Based in Las Vegas, Douglas french writes about the  economy and book reviews. 

Young Americans Pine for Socialism while Venezuelans Live the Horror

Young Americans Pine for Socialism while Venezuelans Live the Horror

While socialist Venezuela descends into hyper-inflated chaos, young Americans, oblivious to what’s going on in the world around them, and bereft of proper economics training, are falling in love with the very political system that is destroying what usedd to be  South America’s most prosperous country.

As if it were groundhog day, Olivia Katbi told, “My politics were to the left of the Democratic party but I didn’t realise there was an entire ideology, an entire movement that was there. It had never occurred to me.”  Did she skip class the day her economics instructor gushed about Karl Marx?

The 25-year old Katbi says, “Bernie was my introduction to the concept of democratic socialism. It’s not like I associated it with the cold war. It was a new concept to me completely. That was the case for a lot of millennials, which is why the movement has grown so much.”

This nonsense is anything but brand new. After all, Marx wrote, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” what, sometime in the 1800’s.

The Democratic Socialists of America are now 25,000 strong with “Part of its membership veer[ing] toward Scandinavian-style social democracy of universal healthcare and welfare nets. Others embrace more traditional socialism of large-scale public ownership,” writes Chris McGreal.  

Katbi isn’t feeling the burn, she likes the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn. “I really liked Labour’s succinct tagline: for the many, not the few. That’s a great summary of what socialism is. It’s democratic control of the society we live in. That includes universal healthcare. Universal education. Public housing. Public control of energy resources. State ownership of banks. That’s what I understand socialism to be when I heard Bernie Sanders introduce it,” she told the guardian.

The new crop of socialists don’t realize Ludwig von Mises debunked socialism long ago. “In abolishing economic calculation the general adoption of socialism would result in complete chaos and the disintegration of social cooperation under the division of labor,” wrote the great Austrian economist.  

Meanwhile we have a modern socialist experiment imploding before our eyes. President Maduro emphasizes his stance to continue the efforts of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, to lift up Venezuela using socialist policies.  These policies have led to shortages of everything, from food to toilet paper, while the government’s printing presses have created hyperinflation.  

Ms. Katbi should meet Dayana, a 30-year-old mother of four who was featured in a Miami Herald article entitled, “In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.”

Dayana was the manager of a food-processing plant on the outskirts of Caracas.

However, that job disappeared when the government seized the factory and “looted it,” she told The Herald’s Jim Wyss.

Unable to find any other job, she became a prostitute in the capital, Bogotá.  She moved to Arauca, located along the border with Venezuela, because it was easier to send food back to her children in Caracas.

Her sister drives 18 hours from Caracas to pick up groceries Dayana purchases — pasta, tuna, rice, cooking oil — and then must immediately jump on a bus back home.

“If you had told me four years ago that I would be here, doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you,” she says. “But we’ve gone from crisis to crisis to crisis, and now look where we are.”

While the inflation rate is in triple figures now, the International Monetary Fund believes Venezuela is looking at over 2,300% inflation next year.  Bloomberg reports,

An intensifying political crisis that’s spiraled since 2014 has weighed heavily on economic activity. Gross domestic product is expected to contract 6 percent next year, after shrinking an estimated 12 percent in 2017, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report published Tuesday.   

The socialist meltdown has Marili, a 47-year-old grandmother and former teacher, turning tricks so she can buy hypertension medication for her mother back in Caracas.

“We’re all just women who are working to support our families,” she said. “I refuse to criticize anyone, including myself. We all have to work.”

Educated women are becoming prostitutes in a “country with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, because food has grown so scarce that three in four citizens report involuntary weight loss, averaging 19 pounds in a year,” writes Max Fisher and Amanda Taub for The Independent.

Back in the USA socialist fantasyland,  Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party, won a seat on Seattle’s city council in 2013 and spearheaded the increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. She was re-elected two years ago promising a tax on the rich in a state with no income tax, and would like to see industry taken into public ownership or worker cooperatives.

Ms. Katbi preaches, “There’s a lot of polarisation. I know of people my age who are ardent Trump supporters who are very about individualism, about libertarianism, to an extent. But I think when you really start to think about these things, it’s clear that’s just selfishness and socialism is about the collective good versus hoarding it all for yourself.”

We can hope Ms. Katbi is but a blip on the radar screen and not indicative of a movement. However, Mises tells us why we should always be scared:  

In fact Socialism is not in the least what it pretends to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created. It does not build; it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it. It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means of production has created.

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