Obama administration congratulates Venezuela after Hugo Chavez’s reelection – here’s why I’m not surprised
After Hugo Chavez won reelection in Venezuela, the Obama administration congratulated the country. A week earlier, Chavez had said that he and Obama would vote for each other, if they were citizens of each others’ countries.
So what exactly do Obama and Chavez have in common? They both love government control of the economy, and are willing to violate their countries’ laws in order to achieve that goal. It is only because the U.S. places much tougher constitutional limits on government power that Obama has not been able to carry out these policies as far as Chavez has.
Some time ago, I wrote this post called Here are 95 examples of Barack Obama’s lying, lawbreaking, corruption, and cronyism. I also wrote this other post called Obama gives award to communist Dolores Huerta, and won’t let anti-communist hero Lech Walesa into White House. Those things reveal a lot of information about Obama’s ideology and goals.
It is only because of the United States’ constitution’s strict limits on government power that Obama has not done even worse things. In Venezuela, where the constitutional restrictions on government power are nowhere nearly as strong as those in the U.S., Chavez has done things which are much worse than what Obama has done.
Since 2003, Chavez has been setting strict price controls on food, and these price controls have been causing shortages and hoarding.
In January 2008, Chavez ordered the military to seize 750 tons of food that sellers were illegally trying to smuggle across the border to sell for higher prices than what was legal in Venezuela.
In February 2009, Chavez ordered the military to temporarily seize control of all the rice processing plants in the country and force them to produce at full capacity, which they had been avoiding in response to the price caps.
In May 2010, Chavez ordered the military to seize 120 tons of food from Empresas Polar.
In March 2009, Chavez set minimum production quotas for 12 basic foods that were subject to price controls, including white rice, cooking oil, coffee, sugar, powdered milk, cheese, and tomato sauce. Business leaders and food producers claimed that the government was forcing them to produce this food at a loss.
Chavez has nationalized many large farms. Chavez said of the farmland, “The land is not private. It is the property of the state.” Some of the farmland that had been productive while under private ownership is now idle under government ownership, and some of the farm equipment sits gathering dust. As a result, food production has fallen substantially. One farmer, referring to the government officials overseeing the land redistribution, stated, “These people know nothing about agriculture.”
Chavez has seized many supermarkets from their owners. Under government ownership, the shelves in these supermarkets are often empty.
In 2010, after the government nationalized the port at Puerto Cabello, more than 120,000 tons of food sat rotting at the port.
In May 2010, after price controls caused shortages of beef, at least 40 butchers were arrested, and some of them were held at a military base and later strip searched by police.
Chavez’s price controls have caused shortages of materials used in the construction industry.
As a result of Chavez’s nationalizations of the steel and cement industries, production has fallen substantially. Nationwide production of steel rods declined 20 percent in September 2010 compared with a year earlier. Cement output fell 40 percent in the second half of 2009. These shortages have caused new housing construction in 2010 to fall to less than half that of the previous year.
In 2010, the government’s mismanagement of the nationalized oil industry was so severe that the country actually had to import gasoline, despite having some of the hugest oil reserves in the world.
Also in 2010, the government’s mismanagement of the nationalized electricity industry was causing shortages of electricity.
In December 2006, the Venezuelan government instituted a 15% tax on imported toilet paper, which it described as being a “luxury.”
The 2012 Index of Economic Freedom ranked Venezuela 174th out of 179 countries.
Because of Chavez’s criticsm and legal attacks against the productive members of his country, the country has been experienceing a substantial brain drain. Doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, business owners, software developers, advertising account executives, scientists, classical musicians, and lawyers have been fleeing the country. Of this brain drain, Investor’s Business Daily wrote, “Chavez talks a lot about Venezuela being a rich country, and extols its vast oil wealth. But the human capital he is throwing out is far more valuable… He’s throwing away his country’s biggest treasure.”
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