Venezuela’s crawl to economic collapse: a socialist catastrophe

If you ever wanted an example of a relatively prosperous nation descending into a failed state due to socialist policies, look no further than Venezuela in 2016.

A new article on Vox explains the death of the socialist haven after decades of mismanagement, exploring the bizarre world of plane loads of cash, conspiracy theories of a CIA plot and the millions of people suffering in the mean time.

After decades of hyper-regulation and massive government spending Venezuela is facing an economic crisis following reductions in global petrol prices.

The consumer economy has collapsed:

To take one example out of a million possibilities, it is now illegal for a dairy company to move raw milk from a collection center it owns to a processing facility it also owns 2 kilometers away without an explicit permit signed and stamped by a slew of government officials.

It is also illegal to fire a worker for basically any reason, including making threats of physical violence against a manager. And, needless to say, it is illegal to set your own prices: The state does that, often setting them below the cost of production, especially for basic goods. Under such circumstances, even “private” firms are in essence state run.

The Venezuelan economy today is a kind of caricature of US Republicans’ worst nightmares. The difference is that for us, it’s not just empty rhetoric: We actually do have a government that’s fanatically hostile to private enterprise and convinced that business poses an existential threat to it.

Supermarkets, which due to government regulation have been unable to provide medicine and toilet paper for years, are now facing major shortages of food and other necessities that people need to survive:

In Venezuela today, more and more cash is chasing after fewer and fewer goods. The result looks very much like the old Soviet bloc economies, where people had plenty of money in their pockets but it didn’t help them because there were no goods on offer. In a strange way, chavismo has realized the old socialist dream of abolishing money: When there’s nothing to buy, money is useless.

Having either the world’s most punitively misconceived microeconomic policies or the world’s most mindlessly self-destructive macroeconomic policies would be bad enough, but having both of them at the same time is just killer.

If there was ever a case for free markets and governments, let the people come to Caracas.


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