Life Under Socialism
Hat to Arnold Kling at EconLog
Ibsen Martinez writes about life in Chavez's Venezuela and follies of his policies.
Consider breakfast. My breakfast, to be exact. It's been months since I have had an oatmeal breakfast or a nice cup of espresso with a drop of milk because coffee and milk has literally vanished from supermarkets' shelves since last November. And that includes "Mercal", the government's supermarket network where the poor are supposed to buy food at subsidized low prices
The reason? Stiff price controls, of course, and fixed currency rates that have been going on for 5 years, too.
You gotta hand it to these tried and truly disastrous policies of top down control of market forces....especially in the name of the poor and needy....oh, the irony.
Well, we can always the official spin from the Chavez regime and call it:
"comprehensive, humanist, endogenous and socialist development of the nation."
What all this amounts to is what Martinez calls "petropolitics"....using oil revenues to finance heavy-handed redistribution schemes.
As Martinez so bluntly puts it:
The hard fact is that, no matter how "humanist" and "endogenous" a petrostate's welfare and social policies are conceived, oil just does not create jobs.
Indeed. Extraction industries...not just oil...are great for the extractors but do little to spur growth that raises living standards and aids in the creation of a dynamic job-generating economy.
Throw in the fact that the state is the business owner and you have a text book example of a corrupt and cronyism-laden outfit that is anything but "socialistic" in even the most generous use of the term.
Yes, Chavez's warmed-over socialism is unraveling. Good thing for him that a lot of those petro-dollars (the U.S. is his biggest customers and biggest boogeyman all at the same time) have gone into a strong military and police force. Recently, troops had to quell riots when looters were breaking into the local state supermarket to steal basics that were being sold above price control levels.
How surreal. Two wrongs don't a make a right...this example is no exception.
Sympathetic left-leaning journalists are having a hard time understanding what the problem could be....my, my they never do learn, do they?