A defining characteristic of socialism in all its forms in all places and at all times is a relatively small political elite (and its “private sector” cronies) that lives lavishly by plundering its population, destroying its economy, imposing a regime of equality of poverty and misery; and turning almost everyone into a dependent on the state for survival. Joseph Stalin was the wealthiest man in the world during his time, not the Rockefellers, Morgans, or anyone else, as the de facto “owner” of the entire Soviet Union. African and Latin American socialist political thugs in the “post-colonial era” have long been notorious for becoming millionaires or billionaires, with Swiss bank accounts galore, while their people starved and begged them for subsistence. Socialism’s one percenters make today’s Wall Street plutocrats seem impoverished by comparison.
The latest glaring example of the disgusting and immoral corruption of socialism’s one percenters is Venezuela, a country that has “long been the darling of the [socialist] Left,” according to a June 16 article in the Daily Mail. The article, authored by Jake Wallis Simons, has the headline: “Super-rich socialists quaff champagne in Venezuelan country clubs while middle-class mothers scavenge for food in the gutter . . . even the dogs are starving.”
Venezuelan socialism, known as “Chavismo,” after the wealthy socialist one percenter Hugo Chavez, has indeed destroyed the country’s economy. Thanks to government-imposed price controls that hold prices below costs, supermarkets are empty, everything is in short supply or simply unavailable, and middle-class people are literally “rummaging in stinking piles of rubbish for cabbage leaves . . . and fetid meat,” according to the Daily Mail article, which includes dozens of pictures of these pathetic scenes. Among the most disturbing pictures are those of starving dogs and other animals in this socialist “paradise.”
Nationalization, price controls, and suffocating government regulations have so destroyed the remnants of capitalism that hospitals can’t afford toilet paper, let alone medicine; people wait in queues for ten our twelve hours a day, just like in the old Soviet Union, in hopes of buying something – anything – that might come up for sale in hopes of trading it for things they actually need; there is raging hyperinflation as the government tries to print money like mad to continue paying for its socialist fantasies; and crime is the worst of anywhere on earth. One middle-class woman is quoted in the article as saying “Chavez’s legacy is people like me looking for food in the garbage.”
Black markets are pervasive, also just like the old Soviet Union, but the wealthy make out the best from this situation because only they can afford to pay the astronomically higher black-market prices or to pay the bribes demanded by black marketeers. The politically-connected socialist elite lives high on the hog, entertaining themselves quite lavishly at such places as the Caracas Country Club, where the membership fee alone is almost 500 times the average annual salary of a middle-class Venezuelan worker. The Daily Mail article is adorned with pictures of “lavish parties and tables groaning with gourmet food.” It quotes one wealthy Chavez crony as saying, “Should we stop enjoying ourselves just because the country is burning?” Well, of course not. (This reminded me of the scene in “History of the World, Part II” where Mel Brooks, portraying the revolutionary-era King of France, is approached by an alarmed aid who says: “Sire, the peasants are revolting!” To which the “king” answers: “They certainly are”).
“Those rich people are thieves,” says the woman quoted by the Daily Mail. “They are government cronies and they stole the country’s money . . . . We had a socialist revolution and these are the results.” “I feel cheated. Our socialist dream is falling apart,” said another pathetically-duped victim of Bernie Sanders/Hugo Chavez-style socialism.
Meanwhile, according to a recent poll, 46 percent of American “millennials” say they could vote for a socialist for president, who they believe would end political cronyism, “get money out of politics,” and redistribute the wealth of the politically-connected one percenters to them. This, of course, is complete nonsense and an expression of extreme ignorance. As F.A. Hayek explained in his classic, The Road to Serfdom, the reality is that under socialism, “the only power worth having is political power.”
It is capitalism, private property, and markets that provide the most potential for economic opportunity, economic advance based on merit, hard work, savings, entrepreneurship, and individual initiative. Who says the government schools are not teaching the kids much these days?