Trying to figure out the real reason Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bans reporters from her town hall events

The New York Times reports that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has banned the media from two of her town hall meetings.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the following explanation for the ban:

“Our community is 50% immigrant. Folks are victims of DV, trafficking, + have personal medical issues.”

“This town hall was designed for residents to feel safe discussing sensitive issues in a threatening political time.”

“We indicated previously that it would be closed to press.”

Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, responded with the following tweet:

“And how does the presence of reporters make people feel unsafe?”

I think Jacob’s question is an excellent one.

I’d also like to point out that all of the other Congressional districts also have constituents who are “victims of domestic violence” and who have “personal medical issues,” but that the Congressional representatives and candidates of those other districts haven’t banned the media from their town hall events.

In the video below, YouTuber Styxhexenhammer666 says that one possible reason for Ocasio-Cortez’s media ban is that any illegal aliens in attendance would – justifiably – worry about being filmed by the media. However, he then goes on to say that Ocasio-Cortez could ask the media to keep their cameras focused on her and not the audience, and that they would likely comply.

Styxhexenhammer666 then goes on to say that he thinks her real reason for banning the media is that there might be a constituent in attendance who asks her a tough question about economics that she can’t answer. Specifically, he says that she doesn’t seem to understand that the only reason that democratic socialism in countries like Norway works is because there is a strong, healthy private sector to pay the taxes to fund it. Take away that strong, healthy private sector, and your country ends up like Venezuela.

I agree with him on both of these points.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkk1_J6tucQ

August 18, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy new crayons?

A woman named Emily Skopov started a non-profit organization called No Crayon Left Behind.

The charity collects used crayons from restaurants and other organizations and gives them to people who can’t afford them.

When the collected crayons are misshapen, Skopov melts them down on her own stove and molds them into new crayons.

Skopov said she spends approximately 45 hours a week volunteering for No Crayon Left Behind.

In addition, she hired a consultant and has a paid staff as well.

She also rents an office.

Skopov said of her endeavor:

“I purposely haven’t kept track of how much I’ve spent because it would freak me out, but it’s got to be thousands of dollars.”

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart sells a box of 64 brand new crayons for $2.94.

So here’s my question: Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy new crayons?

 

 

July 12, 2018. Tags: , , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Media bias: Wikipedia has repeatedly removed reliably sourced information about how hunting endangered animals, when done properly, makes their populations get bigger

Wikipedia has repeatedly removed the following reliably sourced information from its Trophy hunting article. (The deletion history can be seen here, here, here, and here.)

In 2015, a Texas hunter who had won an auction paid $350,000 for legal permission to kill an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia. The Washington Post wrote the following about the particular animal that was chosen for this kill: “The bull, Knowlton said, was a problem in his own herd. The animal was too old to breed but so aggressive that it had already killed calves, cows and and other male rhinoceroses in a jealous rage.” The money was used to fund conservation efforts. Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism had approved of the kill. The meat was eaten by residents of a nearby village.

In 2017, a hunter paid $35,000 for permission to kill one bongo at a ranch in Texas. The ranch’s manager said this was enough money to feed the ranch’s approximately 30 remaining bongos for an entire year.

In 2017, wildlife experts said the ranches in Texas had more blackbuck antelope than their native country of India.

In 2018, a hunter from Kentucky legally killed an adult male giraffe in South Africa. Because this particular male was too old to breed, and because it had previously killed three younger adult males who were capable of breeding, this particular kill caused the population to get bigger, not smaller.

The above content is notable, relevant, and reliably sourced. There is no legitimate reason to not include it in the article.

July 2, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , . Animals, Economics, Environmentalism, Media bias, Wikipedia. Leave a comment.

Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez agree or disagree with the Democratic Socialists of America’s New York City chapter’s call to “abolish profit”?

This is a link to a recent tweet from the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

And this is a link to an archive of the same tweet, in case the original ever gets deleted.

The tweet states:

“Abolish profit”

I’d also like to point out this link to the constitution and bylaws of the Democratic Socialists of America, where they write:

“we reject an economic order based on private profit”

So both the national organization and the New York City chapter both support getting rid of profit.

If anyone wants to see the real world results of what happens when a country tries to stop businesses and corporations from making a profit, I suggest read this lengthy, well sourced blog post that I wrote four months ago, which is called, “The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.”

