The lie – that central planning and a command economy run by enlightened socialists is superior to capitalism.
As usual, that’s been proven to be false … again … and as irony would have it, capitalism is their savior.
Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.
His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. "imperialism."
I know, you’re just surprised, right? I mean, Venezuela, pre-Chavez, was pretty much self-sufficient. And the new, better way that Chavez promised – *cough* socialism *cough* – was going to make Venezuela the economic jewel of South America. That is, after he stripped the foreign companies of their assets and nationalized or took over the businesses of the home-grown capitalists first, and then put himself in charge of the economy.
And, as usual, the result of that tired old plan played out exactly as it has everywhere else in the world. It failed miserably:
It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor.
But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. "The rice industry has been very good to us," Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.
It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
In this year’s first half, the U.S. exported $94 million of rice to Venezuela, a 62% jump from a year-earlier, making Venezuela the U.S.’s fourth-largest rice market, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Overall, Venezuelan imports have quadrupled since Mr. Chávez took office, to $59.3 billion in 2012 from about $14.5 billion in 2000, according to Venezuela government figures and economists at Barclays PLC. Exports to Venezuela from the U.S. hit $12 billion in 2011, up 16% from the previous year, the latest U.S. government figures show.
I remember the US bailing out the Soviet Union year after year when its wheat harvests again failed to produce the needed grain. Socialism fails again. Command economies have never worked (except in the short periods of warfare). Complex systems like economies do not lend themselves readily to central control and function properly. No central authority is able to a) know all the variables that comprise a healthy economy, or b) how to weight them or c) understand their complex interactions. Healthy economies are true grassroots systems. They are driven by billions upon billions of buying decisions made by individuals – something the socialists would prefer to ignore.
Venezuela is just the latest in a long line of countries and economies who have fallen for the utopian promises of socialism and again proven that it is and always will be a leftist fantasy. Unfortunately, real people end up suffering for the “dream” of something for nothing. But the belief must be ingrained somewhere in the genetics of our species because time and again a new group falls for the promise and ends up flat on their face while the capitalists are thankfully there to bail them out.
This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Egypt, and the 2016 Elections.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.
Andrew Klavan discusses what the left has been reduced to in defending its failures:
I think he pretty accurately capsulizes today’s climate on the left. Totally out of arguments, adrift in leftist failures worldwide, all they have left is to yell"shut up" at their opposition. And as he points out, they simply use different code words in their attempt. I also agree with his conclusion:
Don’t shut up.
For your reading pleasure, I have test driven a little city car that provokes huge grins when driving on city streets by allowing you to embarrass Miata pilots at stoplights. When not on city streets, at higher speeds…it’s slightly terrifying.
If you like the review, please click the “Recommend” button. It’s green and has a little white heart on it.
The following US economic statistics were announced in today’s heavy round of releases:
The CPI rose 0.2% in July, at both the headline and core levels. On a year over year basis, consumer prices are up 2.0% overall and 1.7% at the core.
Initial jobless claims fell 15,000 to a recovery low 320,000 last week. The 4-week average fell 4,000 to 332,000. Continuing claims fell 38,000 to 2.987 million. All signs are pointing to a good employment picture for August.
The Empire State manufacturing index in August fell nearly a point to 8.24.
Net purchases of long-term US securities in August were $-66.9 billion vice a revised $-27.0 billion in July, as foreign investors sold &77.8 billion in US securities.
The Fed reports that Industrial Production was unchanged in July, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories fell 0.2% to 77.6%. Manufacturing fell -0.1%.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell 3 points to -26.6 in the latest week.
The NAHB Housing Market Index continues to rise, up another 2 points to 59 for August, a seven-year high.
The Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook fell 10 points to 9.3 in August.
E-Commerce sales rose 4.9% in the 2nd Quarter of 2013. Year-over-year sales are up a very strong 18.4%.
