Saturday, February 13, 2016

Socialism's Savage Suffering

In today's WSJ, a look at current day Venezuela, a country blessed with a large coastline and abundant natural resources including the world's second largest oil reserves and large supplies of diamonds, bauxite, gold, iron ore and natural gas. Alas, countering the nation's blessings is the self-imposed curse of collectivism.

In a hospital in the far west of this beleaguered country, the economic crisis took a grim toll in the past week: Six infants died because there wasn’t enough medicine or functioning respirators.

...Medical associations and health-care specialists say preventable deaths have been on the rise because of lack of medication, equipment and doctors. The country’s leading trade group for drugstores says 90% of medicines are scarce.

On a recent day at the University Hospital of Maracaibo, in Venezuela’s second-largest city, patients lay on bare beds in rooms with dirty floors. There was no running water, medicine, cleaning supplies or food. Feces floated in the toilets. Medical staffers there said gang members roam the halls, forcing underpaid and harassed doctors to lock themselves in the offices to avoid assaults.

Ah, yes. Free, unhindered, single payer access to medical care for everyone, rich and poor!

Some more fun facts revealed in the article --

Here in the capital [Caracas], the crisis has turned ordinary life into an ordeal for nearly everyone. Chronic power outages have prompted the government to begin rationing electricity, darkening shopping malls. Homes and apartments regularly suffer water shortages.

Rosalba Castellano, 74 years old, spent hours this week in what has become a desperate routine for millions: waiting in long lines to buy whatever food is available. She walked away with just two liters of cooking oil.

“I hoped to buy toilet paper, rice, pasta,” she said. “But you can’t find them.” Her only choice will be to hunt for the goods at marked-up prices on the black market. The government, she said, “is putting us through savage suffering.”

...Inflation in this oil-rich country is expected to hit a world’s-worst 700% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy shrank by 10% last year and is expected to decline another 8% this year, according to the IMF, the worst performance in the world. And there is no end in sight.

...Venezuela’s murder rate has climbed to 90 per 100,000 residents, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a nongovernment group that focuses on crime. That would be the world’s second-highest rate after El Salvador, and far exceeds the U.S. rate of about four per 100,000.

...Venezuela used to export rice, coffee and meat. It now imports all three. It even imports its own bank notes, ordered from European firms and flown in on 747 jets.

The number of private companies in the country shrank by 20% between 2006 and 2014, according to Datanalisis. Multinationals such as Clorox Co. have simply left. Others including Ford Motor Co. and Oreo-maker Mondelez have written down the value of their local businesses to zero.

Hey, let's get us some of that! Feel The Bern, 2016!

Added 2/19 (Thanks to!) --

One other thing on a different subject - Jonah Goldberg's weekly G-File contains some observations regarding Herbert Hoover which were prompted by a Sanders-level comment from Bernie Sanders at the last Democrat debate --

Sanders :
And then what (FDR) did is redefine the role of government. You know, you had Herbert Hoover before that saying, no, we got to only worry about the deficit. So what if mass unemployment exists? So what if children are going hungry? That’s not the role of the government.

And when FDR said, “Yeah, it is,” that we’re going to use all of the resources that we have to create jobs, to build homes, to feed people, to protect the farmers, we are a nation which if we come together there is nothing that we could not accomplish.

Goldberg's response --

I’m not a big fan of Herbert Hoover, but the notion that he was this heartless bastard cheapskate is total mythmaking. Even William Leuchtenburg, the dean of New Deal historians, has conceded that “almost every historian now recognizes that the image of Hoover as a ‘do-nothing’ president is inaccurate.” Indeed, the sad fact is that if Hoover had done nothing, the Great Depression probably would never have become Great in the first place. Doing nothing did wonders for the Depression of 1920–21.

Hoover was the father of the New Deal (and Woodrow Wilson was the grandfather). As I’ve written many times before in this “news”letter, Hoover was a progressive Republican. Here’s how he defended himself at the GOP convention in 1932:

"Two courses were open to us. We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead, we met the situation with proposals to private business and to the Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic. We put that program in action. Our measures have repelled these attacks of fear and panic. . . . We have used the credit of the Government to aid and protect our institutions, both public and private. We have provided methods and assurances that none suffer from hunger or cold amongst our people. We have instituted measures to assist our farmers and our homeowners. We have created vast agencies for employment."

The piece is vintage Goldberg. Another excerpt --

We all know how many times the titular head of the Democratic party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been asked to distinguish between socialism and whatever dog’s breakfast the Democratic party stands for. Clinton gets asked that question often as well, and usually responds with her patented “I Don’t Like Your Question So I Will Laugh To Distract You” Cackle®.

Read it all here --

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