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A message to anyone productive and moral in Venezuela

The message is simple: get out now.

Chavez is calling for ‘Socialism or Death’ and that in fact means ‘Socialism and Death’. As it appears a majority actually supports him, not much will be gained by putting a bullet between this man’s eyes as clearly the problem lies deeper than the life of a single tyrant (though that is not to say that shooting tyrants is ever a bad idea).

If you are have property, sell it if you can, but get the hell out. If you are creative and intelligent, there is a whole world out there in which to rebuild your life. There may come a time in the future when you can come back, either to help pick up the wreckage of the totalitarian experiment voted for by a kleptomaniac majority, or to woo back your nation at bayonet point, but for now, for God’s sake get out with what you can as soon as you can.

And if you are a shareholder in a multi-national company… feeling a little stupid now, eh? At least try and do the decent thing and torch as much infrastructure you own tonight to leave as little to sustain the parasites who are about to nationalise your operations in Venezuela.

44 comments to A message to anyone productive and moral in Venezuela

  • At least Venezuela has land borders so it will be easier for the refugees to flee than Cuba.

  • Charles

    Yes, but where too? The Mexicans aren’t going to let them in the US. The sophisto/intellectuals in Europe and Canada won’t give them refugee status because they would have to condem Chavez in some way. Locally, Colombia is a basket case. Nicaragua and Boliva seem to want to follow Venezuela. Chile maybe? I think there are screwed. I wonder how bad things have to get in Venezuela before the rest of Latin America realizes that “socialism or death” is a dead end street.

  • An influx of anti-communists is probably exactly what Columbia needs… but I would be just as happy to see the best and brightest high initiative Venezuelans all come to the UK!

  • One of the most underreported stories in the Iraq War has been the flight of the middle class — the skilled professionals and small business owners.

    If the only people left are the tyrants and the thugs, then why should you expect the violence to end?

    Also, as Reason noted recently, it’s a bit silly to speak of “peak oil” when almost all the world’s oil is controlled by totalitarians (like Chavez) who don’t know how to extract it efficiently.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I particularly agree with para 4. If the firms are nationalised for no compensation, then I would urge the executives and owners of the oil refineries to destroy them. If Chavez thinks that state central planning is better than messy central planning, let him build and run them himself.

    I expect to see major violence and mayhem in a few months hence. What a mess. Expect a lot of people to flee. There could be quite an impact on the neighbouring states, as well as places like Trinadad and Tobago, which has oil of its own. That country must be rubbing its hands.

    If things really got out of hand, the US could probably invade. Don’t rule it out.

  • Millie Woods

    The oil tyrants seem to have done a splendid job convincing a lot of people that they hold the keys to our prosperity and well-being.
    Well let’s get real. The world is full of oil and sadly big oil with their toadying to the tyrants has tried for decades to perpetuate the myth that we should crawl and beg the controllers of the supply to let us have their precious commodity. Instead the attitude should be one of lower the price or else; don’t dare threaten or else.
    And by the way I failed to mention that the province of Alberta in Canada is the biggest of exporters of oil to the US and the Alberta oil sands’ reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia.
    Carry on threatening oil tyrants say I so that Alberta will thrive.

  • Earl Harding

    And by the way I failed to mention that the province of Alberta in Canada is the biggest of exporters of oil to the US and the Alberta oil sands’ reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia.
    Carry on threatening oil tyrants say I so that Alberta will thrive

    Really? I thought they were a significant contributor tp US oil imports, but not the largest.

    Not that I don’t take this at face value but could you back that up with figures on barrels of oil exported to the US please, and where you got it from? It would be useful factoid to have on hand during the inevitable energy discussions around the office.

  • llamas

    US oil imports by country for 2006:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

    Canada is indeed the largest single importer of oil to the US. How much of that comes from Alberta tar sands, I could not say.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Jacob

    “Alberta oil sands’ reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia.”

