Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Do Cry for Venezuela

It’s about time we shed some tears for Venezuela. Rarely has such a wealthy nation, one that has massive petroleum reserves, collapsed so thoroughly into poverty, destitution and anarchy.

The Moonbattery blog sums it up  (via Maggie's Farm):

Thanks to the socialism imposed by Hugo Chavez and carried forward by his successor Nicolas Maduro, the nation is on the verge of absolute collapse, complete with food shortages, runaway inflation, riots, looting, vigilante justice, dictatorial decrees, power outages, skyrocketing infant mortality, et cetera. Reliant on the government for food, people have been reduced to hunting cats, dogs, and birds to fend off starvation.

For a more vivid picture, the Daily Mail describes conditions in a Venezuelan hospital:

The impact of Venezuela's economic collapse on its people is almost impossible to put into words.

But these images inside calamity-hit hospitals go some way to communicating the devastation.

Since oil prices plummeted, all aspects of everyday life - electricity, food, paper - have been rationed.

Critically, medical centers are in crisis.

Without soap, antibiotics, power, gloves and x-rays, surgeons are struggling to keep patients alive. 

Pictures taken by New York Times photographer Meridith Kohut offer a glimpse inside some of the most notorious centers - while President Nicolas Maduro claims the socialist nation as the best healthcare in the world.

And also:

The Luis Razetti Hospital in the portal city of Barcelona looks like a war zone.

Patients can be seen balancing themselves on half-broken beds with days-old blood dried up on their bodies.

They're the lucky ones; most are curled up on the floor, blood streaming, limbs blackening.

Children lie among dirty cardboard boxes in the hallways without food, water or medication.

Without electricity or functioning machines, medics have had to create their own solutions. Two men who had surgery on their legs have their limbs elevated by makeshift slings made out of water bottles.

One man is missing half his skull after a severe head injury a year ago. He is still waiting for post-surgery treatment.

Last summer, the Daily Mail reported how rampant opossums had infested the Luiz Razetti Hospital, killing 17 newborns.

That was just the start of months of misery at the center, according to the New York Times. 

In just one day, the newspaper's reporters witnessed the deaths of seven babies since there were no oxygen tanks, and doctors had to pump air into their lungs by hand. 

A 68-year-old diabetic patient interviewed in the article has to have her leg amputated; the hospital did not have dialysis machines or the antibiotics she requires.

One had to have an almost-rupturing appendix removed without the proper tools or sanitation. Another died because the blood bank was closed due to a public holiday, which was randomly called by the government to save electricity.

Since the New York Times has been reporting the story, we cannot say that the mainstream liberal press has been ignoring Venezuela.

If you are asking yourself why Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro does not ask for outside help, the answer comes as a shock. He does not ask because he believes that outsiders would “privatize” the hospital system. And we all know that socialized medicine is the wave of the future. Besides, Maduro says that Venezuela’s health care system is the best in the world.

We understand that leftists are not going to take any responsibility for the grand socialist experiment called Venezuela. The Bernie Sanders supporters who are defending socialism are not going to admit that Venezuela is what true socialism looks like. They are more likely to say that it represents totalitarian Communism, and thus, like every failed socialist experiment—including German National Socialism—it does not count.

Back in the day, however, before the current catastrophe, American leftists were singing from a different hymnal. The Moonbattery blog quotes a Salon article from 2013:

Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal [i.e., free market] economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

For instance, 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 Guardianreports 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.”

What appeared to be a policy success was the result of the Chavez government looting the nation’s oil revenues and other sources of wealth. When the oil revenues dried up, there was nothing left to loot. When you confiscate the income of the rich you can redistribute it and create a simulation of prosperity. But then there is no more wealth confiscate and your Socialist Paradise becomes an Inferno.

As it happens, Salon was not alone in touting the Venezuelan miracle. Bret Stephens has dredged up the encomia thrown at Hugo Chavez by prominent Western leftists.

Among them, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said in 2013, when Chavez died:

Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.

Stephens adds to the list:

In its day, Chavismo found champions, apologists and useful idiots among influential political figures and supposed thought leaders. In Massachusetts there were Joseph P. Kennedy and Rep. Bill Delahunt, who arranged a propaganda coup for the strongman by agreeing to purchase discounted Venezuelan heating oil for U.S. consumers. The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel extolled Chávez for defying the Bush administration and offering “an innovative four-point program to renew and reform the U.N.”

Up north, Naomi Klein, Canada’s second-most unpleasant export, treated Chávez as heroically leading the resistance to the forces of dreaded neoliberalism. Jimmy Carter mourned Chávez for “his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment.”

You get the picture. Radical leftists and even some liberal progressives were falling all over themselves to praise Hugo Chavez. Where are their voices today?

OK, I get it. When they next speak they are going to blame it all on the Bush administration.


Sam L. said...

Bush, a man of Big Shoulders to carry BLAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!111111!!!!!!!!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Central planning reaches its usual end. Young people need to be told this is not new... we've lived through this many times before. The Sanders message is not novel, and the story never ends well.

"... the poor matter and wealth can be shared." Yes, that is a wonderfully self-congratulatory remark that requires no wisdom, no intelligence, and no courage. What a pitifully ridiculous statement. That's the mark of a great society? Wow, how quickly these "great" societies fall... due to low oil prices. Oil is a natural resource commodity. That shows me that socialism created no assets, nothing creative, no true economic growth. Venezuela is still running an all cash business, yet has little cash on hand. Leftists are destroyers, intoxicated with their self-proclaimed moral magnificence.

