We are routinely being sold on this idea that the solution to poverty is more government power and more regulation. Rarely are any connections made when catastrophic events occur as a result of these policies. Instead of considering the alternative – freedom – they continue to look for government-created solutions when they are the ones who created the problems in the first place. Make no mistake, Venezuela’s economic turmoil is a consequence of the government’s socialist policies.
The major tenant of socialism is that a governing power makes all the important decisions on behalf of those whom they claim to help. Socialism operates on the presumption that the government will act the public’s best interests.
Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders would have us all believe that his type of socialism is different because it would be “democratic” – unlike Venezuela’s dictatorship type of socialism. “Tweets for Bernie” handle addressed an inquiry on this, falsely perpetuating Scandinavia as an example of how socialism works:
Q: Why socialism works in Scandinavia, fails in Venezuela?
A: Because Scandinavian countries are democracies, Venezuela is not#FeelTheBern
— Tweets for Bernie (@MemesForBernie) May 23, 2016
Despite what Sanders or his supporters may claim, Sanders is not a democratic socialist. Technically, he is a social democrat; a progressive. (We should all be weary of his insistence on being called a democratic socialist, no doubt.)
Social democrats want the government to control all the social programs for the poor and regulate corporations and banks. They don’t particularly care for free-market capitalism, as they claim it is a “rigged economy” without acknowledging the government’s role in the actual “rigging”. The “Nordic Model” which Sanders often uses as an example of successful socialism, is actually a democracy that works in tandem with a substantially large welfare state – noted by FEE.
Even the Prime Minister of Denmark aimed to clarify this distinction when he appeared for a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in the fall of last year, reported Vox. He told the audience that he wanted to make it clear that “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” he said emphatically.
Far from a utopia, however, the reality is that Denmark imposes a 180% tax on the purchase of new automobiles . Their students attend college for “free” and while attending, students receive a monthly stipend of nearly $1,000. Consequently, the average college student in Denmark takes nearly 6.1 years to graduate. It should not be a mystery as to why they have the highest tax rates in the world, as reported by the Washington Post. Eventually, even this is unsustainable.
Meanwhile, in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party continues to double-down on Chavez’ terrible socialist policies. Ultimately, these policies are what led to a nation that is now rationing toilet paper. In April, Fusion highlighted on some of the many consequences of these policies. Policies which put hotels in the awkward position to ask guests to supply their own basic toiletries and goods during their stay, while larger hotels purchased them at inflated prices from smugglers on the black market.
They were once a nation that produced rice and coffee, however, today those fields of productivity lie abandoned in the post-Chavez nation dependent on oil.
Defenders of socialism will blame these consequences on the brand and not the principle, but Venezuela did exactly what the socialist platform advocates. They redistributed the wealth whether it was by subsidizing food, gasoline, or free housing until they literally ran out of other people’s money.
No matter how well-intentioned, socialists fall prey to the orthodoxy which denies the moralistic nature of economic freedom; a freedom where every individual has a right to his life and property. No one has the right to deprive anyone of these things. Socialism forces one to surrender these things by force with a plethora of moral justifications – “Legal Plunder”.
Although Venezuela did have a fleeting moment of democracy before it was intercepted by dictatorship, as history often dictates. It only takes the financial wreckage of a few bad policies to anger the populous, like Venezuela. Tyrants wait for that perfect storm; bringing economic, military, and political crises together for their opportunity to rise to power propelled by the will of the people.
Harry Browne said, “Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, ‘See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.” That’s the rub, isn’t it?