Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom once said:
Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them. They then start to nationalise everything, and people just do not like more and more nationalisation, and they’re now trying to control everything by other means. They’re progressively reducing the choice available to ordinary people.
by Patrick Gillespie | September 14, 2017: 11:52 AM ET
Let them eat rabbits.
That was basically the message from President Nicolas Maduro to Venezuelans starving and struggling through severe food shortages brought on by a spiraling economic crisis.
Maduro unveiled “Plan Rabbit” on Wednesday with his agriculture minister, Freddy Bernal, at a meeting that was broadcast on Periscope. (In the video, the announcement comes after the two-hour mark).
The Venezuelan leaders, who blame President Trump and the United States for Venezuela’s economic crisis, recommend that people raise rabbits at home as a source of food.
“The rabbit isn’t a pet, it’s only two and a half kilos of meat,” Bernal said smiling, with a few laughs around him. “Trump’s attack against the Venezuelan people is an opportunity to revise and change cultural consumption patterns.”
Maduro, grinning, cheered Bernal’s talk, adding “The first part of Plan Rabbit moves forward!” He added that some rabbits have already been distributed to a few communities as part of a pilot project.
There’s more at the original. As I have said, many times before, capitalism is the only economic system we have ever seen which has lifted more than a small minority above the subsistence level. And now we are seeing that socialism, imposed upon benighted Venezuela by Hugo Chavez, can reduce a formerly prosperous people back to the subsistence level.
Venezuela was once Latin America’s wealthiest nation, and it has the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves,¹ and now it’s flat broke.
Think about that: Venezuela actually imports other people’s money, in the form of dollars paid for its crude oil, so it’s not as though the country’s socialist economic system has to support itself; it is bringing in the fruits of the productivity of other nations, and it has still gone broke. The “Bolivarian socialism” of Hugo Chavez, so highly praised by economic geniuses like Sean Penn and Cindy Sheehan, has now reduced an oil exporting nation to a subsistence-level lifestyle.
Yet, The New Republic tells us that the Socialism America needs now is just around the corner.
To be sure, John Judis’ article eschews the Marxian socialism, noting that it hasn’t worked and been authoritarian in implementation. He prefers something akin to the quasi-socialist systems in Western Europe, where the “means of production” for non-essential industries remain in private hands, but with government extracting enough of the profits to provide a cradle-to-grave welfare system. We already have a huge welfare problem, with too many people who could work choosing not to work, because they know that the government will not let them starve to death.
This is what Bernie Sanders and the American left want to bring to America, a system in which the people who do not want to work must be supported by those who will. But President Chavez has already tried that, with various subsidies for the poor, and price controls to enable their money to go further. When the price of oil was outrageously high, and before the government’s nationalization of the petroleum industry drove out skilled, foreign workers, reducing production, it worked. Once the price of oil settled back down, and the skilled workers had left, it all collapsed. Government management of the economy didn’t work in Venezuela, any more than it did in Cuba or the Soviet Union or North Korea. The Chinese leadership were at least smart enough to return to capitalism, though they never admit that.
The left despise the free market, because the capitalist system which produces winners, people who become better off than others because they have been more productive, also allows for losers, people who are living in poverty, because they are simply not very productive. The left believe that no one should be poor, but every attempt we have ever seen to equalize outcomes, to provide greater rewards than lower production people have earned has meant that more productive people see the fruits of their labor stolen from them, and they cease being as productive. Equality of outcome under every form of socialism we have ever seen has resulted in equality of poverty for most people, with only a few — normally: the men with guns — living very well.
The left believe that socialism will somehow make everyone well off; history has shown us that socialism simply makes almost everyone poor.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
¹ – Venezuelan oil is “heavy, sour,” which means it has more impurities and is more difficult to refine than “light, sweet” crude. This brings down the price per barrel of oil produced in Venezuela.