Venezuela in my thoughts and prayers today.

Today is the swearing in of a new National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela. Violence in the streets is possible. The socialist revolution has been a dismal failure – it has obliterated the economy of Venezuela, once the wealthiest nation in Latin America. The voters rejected the socialist catastrophe by electing a supermajority of opposition members to the Assembly, but President Maduro is using his allies on the Supreme Court to prevent three members from being sworn in, claiming voter fraud. A crisis is looming large in Venezuela today.

The people of Venezuela desperately need relief from the socialist nightmare. Hopefully this will be a turning point. Meanwhile in America, approximately 40% to 50% of the voters favor more socialism and will vote for the Democratic candidate for President this year.

One Maria Isabel Sanchez  reporting for AFP news has written one of the most ridiculous reports about the crisis in Venezuela. This reporter is either ignorant of the socialist policies that have led to this crisis or she is a socialist partisan masquerading as a journalist.

Junius

Socialist Dream Crashes in Venezuela

empty shelves venezuela

Empty store shelves in Venezuela. The reality of the socialist dream. History tells us over and over again that government-imposed price controls lead to scarcity every time.

On Sunday, Venezuelans went to the polls and repudiated the socialist government led by Hugo Chavez’ successor, Nicolas Maduro. The BBC and Wall Street Journal are reporting that the opposition has won 99 seats in the National Assembly, the Socialists have won 46 seats and the votes for the remaining 22 seats are still being tallied.

Venezuelans, who are suffering enormously from the policies and corruption of Nicolas Maduro’s government have finally come to their senses and now reject the failed socialist revolution. If Venezuela is to be fixed, it will probably take decades to rebuild what was once the wealthiest nation in Latin America.

Maduro’s term as President is not over until 2019. It will be interesting to see if he can last that long. My guess is he will not.

maduro, chavez obama

Socialist gathering in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009. Left to right: Barack Obama, Nicolas Maduro, Hugo Chavez.

Thanks to the Socialistas in Venezuela, free speech often lands you in jail, inflation is approaching 100% per year, stores shelves are bare, basic services and the healthcare are in shambles, essential medicines are nearly unobtainable, food is in short supply, etc. Viva la Revolution!

The lesson for The United States: Socialism is a disaster. Do not elect Hillary or Bernie or any other national Democrat, unless of course you think socialism is working in Venezuela and should be repeated here.

One of the objectives of the socialist revolution as stated on President Maduro’s website is to:

“Continue building (Bolivarian) socialism of the 21st century in Venezuela, as an alternative to wild capitalism model and thereby ensure the ‘greatest amount of social security, the greatest amount of political stability and the greatest happiness for our people.”

While private property, and economic and political freedom – capitalism will never lead to a perfect society, I’ll take those things over socialism and the inevitable social instability it causes any day.

Sarcastic condolences to American Chavezistas Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone. I hope the new National Assembly  bans them from Venezuelan soil for life.

Junius Lucius

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” – Margaret Thatcher

“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ” ― Thomas Sowell

Tocqueville: Democracy vs. Socialism

I have been reading over Alexis de Tocqueville’s September 1848 speech on socialism, which he gave before the French Parliament. I cannot resist sharing another excerpt of it here. As Americans we should be proud of the fact that Tocqueville had such high regard for American democracy. We should also be saddened at America’s slide away from the principles that once made her great. This is true because, collectively speaking Americans have made too many poor choices. The U.S.A. is now, without a doubt, on a path towards less individual freedom, more state control and national bankruptcy. We have a national administration that picks and chooses which laws to enforce, thus destroying that sound principle that the United States is a country governed by laws rather than a country governed by the whims of our temporary leaders. The belief system that has poisoned the minds of so many Americans – Socialism – is at the root of many of our current national problems.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s speech before Parliament September 12, 1848 (excerpted):

I look for democracy where I have seen it, alive, active, triumphant, in the only country on earth where it exists, where it could possibly have been established as something durable in the modern world—in America.

There you will find a society where social conditions are even more equal than among us; where the social order, the customs, the laws are all democratic; where all varieties of people have entered, and where each individual still has complete independence, more freedom than has been known in any other time or place; a country essentially democratic, the only completely democratic republics the world has ever known.

