Brak are just the typical dipshit Marxists who think things are unjust but kind of like the riches that come from American perverted form of capitalism. not to say that they could not have gone the murderer's route in due time. They are more the pussy feel good Marxists who were fine being puppets of the deep state. I think the evil gets to the pussies once the vitriol against them reaches a certain point.

    FDR could have been a dictator if given more time. Once they reach a point, their benevolence becomes evil in many instances because the taste of power gives them the superiority complex which allows them to justify terrible things. In other words, stupidity is paramount in both types of Marxists for they believe they can get away with an obvious scam. Evil is the likely outcome but not when you don't have the balls to take it to the next level

  • p3orion||

    "murder right out of the shoot" Pun intended?

  • plusafdotcom||

    ... doubt it...

    But all this reminds me of one of my mantras...
    It's not "Follow the Money" alone... It's "Follow the Money, the Power and the Control Over Others" that drives those kinds of horrors.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I try to believe that but I find it difficult. I've come across too many socialists who not only want to live in a command and control society (not just economy) but angrily insist that everyone in reach be forced to play along. To me, that's evil whether they think of it as such or not.

  • Longtobefree||

    "but angrily insist that everyone in reach be forced to play along'

    Been to a USA college campus lately?
    Read anything about the executive responses to the Google employee foolish enough to publish the truth?
    Read a USA newspaper lately?
    Read the Democratic Party Platform lately?

  • notJoe||

    Had a chat with Tony latey?

  • Uncle Joe||

    Nice job of dragging the Google troglodyte into this story.

  • plusafdotcom||

    ... but appropriate...

  • Earth Skeptic||

    "I've come across too many socialists..."

    Make that too many PEOPLE.

    Whether a basic component of human nature or universal brain washing, nearly all people seem inclined to believe that society must be managed, and only argue about the directions and goals.

  • Agammamon||

    They don't understand because *they choose not to*.

    Because their power and wealth is dependent upon not understanding.

    Its why morons in this country's government always support 'surging the troops' - because no matter how many years show that we aren't winning and we aren't even making things better, these people's position is dependent upon the perception that their experts and know what they're doing.

    And they don't.

    So, there are no good intention here. Just a bunch of greedy people who lie to themselves so they can sleep at night.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    It's not an exaggeration to say that all forms of far leftism center around wanting to force everyone else to conform to their values. I can't call that good intention, though most of them probably don't quite realize that's what they're advocating unless you prod them a bit

  • sarcasmic||

    They want the world to be fair. That is the core of their values. Fairness. And equality. Thing is, life is not fair because people aren't equal. And any attempt to make it fair by force will cause widespread harm. But they don't understand because they are fucking obsessed with fairness. Like school children. But their intentions are based upon fairness and equality, which they consider to be good.
    They feel that libertarians are evil people with evil intentions because we favor liberty and justice over fairness and equality. Thing is, you can't have both. They're like oil and water. Liberty and justice means people are free to earn whatever wealth they can produce, and then get to keep it. Equality and fairness means holding people back from their full potential, and distributing their unfair gains in an equal manner. It reduces society to the lowest common denominator: poverty. But they can't see it. They won't see it. Because that isn't their intention. Their intention is to make life fair and to make everyone equal.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    Oh of course they have fairness in mind as their goal, and it sounds like a nice idea to most people

    But here's where I think the left differs so tremendously from us: they start with a goal that they see as moral (equality), and then whatever they do in pursuit of that goal must be inherently moral. We usually go in reverse: moral interactions with one another will produce a moral result

  • frankania||

    As a social scientist, I can see how very small societies could be socialistic and succeed. As long as everyone KNOWS everyone else and can judge them and condemn and approve them as needed. Like extended families or islands with a few hundred folks.....they might work. Big groups--forget it.

  • Paloma||

    They think it fails because of the US and especially the CIA. Maybe even the Koch brothers.

  • Empress Trudy||

    No. Power and control are their own end. It's simply a matter of how much power and control you give them before they reach a tipping point.

  • DrZ||

    This proves the road to hell is paved with Popsicle sticks.
    It pays to wear shoes when walking this road because you could get splinters in your feet.

    But, the bottom line is there are no shoes to be had.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    "No true Socialist Scotsman!"

  • John C. Randolph||

    Sadly, there are plenty of truly socialist scotsmen, and until and unless they wise up, they'll remain on the dole.