    That may be so, but currently Alberta’s oil sands produce maybe 2 or 2.5 million barrels of oil a day (US comsumption ~20+ million barrels/day).
    Saudi Arabia produces 10-12 million barrels/day.
    Maybe Alberta could double it’s output within 10-15 years. Maybe….

    Get real. All the oil extracted is needed. There is no way the world can do without the oil coming from those ugly and unstable places we hate: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria, etc.
    There are no other energy sources available… and won’t be for 10, 20 or 30 years.

    In the end it will probably come to the point where there is no way out but conquerring the oil fields, in those countries that cannot extract and supply the oil.

  • Paul from Florida

    Commodities are just that, common. Turd world thugs and their dolt populations have economic notions of cave men, and thus live accordingly. Meanwhile human development countries like Taiwan, Singapore, the US and the West in general prosper. Naturally, this seems to be some sort of witchcraft, manipulation of Jews or rough shod cowboy capitalism. Anyways these oil countries will have to buy manufactured goods and high tech services. Built into the cost of these will be passed on the higher cost of their own oil. Not only that, they encourage capital to flow into explorations and research into energy savings, productivity , and oil.

    What is really sad is that honest business men in these countries will not or will have to pay way higher rates to acquire capital to start or grow needed businesses and provide basic services.

    One of the things I noticed about Venezuelan, is that Mexican thug billionaire, Carlos Slim was in talks with Verizon to by it’s Venezuelan telephone company. You dear reader don’t suppose that Slim is in cahoots with Chavez in a state/private extortion, like in the movie Godfather, “ A deal to good to refuse”? Naw, like Putin’s Russia and Yukos Oil?

  • I wonder how bad things have to get in Venezuela before the rest of Latin America realizes that “socialism or death” is a dead end street.

    Well if the example of Zimbabwe, and South Africas constant refusal to even mildly rebuke Bob Mugabe is any indicator, Total economic meltdown will not be enough.

  • I wonder how bad things have to get in Venezuela before the rest of Latin America realizes that “socialism or death” is a dead end street.

    Well if the example of Zimbabwe, and South Africas constant refusal to even mildly rebuke Bob Mugabe is any indicator, Total economic meltdown will not be enough.

  • Jacob

    Socialist tyrants. That isn’t a rare species. We had lots of them in the 20th century.
    Remember Francois Mitterand? He nationalized the banks, the auto companies and half the French economy in 1980. Did the French (the 50 million of them) escape to England? No. They survived somehow.

    But Perry is right. Venezuelans will suffer in the coming years. But they are accostomed to it, and even Chavez isn’t news (he is ruling there for some 12 years already) – and his predecessors weren’t much better.
    People and companies will muddle through somehow. Let’s hope there won’t be mass murders.

  • I have met several (obviously not enough) Venezuelans in Florida who fled the country because of Chavez as early as 4-5 years ago.

  • BTW, ironically or not, one of them was a young woman of Saudi descent (there are quite a few Saudi expatriates in Venezuela).

  • jdubious

    it is this kind of episode which reveals the truly depressing state of the world today.

    mainly in the sense that as much as we like to blame “the tyrants,” (and blame them we should,) in the case of venezuela, things are different.

    unlike saudi arabia, iran, or even north korea, the venezuelan tyrant is of her peoples’ making. not their passive obedience or inaction during the tyrant’s rise to power, but their own affirmation that they believe in something for nothing, in rob-thy-neighbor, and all the other shibboleths of popular socialism.

    of a random north korean citizen, one can (generously) say, “he had no part of this,” or at least, “he didn’t want this.” For those with the means to know, there is a highly instructive example of a thriving economy to their south to give the lie to socialist dogma.

    but then, south america, while in some regards a complete basketcase, has its own success stories. and the failure of the grasping, intellectually lazy venezuelan socialist votes is that much more pathetic in such a light.

  • jdubious

    and yes, it would be satisfying to see the corporations in question simply put their facilities to the torch.

    i have a mental picture of a muttering, barrelwaisted man in a monocle and three piece suit, scotch in one hand, gas can in the other,

    a la office space:

    ..burn the building down…

  • Golan

    Sadly, they’re already taking some measures to keep productive people from escaping the country. Many universities have received instructions no to release any document that can be used by people with advanced degrees to get their degrees recognized abroad.

