The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Venezuela Revisited—Again

I wonder how many of the starry-eyed Bernie Sanders fans know anything whatsoever about Venezuela. For the sake of those younger fans (mostly college students and recent grads) who don't know much about the country: Venezuela is less than a 3-hour flight from Miami. Just 20 years ago, it was a vibrant country, rich with oil wealth. It did, however, have "income inequality" problems like all South American countries. A socialist demagogue by the name of Hugo Chavez convinced starry-eyed young Venezuelans and the "working class" that socialism and big government control would give them better lives. Like all socialists, Chavez lied.

How do we know? Let's look at Venezuela today, less than two decades after Chavez's ideas were implemented. John Hinderaker reports:
Venezuela’s disastrous experiment with socialism is nearing its inevitable end. The Financial Times has the numbers:
The year 2015 was an annus horribilis in Venezuela with a 10 per cent decline in gross domestic product, following a 4 per cent fall in 2014. Inflation reached over 200 per cent. The fiscal deficit ballooned to 20 per cent of GDP, funded mainly by the printing press.

In the free market, the bolivar has lost 92 per cent of its value in the past 24 months, with the dollar costing 150 times the official rate: the largest exchange rate differential ever registered. Shortages and long queues in the shops have made daily life very difficult.
That’s putting it mildly. Imagine there’s no toilet paper, as John Lennon once sang. Or should have, anyway.
As bad as these numbers are, 2016 looks dramatically worse. Imports, which had already been compressed by 20 per cent in 2015 to $37bn, would have to fall by over 40 per cent, even if the country stopped servicing its debt. President Maduro’s socialist government apparently has no strategy to deal with the impending catastrophe. It shapes up as one of the most appalling economic and fiscal collapses in world history.
If Bernie Sanders gets the Democrat nomination, the bumper stickers from the GOP write themselves:
  • Socialism? Look what its done for Venezuela!
I really do wish that someone would ask Bernie about our southern neighbor. I'll even give our eminent journalist the question:
Q:  Mr. Sanders, you're a proud socialist. How do you explain the failure of socialism in our southern neighbor, Venezuela. After 20 years of socialism, that country now has -10% GDP growth, inflation at 200%, continuing devaluation of its currency, and massive unemployment. Corruption abounds and shortages of everything including toilet paper lead to long lines and very angry citizens. How can the voters of this country be sure that your socialist proposals won't lead to the same disastrous results?
I know, I know, Bernie would say its an unfair comparison, that Venezuela didn't implement socialism correctly—just like all of other countries that have been crippled or destroyed by socialism over the past 100 years.


This comment from Investor's Business Daily:
It’s worrisome that so many Americans see socialism in a favorable light these days. A May 2015 YouGov poll showed that socialism was viewed favored favorably by 43% of Democrats, while a June 2015 Gallup poll showed that 47% of Americans would vote for a socialist.

It points to a collective loss of memory. After all, it’s been decades since the fact that the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet empire collapsed. As chess champion Garry Kasparov has noted in “Winter Is Coming,” there have been no truth commissions or victory parades to institutionalize the monstrous idea’s discreditation and demise. In fact, the idea seems to be resurging in the U.S. Democratic Party, even with examples of its failures continuing, the latest example being Venezuela.

That reality of socialism and its horrific results is mocked by Sanders himself, who denies it has anything to do with his own ideas. “I myself don’t use the word socialism,” he told a University of Vermont student publication in 1976 “because people have been brainwashed into thinking socialism automatically means slave-labor camps, dictatorship and lack of freedom of speech.”

Brainwashed? The very word comes from socialist indoctrination practices. Sanders’ flip dismissal of those realities reminds us of a quote from Nobel Prize winner and author of “The Gulag Archipelago” Aleksander Solzhenitsyn: “Or do they refuse to see?” Yes, Sanders and his followers refuse.
Like almost every aspect of Leftist doctrine, adherents refuse to examine anything but their narrative. After all, they are the inventors of the "safe place" where only leftist doctrine enters. They "refuse to see."

Part of the problem is that much of the media leans left, and it refuses to present information that might weaken the narrative. So a vicious cycle results. Demagogues like Sanders suggest that socialism will work. That it will benefit the downtrodden. That "free" stuff can be had if only the rich would pay for it all.

History, a far more reliable source, shows us that socialism fails—Every. Single. Time. It. Has. Been. Tried.

UPDATE (2/11/16):
In yet another modern day example of the wonders of the socialist model, we have this Wall Street Journal report from Venezuela:
CARACAS—Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s government began implementing a power-rationing program that will force more than 100 malls to close for hours on weekdays unless they can generate their own electricity.

Under the three-month plan, malls have to find their own power sources from 1 to 3 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m., according to the Electricity Ministry, adding the measure would help Venezuela cope with a severe drought weighing on its hydroelectric plants.

“That hour between 7 and 8 is when we make most of our sales,” said Ruben Peña, a shoe-store manager at a mall in the Caracas neighborhood of Bello Campo. “We’re not sure how we’re going to make it out of this.”

The oil-rich South American country has long struggled with a shaky nationalized power grid despite billions of dollars in state investment since a 2009 electricity emergency. Business leaders warn that the latest cuts are likely to further cripple commercial activity in an economy already rattled by triple-digit inflation and chronic product shortages. The International Monetary Fund estimated the economy would contract 8% this year after shrinking 10% in 2015, making Venezuela the world’s worst-performing economy.
Hmmm. I'm sure Bernie Sanders would be proud of yet another triumph for socialism. I also have to wonder how the starry-eyed college kids who support him would react when the malls go dark and they can no longer shop at J. Crew.