Free Markets, Free People

Chavez Hastens Venezuelan Descent Into Pure Totalitarianism

I’m not sure how you could call this anything else:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that businesses have no reason to raise prices following the devaluation of the bolivar and that the government will seize any entity that boosts its prices.

Chavez said he’ll create an anti-speculation committee to monitor prices after private businesses said that prices would double and consumers rushed to buy household appliances and televisions. The government is the only authority able to dictate price increases, he said.

“The bourgeois are already talking about how all prices are going to double and they’re closing their businesses to raise prices,” Chavez said in comments on state television during his weekly “Alo Presidente” program. “People, don’t let them rob you, denounce it, and I’m capable of taking over that business.”

Not only is he “capable” of taking the business over, but he’s turning out the army to monitor all of this. And he’s promised to “transfer the ownership” of any business raising prices “to the workers”. We’ve all seen how well those sorts of takeovers have worked out in the past.

To review, he’s devalued the bolivar which had been fixed at 2.15 to the U.S. dollar since 2005, to 4.3 to the dollar. He then declared that businesses – which own stock under the old currency value and which will have to restock using the devalued currency – must keep their prices at the old price and let consumers buy that stock with the devalued currency or lose their business. A unilateral decision on his part and the refusal, again unilaterally, to allow those who own the goods they’re selling to react to his decision.

Where I come from, that’s called totalitarianism.

~McQ

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26 Responses to Chavez Hastens Venezuelan Descent Into Pure Totalitarianism

  • The scary part is how many leftists believe he’s doing something quite reasonable. I know they exist because they are advocating things in the healthcare bill that are only a step or two removed from the same kind of otherworldly idiocy.

  • Actually, that’s tyranny. Totalitarianism is when such tyranny reaches into all of business/economic decisions, personal behavior and religion. Venezuela probably is trending totalitarian, but this is only evidence of garden-variety tyranny.

  • Let me take the opportunity to renew my claim (which I think I made here) that Barack Obama is a greater danger to the United States than Hugo Chavez is to Venezuela.

    We have much more to lose and a far greater distance to fall, but Obama is the man for the job.

    • I have to disagree with you Martin. Overall, Obama is more dangerous because damaging the US will send out significant ripples. But Obama will not damage the US the way Hugo has damaged Venzuela; O will not get that far.

      • I’ll mark you down as an optimist, Don.

        But I’ll cite just two major briefs against Obama:

        1. He will sign that totalitarian monstrosity of a health care bill.

        2. The move of the KSM trial into a civilian court.

        The latter, in my book, is a fifth columnist asymmetrical attack on both the American legal system and U.S. national security. And, yes, I think it is intentional, i.e., not just well intentioned madness.

        As for the health care bill, I would throw my hands up and say “I tremble for my country” if the American people simply wanted it. They don’t. And the town hall meetings presaged the fact that Obama and Democrats would not hear objections to it. That’s why the town hall participants were attacked so vehemently from the Left. Yet it is their sentiment that prevails among most Americans.

        That’s before you get to the fact that the plan effectively usurps one-sixth of the U.S. economy — the medical industry.

        That’s damage aplenty right there. And I continue to maintain that Obama is more dangerous to America than Chavez is to Venezuela. That with only two items named. I could easily go to ten.

        • I think the healthcare thing and other Obama actions will help end his parties control in 2010 and his own career in 2012.  Hence, the damage done by Obama will be limited, because of the American people. I do not believe Hugo will meet such a limit . . .

          Further, I think that it will be possible to roll back ObamaCare, since the bill is due starting in 2010 but benifits start 2014, and it is so hated and our overspending is already so bad.

          But you are probably right that I’m an optimist.

          • I should say in advance that I’m not exaggerating as I write this:

            With Obama I am worried about what he will do this week and next week and the week after that. I am worried about what he will do today. Next month, let alone next November, or 2012, under these conditions, are far horizons. I am convinced that he literally hates the United States and that he is programmatically trying to destroy it. I offer the past year as evidence. I am not worried about being viewed as an “Obama hater” or a “virulent right-winger.” My interest is in American civil society and its future. And this “fundamental transformation” that Obama is trying to force on a country that does not want it goes way beyond the usual liberal “everything is a crisis and we have all the solutions” position. This is something out of a revanchist melding of postmodernism and late-stage Soviet active measures.

            Half the country still remains stupefied enough by public education and media catering to believe in Obama’s sonorous voice thing.

            As I wrote earlier this year, Obama is a character out of a novel that Orwell did not live to write.

            Islamic terrorists blow up buildings; the Left destroys entire civilizations.

            For instance, pledging to close Guantanamo because it’s a “recruiting tool” for terrorists and then bringing the most serious Islamist war criminal in captivity to Broadway for a show trial is a deliberate provocation of jihadists that puts the lie to the stated concern about Guantanamo.

            And that’s not even the worst thing about that move.