And in these republics you will search in vain for socialism. Not only have socialist theories not captured public opinion there, but they play such an insignificant role in the intellectual and political life of this great nation that they cannot even rightfully boast that people fear them.

(In America) you will find a society where social conditions are even more equal than among us; where the social order, the customs, the laws are all democratic; where all varieties of people have entered, and where each individual still has complete independence, more freedom than has been known in any other time or place; a country essentially democratic, the only completely democratic republics the world has ever known.

America today is the one country in the world where democracy is totally sovereign. It is, besides, a country where socialist ideas, which you presume to be in accord with democracy, have held least sway, the country where those who support the socialist cause are certainly in the worst position to advance them I personally would not find it inconvenient if they were to go there and propagate their philosophy, but in their own interests, I would advise them not to.

No, gentlemen, democracy and socialism are not interdependent concepts. They are not only different, but opposing philosophies. Is it consistent with democracy to institute the most meddlesome, all-encompassing and restrictive government, provided that it be publicly chosen and that it act in the name of the people? Would the result not be tyranny, under the guise of legitimate government and, by appropriating this legitimacy assuring to itself the power and omnipotence which it would otherwise assuredly lack? Democracy extends the sphere of personal independence; socialism confines it. Democracy values each man at his highest; socialism makes of each man an agent, an instrument, a number. Democracy and socialism have but one thing in common—equality. But note well the difference. Democracy aims at equality in liberty. Socialism desires equality in constraint and in servitude.

Transcription and translation of Tocqueville’s speech courtesy of “The Best of the Online Library of Liberty.” – oll.libertyfund.org

Alexis de Tocqueville on Socialism

Will Americans be foolish enough to elect a socialist to be the next President? Time will tell. A vote for Hillary, or Bernie or perhaps any national Democrat running for President will be a vote for more socialism. That is really what Hillary Clinton meant by her euphemism “It takes a village.” These people simply do not believe in the sanctity of the individual. To them, “the people” are just cogs in a gear that powers the machine of their personal ambition. Thus, they seek to place individuals in groups and conjure up grievances that do not exist or are highly exaggerated. These groups are told they are victims ( for instance the “War on Women”) and that Hillary or Bernie or Joe or Obama is needed to step in in order to right the wrongs of their victimhood. This is how the unscrupulous politician rises to his or her position of power. These propagandists pit Americans against one another and all the while America continues to decline, structurally, spiritually, morally and economically.

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville was a believer in the sanctity of the individual and understood the corrosive effects of socialism on liberty, or freedom:

“Now, a third and final trait, one which, in my eyes, best describes socialists of all schools and shades, is a profound opposition to personal liberty and scorn for individual reason, a complete contempt for the individual. They unceasingly attempt to mutilate, to curtail, to obstruct personal freedom in any and all ways. They hold that the State must not only act as the director of society, but must further be master of each man, and not only master, but keeper and trainer.”

The whole speech can be read in it’s entirety here:

http://lf-oll.s3.amazonaws.com/titles/2667/Tocqueville_Socialism1848.pdf

Socialist Dreams vs. Miserable Reality

Bernie for President! – Wait! Did I just say that?

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.” – Margaret Thatcher

Two main premises of modern socialism are:

1. Wealth redistribution is the best way to make the bottom 99% wealthier.

2. Society is much better off when decision-making powers are taken away from individuals and instead placed in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats. Thus, all human actions are subject to regulation by the government.

If enough people in a free society like ours can be convinced to accept these two false premises, then we lose everything. Most importantly we lose our freedom. When we lose our freedom, a loss of prosperity is sure to follow. This process has already begun in the United States.

“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ”  –Thomas Sowell

To paraphrase Bastiat; socialism is the great fiction through which everyone attempts to live at the expense of everyone else. It is a belief system born of a flaw in human nature that tempts each new generation to take advantage of goods and services that they believe someone else is paying for. It may be characterized as politically instituted theft by one group of another. But in reality it makes all of us poorer. Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises correctly identified the illusion that many people find too hard to resist: “the illusion that socialism will make them richer.”