    I’ve got a friend in Caracas that won’t be able to work as a physician in the U.S. because of this.

  • Sadly, they’re already taking some measures to keep productive people from escaping the country. Many universities have received instructions no to release any document that can be used by people with advanced degrees to get their degrees recognized abroad.

    Calling the Hackers of the World! Do something wonderful and make those record available on the internet.

  • JB

    The only thing that Chavez is right about is his insight that Jesus Christ was a socialist. And it reveals everything that is wrong with socialism/communism. A political system shouldn’t involve people dying for other’s sins – as they will and have already in Chavez’s Venezuela.

  • The only thing that Chavez is right about is his insight that Jesus Christ was a socialist

    I am sure it was just an oversight that you neglected to include a link to the passage in the New Testament where JC calls for violence backed appropriation of the wealth of others.

  • Nathaniel Tapley

    That would be: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Matthew 22:21

    Unless you think that the Roman army wasn’t violent, or there to appropriate funds…

    I’d also point you towards Matthew 17:24 – 27, in which Jesus looks to the Romans and their taxation policy as a model for the kingdom of Heaven: ‘”What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” And when he said “From others,” Jesus said to him “Then the sons are free.”‘

    Fortunately, the Bible tells us that Jesus was able to produce money-bearing fish (also Matthew 17), so they didn’t mind paying taxes so much…

  • JB

    In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle,
    sheep and doves and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords,
    and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money
    changers and overturned their tables. [John 2:14 & 15.] Watch out! Be on your guard against all
    kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.]
    Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23]
    You cannot serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:24.]

  • Don’t look now but he is invoking Jesus now trying to tie into the whole Christian socialist movement. I have always thought most Christians seemed a bit socialist to me…most seem to be rather statist at least.

  • JB

    There is actually one place where socialism works: as part of a family. A child really is dependent on their parents and the parents certainly have an obligation to the child to take care of him/her. And the father or mother has the authority of a tyrant.

    The problems begin when people try to take the family model and turn it into a functioning government responsible for interacting with a society of thousands or millions of people. Adults shouldn’t be children of the state.

  • “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Matthew 22:21

    Nope. That would be quite conducive to being a Christian under any state… “Render unto Ayn that which is Ayn’s”.

    ‘”What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” And when he said “From others,” Jesus said to him “Then the sons are free.”‘

    Like so much in the Bible (I am quite God-Free myself), I have no idea what the hell that means. You can read almost any meaning into that, including a hostile critique of taxing others.

    In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [John 2:14 & 15.]

    Nope again. He was objecting to impious conduct in a temple, not taking their money. That makes him religious, not a socialist.

    Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.]

    Nope. That makes him an anti-materialist and quite possibly a crazed nut-case, not a socialist. In fact socialism promises material abundance (and singularly fails to deliver).

    But seriously, keep trying :-)

  • Millie Woods

    I’ve just finished reading Giles Milton’s White Gold about the European slaves taken by the Sale corsairs in the late 16th as well as seventeeth and eighteenth
    centuries and some of the forelock clutching fear and trembling commentary about the oil producing thugs is reminiscent of the attitude of Europe nations to these brutes.
    The point is that the renegade oil producing countries have nothing to offer except their energy resources and as they are incapable of supplying themselves with one of the prime necessities – food – to say nothing of their failure to produce anything else of value instead of putting up with their nonsense we should take a page from their playbook and when they try to hike the price of oil, counter with a huge export tariff on foodstuffs or make them pay an enormous premium to study or travel in our countries. When dealing with barbarians one should operate on their level and not be nice and civilized.
    As for my earlier comment about the world being full of oil, I got that bit of information from my Russian geologist father who worked in the Caspian oil fields at one time. This whole myth about the Alberta sands being so difficult to extract in the here and now is being exploded daily as technology advances make the extraction more viable and profitable. Furthermore, the North Sea is not the only offshore oil field. There is Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia and more such fields off the coast of Newfoundland. An Australian enterprise is exploring the purportedly exhausted under ocean coal mine areas off Cape Breton on the lookout for natural gas and oil. There are the very promising offshore African oil fields in which the PRC shows a healthy interest. I have every reason to believe my father had it right

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so. The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world – Jesus was not an political economist and (unlike some of his so called followers) never pretended to be.

