Venezuela continues moving toward dictatorship

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

What little that remained of democracy in Venezuela continues to crumble.

8/4/17 –France 24 – Venezuela’s currency crumbles at dizzying speed – The value of the bolivar is shrinking fast.

On Thursday the bolivar dropped to 17,000 to 1 U.S. dollar.

The official exchange rate is 2,870:1.

The reporter interviewed an executive in a reinsurance business. That would be a professional level position. His salary is 800,000 bolivars a month. A year ago that was worth $200 and now it is worth $47.

Two pounds of rice costs 17,000 bolivars.

8/5/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela’s New Assembly Fires Attorney General – Well, the slow-motion coup continues to roll forward.

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Elections in Venezuela

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

An unofficial plebiscite was held to oppose the end of democracy. The vote for a constitutional convention to re-write overthrow the current constitution has been held, with uncertainty as to the actual turnout.

7/15/17 – Reuters – Venezuela opposition hold unofficial plebiscite to defy Maduro – The opposition holds an unofficial vote on 7/16 as a protest against the upcoming official vote which many consider to be the last votes ever in Venezuela as a new constitution will essentially put the legislature under the thumb of the president.

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Continuing devastation in Venezuela – #29

What economic system produces this result? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The political and economic conditions in Venezuela continue to deteriorate.

7/3/17 – Bloomberg – Venezuela’s Poor Rebel, Roiling Maduro’s Socialist Strongholds The power base for the leaders of the socialist country is poor people.

From previous reading I’ve done, massive subsidies to the poor successfully bought their allegiance. The collapse of services including water outages, random outages of electricity, and empty store shelves are rapidly undermining support from the poor. Protests has spread to many of the poor communities in Caracas. There have been nightly protests in a number of communities for several weeks.

7/5/17 – Wall Street Journal – Maduro Supporters Storm Venezuela’s Congress(more…)

While on a long road trip, what economic system provided the goods and services I needed, when and where I wanted them?

How is it that services are available on the interstate highway system when and where I need them? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I took a road trip from the Los Angeles area to Williston last week. My wife and I drove there with our son and his family.

A few questions came to mind on the trip

Questions

1. What economic system provides a gas station within a few miles of the point that we decided we wanted to fill up the tank?

With four drivers in the car,  we were planning to drive on through the night. We were too tired to do that so we decided to stop for the night.

2. What economic system provides multiple hotels and motels half an hour down the road from where we changed our mind?

3. Furthermore, when we wanted to stop, what economic system provided motels at multiple price points so we could pick the one that fit our price range and taste?

4. Why is it that the motel we choose included a full breakfast for all of us in the price?

5. Why did the motel even have two upgraded lamps on the night stands each with 2 USB charging points and two electrical outlets on the base of each lamp?

Answers

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Happy Birthday America!

Silhouette of charging Union soldier. “Happy Birthday America” by Steve Corey is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Two hundred forty-one years ago today marked the start of this wonderful, fantastic, heaven-blessed, messy, delightful, powerful, flawed, and glorious experiment called the United States of America which has delivered unimaginable levels of freedom to hundreds of millions of people here in the US of A and contributed massively to the freedom of hundreds and hundreds of millions more around the world.

Happy birthday America!

If you want a really short description of this day, consider a photo of a sign on a store’s door I saw while browsing the ‘net:

Closed on July 4

in observance of

Brexit 1776

If you are looking for a brief description of the string of events which led to signing the Declaration of Independence and the follow-on events leading to full independence, (more…)

Major ruling on religious freedom from Supreme Court

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Supreme Court issued a major ruling in favor of religious freedom, finding that a religious preschool may not be prohibited from a program helping private schools merely because it is a religious based school.

I would like to give you a flash introduction to the ruling. If you are interested in this case, you must spend time in further research.

