Friday, May 20

Venezuela keeps getting worse; U.S. media blames anything *other* than socialism

Despite an unparalleled record of destructiveness and disaster, communism retains enormously good press.  In 2011 a Rasmussen poll found 11% of Americans thought communism would better serve this country’s needs than our current system. 

In particular, just 3 years ago Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of Britain's Labor Party, praised the socialist president of Venezuela for his wondrous brilliance.  He tweeted  "thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world."  At almost the same time the leftist mag Salon praised Hugo Chavez’s "economic miracle."
According to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”
The alleged "miracle" has finally run out of other peoples' money.  Now there's no food, no electricity, nor even gasoline in this oil-rich nation. In the ultimate irony "catalytic cracking units," crucial to making gasoline, are idle.  Critics blame a shortage of spare parts, lack of maintenance, and power blackouts." 

Looting is epidemic.  Trucks are being swarmed by mobs on the highway.  Army troops -- crucial for regime survival -- have been reduced to foraging to make up a meal. The Atlantic, hardly a right-wing publication, writes "Venezuela is falling apart."

Even the phrase "falling apart" doesn't adequately convey the disaster.  A New York Times reporter described hospitals where patients lay on rotting mattresses or in pools of their own blood. Where doctors were forced to amputate the limbs of patients because they didn't have antibiotics to treat simple infections. Where doctors and nurses took turns operating respirators by hand -- the machinery sometimes broken and without power anyway -- until they collapsed from exhaustion and helplessly watched their patients die.

Yet Chavez's hand-picked successor and current president, Nicolas Maduro, claims the economy is just faaabulous:  “I doubt that anywhere in the world, except in Cuba, there exists a better health system than this one.” 

This phrase shows how socialism manages to look so good:  Its politicians simply insist that things are great, and no one can out-shout them.  Sort of like Ben Rhodes admits doing for the emperor's Iran policy.  They control what the media allege to be facts.  Reality is ignored.

Thus Maduro tries to solve the shortages by decreeing that the owners of closed factories will be imprisoned until production increases.  Never mind there is no money to import raw materials; no power to run a business's machinery, nor that the government has ordered retailers to sell at cost.  None of this matters when the nation's emperor uses his pen and phone to simply decree that there will be plenty.

And half the populace believes this will work-- just as Marx promised.

H/T Richard Fernandez at Belmont.  RTWT.

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