As an aside, it's worth looking at the details of Hillary's Kentucky "victory" last night, and it's worth adding some perspective. I can't resist. In 2008, Hillary beat Obama by 35 points, and garnered 459,124 votes. This year, she beat Bernie by a half a point, and brought in 212,550 votes. There were 700,000 votes cast in the 2008 Kentucky Democrat primary... this year, there were 422,000 votes, a drop of 40%. For additional perspective, Hillary beat Obama in West Virginia in 2008 by 40 points, and lost in 2016 by 15 points! This year in WV, there were 209,000 votes cast, and in 2008 there were 350,000 votes... a 40% drop. Love that Democrat enthusiasm and that powerful Clinton ground game. And Jeb was "low energy"? This is the turnout and support for the opponent of Trump the Antichrist? Something is happening in America, and the press is not talking about it too much. Hillary is a dud. Is there an indictment in her future? Obama needs to stop this, or his legacy is at risk!

Viva la revolucion! Feel the Bern. I'm ready for Hillary!

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

By the way, from my previous comment...

Both 40% drops in total Democrat voters reflect the collapse in Hillary’s support, not her opponent’s. 2016 Kentucky primary votes for Hillary dropped more than 50% (549,124 in '08, and 212,550 now). Kentucky was May 18 in 2016, and May 20 in 2008, and a horserace was still in play for the nominations in both years, so Kentucky's positioning was relatively identical. Obama had the delegate math on his side in May 2008, yet Hillary voters turned out. Hillary has the delegate count on her side in May 2016 (due to the "rigged" system), yet Kentucky Democrats did not turn out for her in a tight race with Sanders. A lot fewer people were there to secure her fortune this year after a series of losses. Obama got almost 210,000 votes in Kentucky in 2008, and Bernie got 210,626 this year. In the 2008 West Virginia primary, Obama got 91,652 and John Edwards got 26,076, totaling almost 118,000 votes that didn't go to Hillary. This year, Bernie got 123,860... and won by 15 points.

I don't have time to go through returns from more primaries, but the writing is on the wall: Democrats are not excited about Hillary. If you want to say it's "white Democrats" or "Kentucky is a stupid state," fine (though it's actually a commonwealth). But Hillary's support looks anemic, and this should be distressing to her campaign when you consider the 2008 comparison. Kentucky's population has increased, but it's negligible. If turnout is a reflection of enthusiasm, it's looking dismal for the Clinton campaign with 20 days left to go until California. Last polling through April 30 had Clinton 10 points up there. We shall see...

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, on the primary I think you're right. Democratic turnout is generally lower everywhere. Hillary and Bernie combined don't generate the enthusiasm that Obama generated. Obama got 70 million votes in 2008, and 66 million in 2012, to McCain 60 and Romney's 61 million.

If Hillary is nominated, perhaps we'll get 2004 back, with Hillary playing Kerry back at 59 million, and Trump can play Bush's 62 million.

Anyway, I guess it would be good to prove a art-of-the-deal businessman with no government experience can sink a economy into depression just as fast as a socialist.

And while we cry for Venezuela and its oil-export economy, we shouldn't forget our own plummeting oil production. Easy debt is no better than easy oil for stimulating a false economy, and the whole world is in this mess with us.

I saw this article today by Tyler Durden, putting our debt economy blame back to Reagan and 1987. Which party or president can unwind a 29 year bubble while avoiding wide misery of a 15 year depression? And if we're lucky still, we'll have exported our misery to everyone else.
If one dates the beginning of a depression from the beginning of the unsustainable expansion of debt that preceded it, then the current depression began in 1987. Newly installed chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan quelled a stock market crash, flooding the financial system with fiat liquidity. It was a well from which he and his successors would draw repeatedly. Throughout the 1990s he would pump whenever it appeared the market and the US economy were about to dump. In 1999, he pumped because the Y2K computer transition might adversely affect the economy and financial system (it didn’t).

priss rules said...

It was grasshoppers-socialism based on oil prices.

The only socialism that will work is ants-socialism based on work ethic, rule of law, and productivity... which is why social-democracies worked in northern Europe.

Also, socialism will work with nationalism, homogeneity, and trust.

Diversity, globalism, and intra-ethno-conflict make long-term socialism impossible.

Ares Olympus said...

priss rules said... Diversity, globalism, and intra-ethno-conflict make long-term socialism impossible.

Rationally I agree. I remember in my 20s I concluded the wider scale of human organization, the more you can't rely on on social bonds to maintain integrity.

Then I realized the alternative model of civilization is called "empire" which uses self-interest of carrots and sticks to maintain order. So from this view socialism is simply the reward system to help keep people within the system.

But capitalism is also a just reward system. There's nothing magic about money. It's just about trust that you can accept something no intrinsic worth now, and get something you do want later. That's actually pretty close to magic.

I've read we now are in a battle between government and trans-national corporations, or perhaps America itself IS an instrument of transnational organizations to dominate the world. And as long as we feel this "empire" gives us something of value, we can neglect the injustice it creates in the wider world.

And so back again, socialism as offered within empire, whether as toll-free public roads, or ObamaCare, are bribes to keep us from challenging status quo that allows corporations to rule the world.

Anonymous said...

Ares Olympus:

ObamaCare is more of a punishment than a bribe.