One would think that the lessons of the 20th century would have taught people that getting rid of profit also means getting rid of incentive. But one would be wrong. In Venezuela, during the 21st century, presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro did everything they could to stop businesses and corporations from making a profit from growing and selling food, and the results have been disastrous.

In New York City, a self described “socialist” named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just beat long term incumbent Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unless something really weird and unexpected happens, there is a near 100% chance that Ocasio-Cortez will be elected to the U.S. Congress in November.

Since Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, I would like to know if she agrees or disagrees with their proposal to “abolish profit.”

I would also like to know if Ocasio-Cortez supports or opposes the policies of Venezuelan presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, which I describe in great detail in this blog entry.

Chavez referred to his policies as “21st century socialism,” and he was constantly saying that it was wrong for businesses and corporations to make a profit. He set price controls on food, seized more than 10 million acres of farmland, and had the government take control of many food processing plants and supermarkets. Before Chavez died in 2013, he had appointed Maduro as his successor. Since Chavez’s’ death, Maduro has continued Chavez’s policies. Because the profit motive to grow and sell food has been eliminated in Venezuela, there has been a very severe, long term, chronic shortage of food. Most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.

I would like Ocasio-Cortez to please read my blog post, please check out all the links to the sources that I cite to prove that everything I wrote is true, and then please state whether she supports or opposes the policies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro that are in my blog post.

 

July 1, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

The Democratic Socialists of America supports the same policies that have destroyed Venezuela’s ability to feed itself

The New York Times just published this article, which is titled “The Millennial Socialists Are Coming.” The article talks about the growing popularity of socialism among Millennials, and points out several examples of socialist candidates beating long term Democrats in primary elections.

The New York Times article includes this link to the constitution and bylaws of the Democratic Socialists of America. Here is a brief excerpt from it (the bolding is mine):

“We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, disability status, age, religion, and national origin, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships.”

Let’s take a look at what those two bolded parts manage to achieve when they are adopted in the real world. Specifically, let’s take a look at what’s currently going on in Venezuela, which I have previously described in great detail in this lengthy and well sourced blog post, which I have titled, “The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.”

The Democratic Socialists of America claim that they “reject an economic order based on private profit.” That’s exactly what Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was doing when he started implementing price controls on food in Venezuela in 2003. These price controls caused shortages of food. Anyone who understands Economics 101 knows that price controls cause shortages.

The Democratic Socialists of America claim that they support “popular control of resources and production.” This is exactly what Hugo Chavez did when he had the government seize more than 10 million acres of farmland from private owners. As a result of these land seizures, food production fell substantially.

Before Chavez died, he appointed Nicolas Maduro to be his successor. After Chavez died in 2013, Maduro continued Chavez’s policies.

In 2018, all of Chavez’s food policies are still in effect. The profit motive has been taken away from food production. Ownership of the means of producing food has been collectivized.

Because the Venezuelan government adopted the exact same polices that are supported by Democratic Socialists of America, most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017.

And you don’t have to take my word for this. My blog entry that I mentioned earlier contains a very large number of links to sources which document exactly how this happened.

One thing that’s interesting about the links in my blog entry on Venezuela is that many of my sources are links to articles in the New York Times. And yet the current article form the New York Times on the Democratic Socialists of America makes absolutely no mention of the the kinds of horrible disasters that happen when such policies are adopted in the real world.

And before anyone goes and mentions the Scandanavian countries, I would like to point out that those countries have by no means adopted the polices supported by the Democratic Socialists of America that I quoted and bolded above. They have not abandoned the profit motive, and they have not turned their means of production over to collective ownership.

On the contrary, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark all have thriving private sectors with huge corporations that make massive profits.

 

June 30, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

The Maduro diet: How most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, plus another 24 pounds in 2017

(more…)

March 10, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. 1 comment.

The idiots in South Africa‘s parliament just voted to seize land from farmers

The Independent has just reported that South Africa‘s parliament just voted to seize privately owned land from farmers.

In the past, government seizure of privately owned farmland has always resulted in huge reductions in food production, whether it be in the Soviet Union, China, Zimbabwe, or, most recently, in Venezuela, where the recent government seizure of farmland was followed by most adults losing an average of 43 pounds in two years.

Why do the members of South Africa‘s parliament think the results will be any different this time?

 

March 2, 2018. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics. 1 comment.

Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 43 pounds in two years

(more…)

February 23, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. Leave a comment.

