Government decisions helped take down the Roman economy

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ll have two posts describing how bad decisions by Roman Emperors contributed to the economic deterioration in the Empire by their intentional decisions.

First, check out Richard Ebeling on 10/5/16 at Foundation for Economic Freedom – How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.

In 58 B.C. (yes, I know that was shortly before the move from a republic to an empire), the Roman government started giving wheat to citizens of Rome for free. As expected, this resulted in masters letting their slaves go free so the government was responsible for their subsistence. In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar figured out that one-third of Roman citizens were getting their food from the government.

Farmers fled to the city to get food for free instead of breaking their back all year long in order to barely have enough to eat. Slave owners turned their slaves free so the central government could feed them instead.

Move forward a few hundred years to see the destruction from debasing the currency along with price controls.

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Increasing political danger in Venezuela – #15

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The sinking feeling in my stomach tells me things are going to get far worse in Venezuela in the near future.

10/27 – Reuters at Yahoo news – Venezuela crisis enters dangerous phase as Maduro foes go militant – Article gives a depressing summary of the last few days.

On the same day, four different courts around the country released identical rulings saying the signatures gathered for the recall were invalid. Four courts. Same day. Identical rulings.

The election board said the referendum was off because the signatures were invalid.

Many of the opposition concluded that means they are living in a complete dictatorship.

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A short (yet long enough to be plenty depressing) history of the New Deal and why government policies extended the Great Depression

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose intentional policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

If you want more detail that can be covered in this blog explaining how the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, increasing suffering, and extending the  pain by years, check out Great Myths of the Great Depression By Lawrence W. Reed.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on August 18.)

At a mere 47 pages, about 40 pages without the voluminous footnotes, you can get a survey of the destruction caused by FDR and the self-defined wizards who thought they could control all the details of the economy.

Here is a very short summary of the government-extended disaster. In sharp contrast to his reputation as a laid-back, do-nothing, free-marketeer, President Herbert Hoover was quite the activist. He tried all the same tricks FDR tried, although FDR was even more aggressive.

Both Hoover and FDR took a bad situation and made it far worse.

Compressing much of the story into one paragraph, here is a key explanation of the fiasco from the book:

The genesis of the Great Depression lay in the irresponsible monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These policies included a litany of political missteps: central bank mismanagement, trade-crushing tariffs, incentive-sapping taxes, mind-numbing controls on production and competition, senseless destruction of crops and cattle, and coercive labor laws, to recount just a few. It was not the free-market that produced 12 years of agony; rather, it was political bungling on a grand scale.

Like I said, a short primer on the disaster which extended the Great Depression through the end of WWII.

Venezuela slides further into the abyss – #14

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

More on the ongoing human tragedy that is the result of intentional government policies in Venezuela:

  • Infant mortality is soaring
  • Government starts to let go a bit on the widespread  price controls. Unexpectedly, food reappears on the shelves when priced at realistic prices
  • State owned oil company is losing ability to pump oil
  • Government suspends the recall effort, which leads to…
  • Lawmakers start impeachment effort

This is going to get far worse before the massive suffering ends.

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on October 28.)

10/17 – Wall Street Journal – Infant Mortality Soars in Venezuela – The infant mortality rate is soaring so far and so fast that doctors and hospitals are under pressure not to release any data because it reveals the depths of the human suffering in play.

Infant mortality is defined as the number of babies that die before their first birthday. Here is the infant morality rate, expressed in infant deaths per 1,000 live births:

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Still more horrifying news from Venezuela – #13

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

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

The heartbreaking humanitarian crisis in Venezuela just keeps getting worse.

If only they had massive amounts of energy in the ground that they could sell.

Oh, I wonder what economic system caused this massive suffering?

(Cross post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on October 12.)

9/4 – New York Times – Venezuelan President is Chased by Angry Protesters – After walking into a crowd during a political rally, the president was run off by the crowd screaming ‘we’re hungry’ accompanied with lots of banging on pots and kettles.

9/20 – New York Times – How Bad Off is Oil-Rich Venezuela? It’s Buying U.S. Oil – I don’t understand the process, but apparently you need to use light sweet crude in order to get thick sour crude out of the ground. Production in Venezuela has dropped so far that since early in 2016 the country has had to import 50,000 BOPD of light sweet from the US in order to maintain production.