    -jcr

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    "Kulaks, hoarders, and wreckers!"

  • Rhywun||

    "Oh my!"

  • AlmightyJB||

    Obviously capitalisms fault

  • DrZ||

    No way. This is clearly George W. Bush's fault.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    A thousand gleeful obituaries have been written for "Kansas' failed experiment" with Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts. But if Kansas' economy provides a cautionary tale for supply-siders on the right

    It doesn't. What the lying scumbags in the JournoList never tell you about that story is that the reason why Brownback and Kansas were forced to undo the tax cuts is because a pinko judge wouldn't allow the state to implement the spending cuts that were supposed to accompany them.

  • Bra Ket||

    Govt runs up 1B debt. Taxpayers get to keep 1B of their own money which otherwise would have been taxed away. Sounds like a wash to me anyway. Unfortunately reason has tended to allow the likes of JournoList to define this kind of outcome as purely negative.

  • Robert||

    I'd like to know more about the spending cuts & why they were unconstitutional or otherwise illegal.

  • Butler||

    The KS constitution requires that the legislature provide for the "suitable" funding of the public schools. While the funding for KS public schools was never cut, increases were tapered off and flattened out (after massive increases under Kathleen Sebelius),which, of course, is called a "cut" in the general narrative. The school districts sued, claiming that funding was not "suitable," and Kansas' Supreme Court (6/7ths of which was appointed by Sebelius), determined that funding for the public schools was not adequate. That battle rages on every year now, with the Kansas Supreme Court demanding ever-increasing school funding. Since school funding is roughly half of the state's budget, it you can't cut that, there isn't much else that can be done to significantly curtail state spending.

  • Butler||

    The other problem, IMO, with the Kansas "experiment" is that income tax is too dominated by federal tax policy to really allow for states to make a dent. Hypothetically, if we cut income tax, we'd spur people to work more by removing the income tax penalty -- not to mention the massive productivity boost that would occur from not needing to comply with the byzantine tax code.

    But, since the state portion of a Kansan's income tax pales in comparison to the federal portion, and because even if Kansas has no income tax, you still have to comply with the byzantine federal code, eliminating the state income tax was never going to produce any substantial economic change. At best, it might have caused some Kansas City, MO businesses to "relocate" to the Kansas side. That didn't happen in enough volume to make much difference.

  • KerryW||

    I thought another issue in Kansas was making tax cuts without removing a bunch of deductions. You can cut taxes successfully if you broaden the tax base.

  • p3orion||

    But you can only broaden the tax base so far if adding ANYTHING to the low or non-existent taxes of half the population is demagogued as "picking on the poor." It's the same as the eternal fights over "tax cuts for the rich." Yeah, a broad tax cut is going to "disporportionately benefit the rich"; that's going to happen when the "rich" are dispropotionately paying the taxes.

  • Fred G. Sanford||

    The tax cuts were supposed to pay for themselves through high economic growth rates. Trump claims his huge tax cut will similarly propel such growth in the economy that we won't add to the national debt. In Kansas' case the huge economic growth that was supposed to happen didn't happen.

  • Ride 'Em||

    Unfortunately, the answer from the left will be "Venezuela failed because it was not 'true' socialism". I received that answer when I had a discussion with a socialist about all other socialist countries.

  • sarcasmic||

    Now that's kinda funny. Because I would bet a dollar that those very same socialists will claim that the fact that no 'true' libertarian government has existed is proof that liberty cannot work.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    All socialists know that REAL socialism means Denmark.

    Never mind that Denmark is actually just a high-tax welfare state running on a robust capitalist economy.

  • some guy||

    Yeah, Western democratic socialism is just socialism lite. They've pretty much figured out how much they can extract from the productive sector without killing it. They just try to ride that fine line of stealing as much as they can without collapsing the whole thing, and I'd say they've gotten good at it.

  • timbo||

    Careful. That just the slippery slope rationale and it only holds true until you run our of other people's money.

    All of these socialist economies are entirely dependent upon propping up failed economic models, for example in the form of central bank price fixing and fiat currencies the world over.