I am thankful for being a middle class person today instead of the richest person in the world 200 years ago

I am thankful for being a middle class person today instead of the richest person in the world 200 years ago.

I can have a real time conversation with someone who is 1,000 miles away.

I have light bulbs.

I can get from New York to California in hours instead of weeks.

Antibiotics will save my life if I step on a rock and cut my foot.

I don’t have to worry about getting smallpox, measles, or polio.

I can eat ice cream in July, without having to hire an expedition to climb a mountain to bring back ice.

I could buy an air conditioner if I wanted one (although I don’t actually have or want one. I live in Pittsburgh, and don’t think it’s necessary). But think about being a rich person living in Atlanta in July before air conditioning was invented – that would have sucked.

I can listen to just about any music, watch just about any movie, or watch just about any episode of just about any TV show, whenever I want.

My access to information online is bigger than any library that the richest person owned in the past.

I have a flush toilet.

I can take a hot shower whenever I want.

I don’t have to worry about my drinking water being infected with deadly bacteria or parasites.

My clothing is more comfortable than any that existed in the past.

I have zero problem with the fact that there are some people today who have thousands of times as much money as me.

I am grateful for what I do have. I am not resentful for the fact that other people have way more money than me.

November 22, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Economics, Holidays. Leave a comment.

San Francisco developer builds 160 unit apartment building on 9,000 square foot lot

I just came across this wonderful success story in San Francisco.

At 16:00 in the video below, the developer says:

“This is only a 9,000 square foot lot and yet we have 160 apartments in it. It comes to about 800 units an acre.”

I have no idea how he got permission to build such dense housing. (See here for an explanation of how San Francisco politicians deliberately prevent affordable housing from being built.)

The video also explains how these “micro-apartments” cater specifically to people who do not own cars.

The amenities in the building are quite amazing.

This type of high density apartment building is exactly what the city needs. And they need a huge number of them.

I wasn’t deterred by the video’s 20 minute length. I watched the entire thing, and I found it to be quite enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LI0tqVmGtI

October 1, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics. 2 comments.

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article174808061.html

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

September 22, 2017

ARAUCA, Colombia – At a squat, concrete brothel on the muddy banks of the Arauca River, Gabriel Sánchez rattled off the previous jobs of the women who now sell their bodies at his establishment for $25 an hour.

“We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,” he yelled over the din of vallenato music. “All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.”

As Venezuela’s economy continues to collapse amid food shortages, hyperinflation and U.S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means have gone to places like Miami, Santiago and Panama.

The less fortunate find themselves walking across the border into Colombia looking for a way, any way, to keep themselves and their families fed. A recent study suggested as many as 350,000 Venezuelans had entered Colombia in the last six years.

But with jobs scarce, many young — and not so young — women are turning to the world’s oldest profession to make ends meet.

Dayana, a 30-year-old mother of four, nursed a beer as she watched potential clients walk down the dirt road that runs in front of wooden shacks, bars and bordellos. Dressed for work in brightly-colored spandex, Dayana said she used to be the manager of a food-processing plant on the outskirts of Caracas.

But that job disappeared after the government seized the factory and “looted it,” she said.

Seven months ago, struggling to put food on the table, she came to Colombia looking for work. Without an employment permit, she found herself working as a prostitute in the capital, Bogotá. While the money was better there, she eventually moved to Arauca, a cattle town of 260,000 people along the border with Venezuela, because it was easier to send food back to her children in Caracas.

The previous night, her sister had traveled by bus for 18 hours from Caracas to pick up a bundle of groceries that Dayana had purchased — pasta, tuna, rice, cooking oil — and then immediately jumped on a bus back home.

“If you had told me four years ago that I would be here, doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Dayana, who asked that her last name not be used. “But we’ve gone from crisis to crisis to crisis, and now look where we are.”

“The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing,” President Donald Trump stated before the United Nations on Sept. 19, 2017. He later called on other countries to do more to address the crisis in Venezuela under the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro which “has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country.”

With inflation running in excess of 700 percent and the bolivar currency in free fall, finding food and medicine in Venezuela has become a frustrating, time-consuming task. Dayana said she often would spend four to six hours waiting in line hoping to buy a bag of flour. Other times she was forced to buy food on the black market at exorbitant rates. Hunger in Venezuela is rampant.

That has fueled a scramble to earn hard currency — Colombian pesos or, even better, the U.S. dollar, which is the legal tender of Ecuador and Panama.