Even with that, production is down to 2.4M bopd now from about 2.75M bopd a year ago. That reflects a 1M bopd drop from when Hugo Chavez took over as president in 1998.

9/26 – Fox News – Venezuelan children fainting in school because they are hungry – One very brave teacher is quoted by name. Last academic year about 10 children were absent from her class every day out of 30 students enrolled.

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Lots of malnutrition in Venezuela and conditions will get worse – 12

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Venezuela. It will get worse.

(cross-post from my other blog, Outrun Change, on August 12.)

8/5 – Miami Herald – Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children – Severe hunger is widespread in the country, causing children to pass out in class, killing some with malnutrition, leaving others vulnerable to malaria and mange due to lack of medicine.

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Level of human suffering still increases in Venezuela – 10

The country with the more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia is going through the following suffering. Image courtesy of Adobe Stoc.

A country with more oil reserves that Saudi Arabia has death-causing shortages of food and medicine. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

(Cross-post from my other blog.)

The humanitarian disaster in Venezuela keeps getting worse. Ponder for yourself what form of government created this crisis since no news reports will make the connection.

6/26 – Slate – How Much Worse Can Venezuela Get? / The country’s problems are profound and complex, with no easy answers in sight. – After the New York Times front page article noticed the humanitarian travesty, even Slate has an article by writers who noticed the suffering.

A few indicators of suffering these authors see? Food riots breaking out all over. Caracas is now the most violent city in the world. The government-owned and run oil company is seeing production drop because of neglect. Lack of medical supplies is causing unknown numbers of death. Dozens of political prisoners are in jail.

Article goes into more detail than usual as to the cause of the suffering. Corruption and general mismanagement are the most notable reasons cited.

The current turmoil is painted as conflict between the government and opposition in the legislature with both sides blaming the other as the cause of the problems. Most of the power is in the hands of the government with little likelihood of early resolution.

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Accelerating collapse of the Venezuelan economy – 9

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

(Cross-posted from my other blog. This was originally published on 6/20.)

The economic devastation and human suffering in Venezuela is getting worse by the day. Every article I see shows the economy has taken one more step towards utter collapse.

6/9 – Washington Post – As hunger mounts, Venezuelans turned to trash for food – A man who used to work at a bakery now searches garbage cans for food because he will starve if he doesn’t find something to eat in the trash.

He is joined by small business owners and retired people in the search for enough food to merely stay alive.

Number of people below the poverty line has skyrocketed from 52% as recently as 2014 up to 76% today.

I wonder what could have caused that devastation?

In the 535 word article, the only hint of the reason for this human suffering is citing the government’s claim that the political opposition is intentionally causing this suffering in order to throw the president out of power.

While the WP reporters are incapable of seeing the cause, at least they are able to see the suffering.

6/10 – AFT at Yahoo News – Venezuela lets Maduro recall advance, with threats – Article reports looting is increasing and more protests involve violence.

A protest by opposition legislators resulted in several of them getting beat up. Yes, legislators are getting beaten when they protest.

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Continuing human suffering in Venezuela due to government policies

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

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

(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: (more…)

Explanations for the collapsing Venezuelan economy that avoid the actual cause – 7

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

As the level of massive, avoidable, preventable, yet fully predictable suffering expands without end, we see two new explanations for the suffering.

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

5/18 – Daily Mail – No electricity, no antibiotics, no beds, no soap: A devastating look inside Venezuela’s crisis-hit hospitals where 7 babies die a day, bleeding patients lie strewn on the floor, and doctors try to operate without tools. Hospitals have minimal electricity, no soap, no antibiotics, no gloves, no x-rays.

Even The Guardian is seeing horrid problems in the socialist paradise.  Yes, The Guardian!

5/18 – The Guardian – Venezuelans on the food and economic crisis blighting their daily lives / Food shortages and soaring black market prices are making life a misery for  people across the country  – One person says that essentially every grocery store in Caracas has hundreds of people in line every day.

One woman says she has not been able to buy milk, sugar, or corn flour in about the last five months. Toilet paper, soap, and deodorant are very difficult to find as well, she said.

Article tells of supply trucks on their way to a grocery store being looted. There are 107 episodes of looting reported so far in 2016.

Article says many people are spending all their time trying to find food in the stores.

What caused this horrible humanitarian disaster? Here are two new explanations.

We finally know what caused all the suffering

1.It’s the fault of the political opposition

Aha! The Associated Press finally explains the cause of the economic collapse. It is the fault of the opposition political party creating a political standoff. They made this mess, not the current government.