    All of this stuff is poised for utter failure when debts are one day called by the first failing countries.
    I think the only reason none of this has come to fruition yet is because of the vast amount of cronyism and its utter dependence on financial manipulations and FED chicanery.
    What people need understand is that the US is actually a fascist economy very similar to Germany pre-WWII. Government-business collusion is so rampant that no one institution or market segment would dare upset the apple cart because they need this charade to continue until is crashes. Everyone at the FED and in Washington knows this whole thing is going to crash. They just hope they are not at the helm when it does. If they can keep borrowing ad infinitum and no one calls us on our debts, then maybe it lasts for another 20 years. All of our debt holders are running the same scam(China).

  • Fred G. Sanford||

    I'm not sure I would call Denmark a "robust capitalist economy." While most industries have not been nationalized, there is significant regulation of virtually every industry along with tariffs and similar measures against imports. I haven't been there in a while, but the last time I was there you could only buy two types of beer in the local grocery store: Tuborg and Carlsberg (both Danish brands). This was great for Denmark's brewers, but not so great for the consumer. This isn't my idea of a robust capitalist economy.

  • Uncle Joe||

    There was a time when you'd only see Bud, Miller & a few other beers at American grocery stores. Carlsberg (who apparently also owns Tuborg) has lost a lot of market share to various newcomers.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The answer to the 'not true socialism' argument is that by now the shift to socialism has been tried often enough, and has resulted in 'not true socialism' often enough, that socialism is no longer due any benefit of the doubt. Yes, add "A" to "B" and theory states that the result SHOULD be sweet smelling and nutritious, but if every time it's tried for over a century the result ranges from a lingering stink to a devastating explosion, it's past time to reexamine the theory. And stop repeating the experiment.

  • ||

    The answer is that BOTH true socialism and quasi-socialism have been tried and they both fucked up the countries they were tried in.
    Venezuela wasn't true socialism. They didn't nationalize the means of production, they just regulated it with price controls. The state oil company has been nationalized since the 1970s.

  • Longtobefree||

    "Venezuela wasn't true socialism. They didn't nationalize the means of production, they just regulated it with price controls"

    The political distinction between Communism and Fascism.
    See Obamacare.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The difference between Communism and Fascism? I suggest, but do not insist on the following;

    Fascist; "I am the idealized Man Of The People! Follow Me!"

    Communist; "Plans have been made by your betters; do as you're told!"

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    By their definitions, North Korea is the closest we've ever gotten

    They won't admit to that unless they're a full tankie though

  • ||

    I suppose their waiting for the New Soviet Man to evolve under the evolutionary pressures of Actually Existing Socialism. That's what North Korea is, a human breeding experiment.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    And yet they've never made even the slightest inroads towards changing human nature in the ways they wanted. Look at how quickly nationalism creeped back up after the USSR fell, and how they never eliminated the influence of the church. They think they can eradicate greed???

  • ||

    Venezuela failed because it was not 'true' socialism".

    What is "true socialism" anyway? Venezuela did not nationalize most of the economy, they just imposed price controls and redistributed land. That alone was enough to totally fuck up the economy.
    If they did "true socialism", it would have been even worse!

  • Mark22||

    What is "true socialism" anyway?

    By definition, it's the form of socialism that works, that makes everybody happy, wealthy, healthy, and content! Any other form of socialism is, by definition, not true socialism! That's why true socialism can never fail!

  • Cloudbuster||

    Venezuela did not nationalize most of the economy, they just imposed price controls and redistributed land.

    That's more like fascism (using the actual technical definition of fascism).

  • ||

    Well, fascism is more like Trump's "public-private partnerships". I'm not sure if price controls are involved.
    Fascism means the state still directs the economy, and all the corporations are basically like defense contractors. Venezuela was not exactly that. It was a large oil-funded social welfare state, with government initiated worker owned coops, and regulated prices for basic goods. It's that last bit that seems to have destroyed the economy.

  • FreeToFear||

    (Stolen from some shmuck on twitter)

    Say what you will about fascists, but at least when you point out the evils of fascism they never tell you that "true fascism has never been tried"

  • Longtobefree||

    Good point. They just shoot you.

  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    When you point out that North Korea IS "true socialism" then next excuse is that there are all sorts of outsiders preventing it from working its magic.

  • And you believe that why?||

    Well of course Venezuela is not true socialism. María Gabriela Chávez is proof that the leadership has been socialist in name only.

  • Jerryskids||

    I keep seeing this comment going around - the difference between Nazis and Communists is that when you criticize the Nazis they don't argue that true Nazism has never been tried.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I've heard various types of statists saying the same thing, only with "libertarianism" swapped in for "communism." Of course, this ignores the fact that everything individuals do outside the purview of government is libertarianism in action.

  • FreeToFear||

    Whoops should have kept reading

  • some guy||

    When taken to the extreme, all forms of statism converge and are indistinguishable.

  • Mark22||

    Seriously, though, the difference between Nazis and communists is that Nazis are "national socialists" and communists are "international socialists". And that's pretty much the only difference.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Whither thou, joe from lowell?

  • Rebel Scum||

    Venezuela is not real socialism. It can't be real socialism if it fails. //sarc

  • ||

    It wasn't real socialism, and it failed anyway. If it had been real socialism it would have been 10 times worse.

  • Paloma||

    How the fuck could it possibly be 10 times worse? A loaf of bread could cost 2 years salary instead of 2 months?

  • John C. Randolph||

    Why are you pretending that Venezuela wasn't already a dictatorship?

    -jcr

  • some guy||

    Come on. It can't be a dictatorship if the people are relatively happy! And, yes, that glut of oil cash which funding their happiness will certainly last forever.

  • KerryW||

    How can it be a dictatorship when their elections
    are fairer than those in the UK?

  • KerryW||

  • GroundTruth||

    This is all blatantly unfair. As we all know, true socialism / communism has never actually been tried, so of course Venezuela failed. If everyone had really been working to make this happen, it would have worked this time. Really!

    /sarc

  • ||

    If they didn't have any oil, it would have worked ! (Actual argument made by actual socialist in defense of Venezuela's government).

  • Paloma||

    I dunno. I suppose we could argue Pol Pot's Cambodia wasn't socialism either.

  • some guy||

    It's so predictable it hurts. In order to maintain a socialist economic policy you need a strong, centralized government. So long as that government can lean on revenue from a windfall (like high-priced oil) everything's fine. The consequences of terrible economic policies can be hidden with a glut of cash. Most of the peoples' quality of life is rising, so they can pretend they live in a liberal democracy. But then the windfall ends and the socialist economy comes crashing down. Now the strong, central government is both in a position to clamp down on civil liberties and feels the need to clamp down to maintain order. Everyone suddenly realizes they have an impoverished dictatorship where they thought they had a liberal socialist democracy.

  • ||

    Venezuela's descent into socialist dictatorship is literally a textbook case.
    As the economy has grown increasingly dysfunctional, the government has seized control of more and more of it, engaging in greater and greater interventions, thereby increasing the dysfunction and leading to a downward spiral of economic collapse and authoritarianism.
    The shortages, hoarding and black markets are textbook examples of what happens when you impose price control on basic goods.
    The denunciation of private industry for failing to make the governments economic dictates work is a direct echo of the USSR in the 1920s.
    Venezuela is about to have it's own Great Terror, for exact the same reasons.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Yep. It's following the exact path laid about by a number of economists and political scientists. Given how complex life and society are, it's eerie when such sweeping predictions are so accurate, but there it is.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    See: Mises

  • ||

    I was thinking Hayek personally. It's like someone did an adaptation of The Road to Serfdom.

  • Paloma||

    I hope you are wrong, Hazel, but I fear you are right.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    If socialism leads to dictatorship, why didn't this happen in the UK? In France? In Italy? In the Scandinavian countries? In India? One of the most important, and one of the least reported, facts about Hugo Chavez was that he was the first non-white president in Venezuela's history. Centuries of racist oppression take their toll in often very unpleasant ways. There are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamt of in Hayek's philosophy.

  • Rhywun||

    Yes, he never did shut up about his partially non-white status, did he.

  • Longtobefree||

    You know who else - - - - -

  • Paloma||

    Just like Batista in Cuba.

  • ||

    UK France and Italy aren't real socialism, either. Fortunately. And at least they didn't try controls. That might be the key difference. You can tax and spend and have generous welfare states (up to a point, i.e. greece) , but as long as you don't fuck with market prices and don't try to nationalize key industries, things will be more or less ok.
    You fuck with market prices at your peril.