The case, referred to as Trinity Lutheran, is focused on a state program that paid for private schools to resurface their playgrounds with rubber from recycled tires.  The state held that merely being run by a religious entity disqualified the preschool from participation in the program. (If you need a more precise cite, look up Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Comer)

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Bleak outlook for Venezuela

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With the supreme court compromised, the president outmaneuvering the congress, all members of the military under the watchful eye of Cuban zampolits (political officers), and the most loyal members of the military allowed to enjoy the spoils, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for either a peaceful solution or near-term end to the massive, intentionally caused humanitarian suffering in Venezuela.

Here are two short comments on the escalating violence and a long discussion of a feature article on the collapse of democracy and the economy.

6/16/17 – AFP at Yahoo News – Venezuela mobs kick, burn thieves in lynching epidemic – What happens when governments take actions that prevent the economy from working and as a result people are starving? Thieves start robbing people of food at gunpoint (money isn’t worth stealing).

What happens when robberies get out control because there is so much disruption and the government can’t do anything to maintain peace and there is widespread suffering? Mobs start lynching robbers.

There were 20 reported mob driven lynchings in 2015, 126 in 2016, and 60 in the first five months of this year.

In one attack on an armed robber, the police were able to pull the near-unconscious man into a police car as the mob cheered having beaten him. Another reporter filmed a robber being set on fire.

As another indicator of the breakdown in the social contract, Venezuela has one of the highest rates of murder in the world. That merely 6 out of 100 murders results in jail time dangerously wears away at the idea of government being able (or willing) to maintain social order. That contributes to the vigilante justice.

In addition to the massive suffering due to shortages of food, medicine, and electricity, Venezuela is slipping into a life of vigilante justice.

6/22 – Al Jazera – One killed as Venezuelan Troops fire on protesters – Another day of protests.

Another day of protesters getting shot at point-blank range.

One died, two wounded.

Number of dead in the last three months is somewhere around 80.

(Yes, Al Jazera is pointing out the collapse of Venezuela.)

6/23/17 – Wall Street Journal – ”The Last Battle for Democracy in Venezuela” – Article provides an in depth description of the economic collapse, current political direction, how the country got into this horrible disaster, and the bleak prospects for an end to the suffering.

Shrinking opposition

Opposition to the destruction of the country is coming from the Congress and Attorney General. The government is working to get rid of the Atty. Gen. and has a plan to replace the Constitution and Congress.

The government has already taken over control of the Supreme Court. The military was purged in 2002 after an attempted coup and now appears to be completely controlled by the government. The Cubans took over indoctrination and training of the military after the coup.

Path forward to end democracy in the country

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Here are lots of reasons you really love capitalism

Do you use an iPhone, Android phone, Kindle, Mac, PC, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Spotify, Google, Uber, Lyft, Waze, airbnb, FaceBook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Most of us use many of those.

If you like those services, then you really love capitalism.

Why?

Where do you think all those creative, innovative, successful services and companies came from?

The following video points out that every one of those services came

….from entrepreneurs with great ideas and the freedom to test them in the marketplace.

We call that capitalism.

Now consider some other services.

Video asks if you have recently been to DMV, taken a journey through the TSA security grope line, mailed something at USPS, or tried to reach IRS customer support?

Where do those sluggish, unresponsive services come from?

The government.

Why the difference in service levels between those two groups? Video explains the reason:

One needs to satisfy its customers to survive and grow; one doesn’t

Jared Meyer of the Manhattan Institute goes into more detail, explaining Why You Love Capitalism:

 

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On the lack of morality in Marxism

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Marxism, or communism, is fundamentally opposed to every form of freedom. At its core and in its every expression in history it is immoral.

A new blog series at Declination is exploring Marxism and Morality, Part One.

The first post in the series addresses the common defense of communism/Marxism, which is the claim that every single attempt at Marxism wasn’t a “real” effort. If it had just been tried correctly it would have been a stupendous success.

Amongst the problems with that false argument is that if every single effort to attempt something is a failure there’s something wrong with the theory.

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Venezuelan government supported with cash from investment bank while support from military is weakening

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A New York investment bank bought bonds from the Venezuelan central bank at a steep discount and got a lot of heat for doing so. The military is applying more violence to protesters as support from the rank and file appears to be shrinking.

