In the 1980s Venezuela had the highest standard of living in all of South America. It had the world's 5th-largest reserves of oil and was awash in oil, money, jobs and good things.
Today--just 30 years after that time of wealth and abundance--Venezuelans have a hard time finding toilet paper, soap, milk, rice...you get the idea. Non-government citizens had to get on a two-year waiting list to buy a car--and now new cars are no longer available.
Toyota Motor Company--which has an assembly plant in Venezuela--said it would shut down its plant because the government’s foreign exchange controls have made it impossible to import the parts needed to
build cars. Other car manufacturers in the country, including Ford and GM,
haven’t even started operations this year because needed
parts haven't arrived.
What caused this collapse? Did the oil run out? Did a neighboring country invade? Did some plague devastate the population?
Well it actually was
a plague of sorts: Venezuela was devastated by the policies of its socialist government, first under Hugo Chavez and now under Nicolas Maduro.
I mention Venezuela's troubles to show how astonishingly fast a nation can go from a flourishing, world-class economy--again, the highest standard of living in all of South America--to poverty. In Venezuela's case the actual collapse took closer to 15 years than 30.
In this respect Venezuela isn't exceptional: In almost every case, when the economy of a once-great nation finally collapses that collapse is frighteningly fast. There are several reasons: First, the government has a huge incentive to keep up the appearance of normalcy, so as it pulls out all the stops to keep funding the huge deficits that inevitably accompany socialism, it clamps down on the release of all information that might alarm the populace.
Second: Long before the collapse, a large number of the nation's skilled, educated citizens try to emigrate to freer countries where they can use their skills and ambition to make a better life. At some point the drain of significant talent and ingenuity makes it too hard for those remaining to keep the productive machinery going. Bit by bit the nation's production falls off.
In the case of Venezuela, about ten years ago many of the smartest employees of the state-owned oil company (PDVSA) saw what Chavez was doing and started speaking out against him. Chavez promptly fired them all, replacing them with party loyalists. Unfortunately (if predictably) the party hacks were less skilled than their predecessors, and the machinery of oil exploration and production began to deteriorate--fast.
Two years after the mass firing PDVSA drilled a total of just four wells--in a nation with the world's 5th largest reserves of oil! To put that in perspective, in 2014 private oil companies in Kansas drilled over 3,900 oil or gas wells.
The mass firing was insane. But of course no one in the country would dare say so for fear of government retaliation. Chavez routinely seized--yep, just flat stole--newspapers, radio or television stations that printed or broadcast anything critical of his policies. (Which is why the plan floated by the U.S. FCC to put "content monitors" in the offices of newspapers and broadcasters caused a lot of concern here in the U.S.)
Perhaps the greatest tragedy of a catastrophic economic collapse is that it erases memory of how to do the productive things a modern society needs.
No citizen left in Venezuela will know how to reopen a car assembly plant, or a soap-making factory. No one left in the country will know how to
repair a dead electrical generating plant, or an oil refinery. The engineers have all emigrated to the booming oil business in
A whole generation of Venezuelan children is now growing up whose sole knowledge of obtaining food will be how to find the government store that hands it out--the U.S. equivalent of using an EBT card.
Now, I really, reeeally sympathize with Americans who read this and think, What happened to Venezuela Simply Cannot Happen Here.
You sincerely, deeply want to believe it couldn't. You literally cannot allow yourself
to believe it. Because to acknowledge the path, the logic, the...cause and effect relationship
--is to acknowledge that the policies of "progressives"/socialists--supported by the votes and dollars of well-intentioned Democrats just like you
--are disastrous. Coming to terms with that is to recognize that unless we're granted some astonishing, unprecedented miracle, your kids will likely live that future.
Let me be clearer: The policies you supported--by your vote both for the nation's president and for creatures like Harry "I Destroyed the Filibuster" Reid and Nancy "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it" Pelosi--have set us on the path to this outcome.
For those who still think it can't happen that quickly: In the 1960s Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the U.S.
What's Detroit like today?
One of the familiar landmarks of the path to collapse is when a president either demands or simply takes the power to make laws by decree
. They always do that, for three reasons: First because they believe no one except themselves really knows how to run things; but also because as events start occurring faster and faster they don't want to bother taking the months needed to guide bills into law through the legislative process. And third is because they love the power of being emperor.
Sound familiar? Obama has used Executive Orders--or simple decrees--to delay the start dates for the painful phases of ObamaCare or make similar changes to that "law" in other areas 15 times. By amazing coincidence those decrees delayed the start of painful effects until after the 2014 elections.
It's a total coincidence that this will greatly improve the chances of Democrats losing fewer congressional seats than they otherwise would have.
And establishment Republican congresswhores are scarcely better, refusing to oppose Obama's unconstitutional actions.
Gentlemen, by your refusal to do your job--the one assigned to congress by the Founders as one of the three supposedly-equal branches of government--you have surrendered our nation to tyranny as surely as if you had surrendered to a foreign foe. May your children eventually be so shamed by your cowardice that they change their names.
"Quien es Juan Galt?"
Labels: socialism, the emperor, Venezuela