Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Freedom continues to evaporate in Venezuela as misery continues to increase. Hmm. Why do those two trends typically seem to accompany each other?

What economic system produces this result? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ponder what economic system produced this suffering, misery, and loss of freedom.

4/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Antigovernment Protests Turn Deadly – Teargas and gunfire broke up widespread protests on Wednesday.

The death toll rises. Two dead on Wednesday with many more surviving gunshots they received. Seven dead in the last month. Forty-two dead in 2014.

Shooting protesters after stealing all their guns is just how authoritarians and totalitarians tend to roll:

4/19/17 – Washington Free Beacon – Socialist Venezuela Leader Steps up Arming of Supporters After Outlawing, Confiscating Civilian Guns – The government has spent the last five years confiscating guns from private citizens. That’s what authoritarian, totalitarians, and other bad governments do.

Why?

So they can’t defend themselves.

From what might individuals need to defend themselves from?

How about 400,000 loyalists who are going to be armed by the government?

The dictator-in-all-but-official-title announced he was going to arm all the militias that support him.

Who will they use those guns on?

Guess. Take a wild guess.

The standard cover story for grabbing guns is to reduce violence. Such was the argument in Venezuela.

For an indication of the utter failure of that plan, here are some murder statistics from the article for you to ponder:

  • 73 murders per 100,000 inhabitants – Venezuela before the gun grab
  • 91.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants – Venezuela in 2016, after 4 years of the gun ban
  • 5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants – U.S. in 2015

That plan didn’t work out so well, huh?

4/3 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuelan Reality Check – At the instruction of the president, the country’s supreme court withdrew its order to take all power from the national assembly and give their power to the supreme court.

That means the president is only in control of the supreme court, the rest of the judicial branch, the military, police, and militia. The only power base he doesn’t control in the national assembly, their congress.

4/1 – New York Times – Ranks of Political Prisoners Grow as Democracy Ebbs in Venezuela – The number of political prisoners in prison had grown from 89 a year ago to at least 114 today.

In addition, an unknown number of people have been arrested, interrogated, held for a few days, sometimes without food and water, then released.

Political tyranny typically accompanies economic tyranny.

Your homework project: what economic system is underlying all this suffering?

4/4/17 – Reason – Venezuela Reminds Us That Socialism Frequently Leads to Dictatorship – It is not just coincidence that socialist governments frequently result in dictatorships.

The decline in freedom, disintegrating economy, and eventual loss of democracy ending in dictatorship is a reasonably foreseeable path for countries to travel once they get serious about socialism.

Article explains the Frederich Hayek laid this out in his book The Road to Serfdom.

The extremely short version of the story, as spelled out in the article, is that for centralized planning to work, power needs to be centralized to make sure everyone follows the centralized plan. No one person, or small group of persons, can know all the details needed to make an economy work. Thus, shortages develop, prices rise, and there are long lines outside stores with limited stock on the shelves.

Well, that obviously means there needs to be more centralized planning to fix the shortages and more centralized power to make sure the plan is followed.

Ongoing unexpected and unforseen problems continue and the crises become more frequent.

Repeat the cycle a few more times and democracy goes by the wayside.

Article reminds us that the Venezuelan government has put in place price controls, wage controls, trade restrictions, expropriations of private  property (repeatedly), currency restrictions, and required production output (see previous discussions on bakeries).

Venezuela is merely the latest illustration of the suffering and misery typically produced by socialism.

4/20/17 – Wall Street Journal – GM Ceases Operation in Venezuela as Plant is Seized – Two thousand seven hundred workers were laid off after the government seized the GM plant, inventory, and bank accounts.

That is just one more in the string of 1,400 companies seized by the government. The majority of those companies stopped all activity.

Car production had already collapsed in the country due to inability to import parts.

And the misery worsens as 2,700 workers are out of a job.

(As an aside, could someone please explain to me how the intentional loss of freedom visible in all of the above articles can in any way, shape, or form be considered moral?)

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