    On the late F. M. of France – no he did not nationalize “half the French economy” when he came to power in 1981. Some companies were already state owned before he came to power and he (and the Parliament) took over some more – but even in total it was nothing like “half”.

    Of course if Jacob is also including government spending then the proportion of government to the rest of the economy was about “half” (it still is) – but that was not what was implied.

    As for Chavez: I agree with Perry, he has been quite open about his socialism (which is real socialism – i.e. total control of everything by the state, not the mixed economy welfare state of F.M. in France) and the majority of people in Venezuela (unlike the majority of people in Chile in the early 1970’s) clearly support this.

    They rejected the social democratic candidate in the recent elections for the office of President of the Republic inspite of him offering the poor the oil money (in direct cash payments) and pointing out that that there would be far more oil money if Chevez and his corrupt cronies were not running the industry into the ground.

    The voters heard about all this because there is a private radio and television service in Venezuela (Chevez is planning to get rid of it in March).

    The vast majority of voters supported Chevez and they did so because they hated “the rich” more than they lusted after oil money, or government health care and education (all of which the social democrat would have spent MORE money on – as he would not have been spending money on the foreign policy that Chevez has committed Venezuala to).

    People who wish to harm others on the grounds that these other people have more money, or other property, than them and hate them so much that they are willing to take a material loss just so these people will suffer are not good (to put it mildly).

    The factors that led to this state of mind among the majority of people in Venezuela are a subject of much debate – but the “bottom line” is that the majority in Venezuala are what they are.

    What the limits of their wickedness (not too strong a word) are I do not know. I do not think they would favour some return to the tribal beliefs that President Chevez claims existed in preColombian Venezuela and says he wishes to reintroduce (such as collective ownership of all farm land and replacing money with a mixed system of barter and state direction), but it would clearly be folly to hang about in Venezuela waiting to see what is going to happen next.

    The “economic policies” of President Chevez are going to fail – i.e. people (in spite of the oil and other natural resources) are going to get poorer and poorer.

    How will they react to this? Will they rise up against Chevez and his cronies? Or will they blame “the rich” (or rather the people who used to own business enterprises)?

    President Chevez claims to be a Roman Catholic, but his interest in ancient relgious practices in pre “Latin” Latin America is worrying. The whole thing could end up looking like the situation shown in the recent Mel Gibson film – certainly this was about Central America rather than South America, but I doubt President Chevez is an expert on the religious practices of the tribes that once dominated Venezula. If a practice is “pre colonial” and “anti colonial” I suspect that he would favour it.

    After all, is there really a great gap between believing that shouting at an oil well will produce more oil, or shouting at a field will produce more food – and believing that cutting out people’s hearts will either please or sustain the Sun God?

  • Gabriel

    quite possibly a crazed nut-case

    Bingo.

    The early church, though, certainly followed a socialist model of organisation c.f. Ananias and Sapphira, which also implies that G-d, and hence for the Christian-Jesus, is a Communist (of a particularly unpleasant kind).

  • YogSothoth

    I wonder if the Venezuelans would have been angry enough at “the rich” to follow Chavez and his insane rantings if upward mobility were more common.

    I know a woman who came to the US at 17 from VietNam speaking no English who is now a CPA because she wanted it enough to work for it. Her family was poor and she needed a student loan to go to college (long since paid off, by the way) but she got it done.

    In the US you might be poor *now* but examples abound of others who started life in poverty but lifted themselves from it by dedication and hard work.

    What’s the situation like in Venezuela? How many of the folks in the bottom 20% make their way to the top 20% over (say) a 20 year period? In the US,
    more than half
    do.