Dayana said that on a good night she makes the equivalent of $50 to $100 dollars, selling her services 20 minutes at a time.

“Prostitution obviously isn’t a good job,” she said. “But I’m thankful for it, because it’s allowing me to buy food and support my family.”

Selling sex is legal in Colombia, and even small towns have red-light districts where authorities look the other way. So while immigration police were actively hunting down Venezuelans selling trinkets and panhandling in Arauca’s central square, the women along brothel row said they were rarely harassed.

Marta Muñoz runs the Casa de la Mujer, a municipal program that focuses on women’s health and rights. She said that prostitution is something of a blind spot for local authorities who are more focused on blatant crimes, like child trafficking, rape and the abuse of minors.

“I know that some of them are being paid unfairly and being treated very poorly,” Muñoz said of the Venezuelan prostitutes. “But how do we protect them without strong public policies?”

Sánchez and others in the sex industry say Venezuelans dominate the trade now because they’re willing to work for less pay.

“I would say 99 percent of the prostitutes in this town are Venezuelan,” he said. All 12 of the women who work for him are from the other side of the border.

It’s not just a border phenomenon. Fidelia Suarez, the president of Colombia’s Union of Sex Workers, said her organization has seen a dramatic influx of “Venezuelan women and men working in the sex trade” across the country.

While it’s impossible to quantify how many might be working in the trade, Suarez said her organization is trying to safeguard the vulnerable migrants.

“We want to make sure they’re not being harassed by authorities or taken advantage of,” she said. “Being sexually exploited is very different than being a sex worker.”

In a sense, Venezuela’s economic crisis has been so severe that it has even upended long-held social norms.

Marili, a 47-year-old former teacher and grandmother, said there was a time when she would have been ashamed to admit she’s a prostitute. Now she says she’s grateful to have a job that allows her to buy hypertension medication for her mother back in Caracas.

“We’re all just women who are working to support our families,” she said. “I refuse to criticize anyone, including myself. We all have to work.”

Both Marili and Dayana said they had told their families how they make a living. “I don’t like to keep secrets,” Dayana explained.

Even Sánchez, the 60-year-old brothel owner, says he was forced into the business by the Venezuelan crisis. Like many Colombians, Sánchez moved to the neighboring country 30 years ago, when the oil rich nation was booming economically and Colombia was mired in violence.

There, he had solid work in Caracas repainting cars. When the crisis killed that job several years ago, he began smuggling Venezuelan wood and its cheaper-than-water gasoline into Colombia.

Eventually, things got so bad he decided to return to Colombia permanently. He and his wife opened the brothel, called “Show Malilo Night Club.” Sánchez’s nickname is Malilo.

“This place is mine, thank God,” he said of the modest building, strung with Christmas lights to provide ambiance. “But it hurts me deeply what’s happening over there.”

Marili said the couple had been lifesavers — giving her a place to stay and a way to make a living.

“Not just anyone will lend you a hand,” she said. “These people are humanitarians.”

There seems to be no end in sight for Venezuela’s economic pain. Last month, the Trump administration restricted Caracas’ ability to borrow money from American creditors, which will undoubtedly deepen the crisis. And yet, President Nicolás Maduro has been digging in, avoiding the economic reforms that economists say are necessary.

Dayana dreams of a day when she’ll be able to go home and start a small clothing boutique. Asked when she thought that might happen, she shook her head.

“No one knows,” she said. “We just have to be patient.”

September 25, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

My new book “The Maduro Diet” is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

My new book The Maduro Diet is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

Here’s a partial screen capture:


Full title: The Maduro Diet: How three-quarters of adults in Venezuela lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8


September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Books, Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 2 comments.

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8

September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Walter Williams: The black family is struggling, and it’s not because of slavery

https://stream.org/black-family-struggling-not-slavery/

The Black Family is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

The black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

By Walter Williams

September 20, 2017

That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question.

This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there is little evidence to support it.

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure.

Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes, and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households.

But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery?

In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.

Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.

Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery?

The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

At one time, almost all black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of blacks are poor.

However, two-parent black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent.

The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has.

September 20, 2017. Tags: , , . Economics, Racism. 3 comments.