The fed reports that M2 money supply grew by $21.9 billion last week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose by $61.0 billion last week, bringing total Fed assets to $3.646 trillion.
The scandal that is the DoJ’s “Fast and Furious” debacle continues to enable crimes and murders in Mexico:
Three more weapons from Fast and Furious have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, CBS News has learned, as the toll from the controversial federal operation grows.
According to Justice Department tracing documents obtained by CBS News, all three guns are WASR-10 762-caliber Romanian rifles. Two were purchased by Fast and Furious suspect Uriel Patino in May and July of 2010. Sean Steward, who was convicted on gun charges in July 2012, purchased a third. The rifles were traced yesterday to the Lone Wolf gun shop in Glendale, Ariz.
During Fast and Furious and similar operations, federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged the Lone Wolf and other gun stores to sell massive amounts of weapons to questionable purchasers who allegedly trafficked them Mexican drug cartels.
Patino is said to have purchased 700 guns while under ATF’s watch. Ever since, a steady stream of the guns have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. But the Justice Department has refused repeated requests from Congress and CBS News to provide a full accounting. An estimated 1,400 guns are still on the street or unaccounted for.
What I find interesting about this is what happened in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that this operation had been so badly bungled. Remember the reaction from the administration when this began to become public knowledge?
Denial. The attempt to pin the blame on some “rogue agents” in Phoenix.
Ring any bells? What was their reaction to Benghazi? To try to pin the blame on some video producer.
IRS? I believe it was rogue agents in Cincinnati.
Name your scandal and the results are almost uniformly the same.
And the real result in every case? None of the initial spin had any credence whatsoever. None. Not once.
In fact, all were traced back to high level failures on the part of various executive agencies.
And they wonder why trust in government is at an all time low.
Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:
The Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations report for August indicates that businesses expect 2.0% inflation for the year ahead, up from 1.8% last month.
July producer prices were unchanged overall, with the core rate up only 0.1%. On a year over year basis, the PPI is up 2.1%, and 1.2% for the core rate.
The MBA reports that mortgage apps continue to decline, down -4.7% last week, with purchases at -5.0% and re-fis at -4.0%.
Because they deny both science and fact to push an agenda that is demonstrably false. Yet have the temerity to call those who are skeptical of their claims “deniers”. And, of course, they have their “scientific” mouthpieces as well. For instance:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its “State of the Climate in 2012” report, which states that “worldwide, 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record.”
But the report “fails to mention  was one of the coolest of the decade, and thus confirms the cooling trend,” according to an analysis by climate blogger Pierre Gosselin.
“To no one’s surprise, the report gives the reader the impression that warming is galloping ahead out of control,” writes Gosselin. “But their data shows just the opposite.”
Well of course it does. It’s not like we haven’t seen this sort of thing from them before. It is “Headline” science. It’s also Chicken Little Science. Always the alarmist. Always the problem … a problem that only government can fix, of course. And a problem that also includes you losing some freedom of action. You know, the usual prescription.
Then there’s the confusion:
Although the NOAA report noted that in 2012, “the Arctic continues to warm” with “sea ice reaching record lows,” it also stated that the Antarctica sea ice “reached a record high of 7.51 million square miles” on Sept. 26, 2012.
And the latest figures for this year show that there’s been a slowdown of melting in the Arctic this summer as well, with temperatures at the North Pole well below normal for this time of year. Meteorologist Joe Bastardi calls it “the coldest ever recorded.”
Oh, my … an “inconvenient truth”. Now what?
Well, because the facts don’t support the usual assertion, AP was forced to retract a photo and caption:
The Associated Press had to retract a photo it released on July 27 with the caption, “The shallow meltwater lake is occurring due to an unusually warm period.”
“In fact, the water accumulates in this way every summer,” AP admitted in a note to editors, adding that the photo was doubly misleading because “the camera used by the North Pole Environment Observatory has drifted hundreds of miles from its original position, which was a few dozen miles from the pole.”
