Venezuela's Magnificent, Well-Deserved Economic Collapse

A majority of the voters of Venezuela are thieves. They have tried to vote themselves prosperity through the welfare state.

This preference for theft by the ballot box has now blown up in their faces.


To imagine that theft produces any other result is to imagine that (1) dishonesty is the best policy, (2) thieves win in the long run, and (3) private property is theft.

Venezuelans elected and re-elected the long-winded socialist Hugo [OOgowe] Chavez. Chavez was a tin-horn dictator whose role model — rhetorically and ideologically — was Fidel Castro. He loved to give three-hour speeches. He loved to hear himself talk.

After Chavez died of cancer, Venezuelans voted for his hand-picked successor, a former bus driver. Maduro carries on Chavez’s policies.

Chavez’s state took oil income and created massive bureaucracies, where his political cronies prospered. He let some of this money trickle down to the voters, who re-elected him four times.

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Venezuela was Cuba with oil income. But now oil revenues are down. The free market is crippled. Maduro has now doubled down on welfare state tyranny. The government confiscates vital resources, such as food. Food shortages are universal. The government rations it.

The worse the economy gets, the more Maduro’s government tightens the screws. It’s the grab-bag of welfare state policies: price controls, food rationing, calls for citizens to cut back on consumption, and tirades against unnamed enemies.

So horrendous is the disaster that the New York Times ran this editorial:

As the effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela by referendum gains support, his government is ratcheting up repression. On Friday, Mr. Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency, saying it was necessary to quash what he described as a “coup” and confront “all the international and national threats our nation is facing.”The threats Venezuelans face today are not the result of foreign or domestic conspiracies, but Mr. Maduro’s disastrous leadership. On his watch, the country’s health care system has atrophied so severely that scores of Venezuelans are dying every week because of chronic shortages of medicine and ill-equipped hospitals.

Violence has soared as armed gangs loyal to the government roam the streets. During the first three months of this year, 4,696 people were murdered in Venezuela, according to the government, and in 2015 more than 17,700 were killed. The three-month death toll is higher than the 3,545 civilians killed last year in Afghanistan, a record number.

Shortages of food and basic goods are likely to worsen as Venezuela’s economy continues to contract this year. Political prisoners, meanwhile, have languished behind bars for years, victims of a corrupt and broken justice system.

This crisis has exposed the hollow promise of the socialist policies Mr. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, have peddled since the late 1990s. While many Venezuelans got a taste of prosperity in better housing, subsidized food and higher wages when oil prices were high — oil accounts for roughly 96 percent of Venezuela’s exports — the government failed to build anything resembling a sustainable economy. It also failed to save when money was flowing in, which would have softened the impact of the recession that began in 2014.

All this is true, and much, much more.

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