For John, BLUF: Socialism built on a sound base of free enterprise does pretty well for a while. However, when you destroy the base everything else falls apart. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Last week Salon had an article by Mr David Sirota, praising the late Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, "Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle".
The subheadline was "The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains."
Here is the lede:
For the last decade in American politics, Hugo Chavez became a potent political weapon – within a few years of his ascent, he was transformed from just a leader of a neighboring nation into a boogeyman synonymous with extremism. Regularly invoked in over-the-top political rhetoric, Chavez’s name became a decontextualized epithet to try to attach to a political opponent so as to make that opponent look like a radical. Because of this, America barely flinched upon hearing the news that the Bush administration tried to orchestrate a coup against the democratically elected Venezuelan leader.And here is how the article ends:
Likewise, in a United States whose poverty rate is skyrocketing, are there any lessons to be learned from Venezuela’s policies that so rapidly reduced poverty?So there you have it. We should try to emulate the economic approach of President Hugo Chavez, Bolivarianism.♠
And in a United States that has become more unequal than many Latin American nations, are there any constructive lessons to be learned from Chavez’s grand experiment with more aggressive redistribution?
No doubt, there are few absolutely clear answers to those uncomfortable questions, if those questions are assessed honestly. Most likely, in fact, the answers are murky. But such questions need to be asked. The problem is that even gently raising them typically gets one tarred and feathered as a communist and then inevitably called a Hugo Chavez pal (even if Chavez’s overall record is also being criticized!). At the moment Chavez’s name is invoked, the conversation is inevitably terminated, ending any possibility of discourse.
That is by design – it is what the longtime caricaturing and marginalizing of Chavez was always supposed to do. But maybe now that the iconoclast is dead, the cartoon will end. Maybe now Chavez’s easily ridiculed bombast can no longer be used to distract from Venezuela’s record – and, thus, a more constructive, honest and critical economic conversation can finally begin.
In contrast to this condemnation of US Policy and US Economics, we have this article from Mr Nicholas Caseymay, of The New York Times:
BARCELONA, Venezuela — By morning, three newborns were already dead.There you have it, in Venezuela death is the great equalizer.
The day had begun with the usual hazards: chronic shortages of antibiotics, intravenous solutions, even food. Then a blackout swept over the city, shutting down the respirators in the maternity ward.
Doctors kept ailing infants alive by pumping air into their lungs by hand for hours. By nightfall, four more newborns had died.
“The death of a baby is our daily bread,” said Dr. Osleidy Camejo, a surgeon in the nation’s capital, Caracas, referring to the toll from Venezuela’s collapsing hospitals.
The economic crisis in this country has exploded into a public health emergency, claiming the lives of untold numbers of Venezuelans. It is just part of a larger unraveling here that has become so severe it has prompted President Nicolás Maduro to impose a state of emergency and has raised fears of a government collapse.
Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.
At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.
“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.
The figures are devastating. The rate of death among babies under a month old increased more than a hundredfold in public hospitals run by the Health Ministry, to just over 2 percent in 2015 from 0.02 percent in 2012, according to a government report provided by lawmakers.
The rate of death among new mothers in those hospitals increased by almost five times in the same period, according to the report.
Regards — Cliff