Price controls and nationalization of more than 10 million acres of farmland have destroyed Venezuela’s ability to feed itself

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelas-paradox-people-are-hungry-but-farmers-cant-feed-them/2017/05/21/ce460726-3987-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html

Venezuela’s paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can’t feed them

May 22, 2017


Above: A once-packed henhouse stands empty on Saulo Escobar’s farm in Aragua state, Venezuela, earlier this month.

YUMA, Venezuela — With cash running low and debts piling up, Venezuela’s socialist government has cut back sharply on food imports. And for farmers in most countries, that would present an opportunity.

But this is Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse.

Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps.

Having attempted for years to defy conventional economics, the country now faces a painful reckoning with basic arithmetic.

“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.”

Several of his cavernous henhouses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable, and armed gangs have been squeezing him for extortion payments and stealing his eggs.

Venezuela’s latest public health indicators confirm that the country is facing a dietary calamity. With medicines scarce and malnutrition cases soaring, more than 11,000 babies died last year, sending the infant mortality rate up 30 percent, according to Venezuela’s Health Ministry. The head of the ministry was fired by President Nicolás Maduro two days after she released those statistics.

Child hunger in parts of Venezuela is a “humanitarian crisis,” according to a new report by the Catholic relief organization Caritas, which found 11.4 percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition, and 48 percent “at risk” of going hungry.

‘The Maduro diet’

The protesters who have been marching in the streets against Maduro for the past seven weeks scream, “We’re hungry!” as riot police blast them with water cannons and tear gas.

In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 — an average of 19 pounds. This collective emaciation is referred to dryly here as “the Maduro diet,” but it’s a level of hunger almost unheard-of outside war zones or areas ravaged by hurricane, drought or plague.

Venezuela’s disaster is man-made, economists point out — the result of farm nationalizations, currency distortions and a government takeover of food distribution. While millions of Venezuelans can’t get enough to eat, officials have refused to allow international aid groups to deliver food, accustomed to viewing their oil-rich country as the benefactor of poorer nations, not a charity case.

“It’s not only the nationalization of land,” said Carlos Machado, an expert on Venezuelan agriculture. “The government has made the decision to be the producer, processor and distributor, so the entire chain of food production suffers from an inefficient agricultural bureaucracy.”

With Venezuela’s industrial output crashing, farmers are forced to import feed, fertilizer and spare parts, but they can’t do so without hard currency. And the government has been hoarding the dollars it earns from oil exports to pay back high-interest loans from Wall Street and other foreign creditors.

Escobar said he needs 400 tons of high-protein imported animal feed every three months to keep his operation running, but he’s able to get only 100 tons. So, like many others, he’s turned to the black market. But he can only afford a cheaper, less nutritious feed, meaning that his hens are smaller than they used to be — and so are their eggs.

“My quality went down, so my production went down, too,” he said.

Escobar’s hogs also are skinnier. An average full-size pig weighed 242 pounds two years ago, he said. “Now they weigh 176.” Last year, he lost 2,000 hogs in three months when the animals got sick and he couldn’t find vaccines.

The piglets born since then are undersized. Many have bloody wounds at the tips of their ears. “When an animal has a poor diet, it looks for nourishment elsewhere,” explained Maria Arias, a veterinarian at the farm. “So they end up chewing off the ears of other pigs.”

‘There are no profits’

Venezuela has long relied on imports of certain foodstuffs, such as wheat, that can’t be grown on a large scale in the country’s tropical climate. But trade statistics show that the land policies of the late Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, made Venezuela more dependent on imported food than ever.

When oil prices were high, that wasn’t a big problem. Now Venezuela’s blend of heavy crude is worth barely $40 a barrel and the country’s petroleum output is at a 23-year low, in part because refineries and pipelines are breaking down and investment in new infrastructure isn’t keeping pace.

The government hasn’t published farming data in years. But Machado, the agriculture expert, said annual food imports averaged about $75 per person until 2004, then soared after Chávez accelerated the nationalization of farms, eventually seizing more than 10 million acres. The government expropriated factories, too, and Venezuela’s domestic food production plummeted.

By 2012, annual per capita food imports had increased to $370, but since then, oil prices have slumped and imports have dropped 73 percent.

Instead of spurring growth in domestic agriculture, the government has strangled it, farmers say. Domestic production of rice, corn and coffee has declined by 60 percent or more in the past decade, according to Venezuela’s Confederation of Farmer Associations (Fedeagro), a trade group. Nearly all of the sugar mills nationalized by the government since 2005 are paralyzed or producing below capacity.

