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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Venezuela Revisited ... Again

It's always worthwhile to revisit Venezuela, South America's touted experiment in a socialist utopia. Hundreds of thousand have fled the once oil-rich country. Food and medicine shortages abound, the economy has crumbled, and the socialist leaders use ever more draconian measures to stifle unrest so that they can maintain their desperate grasp on power. I can still remember when Hollywood glitterati, leftwing media sources, and many Democrats had a quiet love affair the Hugo Chavez, the father of this debacle. Oh well, never mind.

Jonah Goldberg comments:
For the last decade, the New York Times has covered the socialism of both Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro with the same sophisticated nuance it long applied to Cuba. Over the weekend, it ran a heart-wrenching story on how Venezuela’s poor children are dying from starvation. But the culpability of Chavism, Venezuela’s brand of socialism, is something the reader has to bring to the page. Such passive detachment between cause (in this case socialist policies) and effect (mass misery and starvation) is rarely found when the Times reports on, say, Republican economic policy.

The disconnect between socialism’s record and its invincible appeal also stems from leftists’ denial of what it really entails. Thus Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, dragged the Labor Party away from its official socialist dogma about the need for the “common ownership of the means of production.”

“Socialism for me,” he said, “was never about nationalization or the power of the state, not just about economics or even politics. It is a moral purpose to life, a set of values, a belief in society, in cooperation, in achieving together what we cannot achieve alone.” That’s why he rejected socialism in favor of what he called “social-ism.”

Similarly, Bernie bros focus on social solidarity rather than political economy.

But even this watered down spirit of “we’re all in it together” — whether you call it socialism or nationalism — can do enormous damage. It is very hard to reconcile with democracy and the rule of law, unless there’s a dire national crisis, and even then it may cause grave damage.

I don’t want America to be Denmark. But at least Denmark recognizes that social democracy requires democracy, free speech and the rule of law to keep it from turning into Venezuela on the Baltic. I wouldn’t be so concerned about the rising support for socialism among young people in the United States, save for the fact it’s been accompanied by a modest decline in support for democracy, too.
Socialism follows the inch-and-mile rule. Given an inch (e.g., modest healthcare programs designed to help the most vulnerable among us), socialists want a mile (e.g., universal government-run health care that will control nearly every aspect of our health).

And therein lies the problem. In the United States, it's no wonder that the Left has become hysterical over the recent tax reform package. It threatens any long term strategy they has to move from inches to miles. Why? Because citizens keep more of their own money rather than giving it to the likes of Bernie Sanders or Liz Warren to spend.

But back to Venezuela. As if economic catastrophe isn't enough, Venezuela, like many other socialist states (Cuba comes to mind) has careened toward a police state where totalitarianism become the brutal reality. Today, The Wall Street Journal presents an investigative report entitled: "Venezuela’s Brutal Crime Crackdown: Executions, Machetes and 8,292 Dead: Beleaguered regime kills guilty and innocent alike in poor barrios, often with shots to the heart." So during their last mile, the Leftist leaders in Venezuela, have decided that indiscriminate murder is a viable approach in their desperate attempt maintain power as the country they destroyed implodes.

To paraphrase Goldberg, I don't want America to become Venezuela, and if socialists have half a brain, I suspect that they wouldn't want that either.