(Cross-posted from my other blog, which was initially published on 6/6. This is #8 series of posts on the crisis in Venezuela.)
Just in case you think I’ve been too hard in my description of the devastation in Venezuela or I’ve been too blunt in laying blame for the suffering at the feet of socialism, just check out Prof. Mark Perry’s column: Venezuelan apocalypse: Some updates on the epic failure of socialism in oil-rich Venezuela.
Keep in mind this human suffering is taking place in a country that has more proven oil reserves that Saudi Arabia.
Here are a few tidbits from the article:
5/4 – Pan Am Post – Hungry Venezuelans Hunt Dogs, Cats, Pigeons at Food Runs Out – Yes, cats, dogs, and even pigeons are disappearing. As I’ve said before, it is a sign of a famine-in-progress when dogs and cats start to disappear from the streets.
5/15 – BBC News – Venezuela crisis: Maduro threatens seizure of closed factories.
I must quote the professor:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has threatened to seize factories that have stopped production, and jail their owners. Atlas Shrugged playing out in real life.
I will also point out that Atlas Shrugged is a warning to avoid destroying an entire country, not a how-to manual on how to do so.
From a 5/16 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens explained to his son that socialism is the cause of the human suffering there. His failed explanation of socialism was saying it is
…an economic system in which the government seizes and runs industries, sets prices for goods, and otherwise dictates what you can and cannot do with your money, and therefore your life.
He wishes he had said:
Socialism is a mental poison that leads to human misery of the sort you see in these wrenching pictures.
Sounds ‘bout right to me.
Reason magazine reports that 13,000 doctors have fled Venezuela seeking some place they can make enough money to eat. Doctors who remain are getting paid in cooking oil and groceries. On the other hand, groceries are more valuable that paper money.
By the way, keep in mind Venezuela has more proven oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. They have somewhere in the range of 25% of the total oil controlled by OPEC members.
More oil than Saudi Arabia but neither food on the shelves nor medicine in the hospitals.
In other reporting:
6/4 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuelans, Facing Food Shortages, Rally Behind Vilified Conglomerate – The socialist government nationalized 1,200 businesses and farms but left alone Polar, the biggest food producer in the country. Polar produces 80% of the beer, 18% of food basics, and 14% of processed foods. Article says the company produces 3.3% of non-oil goods in the country.
After getting a $35M loan from BBVA, Polar can again import barley and resume producing beer. They periodically run out of other raw material and must halt production.
Now the president is insulting and threatening the CEO of Polar. To my reading between the lines, veiled threats of nationalization are now on the table.
Failure to maintain production is a bad thing, subjecting the offender to abuse and potential nationalization.
Again, Atlas Shrugged is a warning against destroying the economy and killing people through starvation, not a how-to manual.