This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, April 21, 2017:
Andres Malave grew up in Caracas until Chavez took over. Then he and his family were able to escape – barely – to the US. Wrote Malave, “It was a hard choice, but in hindsight, we were the lucky ones.”
Those watching from around the world, particularly in the United States, seem hesitant to put a label on Venezuela’s struggle. But for me and mine, it’s clear what precipitated this crisis – and we don’t share the hesitance to point it out. While extenuating circumstances like drought and [the decline in] oil prices have certainly worsened the situation, it’s clear there’s a larger force behind Venezuela’s woes.
The force that is driving Venezuela into the ground is socialism.
Its results are obvious: rolling blackouts that result in infant deaths in hospitals where backup generators have ceased to function, inflation turning the bolivar into toilet paper, the murder rate in his native city the highest in the world.
So it’s no surprise that General Motors is finally pulling the plug. On Wednesday the company announced it was ceasing operations there following the forcible seizure of its parts plant by the government. The real question is: why did GM stick around for so long? GM joins an ever longer list of companies who can’t operate in the socialist paradise run by Marxist dictator Nicolas Maduro, including Halliburton, Ford, Procter and Gamble, Bridgestone Tires, ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark, and Coca-Cola.
Collapse is not too strong a word. As the totalitarian government began seizing critical parts of the economy under Cesar Chavez in 1999, it took control of the privately owned oil industry, telecommunications, and energy and cement businesses. As oil prices dropped, it turned to the printing press to pay its bills, resulting in inflation that has risen to the point where the bolivar is essentially worthless. The economy shrank 18 percent last year, with no end to the decline in view. One in four is out of work, with unemployment approaching one of out three. More than four of five Venezuelans say they don’t earn enough to meet their basic physical needs, while three quarters of them say they have lost an average of 19 pounds as a result of being able to secure only two meals a day. The International Monetary Fund predicts inflation will rise over 2,000% next year, but by then it really won’t matter: the country is regressing to barter.
The riots in Caracas protesting Maduro’s insane policies and dictatorial control are in their third week, with nine already dead. But without support from those most drastically affected by those policies – the poor – it’s likely that they will come to naught. Most of them couldn’t care less about those riots: they are totally focused on where their next meal might come from. As the Wall Street Journal noted:
Without support in the shantytowns, many opposition leaders fear the current protests will end like the previous wave of unrest in 2014, when three months of demonstrations in middle-class neighborhoods left 43 people dead – without achieving any political change.
Even if the protesters did manage to remove Maduro, the country’s culture has been so badly damaged that the next dictator to come to power will look much like the last one.
It’s the view of America’s millennial generation that concerns Malave:
A recent survey shows that nearly 60 percent of 18–26 year-olds believe socialism is the “most compassionate system.”
But socialism is not compassionate. Whether a socialist government owns the means of production via nationalized industries or enforces central planning via price controls and stringent regulatory structures, socialism operates under the assumption that an insulated leader and his legion of bureaucrats are the best judges of what people are worth.
Socialism not only destroys the economy; it also destroys the culture, rendering it unable to remove the cancer of collectivism before it kills its host.
Andres Malave: How Socialism Failed Venezuela
The Wall Street Journal: Many Poor Venezuelans Are Too Hungry to Join Antigovernment Protests