I guess they were out of distraught polar bears hanging on to a sliver of ice or something.
And then there’s this:
NOAA also reported that the “average lower strastospheric temperature, about six to ten miles above the Earth’s surface, for 2012 was record or near-record cold, depending on the dataset” even while the concentrations of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, continued to increase.
But don’t worry … the real science will be ignored. Why? Because a certain set of politicans are sniffing the wind and they smell an opportunity to create a tax out of thin air. And that, my friends, is all it takes. Politicians and junk science … a marriage made in hell.
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.6 points to 94.1 in July.
ICSC-Goldman Store Sales were down -0.2% last week, and up 2.6% from last Year, Redbook’s reading shows a 3.7% year-over-year increase.
Retail sales for July rose 0.2% overall, and were up 0.5% ex-autos, and 0.4% ex-autos and -gas.
US export prices fell -0.1% in July, while import prices rose 0.2%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are up 0.4%, while import prices are up 1.0%.
Business inventories were unchanged for June, as was the stock-to-sales ratio, at 1.29.
You know, the folks who promised us engagement … “reset”, etc. The one’s who told us how bad the other guy and his terrible foreign policy were. You remember. Well, here’s a CNN columnist’s view:
America’s foreign policy has gone into a tailspin. Almost every major initiative from the Obama administration has run into sharp, sometimes embarrassing, reverses. The U.S. looks weak and confused on the global stage.
Hey, if even CNN can’t spin this mess positively who can, and this lady doesn’t even try (well, she tries, but not very hard and certainly not very convincingly). In fact, she hits upon a very concise description of our foreign policy’s state. In fact, they’d like to have the state of foreign affairs George Bush left them.
For instance, recently in The Washington Post recently said, concerning our “reset” relationship with Russia:
U.S. relations with Russia officially settled into a trough this week when President Obama canceled a summit planned for next month with Vladimir Putin, familiar surroundings for two countries that regularly approach each other only to turn away in disappointment.
The White House decision to call off the summit, announced Wednesday, marked the end of Obama’s attempt to revive a relationship that by 2008 had reached its lowest point since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union!? … and some say before its fall. Quite a “reset” – back 30 years. Does anyone wonder why Russia felt froggy enough to keep Snowden? See “weak and confused on the global stage”.
A headline in a major Egyptian state newspaper this week referred to the proposed U.S. envoy to Egypt as the “Ambassador of Death.” Posters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a center of pro-government rallies, depict President Barack Obama with a beard and turban, exclaiming his “support for terrorism.”
Another large Egyptian newspaper alleged Sen. John McCain, who traveled to Cairo this week in an effort to break a deadlock between the government and its Islamist rivals, has chosen sides by employing Muslim Brotherhood staffers in his office.
The moves highlight the depth of public distrust of U.S. policies, and draw from a “reservoir of anti-Americanism and conspiratorial theories,” said Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a former senior Obama administration adviser.
America, he says, has few fans in the country after the 2011 overthrow of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak and last month’s military ouster of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi. “We’re caught in a situation of having to essentially try to find a balance between our values and our interests. It satisfies nobody,” Mr. Nasr said. “The Mubarak people are unhappy with the way he was shoved off without a thank you. The military thinks we coddled the Brotherhood and didn’t intervene to control them. And the Brotherhood thinks that we never supported them when they needed support, and then gave the green light to the military.”
Or said another way, this administration screwed the pooch about every way it can be done. And that’s after that fabulous Cairo speech too. Go figure?
Then there’s Benghazi, al Qaeda setting our open and closed times on Middle Eastern embassies, spying on Europe and giving Israel the cold shoulder … not to mention the apology tour.
Yes, it’s an unmitigated disaster.
But don’t worry – when Hillary finally runs for president, my guess she’ll still be haled as the greatest Secretary of State evah!
Just hide and watch.