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Venezuela continues slide into chaos – 6

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

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

Things are bad and likely to get far worse for the people living in Venezuela. More reports of looting are appearing in news stories. Read between the lines on the comment from a mayor who says that dogs and cats are disappearing from the streets.

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

5/14 – Zero Hedge – Scenes From the Venezuela Apocalypse: “Countless Wounded” After 5,000 Loot Supermarket Looking for Food – Opening photo shows over 100 soldiers (by my count) holding back a huge crowd on a street.

Article reports on several specific stores being looted with comments there have been many more in the last two weeks. There is so little food and when available it is expensive. More people are slipping into severe hunger. Widespread looting is the expected next step in the collapse of the country.

The mayor of Chacao in Caracas said the cats and dogs in the city are disappearing. Pigeons as well. That is traditionally a sign of famine.

5/13 – Reuters – U.S. concern grows over possible Venezuela meltdown – officials(more…)

Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy and increased suffering – 5

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The level of suffering is increasing and the economy continues collapsing in Venezuela.

A few articles to describe this live demonstration of the glorious success of socialism:

  • Food becoming scarcer.
  • Soldiers stealing goats so they have something to eat.
  • Hard core socialists blame the suffering on everything but socialism.
  • A better description of the cause. Also, comments that looting and rioting has started to appear.

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

5/2 – Business Insider – “We want out of this agony’: What it’s like to eat in a country that’s on the verge of collapse – Food is getting even more scarce in Venezuela. You have to stand in line for many hours in order to buy a few items that are on the shelf. Oh, there is little on the shelves.

Poor people are skipping meals because they can’t afford what little can be found, and what little they can find and afford comes with the additional price of standing in line all day.

5/4 – CNBC – How bad is it in Venezuela?  Soldiers are stealing goats – Six soldiers were arrested over the weekend by local police for stealing goats.

Why rip off goats?

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Ongoing deterioration in the Venezuelan economy – 4

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulb in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

The soon-to-be condition of working light bulbs in Venezuela. Photo by James Ulvog.

One old joke and two new ones:

  • What did socialists use before candles? Electricity.
  • Before tree leaves? Toilet paper.
  • Before the telegraph? Telephone and email.

Was planning to hold on to this post for a while, but the bad news is piling up too fast. Need to print this while it is still of readable length.

Bonus question for the day: What economic system is in place in Venezuela that is producing these results?

4/15 – Yahoo News – In Venezuela, no toilet paper and now lousy phone service The government distributes dollars as it wishes. It has not provided enough dollars to telephone companies and cable companies for them in turn to pay their providers. As a result several international telecoms have cut off long-distance services to the country. In addition vendors providing cable channels are cutting their services because they haven’t been paid.

As a result, telephone service is deteriorating and the number of channels available on cable TV is dropping.

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Continued deterioration in the Venezuelan economy

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The citizens of Venezuela continue to suffer at the hands of their elected officials.

Question for you to ponder: Is there a particular economic system that is causing all the suffering?

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

2/29 – AP at Fox News – Inflation-hit Venezuela to print bigger bills – Central Bank president says Venezuela will start printing 500 and 1,000 bolivar notes sometime. No date mentioned.

Largest bill in circulation is currently the 100 note. At exchange rates in effect a month ago or so, that would be worth about US$0.10. Largest bill in circulation is equal to about one American dime.

How can an economy function in such circumstances? Not very well.

3/4 – According to dolartoday.com, the exchange rate is 1,105 bolivars to the dollar. That means 100 bolivars is 9.05 cents.

3/18 – Exchange rate is 1,211, or 100 bolivars is 8.25 cents.

3/18 – Foundation for Economic Education – What Did Venezuela Use Before Candles? Electricity.

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Suffering increases in Venezuela, all as a result of official government policies

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

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

The level of suffering in Venezuela is increasing. All of the blame for the current and future suffering can be laid at the feet of the socialist government.

Previously mentioned Venezuela is in the early stages of hyperinflation:  Instead of reading about hyperinflation and economic collapse in history, you can watch it play out live. Tune in to Venezuela.

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

Some more discussion on the increased suffering:

2/6 – The Economist – The endgame in Venezuela – A few stats from the article:

Government acknowledges that for the 12 months ending 9/2015, inflation was 141% and the economy shrank 7.1%.

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