A Sobering Lesson for America’s Socialist Wannabes
Psalms 146:3 HCSB Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save.
I find what is going on in Venezuela right now to be very instructive. Collapsed oil prices and gross government mismanagement have combined to produce this hemisphere’s worst economic downturn and its highest inflation rate which have led to huge spikes in violent crime and mind-boggling corruption. High ranking government officials stand accused of flagrant human and civil rights abuses, and even of open involvement in the drug trade.
Government centralization and currency controls have sent the bolivar into a free fall on the black market. Even before the oil prices started to fall, the country’s inflation was already the highest in the world, at 63.6%. Venezuela has been spending more than it has earned and suddenly, with the single commodity of oil in decline, it has found it income cut in half. Its economy will likely shrink by 7% this year. Yet Maduro still promised a 15% increase in salaries and additional funds for social aid programs. The plan? They are going to “stimulate” the economy by injecting more money into Caracas’ new subway line.
Caracas Is now listed as the third most violent city in the world. Whole cites stagger under the de facto rule of mobile street gangs and organized crime groups. The barrios serve as safe havens for these gangs who use the barrios as their bases of operations. Murder, robbery, and kidnapping occurs all over the city at all hours of every night. Even the wealthy are not exempt. They regularly are kidnapped, and see their homes invaded or subject to armed robbery. Still reeling from 24,000 murders in 2013, patrons of the few remaining restaurants and bars are routinely patted down for weapons. Roads are badly lit and poorly maintained if they are at all and gangs often place obstacles to puncture the tires so that they can stop you and rob you.
Venezuelans are also experiencing shortages of food and medical supplies. The shortage of basic goods has actually reached a critical stage. People spend almost all their fee time standing in long lines outside grocery stores in what is usually a vain attempt to locate scarce food products. Many try to sell some alternative service like ironing or cleaning to get by but the more they have to stand in lines to get food, the less time they have to work. It becomes a catch 22 situation. Yet the government has ordered the use of fingerprint machines to control how much individuals can buy and prosecutes anyone who tries to stockpile food or other commodities.
The spiraling shortage of medical supplies makes doctor’s practices miserable at best and impossible at worst. The Venezuelan Association of Clinics and Hospitals estimates more than three-quarters of the items they need are in scarce supply. They can’t even find a simple anesthesia like lidocaine anymore. Life-saving surgeries have become almost impossible. Criminals have begun mugging doctors for their rare supplies to sell them on the black market. As a result doctors and nurses are emigrating from the nation in droves.
Meanwhile, opposition media is being closed, the educational system has become an indoctrinating branch of the government and even private school curriculum is being controlled. Any independent effort and solving the economic crisis is being crushed.
And what form of government took one of the richest and most modern countries in South America and turned it into this debacle? It was a socialistic, highly centralized form that tried to act as a Nanny State and slowly but surely took over the major industries because their intelligentsia knew better than the “proletariat” and would not allow the market to freely react to changing conditions. Sound familiar? It should.