  • So.
    Is anyone doing *anything* to counter the message to the Venezuelan people that business owners are evil and just want to rob you and that there are no principles of economics that magically change what is true and observable to any person in their private life that is not also true in the confusing and unknowable complexity of economics on the national level?
     
    Down in So. America “liberal” means “liberal markets” or even capitalism and is vilified, and people are poor enough that it seems to make sense to them that those with money want only to exploit them.   Often enough, I suppose it’s even true.     But even in the United States where people are well off they will believe the most egregious garbage for the larger picture while understanding very well how human nature and economic motivation work in their own lives.
     
    I don’t think that Voice of America is around any more, and I suppose if it *was* it’s probably broadcasting, “Yay!  Go Chavez!”

    • Synova, think about it this way.  The Democrats in our own country are now finding it very hard to implement their left wing agenda because a large number of our electorate right now is very cynical about big government.  They are not likely to fall for all the BS.
      The two biggest exemptions are minorities and young people, both of whom are not as politically and economically sophisticated as the average.
      But look how long it took us just to get this far! Think about how people were in FDR’s time, they lapped all that socialist crap up like mothers milk.  Now, think of how much further behind a third world agrarian society like Venezuela is.

  • Billy HollisThe scary part is how many leftists believe he’s doing something quite reasonable.

    Synova - Down in So. America “liberal” means “liberal markets” or even capitalism and is vilified, and people are poor enough that it seems to make sense to them that those with money want only to exploit them.   Often enough, I suppose it’s even true.     But even in the United States where people are well off they will believe the most egregious garbage for the larger picture while understanding very well how human nature and economic motivation work in their own lives.

    I’m not sure why humans are so motivated by jealousy, but we really seem to be.  Unscupulous politicians use this to their advantage by:

    — Choosing some relatively small and apparently affluent group (Jews, Wall Street, capitalists, etc);

    —  Getting the rest of the people to believe that their economic woes are solely due to the designated bad guys;

    —  Promising to punish the bad guys and give their money “back” to the people.

    I have yet to understand how punishing one person or group helps another person or group, but people seem to believe that it does.  At the very least, they seem to take delight in watching other people suffer.

    • It’s schadenfreude Doc, plain and simple.   There is perhaps an innate recognition we can’t ALL live in big houses, so the solution is we should all live in mud huts.  It hasn’t elevated me one but, but it prevents Joe from having a mansion, he can grovel down here in the dirt with the rest of us by thunder.   I was told by an Ozzie friend that there it’s called  “tall poppy syndrome”.  It’s damned near universal in the species for some reason, I think because so many people cannot imagine what it would be like to be elevated from their position, but they CAN envision what it would be like for that rich SOB, whoever he is, to be lowered.

    • “I have yet to understand how punishing one person or group helps another person or group, but people seem to believe that it does.  At the very least, they seem to take delight in watching other people suffer.”
      There’s the rub.  Punishing the rich and powerful doesn’t have to accomplish anything for the poor and weak.  It just has to appeal to enough rubes to secure a 50%+1 majority to enable the demagogue’s hold on power.  It also serves to keep the public’s attention off the far more egregious malfeasance of the group in power.  Mission Accomplished!

  • I predict that Chavez might wind up like Salvador Allende, “Shot twelve times in the head, pausing only twice to re-load”. (National Lampoon Magazine circa 1975)

  • When Chavez successfully amended the Venezuelan constitution to remove term limits, I remember my Venezuelan coworkers here in the U.S. were just heartbroken – they didn’t even want to talk about it.  Can’t say I blame ‘em, either.
     

  • One can never trust a currency with a fixed exchange rate, or the state enforcing it.

  • “Is anyone doing *anything* to counter the message to the Venezuelan people that business owners are evil and just want to rob you and that there are no principles of economics that magically change what is true and observable to any person in their private life that is not also true in the confusing and unknowable complexity of economics on the national level?”
    The economist poll of Latin America found that Venezuelans positive views of capitalism and market forces actually increased in recent years.
    Its one thing to espouse socialism (or just be apathetic) when its done in Berkeley and not very seriously. When you can’t buy coffee because the fixed-price is too low, well, you start to figure it out.

  • The last two charts are one for support of markets, (up in Venzuela) and also support for Chaves, Obama, etc,.

  • Another great leap forward!

  • From a clinical view, its interesting to watch, seems very textbook.  History repeating its self.  I believe the next play is to blame the smaller and smaller portion of the economy that is not controlled be the government for the increasing number of problems related to the government’s “great leap forward”.  Either that or a foreign powers fault.

    • Blaming foreign powers or the private sector is just for show. The Left always ends up by blaming the people themselves. They are either weak or lazy or, after being gradually infantilized by Leftist government, too infantile.

  • How have the actions of Hugo Chavez effected the investment environment within Latin America? Commodities expert Robert Petrucci explains
    http://www.alternativelatininvestor.com/commodities2.php