Only a small, well-off minority of Venezuelans can afford to buy much food on the black market, where a pound of rice imported from Brazil or Colombia sells for about 6,000 bolivares. That’s roughly $1 at the black-market exchange rate, but for an ordinary Venezuelan worker it’s an entire day’s wage, because the bolivar has lost 99 percent of its value in the past five years.

Venezuelans who don’t have access to hard currency depend on government-subsidized groceries doled out by pro-Maduro neighborhood groups, or wait in supermarket lines for rationed, price-capped items. Those who join anti-government protests have been threatened with losing their food supplies.

The price controls have become a powerful disincentive in rural Venezuela. “There are no profits, so we produce at a loss,” said one dairy farmer in the state of Guarico, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation from authorities. To get a new tractor, he said, he would have to spend all the money he earns in a year. “It’s a miracle that the industry is still alive,” he said.

Four of his cows were stolen this month, probably by hungry families in the nearby village, he said.

According to Vicente Carrillo, the former president of Venezuela’s cattle ranchers’ association, the overall size of the country’s herd has dropped in the past five years from 13 million head to about 8 million.

Carrillo sold his ranch more than a decade ago, tired of threats from squatters and rural activists who accused him of being an exploitative rural capitalist. His family had owned the land for more than a century. “I dedicated more than 30 years of my life to this business, but I had to leave everything behind,” he said.

Escobar, the chicken and hog farmer, said the only way for farmers to remain in business today is to break the law and sell at market prices, hoping authorities look the other way.

“If I sold at regulated prices, I wouldn’t even be able to afford a single kilogram of chicken feed,” he said.

If it’s not a fear of the government that keeps Escobar awake at night, it’s criminal gangs. Since one of his delivery trucks was robbed in December, he has been forced to make “protection” payments to a mafia boss operating out of the local prison. Every Friday, three motorcycles stop by the farm to pick up an envelope of cash, he said. Calling the police would only escalate the danger.

“I know how to deal with chickens and pigs,” Escobar said, “but not criminals.”

September 8, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Media bias: once again, a news article about a financially struggling single mother trying to raise her children makes absolutely no mention of their father

The Guardian recently published this article about a single mother who is having financial troubles as she tries to raise her two children on the salary that she gets from working at a fast food restaurant.

As is always the case with articles like this, the article makes absolutely no mention of the children’s father. (I have written about this media irresponsibility before – see here and here.)

In this particular case, the article refers to the woman as “a single mother of two.”

It doesn’t say that she is “divorced,” or that she is “widowed.”

The article makes absolutely zero mention of the children’s father.

The article does quote the woman as saying:

“At the top of America, when it comes to Trump and them, their goal is to keep us down. Between these billion-dollar companies and Trump, it’s a power trip.”

So now it’s Trump’s fault that this woman is a single mother of two.

I’d like to see the results of the DNA test for that.

If Trump is in fact the father of her children, then yes, it is Trump’s fault that she is having so much financial trouble.

Otherwise, Trump has no fault whatsoever in her situation.

The article also talks about how the woman is part of the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But in the real world, even liberals themselves do not want to pay fast food workers $15 an hour.

In December 2013, I made this blog post, which is titled “I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour.”

More than three years later, I followed it up with this blog post, which is titled, “Hypocrite liberals have rejected my challenge for them to buy a McDonald’s franchise and pay the workers $15 an hour.”

I also made this other blog post, which is titled, “In the real world, no liberal has ever bought a McDonald’s franchise and paid the workers $15 an hour.”

So even liberals themselves are not willing to pay McDonald’s workers $15 an hour.

Here is some information that liberals never talk about:

Let’s consider two groups of people in the U.S. The first group has a poverty rate of 2%. The second group has a poverty rate of 76%.

The first group consists of people who followed all three of these steps:

1) Finish high school.

2) Get a full-time job.

3) Wait until age 21 and get married before having children.

The second group consists of people who followed zero of those three steps.

Among people who follow all three of these steps, the poverty rate is 2%.

Among people who follow zero of these steps, the poverty rate is 76%.

(My source for that information is this article, which refers to this PDF, and the relevant data is on page 15 of the PDF. The study uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

Finally, here is a seven minute video with information that liberals never talk about. In my opinion, every middle school and high school in the U.S. should show this to all of their students, repeatedly, every year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru4SVUlNfMY

 

 

August 23, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Media bias. 1 comment.