Reading between the lines of a typical Bernie Sanders speech, here is what I come away with: “The rich should not get to keep more than their fair share while the rest of us struggle. Therefore, if elected, I will give back to the people. I shall reward those without ambition, subsidize people on drugs, discourage people from saving, and encourage people not to work. Trust me. It will be awesome.”

Reading between the lines of a typical Bernie Sanders speech, here is what I come away with:
“The rich should not get to keep more than their fair share while the rest of us struggle. Therefore, if elected, I will give back to the people. I shall reward those without ambition, subsidize people on drugs, discourage people from saving, and encourage people not to work. Trust me. It will be awesome.”

This tendency in human nature is a godsend to politicians who seek and maintain power by promising “the people” something that is paid for by someone else. Hence, Hillary Clinton recently rolled out her “New College Compact” where she claims “costs won’t be a barrier” to higher education if she is elected. How will her plan make up the difference in college costs when the portion of total college tuition paid by students is lowered? The truth of the matter is that if Hillary’s administration convinces colleges to require less tuition from students, it is the taxpayers that will make up the difference. College administrators will not agree to a cut in salary – they are not dumb. The result will be a new bureaucracy that puts a dollar in the left pocket while pulling $1.50 out of the right. After all, as everyone knows, bureaucracy is expensive and must be paid for. In reality Hillary’s plan will not lower absolute costs; it will only place a higher burden on taxpayers, meaning all taxpayers will have less of their own money to save for college tuition. It will be a really raw deal for middle-income taxpayers without children. Hillary’s plan would certainly add to public debt, which at the federal level is already above $18 trillion and growing.

Chalk it up to greed or envy, but whatever the cause – politicians are aided in their tax grabs and debt spending by constituents who believe in the free-lunch fiction of modern politics. It’s a belief system that collectively makes all of us poorer. If the redistribution of wealth promoted by the political class proves too great for the electorate to resist, then the country will continue its current decline into economic mediocrity or worse.

For each new generation of Americans who become seduced by the false promises of socialism, which is essentially the platform of people like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and the modern Democrat party – read on. (Note: Even establishment Republicans endorse socialism, if not by their words, certainly by their actions.)

The example of Venezuela:

American Hollywood producer Oliver Stone (right) with his late revolutionary hero, Hugo Chavez (left). Nicolas Maduro, the current socialist leader of Venezuela is shown in the right background.

American Hollywood producer Oliver Stone (right) with his late revolutionary hero, Hugo Chavez (left). Nicolas Maduro, the current socialist leader of Venezuela is shown in the right background.

Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone should be leading a humanitarian campaign using their own funds to help the Venezuelan people. Why? Because the Venezuelan people are literally dying due to the policies of the late Hugo Chavez (d. 2013) and his protégé Nicolas Maduro – socialist dictators that those Hollywood fools have publicly embraced in the past as champions of the people. Hollywood lefties, and their allies in government like Bernie Sanders who apparently do not understand the first thing about market economics, and who cannot comprehend the lessons of history are the last people anyone should be listening to for advice on public policy. The socialist policies that they have so publicly celebrated have destroyed what was once the wealthiest Latin American country. Socialism – price controls, government ownership of businesses, central planners who are not interested in a diversified economy, command regulation of the private sector – these are the reasons for the collapse of the Venezuelan economy. But the Venezuelans did it to themselves – they elected Hugo Chavez in the first place. It can happen here.

After notices appeared in empty supermarkets across Venezuela prohibiting picture taking, Venezuelans defied the prohibition and began a campaign on Twitter to highlight the shortage of basic goods in their country. Hashtag: #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela Profit-seeking entrepreneurs in a free economy would never let store shelves go bare in Venezuela or anywhere else. Only socialist planners like Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro could let this happen. History tells us over and over again that government-imposed price controls lead to scarcity every time.

