Monday, May 16, 2016

Any excuse but Socialism for Venezuela's ills

The New York Times, that esteemed organ of American journalism, ran two articles over the weekend that caught my eye. The first was a somewhat desperate hatchet job on Donald Trump's relationships with women*, the second was this article about the political and economic situation in Venezuela.

Venezuela during its fourteen years of rule by Hugo Chavez was the darling of the political left-wing and the sycophantic media in the West. It was held up as an example of what could be accomplished under a radical socialist political system, even after the economic and social disruption caused by Chavez's rule became increasingly evident. Venezuela's economy and civil society have now completely collapsed. Things have got so bad that there are severe shortages of food, medicine and even water; there are rolling electricity blackouts, and government agencies are only working two days a week. 

Chavez's successor, Nicolás Maduro, has continued his mentor's practice of blaming speculators, greedy retailers, even consumers for the outcomes of his policies. Not content with nationalising industries, imposing draconian price controls and purchasing restrictions (including fingerprinting supermarket shoppers to ensure they can't buy more than a minimal ration of food), and closing the border to stop Venezuelans going to Colombia to buy the goods and medicines they need, he now proposes to seize idle factories and restart them to boost production. There is irony in a government that can't even keep its own offices open more than two days per week thinking it can run factories. 

The New York Times article says the economic crisis is 'caused by low oil prices, a lack of savings and a drought'. The truth is, the only reason Venezuela's economy endured through the first decade of Chavez's rule was because of consistently high oil prices, and in a country where there is 180% inflation and no property rights, is it any wonder Venezuelans do not want to save? As for the drought, that is a very recent thing and the more significant long-term impact on the economy has been Chavez's agricultural land reforms, which were similar to the land seizures instituted in Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe's government and have unsurprisingly produced a similar result.

The impact on the lives of the Venezuelan people of the Chavez-Maduro reign has been terrible, as this second article in the New York Times about the state of the Venezuelan hospital system clearly shows. It seems extraordinary that Western media outlets like the New York Times can see the seriousness of the problems in Venezuela but are so wilfully blind to the true cause. The historical evidence is incontrovertible - radical socialism always leads to the same outcomes of misery, starvation and death.

* See my comment on Twitter about this here.

No comments: