This is what the lack of freedom looks like (Venezuela #11)
(Cross-posted from my other blog, which was originally posted on 5/31/16.)
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?
It isn’t until the tenth paragraph that you see any discussion of the cause for this human tragedy. Low oil prices, a long-term decline in economic production which has no identified cause, and a drought are the only reasons mentioned.
Way down in the 26th and 27th paragraphs there is deeper discussion of the cause. First is the government’s claim of the elites waging economic war against the country and the US government trying to destabilize the leaders. Then there is a weak counterargument that many years of “economic mismanagement”, too much reliance on oil, and price controls are more likely the cause.
No hint anywhere in the article that the socialist government has nationalization most of the economy. (That means political hacks run companies instead of people who understand how to run the operations.)
No mention of the government-imposed, harshly disruptive price controls. (To illustrate the problem, how much inventory would you sell if you buy an item for $5.00, are required to sell it at $3.00, and after incurring a loss you still have to pay your staff, and thus have to heavily subsidize every item you sell out of your own pocket? How long could you stay in business?)
No mention of the stringent government-imposed currency controls. (Which means that soda and beer producers cannot get raw material.)
No linkage of the lack of electricity with the nationalized power company failing to investing any money in either maintaining capacity or building new electric generating ability.
No mention in the article anywhere of socialism itself having anything to do with the widespread and growing human misery.
This is what the lack of economic and political freedom looks like.
On this Memorial Day I am so grateful for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the United States (and much of the world) may have political, economic, and religious freedom.