Some Venezuelans have not had a full meal in days

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hungry-venezuelans-turn-colombia-plate-food-49206924

Hungry Venezuelans turn to Colombia for a plate of food

Associated Press

CUCUTA, Colombia — Aug 14, 2017

Under a scorching sun just a short walk from Colombia’s border with Venezuela, hundreds of hungry men, women and children line up for bowls of chicken and rice — the first full meal some have eaten in days.

An estimated 25,000 Venezuelans make the trek across the Simon Bolivar International Bridge into Colombia each day. Many come for a few hours to work or trade goods on the black market, looking for household supplies they cannot find back home.

But increasingly, they are coming to eat in one of a half-dozen facilities offering struggling Venezuelans a free plate of food.

“I never thought I’d say this,” said Erick Oropeza, 29, a former worker with Venezuela’s Ministry of Education who recently began crossing the bridge each day. “But I’m more grateful for what Colombia has offered me in this short time than what I ever received from Venezuela my entire life.”

As Venezuela’s economy verges on collapse and its political upheaval worsens, cities like Cucuta along Colombia’s porous, 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela have become firsthand witnesses to the neighboring South American nation’s escalating humanitarian crisis.

According to one recent survey, about 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds (8.7 kilograms) last year.

The Colombian government has crafted contingency plans in the event of a sudden, mass exodus, but already church groups and nonprofit organizations are stepping in, moved by images of mothers carrying starving babies and skinny men trying to make a few bucks on Cucuta’s streets to bring back home.

Paulina Toledo, 47, a Colombian hairstylist who recently helped feed lunch to 900 Venezuelans, said seeing how hungry they were “hurt my soul.”

“Those of us here on the border are seeing their pain,” she said.

People living on either side of the Colombia-Venezuela border have long had a foot in both countries: A Colombian who lives in Cucuta might cross to visit relatives in San Cristobal; a Venezuelan might make the reverse trip to work or go to school.

In the years when Venezuela’s oil industry was booming and Colombia entangled in a half-century armed conflict, an estimated 4 million Colombians migrated to Venezuela. Many started coming back as Venezuela’s economy began to implode and after President Nicolas Maduro closed the border in 2015 and expelled 20,000 Colombians overnight.

Oropeza said he earned about $70 a month working at the Ministry of Education and selling hamburgers on the side — twice Venezuela’s minimum wage but still not enough to feed a family of four. Once a month his family receives a bundle of food provided by the government, but it only lasts a week.

“So the other three weeks, like most Venezuelans, we have to make magic happen,” he said on a recent afternoon.

Desperate for money to feed his family, he left his job and traveled to the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio. He wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning to be among the first crossing the bridge into Cucuta, where he earns money selling soft drinks on the street.

He goes straight to the “Casa de Paso,” a church-run shelter that has served 60,000 meals to Venezuelans since opening two months ago. On an average day, 2,000 Venezuelans line up for meals, getting a ticket to reserve their spot and then waiting four hours for a meal served at outdoor plastic tables.

Workers stir gigantic metal pots filled with chicken and rice set on the bare dirt floor. Volunteers hand out boxes of juice to tired-looking children. Adults sit quietly, savoring their bowl of food as chickens waddle between them.

“Every day I have to remind myself why I am here,” said Oropeza, dressed in a faded striped collared shirt. “I try to repeat it to myself so that I won’t, you know, so those moments of weakness don’t affect you so much.”

When he’s not helping out or waiting in line at the shelter kitchen, Oropeza sells malted soft drinks for about 50 cents each. He’s been able to bring money back to his family and has earned enough to buy a cellphone, which he’d lacked for two years.

Jose David Canas, a priest, said his church will continue to serve food “as long as God allows.”

“Until they close the border,” he said. “Until everything is eaten or until the province tells us that they no longer have lunches to give out. And then it’s the end.”

August 16, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

A woman who was raised by Nigerian immigrants explains why so many American blacks live in poverty

This is the best commentary on black poverty that I have heard or read in my life.

The speaker in this video is a child of Nigerian immigrants.

She spends the entire seven minutes saying one politically incorrect thing after another.

Her basic point is that black poverty is caused by bad behavior, not by racism.

And she cites numerous statistics to back this up.

For example, she points out that Nigerian-Americans have higher average incomes than whites, and she attributes this to their behavior, including strong commitments to marriage, education, and obeying the law.

