Venezuela is the poster child for life under Progressive rule. It has suffered under socialist Hugo Chavez since 1999 when he rose to power by promising people free stuff. Venezuela could afford this for a while - it was one of the worlds major oil exporters and used to be an agricultural and fishing powerhouse. As people wanted more and more free stuff and as Chavez's cronies skimmed off more and more of the nation's wealth, Chavez had to start nationalizing those businesses with foreign investors
Of course, the foreign devils left Venezuela and the idea of maintenance and repair went with them. Their power grid is a joke and their urban water and sewage systems are in dire need of repair.
Now it has come to this - from Bloomberg:
Venezuela’s Poor Neighbors Flee en Masse Years After Arrival
Thirty years after leaving the poverty and violence of Colombia for oil-rich Venezuela, Oscar Mina, a 56-year-old construction worker, is heading home.
“Prices are going up every day and the money bills are worthless,”said Mina, sipping beer with compatriots in the Petare slum of eastern Caracas, militant graffiti on the walls, trash in the streets. “Is that governing for the poor?”
In a way, no group has benefited more from Venezuela’s socialist revolution of the past 15 years than the millions of Colombians who have moved here in recent decades. Free housing, education and health care turned them into rock-solid supporters of the late President Hugo Chavez.
So it is telling that tens of thousands of them are leaving -- 200,000 in the past few years, according to Ivan De La Vega, a migration scholar at Caracas’s Simon Bolivar University. As the Colombians’ disillusionment with the collapsing economy mounts, it becomes clear that Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, is in deep trouble. His party -- which already lost the support of the upper and middle classes (many of whom have also left the country) -- appears headed for defeat when congressional elections are held later this year.
And of course, Maduro and the other elites never felt the problems they were creating - they lived in an artificial bubble of palaces, limousines and the best that money could buy. Complete isolation.
With oil prices slumping, the final straw for many Colombians was Maduro’s ban on remittances last year in an attempt to save scarce foreign reserves and stave off default. Prior to that they could send wages home at the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar, which translated the minimum monthly wage at the time to about $520 dollars. This compared with a Colombian minimum wage of about $300.
Venezuela had the highest gross domestic product per capita in South America at the peak of the oil boom in 1976. By 2013, it was in fourth place.
A bit more:
Discrimination is adding to the economic pain. Maduro has blamed foreign smugglers for food shortages caused by price controls, deporting more than 2,000 Colombians so far this year.
“When they hear our accents in the food line, government activists start abusing us,” said Diaz. “It hurts me to go -- I spent over half my life here -- but this is no longer a country fit for living. It’s completely decayed.”
Chavez' successor, Nicolas Maduro, is compounding the problem by instituting price controls. In the free market, the price would rise and fall with availability. Now, he has introduced price controls which means that when an item is available, the first few people in line hog it all because they do not know when it will be available again. This failed in Soviet Russia and it fails whenever it is implemented - anyone remember the gas lines of the Nixon administration? Same thing - price fixing.
What worries me is that the USA, as a nation, is heading down a very similar pathway. We need to get some adults in the room...