  • Rhywun||

    The UK did nationalize key industries and it gave us punk rock, so there's that.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Worth it.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    Totes

  • ||

    Well, Venezuela and Mexico have had state oil companies for decades. I suppose one or two state-owned companies won't kill you, as long as most of the economy remains private.
    But again, nobody has ever fucked with price signals and lived.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    [looks at thoroughly fucked price signals in U.S. health care market, starts to raise hand, puts it back down]

  • ||

    Yeah, not a great example of price controls "working".

  • Rebel Scum||

    why didn't this happen in the UK? In France? In Italy? In the Scandinavian countries?

    Socialism is gov't ownership and operation of the means of production. These places are welfare states, not socialist.

  • Longtobefree||

    Read a bit of history. GB nationalized, then privatized, then re-nationalized, off and on since we stopped numbering wars. France as well. All in the name of temporary national emergencies.

  • timbo||

    GB has been all but advertised socialist since the 60s. If it weren't for banking and tourism, that place would have imploded long ago.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    There's a reason Britain was still implementing WWII rationing until the late '60s.

  • Agammamon||

    So, have you lived in the UK? In France? In Italy?

    When you can be arrested for teaching a pug the nazi salute, for working more than 35 hours, because FYTW - you're living in a dictatorship.

  • Mark22||

    If socialism leads to dictatorship, why didn't this happen in the UK? In the Scandinavian countries?

    Those countries never were socialist. They have a Bismarck-style social welfare state, a form of government that was adopted specifically to keep socialists out of power, tempered by northern European protestantism. In fact, even the social welfare state is something fairly recent in those countries; before that, they were strongly free market oriented with a limited social welfare system.

    In France? In Italy?

    In those countries, it did lead to dictatorship.

    Centuries of racist oppression take their toll in often very unpleasant ways.

    True, but only in the sense that socialists tend to create stories about racist oppression in order to infiltrate, divide, and destroy societies from within. Chavez did that, and Democrats are trying to do it in the US.

  • timbo||

    Obama had 8 years of unchecked psychosis threatening a race war on those very terms.

  • Paloma||

    I would always hear from Cubans who were living In Puerto Rico at the time, that the reason Fidel Castro was able to gain the support of the Cuban people was because he was white and Batista was Black.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    It starts to, and then the countries pull back and liberalize in various ways. The UK did, the Scandinavian countries did, France is gonna start easing on its ridiculous employment regulations.

    There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.

  • Sevo||

    "On Tuesday "Red" Ken Livingtstone, a former mayor of London, blamed the country's current problems on one simple fact: "Hugo Chávez did not execute the establishment elite.""

    Lefties LOVE mass murder. It's what they do, one way or the other.

  • ||

    Yeah, that seemed a bit... oblivious. I mean, technically, Donald Trump and Theresa May are being held back by the establishment elite.

  • Paloma||

    Very odd. He must conflate the opposition with the elite.

  • damikesc||

    The really funny part is...the Arab OPEC countries have economies just as reliant on oil as Venezuela and they aren't tits up now.

    When Arab states, long known for being imbeciles in basically every field out there, are run MUCH BETTER than you, then you have a terrible, terrible government.

  • IceTrey||

    Not so fast. Saudi Arabia is killing it's own citizens too.

    http://thefreethoughtproject.c.....-citizens/

  • Uncle Joe||

    True. Under halfway competent leadership, Venezuela wouldn't be in this crisis. It helps that the Arab OPEC countries aren't under sanctions from the US, though.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    What are you babbling about, dead thread-fucking lefty troll.....

  • And you believe that why?||

    Iran has functioned with far more severe sanctions, for far longer than, Venezuela.

  • Eric||

    I do wonder how many northern/western European countrys do alright compared to Venezuela. Not being an economist myself, I can't help but wonder if the success of one's social/economic system has to do with the institutions/society vs the system itself.
    The left (and many on the right) browbeat libertarians over Somalia...interesting that there is no nuisance here attempting to understand socialism.

    Or maybe I should just stfu and cheer on my tribe.

  • Mark22||

    I do wonder how many northern/western European countrys do alright compared to Venezuela.

    I'm not sure why you're even asking that question. European countries are "socialist" only in the deluded minds of American leftists and progressives.

    The left (and many on the right) browbeat libertarians over Somalia

    Somalia probably has already been doing better under anarchy than under its former socialist government, although even under the best of circumstances, it will probably take a century to undo the destruction caused by socialism.


    But libertarianism isn't anarchy anyway, it is government by voluntary agreements between private parties. That's a stable form of government, but it is easily destroyed by external violence, and once destroyed, takes a long time to come back.

