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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Venezuela—A Quarterly Visit

Every quarter or so, I revisit the country of Venezuela to explore whether ever-tighter socialist control of a once prosperous South American country will turn around the disastrous consequences of the rule of socialist Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro. Like many Leftists, Chavez (now deceased) and Murduro are true believers—anti-Capitalist, redistributionist reformers who promised that they would improve the lot of the populace at the expense of "the rich." They and some of their supporters became very rich, but they also instituted a totalitarian state as their policies failed and the country spiraled into chaos.

Ed Feulner and Ana Quintana report the sad details:
For the past 21 years, The Heritage Foundation has published its annual Index of Economic Freedom, which looks at the economic freedom of countries throughout the world. In that period of time, Venezuela’s score has declined the most out of any country, going from 59.8 to 27.0 (on a scale of 1-100). It is now in second-to-last place, right behind Cuba and better only than North Korea.

Adding to Venezuela’s economic crisis is its skyrocketing inflation rate. The International Monetary Fund estimates a 2016 inflation rate of 475 percent, an enormous increase from 2015’s already crushing rate of 275 percent. For 2017, the situation is estimated to become much worse, with a sharp rise of 1660 percent.

Mismanagement of the economy has created a humanitarian disaster beyond comprehension. The capital city of Caracas is now the most dangerous non-war zone in the world, with 120 murders for every 100,000 residents. Venezuelans live in fear knowing they are more likely to be kidnapped in their own country than are the citizens of Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

To combat the epidemic of food scarcity, the government put the military in charge of the country’s food management and distribution systems. Yet that only seems to make matters worse. The AP recently reported that the military is taking advantage of the country’s food shortages by profiting from food trafficking.

The deteriorating conditions in health care show just how serious the crisis is. Chronic shortages of medicine have rendered hospitals essentially useless. The World Health Organization estimates that there are shortages for 75 percent of necessary medications and medical supplies such as antibiotics, vaccines, and scalpels.

Blackouts resulting from a crumbling energy infrastructure are a daily occurrence. The death of newborns has become a common phenomenon, with one doctor saying “the death of a baby is our daily bread.” Infectious diseases once kept under control have surged. Cases of diphtheria and malaria are re-emerging, and the number of Zika infections is estimated to be “nearly 700,000,” according to a Venezuelan health organization.
Interesting that the main stream media avoids reporting on the plight of our South American neighbor. Whether it's the NYT, CNN, WaPo, 60 Minutes, NBC, ABC, or any other source, it's a typical example of bias by omission. I suspect that's because Venezuela doesn't fit nicely into any left-wing narrative of a socialist utopia. It's also interesting that when politicians like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warran or the new rising star, Keith Ellison are interviewed, there's never a question that probes their assessment of why Venezuela is in a death spiral.

There are many Democrats who are arguing that their party needs to move even further left. I wonder whether they even consider the possibility that the end state (many years hence) of far-left rule could be something akin to Venezuela.