    Anyway, just wondering if the prospect of not only being poor but remaining so for the duration of one’s lifetime is a possible explanation for the seemingly inexplicable penchant for what Chavez is troweling out?

  • Julian Taylor

    Anyway, just wondering if the prospect of not only being poor but remaining so for the duration of one’s lifetime is a possible explanation for the seemingly inexplicable penchant for what Chavez is troweling out?

    But is that not exactly one point of Marxist-Leninist socialism anyway – to ensure that the poor maintain a stasis of state-funded poverty where they are never too rich to alleviate their circumstance and never too poor to have the right to complain? Surely Chavez can only indulge himself in the luxury of socialism due to the USA’s demand for his country’s sole export – cut that demand off and let’s see Chavez donating xx million barrels of oil to Castro. I don’t think so.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Good points made at the Cattalarchy blog (Link)here, by the way.

  • I’m a Venezuelan currently living in Germany. I escaped in 2003 (4 years after Chávez took power for the first time). What we have in Venezuela is the Hayek’s classic “Road to Serfdom” brought to reality in its full extension. For fourty years after the fall of the last dictatorship in 1958 the country was governed by a socialdemocratic two-party coalition. Both socialdemocrats and social-christians alternated in the presidency but bassically put into practice the same policies.

    State control and regulation of the economy was rampant and the only way to prosper for bussinessmen was to get government contracts. This was coupled with all the socialdemocratic rethoric about equality, brotherhood, solidarity and such crap.

    The result was that venezuelans, both in the middle and lower classess were softened and didn’t know how to survive if the state didn’t provide.

    After the inevitable economic collapse of such a system (predicted by Mises in 1920) the ussual cry for a strongman was inevitable, just as Hayek describes in his book. I remember my physics professors at the university giving their support for Chávez in 1998, “because he was the only one capable of effecting the necessary changes”.

    Well, the man took over and since then he changed his “moderate-middle-of-the-road” approach and started to talk about revolution.

    Certainly, Venezuelans will get what they deserve. I just hope that the first to face the approaching fire squads are the socialdemocrats and social-christians who paved the road and fertilized the fields on which Chávez is collecting.

    In the meantime I have to try not to get sent back to that hellhole.

  • James of England

    Perry, the Matthew 17 quote makes a lot more sense in context.

    24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax[b]?”
    25″Yes, he does,” he replied.
    When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak.
    [this is where the quote comes in].

    As you can see, the quote clearly does not refer to the Roman taxes (it’s not a “roman” temple, it’s *the* temple). It’s public choice economics. Obviously the King favours his family over others. ie. God favours his Chosen People over others and it is ridiculous to have him gouging them. It’s a wrongful tax. Still, it should be paid. The next passage is a miracle in which Peter is told to get a fish and the fish will have a coin to pay the tax with. In the same way, Caesar’s taxes were frequently abusive and wrongful. In the same way (as Paul notes) the actions of the masters of Christian slaves were frequently wrongful. As Christians, we’re still told to obey them.

    You don’t have to be a socialist to pay taxes you disapprove of and obey laws you don’t like. Ayn Rand paid taxes (lots of them). For a few views of Christ’s beliefs regarding Roman taxes, check these:

    “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

    “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

    “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
    “” As in all the good tax collector quotes, in case this is unclear, these are ex-tax collectors and ex-prostitutes. Christ wasn’t wanting to set up state run brothels.

    “12Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.””

    It should be recalled that the Christians who wrote the New Testament were suffering heavy persecution from the state at the point when they wrote it. We know that the chief authors were killed by the state by the cruellest way available. The atrocities committed by Herod were not admired by the evangelists and Apocalypse is pretty clear that the treaty, oops, I mean empire, of Rome (city of the seven hills) is the devil, what with its damnable CAP and whatnot. ;-)

  • “Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”.

    But that is not a remark in praise of tax collecting and prostitution, it is a remark in favour of tax collectors and prostitutes who repent.

    The passage is about how outwardly pious and socially accepted Jews would not go to heaven if they did not repent but socially reviled but repentant tax collectors and prostitutes would… which still does not indicate Jesus was a socialist.