  • Eric||

    "I'm not sure why you're even asking that question. European countries are "socialist" only in the deluded minds of American leftists and progressives."

    Ah.. It's the leftists screeching and rending their garments about European socialism. Just like it was the leftists throwing that work at Obama for eight years. Got it.

  • Uncle Joe||

    "... it is government by voluntary agreements between private parties."

    If that's not as pollyannaish as, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", I don't know what is. Might as well change your motto to, "Power to the unscrupulous!"

  • Mark22||

    I'm missing the context. "Chavismo Duro" = "We will fuck you harder"?

  • Gleep Glop||

    On Tuesday "Red" Ken Livingtstone, a former mayor of London, blamed the country's current problems on one simple fact: "Hugo Chávez did not execute the establishment elite."

    Anyone brave enough to explore the comment section on this story?

  • Mark22||

    Historically, socialists have frequently executed "the establishment elite", and the result was simply an even faster descent into economic chaos. That's because for all their rent seeking, "the establishment elite" actually does have some real world functions.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    The socialists love themselves a secret capitalist plot to overthrow the government, complete with "sitting on productive land". But in reality, no business would ever sell in times of triple digit inflation

  • Paloma||

    Has Venezuela"s inflation rate come down to only triple digit?

  • Curt||

    "The proportion of Venezuelan families in poverty has soared from 48 percent to 82 percent"

    Yeah, but there's far less income inequality than in the US! So, don't tell me that Venezuela has been anything other than a complete success.

  • damikesc||

    True. Socialism has always been excellent at stomping out MOST economic equality by making almost everybody poor.

    However, why nobody publicizes just how well the leadership does is baffling. Nobody can show footage of how their families live?

    And if they annoy us enough, can't we just say "Well, we will no longer refine your oil"? I think we're the only country that can do it.

  • Paloma||

    Venezuelans are very aware of that. The Chavez daughters left the country with a fortune of at least 4 billion.

  • And you believe that why?||

    Other countries have refineries that can refine Venezuelan crude, Venezuela. All that is required is a capital investment to build the refinery and capital reinvestment to keep the refinery open.

  • mchughjj||

    Income equality is a stupid metric. The US has a progressive tax system. I certainly don't support a flat tax, because there's no reason to tax those who are net major consumers of government benefits. That just represents money going around in circles, with government people taking proceeds in both directions. However, punishing millionaires and billionaires is not a formula for broader economic prosperity. The ultra-wealthy can choose where they earn and keep their money.

    If it is indeed true that income equality is 'better' in Venezuela than the US, please tell me how many people are moving to Venezuela to be part of the oasis that is the 'Bolivarian' redistribution paradigm?

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Oh, come on. Can anybody really be surprised by the cluster fuck that is Venezuela? How many tragically inclined factors can be combined in one country:

    Commie-inclined socialist politics?
    Tin pot dictator dispenser?
    South American corruption theme park?
    Top tier resource curse?
    Spanish colonial legacy caste system?
    Yanqui envy-driven paranoia?

    Check, check, check, check, and check mate.

  • Cloudbuster||

    A thousand gleeful obituaries have been written for "Kansas' failed experiment" with Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts. But if Kansas' economy provides a cautionary tale for supply-siders on the right, then Venezuela provides an even more stark warning for socialist sympathizers on the left.

    I searched through a few of the articles about Kansas and all of them are pretty shallow in their analyses. While, empirically, it's clear that the cuts didn't spur growth, what is not clear is why not and would things have been better or worse without the cuts? There are so many independent variables in an economy that making a blanket pronouncement that because tax cuts failed to spur growth in one instance it means tax cuts don't spur growth is a completely unwarranted projection.

    Obviously, there were a lot of other things going on in Kansas, because it seems fairly self-evident that, all other things being equal, businesses prefer to locate in low-tax areas.

    I didn't see many articles delving deeply into what actually went wrong. One thing I saw:

    Adam Michel, a tax policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Kansas' problem wasn't the tax cut but how the state handled it. He said eliminating taxes for some corporations created an incentive for businesses to "recharacterize" income, which created an unsustainable financial picture.