After notices appeared in empty supermarkets across Venezuela prohibiting picture taking, Venezuelans defied the prohibition and began a campaign on Twitter to highlight the shortage of basic goods in their country. Hashtag: #AnaquelesVaciosEnVenezuela
Profit-seeking entrepreneurs in a free economy would never let store shelves go bare in Venezuela or anywhere else. Only socialist planners like Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro could let this happen. History tells us over and over again that government-imposed price controls lead to scarcity every time.

Look at what the news outlets have recently reported on or written about the situation in Venezuela – the socialist government there has wrecked her economy while blaming others and it continues to bring misery and terror to her citizens.

Washington Post Editorial Board, Dec. 13, 2014:

“Since 2013 two other big newspapers and a television network have been sold by longtime owners to investors linked to the regime or to shell companies whose principals are unknown. The result has been the shutdown of critical coverage of the Maduro government even as it presides over an economic collapse and mounting political repression, including the arrest or prosecution of top opposition leaders.”

Washington Post Editorial Board, Dec. 26, 2014:

“Mr. Maduro’s regime is a de facto satellite of Havana: Thousands of Cuban operatives are seeded in its security services and, in a deal that has long propped up the Castro regime, Venezuela supplies Cuba with 100,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for the services of a few thousand doctors.

(Now, many of those doctors have tried to escape their servitude by defecting and no longer serve Venezuelans.)

“Repression in Venezuela has steadily escalated this year: More than 40 people were killed when security forces cracked down against opposition street protests, and bogus criminal cases have been brought against senior opposition leaders. One, Leopoldo López, has been imprisoned since February.

“As Venezuela’s economic crisis — which led to severe shortages and high inflation even before the collapse in the price of oil — steadily escalates…

“Mr. Maduro should be required to restore freedom of the press — and stop blocking the provision of newsprint to opposition newspapers…”

National Public Radio May 5, 2015:

Stand-up Comedian Laureano Marquez “dwelled on the absurdities of life in this oil-rich nation, where gas is cheaper than water but it’s hard to find milk, toilet paper and many other everyday goods.

“Turning serious, Marquez tells the crowd that the socialist revolution, launched 16 years ago by the late Hugo Chavez, is collapsing under the weight of bad policies and corrupt public officials. “That message doesn’t sit well with Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro. Besides jailing opposition leaders and cracking down on protesters, the Maduro government is now going after comics. “Marquez says that three of his recent shows were canceled after all three clubs that booked him were suddenly closed down for alleged tax evasion. He’s also been shut out of government-run theaters and hotels.”

According to the Reuter’s story in the New York Times shopping in Venezuela is hazardous to one’s health – http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/08/06/world/americas/06reuters-venezuela-looting.html?_r=0):

“Lines are increasingly filled with smugglers who buy subsidized goods and resell them at a profit on the black market or in neighboring Colombia, generating tension between resellers and those trying to stock their own kitchens.

“Josefa Bracho, a 70-year-old teacher in the central city of Barquisimeto, vows not to stand in any more supermarket lines. She was slashed in the thigh with a scalpel after a dispute in a line with women she believed were smugglers.

‘“We’d been in line for almost four hours when three women got in front of me,” said Bracho in a telephone interview.

‘“I said ‘What are you doing? Why are you cutting in line?” Later one came by and cut my leg … Standing in line means putting my life in danger.”’

Food line outside a supermarket in Venezuela, 2014. Long live the socialist revolution!

Food line outside a supermarket in Venezuela, 2014. Long live the socialist revolution!

New York Times Editorial Board, Aug. 7, 2015 – “On Monday, officials in Venezuela announced that a leading opposition politician, María Corina Machado, will be barred from running, along with a handful of other government critics. Another leading opposition leader, Leopoldo López, has been imprisoned since February 2014, facing spurious charges.

From Bloomberg News (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-20/venezuelan-inflation-could-average-86-this-year-survey-shows) Aug 20, 2015:

“Venezuelan Inflation Could Average 86% This Year, Survey Shows by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Catarina Saraiva

“Venezuelan inflation will average 86 percent in 2015, up from 57 percent last year, according to a median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The survey produced a wide variation of estimates after the government halted the regular publication of official statistics in December when the annual rate hit 69 percent. Morgan Stanley had the lowest forecast in the survey at 65 percent, while Caracas-based Ecoanalitica is expecting prices to rise 139 percent this year.

