Self-avowed socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is beginning to close in on Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, no doubt has the country's best interests at heart, but we simply wish he was more educated on the effects of socialist policies on vitally important issues like commerce and the laws of economics. Why? Because if he becomes president, and his socialist economic policies get adopted, the country just might starve to death.
No, really, that's not hyperbole. Because socialism is starving people around the world, and nowhere is that more obvious and pronounced than in Venezuela, the oil-rich South American nation that is now suffering a double whammy: socialism and falling oil prices.
But rather than changing policy, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is trying to change fate. In recent days he ordered gasoline prices raised for the first time in 20 years, and has devalued the nation's currency in an attempt to raise revenue.
Those changes won't do much to stock shelves in government-run grocery stores, however, which have been suffering shortages of just about everything, and for years.
You can't change the laws of economics
As NaturalNews reported in January 2015, hungry citizens are forced to wait hours in grocery store lines, and even endure the presence of the Venezuelan military, who ensure that they don't buy more than they are allowed because of such chronic shortages.
Bloomberg News further reported on conditions in the capital city:
Long lines, some stretching for blocks, formed outside grocery stores in the South American country's capital as residents search for scarce basic items such as detergent and chicken.
Oil revenues provide Venezuela with 95 percent of its annual budget – much of which, when oil prices were high, was spent on providing nearly everything to the nation's mostly impoverished citizens. Now that the oil revenues have fallen due to a global oil glut, the government has not changed its socialist welfare policies – but it can no longer provide the people with what they need.
Making matters worse, is the fact that there is little additional commerce in the country, including at the government-run grocery stores, so there is little additional revenue to purchase goods to restock shelves.
As The Economist reports:
The current oil slump would be painful, whoever was in power. The regime has greatly compounded the damage with policies that, though designed to favour the poor, end up impoverishing them and the state. Price controls—along with the shortage of foreign exchange—have led to acute shortages of basic goods, forcing people to queue for hours to buy necessities. Inflation is officially running at 141% as of September last year (the latest available figure). Analysts believe the true figure is at least 200% a year; some predict hyperinflation in 2016.
Doubling down on bad policy
Maduro appointed a new economic team in January, but many of them are more wedded to Leftist ideology than to economics. For instance, The Economist reported, the minister who is in charge of the economy overall, Luis Salas, "is a left-wing sociologist who, like others in the government, attributes the country's problems to an 'economic war.' He rejects some basic tenets of conventional economics, for example that printing too much money causes inflation."
What's more, the Maduro regime tries to keep the public ignorant of just how bad things are in the country, by domination and manipulation of the country's media. Reporters are not permitted, for instance, to take pictures of empty store shelves (especially when a news anchor is telling the people the government has plenty for them, and that stores are full).
It's one thing to want to alleviate poverty, as Maduro no doubt does, and as Sanders would no doubt attempt to do. But doubling down on policies that remove profit motives and incentives and de-industrialize the country, thereby dramatically limiting commerce and revenue for other things the government is required to do, are not sound economic policies. Venezuela is just one of many current examples of this; others include Cuba, Bolivia, Greece, and a number of other European nations.