5/30 – Wall Street Journal – Goldman Sachs Under Fire for Venezuela Bond Deal – Goldman bought $2.8B of bonds issued by the government-owned oil company for $865M. That is 31% of face. If, and this is a big if, the bonds were to be paid in full, on-time, at face value that would produce a 40% return.

Goldman is in a PR mess because the bonds were held by the Venezuelan central bank, meaning Goldman essentially put almost a billion dollars into the government’s hand.

Article says Goldman has been increasing their holdings of Venezuelan debt over the last few months. Their play is that if government gets its finances in order, the bonds will soar in value and Goldman will make a huge profit.

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Remembering those who sacrificed for our freedom

Ponder a moment on Memorial Day the cost of our freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the free because of the brave

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Those of us living in the United States are blessed with religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom because those who went before us fought for freedom.

Many of those fighting offered up their life for freedom and the offer was accepted.

I am humbled and grateful to God that some of my ancestors are included in the long list of those who fought. I am especially humbled that a great, great grand-uncle is in the list of those who died in the defense of freedom.

Because of their sacrifice, I get to enjoy this kind of freedom:

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Why, oh why, did production of oil and food collapse in Venezuela? What could have caused this amount of human suffering?

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Devastation in the oil industry and food supply chain in Venezuela is due to intentional government policies.

One article sees how the government caused the damage to the oil industry while another article sees the devastation in the food supply but cannot see any direct cause.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change.)

5/7/17 – Forbes – How Venezuela Ruined Its Oil Industry – Here is a primer on how to destroy your oil industry when you have the world’s largest proven reserves of oil and are in the top 10 of world oil producers.

If you want to destroy your country, the article provides a how-to-guide, using Venezuela as the road map.

The high point of oil production in Venezuela was 3.5M bopd back in 1998, which not by coincidence was the year Hugo Chavez became president. Production then began to slip. How could that be?

After civil unrest in 2002 and 2003, Chavez fired much of the staff of the national oil company, letting go 19,000 experienced staff.

Let me translate that: 19,000 staff who knew how to produce extra-heavy oil were fired and replaced by people whose primary job skill was loyalty to the president.

Extra heavy oil takes specialized knowledge and is very expensive to produce on top of oil production already being capital-intensive.

To generate more revenue, Venezuela invited five of the oil majors to develop more oil production. The form of investment was a partnership. The five majors invested many billions of dollars in oil production.

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When do we get to call the ‘Maduro diet’ in Venezuela a crime against humanity?

Consequence of intentional government policies in Venezuela. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A one-year old child who weighs 11 pounds.

Eleven.

In what used to be the regions’s richest country, the average weight loss in the last year is 19 pounds.

That’s an average weight loss according to a survey by social scientists measuring the impact Venezuelan government policies are having on the citizens of the country.

It is called the ‘Maduro diet’ in dishonor of the president who is gladly continuing the polices that have broken the once rich nation.

It is a common site to see people picking through trash hoping to find something that is edible.

When will those of us who don’t have to decide which of our children get to eat today start calling the expected results of intentional policies a crime against humanity?

Let’s take a quick look at health care in Venezuela before returning to the starvation issue.

Collapse of the health care system

The medical crisis is so bad that even CNN has noticed. On 5/11/17 they reported Amid chaos in Venezuela, infant deaths, malaria cases skyrocket.

 

The government released statistics for 2016. They reported:

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Ongoing violence in Venezuela against those who merely want to their children to eat

In Venezuela, above activity is sufficient to draw weapon fire or armored tanks. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The violence in Venezuela directed against those people who merely wish to keep their children from starving continues.

My previous comment: 4/19/17 – Washington Free Beacon – Socialist Venezuela Leader Steps up Arming of Supporters After Outlawing, Confiscating Civilian Guns – The government has spent the last five years confiscating guns from private citizens. That’s what authoritarian, totalitarians, and other bad governments do.

Why? So they can’t defend themselves.

From what might individuals need to defend themselves from?

How about 400,000 loyalists who are going to be armed by the government. (more…)