This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 19, 2016:
Craig Andresen, writing for the National Patriot, described socialism as a mental disorder:
Socialism is a disease. It’s a mental affliction and it causes those infected with it to lose their minds.
It’s also contagious.
Now there’s proof positive: Nicolas Maduro, student of Hugo Chavez and President of Venezuela since Chavez died of cancer in 2013. On Wednesday Maduro presented his plan to save Venezuela from its economic difficulties in a five-hour speech. In that speech he blamed the capitalists, President Obama, and the banks that wouldn’t loan him money at reasonable rates to keep his sinking ship afloat. He also did everything he could to make sure that the patient wouldn’t get better but instead would die of the disease it has contracted:
He raised the minimum wage by 20 percent, thus increasing unemployment among those whose skills don’t justify the new minimum;
He raised the price of gas by an astonishing 6,000 percent;
He devalued the bolivar by 37 percent;
And he kept the labyrinthine price controls mechanism in place.
He blamed his predicament on President Obama who is behind the “international financial blockage” that is keeping his government from being able to continue to borrow from international banks at low rates. He also blamed the U.S. for interfering in local affairs, supporting the nascent Parliamentary pushback working to get rid of the man before he can inflict any more damage.
If he hadn’t lost his mind, Maduro would first of all recognize that it is own government’s policies that are the primary root cause and enabler of Venezuela’s economic difficulties. Then he would dismantle the price control mechanism that has emptied the shelves of essentials and ignited a black market that tries to provide those essentials, such as toothpaste, toilet paper, cooking oil, and baby formula.
He would stop printing more bolivars. He would cancel the orders he has already placed with foreign currency printers in France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany. He would fire his Keynesian economic advisors and replace them with people with at least a modicum of common sense.
He might start by hiring a taxicab driver in Caracas by the name of Wilfredo Alarcon who explained to a Wall Street Journal reporter what would happen as a result of Maduro’s remedies:
Everything … goes up when you do something like this. Tomorrow a corncake will cost more. Everyone will raise prices [especially including] those who deliver food.
Happily, Maduro’s economic insanity is generating some modest push-back from opposition in the government as well as some unhappy citizens who clashed with police on Wednesday night. Parliament speaker Henry Ramos Allup said, “In the next few days we will have to present a concrete proposal for the departure of that national disgrace that is the government.” Ramos Allup’s problems are compounded by the complicit Supreme Court inhabited entirely by Maduro appointees who have ruled that the decree announced in January by Maduro granting himself unlimited powers for 60 days was constitutional. Ramos Allup attacked that decision, saying that if what the court “has done is not a coup, I don’t know what to call it.”
In increasingly unsuccessful attempts to direct people’s attention away from his administration’s manic policies, Maduro arrested Leopoldo Lopez, a leader of the Popular Will party and former mayor of the Chacao Municipality of Caracas, charging him with inciting violence that is beginning to escalate in response to his policies. Said Maduro: “I said, ‘Send him to jail,’ and that’s what happened … that’s what will happen with all of the fascists. I won’t allow him to challenge the people of Venezuela [or] the constitution.”
Maduro also silenced broadcasts from television station NTN24 based in Columbia for telling the truth, and has threatened U.S.-based CNN as well:
I asked my minister of Communications … that she notify CNN that the administrative process of removing them from Venezuela has begun if they do not rectify (comply). CNN will leave Venezuela. Enough of the war propaganda!
Those public protests are threatening to escalate into a repeat of Caracazo – the “Caracas Smash” – that followed an attempt to raise gas prices in 1989. Constitutional rights were suspended and thousands of innocents were taken from their homes in the dark of night, tortured, and then murdered. Without those rights, the citizens were helpless. The constitutional rights suspended included Article 60 (the right to individual liberty and security); Article 62 (inviolability of the home); Article 66 (freedom of expression); Article 71 (right to gather publicly and privately); and Article 115 (right to peaceful protest).
Those riots set the stage for the rise to power of the late unlamented Hugo Chavez, the mentor of Nicolas Maduro.
In Chapter 10 of his 1994 book, The Road to Serfdom, author F.A. Hayek explained Why the Worst Get on Top:
There are strong reasons for believing that what to us appear the worst features of totalitarian systems are not accidental byproducts but phenomena which totalitarianism is certain to sooner or later produce.
Just as the choice architect who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure.
It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more “successful” in a society tending toward totalitarianism.
The moral “vacuum” about which Hayek speaks is also part of mental illness wherein normal moral standards are absent which leads to believing that the ends justify the means, no matter how terrible to contemplate or horrible to witness.
Case in point: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. QED.
Wall Street Journal: Venezuela Tries to Prop Up Crumbling Economy
The New American: Venezuela Could See Hyperinflation, Economic Collapse
Amazon.com: The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek (1944)