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

Monday, May 22, 2023

Venezuela—Revisited Still Again

It occurred to me that I haven't done a review of the socialist experiment in Venezuela since 2018. Here's what Wikipedia says about Venezuela* today (references in original):

The crisis in Venezuela is an ongoing socioeconomic and political crisis that began in Venezuela during the presidency of Hugo Chávez and has worsened in Nicolás Maduro's presidency. It has been marked by hyperinflation, escalating starvation,[6] disease, crime and mortality rates, resulting in massive emigration from the country.[7]

The situation is by far the worst economic crisis in Venezuela's history, and is also the worst facing a country in peacetime since the mid-20th century. The crisis is often considered to be more severe than that of the United States during the Great Depression, the 1985–1994 Brazilian economic crisis, or the 2008–2009 hyperinflation in Zimbabwe ...

The crisis has affected the life of the average Venezuelan on all levels. By 2017, hunger had escalated to the point where almost seventy-five percent of the population had lost an average of over 8 kg (over 19 lbs) in weight[a] and more than half did not have enough income to meet their basic food needs.[42] A UN report estimated in March 2019 that 94% of Venezuelans lived in poverty,[43][44] and by 2021 almost twenty percent of Venezuelans (5.4 million) had left their country.[45][46] The UN analysis estimates in 2019 that 25% of Venezuelans need some form of humanitarian assistance. Venezuela led the world in murder rates, with 81.4 per 100,000 people killed in 2018, making it the third most violent country in the world.[47]

Socialism and its extreme extension, communism, never works. And yet, there are those on the left who insist it is a kinder, gentler replacement for Capitalism, even though every shred of historical evidence indicates that it destroys—freedom, lives, and economies. 

Of course, true believers—the Bernie Sanders of the world—will never admit that any of that is true. They'll argue that socialism just wasn't done correctly; that corrupt people were in charge, or that the United States somehow undermined the utopian experiment. Fantasy thinkers tend to find excuses the negate reality all the time.

In a modern context, socialism often begins with an democratic vote in a country that has real or perceived inequality. It's proponents gain the support of a leftist intelligencia (academics, college students, media, entertainment, the arts) that are actually as ignorant of history as they are lacking in an understanding of basic human nature. Once that occurs, the intelligencia work to swing large groups of low-information voters who are perfectly willing to believe their utopian claims. BTW, it's almost always the low information voters who suffer the most deprivation as socialism does it's job of destruction. Once voted into power, centralized government expands and soon after, authoritarianism destroys freedom. Bad policy driven by leftist fervor destroys economic growth and as a consequence, lives. 

And you get a Venezuela—a country that USIP characterizes as "an unprecedented social and humanitarian collapse—the result of bad economic policies and political conflict—that has led to food insecurity, the second largest migration crisis in the world, and regional instability."

But please, listen to the true believers—it's not socialism's fault, it's that it wasn't done correctly. Just don't tell that to any of the 5.4 million Venezuelan's who have fled to country.


* It's worth noting that little more than 22 years ago, Venezuela was the richest country in South America.