Venezuela's socialist regime triggers a collapse worse than any nation not at war -NYT

In an amazing piece that forgot to mention that little 's' word called 'socialism,' the New York Times nevertheless has a stunning report about what economists are saying about Venezuela's economic collapse experience under socialism.

Read with caution, because even though we already know that Venezuela's a dump, this report (and its horrifying pictures) will make you sick:

MARACAIBO, Venezuela — Zimbabwe’s collapse under Robert Mugabe. The fall of the Soviet Union. Cuba’s disastrous unraveling in the 1990s.

The crumbling of Venezuela’s economy has now outpaced them all.

Venezuela’s fall is the single largest economic collapse outside of war in at least 45 years, economists say.

“It’s really hard to think of a human tragedy of this scale outside civil war,” said Kenneth Rogoff, an economics professor at Harvard University and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. “This will be a touchstone of disastrous policies for decades to come.”

The institute estimates that the drop in Venezuela’s economic output under Mr. Maduro has undergone the steepest decline by any country not at war since at least 1975.

By year’s end, Venezuela’s gross domestic product will have shrunk by 62 percent since the beginning of the recession in 2013, which coincided with Mr. Maduro coming to power, according to the finance institute’s estimates. (Venezuela’s government hasn’t released official macroeconomic statistics since 2014, forcing economists to rely on indicators like imports to estimate economic activity.)

To start, that 62% decline is a monster. I remember some extremely huge collapses in other countries over my career reporting news that didn't come anywhere near that 62% and they were overwhelming - Indonesia's in 1998 was a -26% GDP collapse,  Argentina's in 2002 was -11%. Impoverishment was massive and both countries saw locals riot, burn, and overturn their governments as a result. We all know what the Obama economy with its low growth numbers was like, so these collapses linked to fiscal mismanagement in the two less destroyed countries were huge indeed. I remember what a wasteland Indonesia became, first with fiery riots and then with dead banks, and then dead businesses - dead radio transmissions because every radio station went under across the Javanese countryside, and all the billboards on the rough neglected roads turned white because nobody could afford to advertise. I remember desperate people eating cats and dogs. I also remember how ragingly angry Argentines were at their lost prosperity, too, kicking in bank windows, pounding them with hammers and covering these beautiful belle epoque buildings with graffiti.

Now there's Venezuela, with about three times the economic meltdown of those countries, a system in complete collapse, far beyond that of the others.

The economists cited say that only a state of war could be worse, but that brings up something important that the old Soviet dissidents used to say about the nature of socialism: That socialism itself is war. And surprise, surprise, its results look exactly like those of countries at war, because, well, it is war, too. The results in Venezuela ought to be a lesson to the lefties out there, desperately trying to ignore that country as they tout socialism over here.  (Tim Carney has a fascinating piece about how they are embracing this destructive path out of a quest for community.)

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn wrote a lot about socialism amounting to warfare in the Soviet Union. His 1979 Harvard address described its effects there of that constant war footing as leaving the people in a state of "spiritual exhaustion."

There are a lot of reasons for it, but some Solzhenitsyn quotes about this are useful to consider:

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.

Violence? As we have watched on television, there is a hell of a lot of state violence in Venezuela. The socialist regime is mowing down protestors with armored vehicles in the streets. And of course, it's explicitly to preserve lies. Sounds like war.

Socialism of any type leads to a total destruction of the human spirit.

Socialism is indeed at odds with human nature - this is why it never works. War, destruction, same thing. The violence and lies follow.

A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.

The constant state of warfare is always a byproduct of militant socialism, hollering on about class war, wreckers, hoarders, saboteurs and Jews. So not surprising in the least that the country starts to look as something seen only in warfare, something today's glib socialists in Congress ought to be asked about.

The New York Times story shows with proof positive that socialism is warfare and up close, it's very ugly indeed. War is hell and so is socialism.

Image credit: Voice of America public domain


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