  • Sunfish

    I am sure it was just an oversight that you neglected to include a link to the passage in the New Testament where JC calls for violence backed appropriation of the wealth of others.

    Romans 13 doesn’t directly call for violent appropriation. It does, however, seem to require submission or acquiescence. Interesting, in view of just how many movements in history have used Christianity as the foundation for opposition to extablished temporal power.

    I’ve often wondered about from whose fourth point of contact Romans came. It seems to me remarkably fawning for a religion that had been violently suppressed for the last 2-3 centuries, on and off.

    YADATROT: Part of the reason for the failure of Venezuela’s 1992 coups was that most of the military remained loyal to the democratically-elected government and the notion of democracy as a whole. I wonder how true this still is, in view of Chavez being in office for most of a decade. He’s been in a position to control promotions at the upper ranks for some time, but the middle of the officer ranks is where coups usually seem to originate.

  • JB

    Perry, I suppose I stand corrected in regards to the Jesus Christ as socialist argument.

    I am relieved to see that Chavez is also wrong about Jesus being a socialist. If Jesus really cared about humanity then it would be wrongheaded of him to advocate, for example, the theft of private property by the state as well as the impoverishment of an entire nation.

    Socialist policies are so often described as more humane and caring. . .and “christian.”

  • Jacob

    Perry,
    Please open a new thread to debate Jesus.

    Going back to Venezuela (the current topic) – a provocative question: would it not be good to have some Pinochet in Venezuela, to turn them back to prosperity ?
    I mean: the majority collectively selected socialism and poverty, imposing it by force on all. A violent regime change would be contrary to the majority’s wishes, but would better protect the rights of everyone, especially those who oppose expropiations, but even of those who support looting. Does the majority have the right to oppress the individuals ?
    A regime change would certainly favour all Venezuelans, even if many of them don’t know it, and don’t want it.

  • Jez B

    As I am married to a Venezuelan I think I can usefully contribute a sentence or two here.

    Firstly, I wanted to say that the middle-classes of this wonderful country are a talented and humourous lot. They know times are about to get a deal harder for them but they remain positive and the recent elections at least showed them they can organise together.

    Secondly, the federal nature of the country’s local government may offer some succour to anti-chavistas. The presidential contender Manuel Rosales runs (or I shd say ran) Zulia state which incorporates oil-rich Maracaibo. He is overwhelmingly popular in this outpost from fetid Caracas and Chavez would have problems if he tried enacting his socialism or death lunacy there.

    There are other positive things we can point to that mean we should not be too pessimistic for this country. This is not a Zimbabwe or Cuba or N. Korea. The middle classes are numerous, educated, ‘street-wise’ and creative. They have all spirited money and relatives out of the country already so they have emergency back up. Chavez has already embarassed himself on the global stage and his meddling in other South / Central American politics has backfired several times (note the UN security counsel palava). The corrupt cronies who are riding Chavez’ back will soon turn on him if he gets too ‘communistic’. They don’t want to be part of a new Cuba.

    That’s not to say things are going to get a helluva lot worse than they are now. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. At least I think there is. I hope there is. Oh boy do I hope there is. It would be nice to see a smile on wifey’s face again….!

    OK that’s my two pennies worth. Rock On Samizdata – keep up the good work.

  • veryretired

    It is fascinating, and horrifying, to watch a society commit economic suicide, but, like a cliche’ slasher movie, we can yell at the screen for the heroine not to walk down the dark hallway, or go into the basement, but she just has to do it, doncha know, and we can’t stop her.

    It is an ancient conceit on the part of rulers that they can control everything, and make it all work out just fine, if only they have enough power over every aspect of economic life.

    That this effort fails repeatedly, and inevitably, is explained away with the claim that they really didn’t have enough power, or there were hidden enemies sabatoging them behind the scenes, or, finally, the people just weren’t ready or good enough for their marvelous ideas to work.

