Free Stuff and Its Consequences

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Among news stories covering the sham "reelection" of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela -- many of which broke with the practice established during the financial crisis of never using the word "socialist" -- were two short paragraphs in the Guardian that pretty much tell you all you need to know about that political system:

Vote for us or starve. (Image of CLAP box via Wikimedia Commons.)
At a campaign rally in the western city of Barquisimeto, Maduro put it this way: "The Fatherland protects you and gives you everything. And you must give the Fatherland political power."

But just to make sure, the government has banned the two most popular opposition politicians -- Leopoldo López who is under house arrest for inciting violence and Henrique Capriles who faces trumped-up corruption charges -- from running. [link added for details on "incitement"]
Don't be fooled by the lack of a substantial difference among Maduro and his opponents: This is socialism in a nutshell. That said, I still think American admirers of Bernie Sanders should pay a visit or seek employment there. The linked Wikitravel site contains the following warning from the U.S. State Department:
WARNING: The US State Department advice [sic] to reconsider travel to Venezuela due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens. Some areas have increased risk. Do not travel to certain neighborhoods of Caracas due to crime. The tourists areas are considered today relatively safe for tourists, however. Read the newest Travel Advisory here (January 10, 2018) Venezuela Travel Advisory[.]
Many of these same people will dismiss this as imperialistic propaganda, while both (1) admitting there are problems, which they will blame on the United States and the "big" oil corporations that first developed Venezuela's resources; and (2) working overtime to continue broadening the role of our government well beyond its proper scope. Conservatives might chuckle at such hypocrisy (while often sharing it), but the naiveté worries me.

Just for starters: The whole idea that an all-powerful government is a good thing rests on the foolish assumption that it will act in ways one deems beneficial. But what is beneficial and what is the best way to achieve a good goal? Has a supporter of socialism ever been in disagreement with another person about anything? And what happens when the person who disagrees with you has the gun? It is a sobering thought that large numbers of people who fail to ask such obvious questions can visit such horrible consequences on themselves and everyone around them.

-- CAV

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