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…)

This is what the lack of freedom looks like

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The cost of freedom. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

This freedom stuff is not just some abstract concept. The lack of economic, political, or religious freedom is ugly and painful.

If you want to see what the lack of economic and political freedom looks like, consider Venezuela today.

5/20 – Yahoo News – Venezuela, where a hamburger is officially $170 – That hamburger priced at 1,700 bolivars is US$170 at the official exchange rate. At black market exchange rates it is about a buck and a half.

Article reports that the middle class is sliding into  poverty. Keep in mind people are essentially paid at the official exchange rate.

Stores that sell anything other than food are closed. Article says nobody is buying anything other than food.

What is going on in Venezuela?

5/28 – New York Times – Venezuela Drifts Into New territory: Hunger, Blackouts and Government Shutdown – The New York Times notices the devastation afflicting the people of Venezuela.

Government offices are only open two half-days each week.

Article says protests at empty grocery stores are turning violent.

The bottler producing Coca-cola products cannot find sugar so it is halting production.

Other suffering this article doesn’t mention:

No toilet paper on the grocery store shelf and no international phone service.

The country’s largest beer producer can’t get enough foreign currency to buy hops so it has stopped making beer.

Water is rationed.

Electricity is only available sometimes and randomly at that.

Infants are dying in hospitals because of lack of medicine and respirators.

Back to the NYT article.

When water is on, people are gathering some in spare buckets for use later. The water (when available) is brownish and is making members of one quoted family sick. Many people say either lack of washing or the water itself is causing illness.

What is the cause of this suffering?

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To all those serving in the American military or who have served

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I was on active duty in the U.S. Air Force a mere four years. I never got within 3,000 miles of hostile action against American forces. To top it off, my small contribution was decades ago.

As a result, I am squeamishly uncomfortable accepting the appreciation when someone tells me “Thanks for your service.”

It took me a few years to get to a place where I could accept those comments.

I now graciously and proudly accept those expressions of appreciation from my fellow Americans, not because of what I did so long ago, but on behalf of all those soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who do not have someone looking them in the eye, shaking their hand, and saying “thanks.”

So for all those troops pulling alerts, standing watch, scheduling logistics, or taking fire, please know that vast numbers of Americans are grateful for your service.

I pass on to you their thanks.

You are there, not here, so many people have thanked me instead. It is you they are really thanking.

While today we remember with gratitude those who did not return, I hope those who are serving today hear the appreciation.

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.

(more…)

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?

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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%.

(more…)

Why I am so optimistic – 3

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The number of people working in manufacturing has been declining for many years. Those job losses will continue at the same time as technology disrupts other industries causing the loss of more jobs.

This is not a new concept. Technological advances have devastated farm employment over the last 150 years.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Prof. Thomas Tunstall pondered Where the New Jobs Will Come From. Sub headline on his 11/4/15 article said:

In 2007 iPhone application developers didn’t exist. By 2011 Apple had $15 billion in mobile-app revenues.

Consider the percentage of the population employed in agriculture over time: (more…)

Why I am so optimistic – 2

200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Previously mentioned when I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic. When I look at the headlines this morning or news from the political world, I am very discouraged.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

To see one illustration of why I am so optimistic for the long-term, check out a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Earlier post summarized in one paragraph what caused this radical improvement.

Here are a final two points from the article I’d like to highlight:

Second, it is possible for us collectively to turn back history.

(more…)

Why I am so optimistic – 1

200 years ago subsistence agriculture was the norm across the planet. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

200 years ago brutal poverty was the norm across the planet. Not so today. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

When I look at the political news or any news in general I get very pessimistic about our future.

In contrast, when I look at the amazing things happening beyond the headlines in today’s newspaper I feel incredibly optimistic.

Consider that private companies are developing the technology for space exploration. Consider the energy revolution created by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Consider radical changes in technology that are making so many things easier, faster, and cheaper. Consider that anyone that wants to do so can publish their own book, distribute their own music, or create a feature movie.

As a tiny illustration, look at my company and pastimes. Technology allows me to run a high quality CPA practice without any staff. In my spare time I am a publisher and journalist. Anyone in Europe or North America or most of Asia could easily do the same and at minimal cost.

(Cross post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

When I look at long-term economic trends I am incredibly optimistic.

For yet one more explanation of why that is the case, consider a column by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today: Actually, things are pretty good / Free markets and free inquiry have changed the historic ‘norms’ of poverty and violence.

Until relatively recently, an illness-filled short life of dirt-eating poverty was the normal condition for practically everybody on the planet. In the last 100 or 200 years life has gotten radically better for practically everyone.

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“Corruption Is Just a Symptom, Not the Disease”

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Professors Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson explain Corruption Is Just a Symptom, Not the Disease / To end global poverty, stop tolerating national institutions that serve greedy elites and suck poor countries dry, on 12/5 in the Wall Street Journal.

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

Corruption is the highly visible symptom of much deeper issues.

The real problem?

The lack of an operating justice system. The lack of accountability. The lack of a free press that can actually get away with challenging those in power – that means reporters don’t get beat up, thrown in jail, or killed when they irritate political leaders.

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Do you really want to give up your freedom and become a serf?

What could possibly go wrong with giving a leader the power to fix all our problems? There is a great chance said leader will use that power to force people to fix things. You could wind up being told in microscopic detail every single thing you can do.

That would merely cost you your freedom and make you a serf.

In musical terms, that might be called, oh, perhaps something like Serfdom USA:

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To sort through the question of how to share economic and health progress with everyone, check out a book from the winner of this year’s Nobel award in economics

Cover of Prof. Deaton's book, used under fair use, courtesy of Amazon.com

Cover of Prof. Deaton’s book, used under fair use for this review, courtesy of Amazon.com

Why have we seen such dramatic improvement in average wealth and average life expectancy everywhere in the last 100 or 200 years? What has led to a radical reduction in the number of people living in dirt-eating poverty in the last 50 years?

Over the last few years I have focused a lot of my reading on economics and history trying to figure out the answers to those questions. Why?

If we figure out the answer to those questions we can continue in the same direction. If we sort out how we got here, we can share that strategy with those who have not shared in the progress. If you want a different phrasing, we can radically narrow economic inequality within countries and between countries if we can answer those questions. We can help get even more people out of dirt-eating poverty.

I think those goals are in the back of the mind for most readers of this blog. (Cross posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

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