Skip to comments.Chavismo and Us
Posted on 03/08/2013 5:44:51 AM PST by Kaslin
"One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again." --Dr. Thomas Sowell
The Berlin Wall was demolished by joyful Europeans throwing off the chains of collectivism nearly a quarter century ago. The Soviet Union, its fraudulent promise of a "workers' paradise" long since proved a bitter delusion, fell soon after. But the idea that government control over the economy can improve the lives of ordinary people, particularly the poor, does not die.
Hugo Chavez clawed his way to total power the way other demagogues and thugs -- from Lenin to Peron to Castro to Correa -- have done, by promising to redistribute the nation's wealth (Lenin and Castro also used guns). Like them, Chavez maintained power by crippling the democratic institutions of his nation.
American "useful idiots" are undisturbed by thuggish repression, like shutting down newspapers and opposition television and radio stations, jailing "dissidents," harassing minorities (the Jews, in Chavez's case) and giving aid to narco-terrorists and murdering dictators (as Chavez did with Ahmadinejad, Castro and Assad), so long as he redistributes wealth, sows class hatred, and condemns the United States. Jimmy Carter, cementing his status as the most shameful former president in U.S. history, praised Chavez's "commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen." Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat, tweeted "Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President." An assortment of Hollywood dunces -- Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Oliver Stone -- have at various times paid tribute to the fulminating despot.
With its huge supply of oil and an educated and urbanized middle class, Venezuela ought to be among the wealthiest countries in the world. Yet since Chavez took power 14 years ago, Venezuela's economy has been ravaged. Even with the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela's growth has lagged behind other Latin American nations. Because Chavez nationalized, expropriated or destroyed other industries, Venezuela's exports now consist almost entirely of oil, whereas pre-Chavez, oil accounted for 77 percent of exports.
Chavez spent many millions on programs for the poor. Yet his assault on the private economy hurt the poor most of all. The currency has been devalued five times in the past 10 years and has lost 66 percent of its value since 2008. Inflation has been running at more than 23 percent annually, robbing the poor, along with everyone else, of purchasing power.
The government's response to food shortages has been two-fold -- forcing producers to meet quotas and placing price controls on more than 400 items. Like Stalin before him, Chavez resorted to his own version of the "saboteur" accusation against businessmen attempting to survive in his tightly regulated world. Forty butchers were arrested in 2010 for charging more than the permitted price for beef. Here's AP: "The government says butchers can charge 17 bolivars -- about $4 -- for a kilogram of beef. Butchers say they have to pay 14 bolivars -- about $3 -- for the meat, leaving them no margin to cover the other costs of their business." In addition to meat, there are chronic shortages of eggs, flour, oil, sugar and gasoline.
Since the nationalization of the electrical power industry in 2007, Venezuela has been plagued by blackouts. Every region of the country is affected several times a week.
And then there is crime. Venezuela had a high crime rate before Chavez, but the murder rate has more than tripled since he took power, making Caracas the most dangerous city on earth. Venezuela now suffers more murders than the United States and the European Union combined, though its population is only 1/28th as large. Most often victimized? The poor. Chavez has opened Venezuela's doors to drug traffickers and tolerates corruption among the police. The U.S. State Department warns travelers of the danger of robbery and kidnapping as soon as they arrive at the airport. ". . . Individuals wearing what appear to be official uniforms or other credentials are involved in facilitating or perpetrating these crimes."
The Chavez legacy is a quintupled national debt, crumbling infrastructure (including hospitals), shortages of food, clean water, electrical power, and gasoline, high inflation, and devastating crime. And that doesn't include the wreckage that Chavismo has made of Venezuela's political culture.
The poor have done much better in free market countries like Chile, Peru, and Brazil. But those on the left, including Chavez's American admirers, will never learn -- or perhaps they just don't care.
“Those who ignore (or are proudly ignorant of) HISTORY are doomed to repeat it.”
In the USA, a now majority of the populace is either ignoring or is ignorant of history and its lessons.
The “lessons of history” have been corrupted and twisted by the “education” industry to the point that the younger part of our citizenry have acquired a knowledge foundation built on shifting sands.
All three, the political, economic and military histories of the USA have been re-written in the name of Progressive forward movement. We are in deep trouble.
I know a fellow who met a man from Venezuela who said he was kidnapped by Chavez and sent to Cuba and only released after he paid ransom by selling his land and cattle.
This is how Hugo managed his fund raising.
Voters chose a novice with plenty of star power in 2008 and will be inclined to swing strongly in the other direction in 2012. Americans will be looking for sober competence, managerial skill, and maturity not sizzle and flash.
The “poor” are happier when they see the rich get their comeuppance, than if they are actually better off. Demagogues understand this.
Money taken from producers and given/squandered on people who have no idea how to handle the money, will be wasted. When, of course, billions aren’t stolen by the kleptocrats like Chavez who made billions out the caring for the poor biz.
I wonder if Venezuela’s poor know that Hugo accumulated 2 Billion dollars in ill-gotten gains while they had dirt for breakfast? I take great comfort knowing he couldn’t take it with him. There are probably air-conditioners sitting on the shelf in Hell, but nobody has any money to buy one.
I'm sure they would just dismiss it as "Yanqui Propaganda."