    One can trace these very strands through the bolshevik or maoist or fidelista regimes’ histories, as well as older, less ideological, autocratic states run by self-important fools who thought a decree from the throne could stop the operations of supply and demand, or cause and effect.

    For, in the final analysis, the economy is nothing more or less than the sum total of the everyday lives of people, their struggles to survive, make a living, provide for their families, and maybe, just maybe, get ahead a little, put a few coins away for their old age and infirm years.

    And so, time after time, some puffed up fool says, “I will run everything and all will be well.” And ordinary people, some supposedly wise, and many frightened and foolish, respond with relief and joy, that someone will finally take care of them, that they don’t have to worry and plan and work so hard, and lie awake sleepless because there isn’t enough money, or mama is sick, or the landlord is raising the rent.

    But when all these hopes are eventually dashed, and all the promises are broken, when all the castles in the air come crashing down, it will not be their fault for following a fool, and it will not be his fault, for his intentions were good, it will be one more case of the evil machinations of the terrible capitalists, or devils of the CIA, or the jews, or maybe all of them working together in a great conspiracy to once more hold the struggling masses down and spoil their chance for paradise, for utopia, for heaven right here on earth.

    Canute reportedly strode out into the sea and forbad the tide, and Chavez swaggers up to the podium and announces he’s cancelling the laws of economics.

    Both are spitting into the wind. Comical, and terrible, all at the same time—a very bad movie I’ve already seen.

    When the poet said hope springs eternal in the human breast, he must not have realized the same could be said for stupidity.

  • Jim

    … that the province of Alberta in Canada is the biggest of exporters of oil to the US and the Alberta oil sands’ reserves surpass those of Saudi Arabia…

    – An aside, if I may. Sadly, there’s oil and there’s oil, and one of the factors delaying Alberta’s Athabaska Tar Sands’ exploitation for decades, was that its oil isn’t as “oily” as it might be. Athabaskan oil is in tar form, in a sand deposit near the Earth’s surface (hence “tar sands”). After umpty-millennia close to the surface, all the lighter fractions have long since evaporated-off, and diesel is the lightest fraction commercially distillable from them – i.e., no gasoline. Lotsa bunker-c tho’…

  • Jacob

    veryretired,
    As usual, a very good piece. Thanks.

  • Nick M

    veryretired,
    I wish you weren’t.
    Great post.

  • methodman

    What timing! I managed to schedule a trip last July to visit a friend in Venezuela for a couple of weeks over New Year’s, certainly not knowing that I would be visiting a way station on the road to serfdom.

    I don’t have a tremendous amount of insight to offer (my lack of familiarity with the language was a significant barrier unfortunately), only this observation.

    I visited my hostess’s grandfather’s house shortly after Chavez’s speech. The 80 year old man, who put three children through college including law and teaching degrees, had some things to say to my amiga. I hadn’t heard about the speech yet and didn’t understand what I was hearing on the radio (the speech followup), and my hostess didn’t translate her grandfather’s comments, but Chavez and communist dictator came up. All was confirmed when he finished up his comments with one phrase even this gringo understood: “Aye carumba…”

    I hope it doesn’t get too bad before two years time. My friend is convinced she needs to stay and finish her degree at home before moving on for advanced degrees. I hope she makes it out.

    One other note, just based on my webscanning while I had some time to kill while there: the day before Chavez’s speech, I read a couple of articles about an impending government bond sale. Other than “he just doesn’t care,” nothing comes to mind about why Chavez would be so reckless when his chance to grab some extra cash was obviously impending.

    And second, when I arrived December 29th, Bolivares were trading at around 3000 for the USD$. After Chavez’s speech, USD$s were worth 4000 VEBs. Thanks, Hugo, but you shouldn’t have for me..!

    Good to be back to the Samizdata..I really did think of you all while down there.

    Another observation: Chavez’s face is on almost all of the tow trucks in the northern part of the country. The freakin’ tow trucks. (Government run, of course…“Bolivarian” government nonetheless.)

    Pardon this comment if it’s a bit rambling. It is certainly time for me to catch up on some long-lost sleep.