“The economy of South America’s largest oil exporter will see the deepest recession since 2009 this year with an expected contraction of 5.6 percent, according a survey of 15 analysts.

“The collapse of Venezuela’s oil revenue after prices fell more than 50 percent in the past year has slashed the country’s capacity to import basic products, leading to shortages and pushing up the price of goods available domestically. The country’s currency has collapsed 88 percent in black market trading in the past year.”

From Bloomberg.com August 26, 2015 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-26/venezuela-said-to-ready-larger-bank-notes-as-inflation-soars):

Venezuela Is Adding More Zeroes to Its Currency to Deal with Hyperinflation by Noris Soto and Nathan Crooks

“Many Venezuelans have to carry wads of cash in bags instead of wallets as soaring inflation and a declining currency increase the number of bills needed for everyday purchases. The situation is set to get worse. Inflation, already the fastest in the world, could end the year at 150 percent, said the official.

“Some banks, meanwhile, have reduced daily withdrawal limits at ATMs because of shortages of the highest denominated notes.”

The lesson for Americans – reject the temptation of socialism – it will bring nothing but misery upon you, your children and future generations. Need another example. Look at Greece. If you vacation there, ask the Greek people you meet if their retirement plans are going according to the promises of their politicians.

Socialism necessarily leads to an increase of government power at the expense of individual freedom. It is a system where government dictates every aspect of our lives – who we may or may not associate with, what we may or may not eat, who we may or may not hire, what we must pay our workers, it dictates nearly all aspects of the employer/employee relationship, how we save for retirement, what speech is acceptable or not. According to socialists the list of human actions that must be regulated is infinite.

Don’t think it can happen here? It’s already begun. America’s flirtation with socialism has certainly gained steam on President Obama’s watch. It’s time to reverse the tide before we reach the point of no return like Venezuela has.

Finally, I would like to nominate Bernie Sanders for President – of Venezuela. Oliver Stone can be his Vice President in charge of keeping supermarket shelves stocked, Sean Penn his Secretary of Socialist Indoctrination and Education and Michael Moore Director of the Peoples’ Propaganda.

Frotho Canutus

“No government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. Even when it comes to the redistribution of income, the left talks the talk but the free market walks the walk. What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how can that be done, on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates vastly more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists somehow and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it.” ― Thomas Sowell, Controversial Essays

“As socialists put in place programs that increase the dependency class, our country will find itself deeper and deeper in debt as fewer people have the incentive to work and pay the taxes that fund the social services they have become addicted to. Eventually, this arrangement will collapse under its own weight and the financial crisis of 2008 will appear like small peanuts in comparison.” This is exactly what has happened in Greece, but it will be 10 times worse when in happens in the United States because we will not have a European Union to bail us out.” –James Bryan

“Progressive socialists like President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaign against people in business who have been successful and amassed greater than average wealth. They put forth the silly notion that by confiscating the wealth of others through taxes and spreading that wealth through government programs that all of us will be better off. It’s a nice show and to some who don’t look below the surface, this seems like a good idea. But the dirty little not-so- secret is that behind the scenes, when the microphones are turned off, these politicians, who have been given so much regulatory power over all economic activity, often bestow protections, even advantages on their financial backers. This is what’s known as “pay to play” or political cronyism. The Clintons have perfected this brand of cronyism by setting up the Clinton foundation and hitting the speech circuit. This has made them very wealthy indeed. As long as the American people continue to forfeit their freedoms to the political class, political cronyism will grow like a cancer. If you want to see what corrupt cronyism does to a society when left unchecked just look at what has happened to Venezuela – the people starve while their socialist leaders and their friends drive around in fancy cars and purchase new homes.” — James Bryan

DEMOCRACY vs. SOCIALISM

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in constraint and servitude. — Alexis de Tocqueville, 1848

La démocratie et le socialisme ne se tiennent qu par un mot, l’égalité; mais
remarquez la différence: la démocratie veut l’égalité dans la liberté et le
socialisme veut l’égalité dans la gêne et dan la servitude.