    "Their reform wasn't designed properly," Mr. Michel said.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    I think Dan Mitchell at Cato went into it

    First guess is they sold the idea that tax cuts always lead to revenue increases, when really that's only true for the wrong side of the Laffer Curve. Lots of people say we should cut taxes for the wrong reason. Cutting taxes should always come with the goal of shrinking government, cutting spending, and stealing less from people. Selling growth or revenue is always too big a promise

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    "Yeah well it's actually state capitalism!"

    -Your average Marxist preparing to deflect

  • Michael Ahlers||

    Dear Venezuela, Atlas Shrugged was a cautionary tale—not a roadmap.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Venezuela Descends Into Predictable Dictatorship

    1. Never waste a crisis.
    2. Why is it no one is surprised that a pro-Marxist group of ruling elites have made Venezuela a dictatorship?
    3. Now is a good time to invest in gulag construction companies.

  • mchughjj||

    There's not an exact parallel, but the bad news may be that Venezuela may be the next China. After what I would call the Chinese Renaissance in 1989, the crackdown known as the Tiananmen massacre led to the 'proletariat' being willingly cowed, favoring stability over liberty which would come at an unacceptable cost, with the corrupt military being the broker. China has been metastable politically since Mao's death and has thrived economically, for the most part. The people have asymetrically benefited or suffered from recent history.

    In Venezuela, there exists the same clamp. The military, the media, etc., force individuals and families to make a choice...do you foment counterrevolution or not. Maybe Maduro, with all his incompetence, finds a way to make things not so bad. Maybe Iran will send some rice, toilet paper, and diapers. I fear this will be a long, hard slog.

  • Paloma||

    The military in Venezuela is riddled with Cuban "minders" in the top brass.

  • Uncle Joe||

    I think Venezuela has been the big dog in that dog pound for a while. Maduro may have some Cubans who are effectively mercenaries making sure the Army remains loyal to him, but that stops the moment he runs out of cash to pay them.

  • Empress Trudy||

    But do we care? Should we? Isn't it their problem to ignore or address? Of course I don't fully understand the Reason love of illegal immigration but if Venezuela melts down then won't more of them wade ashore here and if so isn't that something Reason endorses?

  • tommhan||

    I don't see why someone has not put a bullet in Maduro's brain. This country is in complete failure and he just keeps pushing it deeper.

  • mjerryfuerst||

    This is a dictatorship end game, not a socialist end game, as indicated by "president Nicolas Maduro used a sham election to consolidate power,"

  • Procyon Rotor||

    Tomato, tomahto.

  • mysmartstuffs||

    Whither thou, joe from lowell?
    My recent post: Life Hacks PLR Review
    My recent post: One Page Publishing Profits Review

  • mysmartstuffs||

    It starts to, and then the countries pull back and liberalize in various ways. The UK did, the Scandinavian countries did, France is gonna start easing on its ridiculous employment regulations.

    There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.
    My recent post: Traffikrr Review

  • ||

    "It should be everyone's fervent hope..."
    Yes, but that's the problem, isn't it? If it was even 20%'s "fervent hope" the socialist govt. wouldn't have come into existence.
    How many know what the solution is? Probably not many. Collectivism will be the basic paradigm in any new govt. and it doesn't change the authoritarian rule. That is the problem that needs to be addressed in Venezuela as well as every other country, to one degree or another. Venezuela is the extreme example of the worldwide political paradigm. Is that fact recognized by any mainstream news outlet? No. In fact, it is claimed by critics of the United Socialist States of American that more socialism is needed to combat the capitalism. With this willful blindness, the blind lead the blind, straight into hell.

  • Uncle Joe||

    Venezuela's centrally controlled, socialism is a huge failure. Some of that is due to the huge inefficiency of Central Planning, but a lot of it is due to incredible stupidity & corruption by the leaders. Human nature is what it is. Any system is going to be gamed by self interested people with no scruples.

    There aren't many full on socialists left in the West. Central Planning & government owned production simply can't compete with capitalism. But, unrestrained capitalism is just as susceptible to being gamed. Without a framework to prevent that, as well as making sure everyone 'plays fair' in terms of not externalizing costs of their operation, eventually a few corporate 'winners' monopolize the economy just as much as any socialist regime.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Supposedly serious people, from "Shock Doctrine" author Naomi Klein and leftist heartthrob Jeremy Corbyn to Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano,

    I have never taken any of these people seriously. Why would anyone?

    -jcr

  • Bennie Jenkins||

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