She says that if Black Lives Matter truly cared about black people, it would tell them to stop having babies out of wedlock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru4SVUlNfMY

August 3, 2017. Tags: , , , . Black lives matter, Economics, Politics, Racism. 1 comment.

Hypocrite liberals have rejected my challenge for them to buy a McDonald’s franchise and pay the workers $15 an hour

It’s been more than three years since I wrote the following:

I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour

Liberals are always talking about how easy it would be for McDonald’s to pay its workers $15 an hour.

However, so far, no liberal has actually bought a McDonald’s franchise and paid those wages.

So, I dare liberals to prove that it’s as easy as they claim it is. I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour.

Unfortunately, liberals have rejected my challenge.

 

May 24, 2017. Tags: , , , , , . Economics, Unions. 3 comments.

There is no gender wage gap

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcDrE5YvqTs

March 6, 2017. Tags: , , , . Economics, Sexism. 1 comment.

Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2017

(more…)

February 21, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. 4 comments.

Libertarian doctors start their own clinic, post all their prices online, and charge way, way, way less than everyone else

Can you imagine what would happen to the price of gasoline, if you couldn’t see the price until after you put it into your car? The price would skyrocket like crazy.

Same thing with groceries, clothing, and well, pretty much anything.

Right now, health care is the only industry where most customers don’t get to see the prices until after the service has already been provided. This is why prices are so absurdly high.

The health care clinic in this article and video is completely different. They list all of their prices online, so customers can see how much everything costs before they actually get the service. As a result, the prices charged by this clinic are way, way, way less than what everyone else charges.

This is a wonderful policy.

In my opinion, the government should require all health care providers to post all of their prices online.

Here’s an article and a video about this particular clinic:

http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/27/what-happens-when-doctors-only-take-cash

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uPdkhMVdMQ

January 31, 2017. Tags: , . Economics, Health care. Leave a comment.

Economically illiterate Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney, who signed a soda tax, says it is “wrong” and “misleading” for businesses to pass the tax on to their customers

This idiot has just proven that he knows absolutely nothing about economics or how to run a business:

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/01/10/retailers-blame-soda-tax-mayor-kenney-responds-with-harsh-words/

Retailers Blame Soda Tax; Mayor Kenney Responds With Harsh Words

January 10, 2017

Philadelphia shoppers have been finding steep surcharges on grocery bills since the sweetened beverage tax kicked in, but Mayor Jim Kenney describes some of it as “gouging” by retailers who want to make customers angry about the tax.

Signs went up in stores and on vending machines telling customers price hikes were part of the beverage tax, receipts were programmed to charge the tax as a separate line item, it was applied to items that weren’t taxed and retailers blamed the complex process of passing the tax along.

All of it, said Mayor Kenney, is “wrong” and “misleading.”

“This is what they do. They spent 10 1/2 Million dollars in an advertising campaign to beat the tax, they lost,” he said. “They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and they lost. And they’ll continue to lose because their legal case is not sound and their public case is not sound.”

Kenney said he believes most customers understand the reason for the tax and he believes it doesn’t need to impact them as much as it has.

“They’re gouging their own customers.”

Among retailers, only Shop Rite has responded, saying they are passing the tax along because it greatly increases sweetened beverage prices and it wants customers to know.

January 13, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Economics. 1 comment.

I agree with Sarah Palin’s criticism of Trump’s actions regarding Carrier

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-carrier-swindle-setting-scary-170000444.html

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail. Politicians picking and choosing recipients of corporate welfare is railed against by fiscal conservatives, for it’s a hallmark of corruption.”

– Sarah Palin

December 6, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Donald Trump, Economics. Leave a comment.

Why trophy hunting can be good for animals

A trophy hunter pays $350,000 to legally kill a specific male rhinoceros which is old and has stopped breeding, and which has been harassing the younger males and preventing them from breeding. The money is used to pay to care for the living rhinos. Under this kind of policy, one population of rhinos increased from 100 to 18,000.

I myself am a vegetarian, but I have to admit that the logic in this video is quite sound. This is a good lesson in economics and the benefits of property rights.

I do understand why some people might have emotional objections to this, but even they can’t argue against the real world results of this kind of policy.

If the opponents of trophy hunting wanted to bring an end to it, all they would have to do would be to outbid the trophy hunters. As of yet, I don’t see any examples of them having done so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUA8i5S0YMU

 

October 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Animals, Economics. 2 comments.

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