Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Wonders And Joy Of Socialism

These articles say it all (will people EVER learn?):

Venezuelans are accustomed to severe shortages of oil, diapers and other staple products. But those hoping to buy what they could find got a new unpleasant surprise this week.
They found malls dark and shuttered on the first day of a government electricity rationing regime.
"This is madness, this is not the solution!" said Nataly Orta, 48, at the locked gate of the Lider mall in eastern Caracas. "It's a drastic measure that will only create more unemployment and worsen an economy already in crisis."
Authorities say the three-month restrictions will affect more than 250 shopping centers that must find other sources of power from 1:00 to 3:00 pm and again from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.
Unable to generate their own electricity, most malls are shutting their doors during those hours.
"I came to the pharmacy and supermarket to see what I could find and I come across this instead," said Julia Torres, 54.

"Every day, we're a little more surprised by what's happening in Venezuela."
The country's homicide rate is among the world's highest at 58 deaths per 100,000 people.

The government enforces strict capital controls that have caused a shortage of foreign currency, which seriously limits companies' ability to import the necessary equipment.

The country’s widespread student protests now symbolize the demise of this message. Venezuelans younger than 30 years of age (the majority of the population) have not known any government other than that of Chávez or Maduro. For them, "Chavismo" is the past. As for the promises of a better future: The results are in. The catastrophic consequences of Chávez's 21st Century Socialism are impossible to mask any longer and the government has run out of excuses. Blaming the CIA, the “fascist opposition,” or “dark international forces,” as Maduro and his allies customarily do, has become fodder for parodies flooding YouTube. The concrete effects of 15 years of Chavismo are all too visible in empty shelves and overflowing morgues. The youth who are continuing to protest in almost all of Venezuela’s large cities, risking brutal beatings, savage torture, and death, are convinced that they will not have a better future unless the policies to which this government is strongly committed are changed. And the only government promise they believe is its pledge to stay the course regardless of results or what its opponents say.
The concrete effects of 15 years of Chavismo are all too visible in empty shelves and overflowing morgues.

In a hospital in the far west of this beleaguered country, the economic crisis took a grim toll in the past week: Six infants died because there wasn’t enough medicine or functioning respirators. 
Here in the capital, the crisis has turned ordinary life into an ordeal for nearly everyone. Chronic power outages have prompted the government to begin rationing electricity, darkening shopping malls. Homes and apartments regularly suffer water shortages.
Rosalba Castellano, 74 years old, spent hours this week in what has become a desperate routine for millions: waiting in long lines to buy whatever food is available. She walked away with just two liters of cooking oil.
“I hoped to buy toilet paper, rice, pasta,” she said. “But you can’t find them.” Her only choice will be to hunt for the goods at marked-up prices on the black market. The government, she said, “is putting us through savage suffering.”
The National Assembly, now controlled by the opposition, declared a food emergency on Thursday—an attempt to spur the government of President Nicolás Maduro to, among other things, ease price controls that have created shortages of everything from medicine to meat.
“The people are being left without the ability to feed themselves,” said lawmaker Omar Barboza.

Inflation in this oil-rich country is expected to hit a world’s-worst 700% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy shrank by 10% last year and is expected to decline another 8% this year, according to the IMF, the worst performance in the world. And there is no end in sight.

Economists say Mr. Maduro’s government needs to reverse course on a decade of economic policies that dramatically reshaped the economy. The state took over hundreds of companies, instituted price controls and spent enormous amounts of public money, causing the country’s budget gap to swell to about 20% of annual economic output.
Despite the deepening crisis, there has been little sign of change from a government that blames the country’s woes on an “economic war” waged by enemies including private firms and the Obama administration. Calls requesting comment from various government ministries and agencies weren’t returned.

THE POLITICAL drama in Venezuela, where a populist, authoritarian government is attempting to cling to power despite losing a legislative election by a landslide, tends to obscure a deeper crisis. Though it is awash in oil, the country of 30 million people is facing an economic collapse and a humanitarian disaster.
Venezuela already suffers from the world’s highest inflation rate — expected to rise from 275 percent to 720 percent this year — one of its higher murder rates and pervasive shortages of consumer goods, ranging from car parts to toilet paper. Power outages and the lack of raw materials are forcing surviving factories and shops to close or limit opening hours. According to a local survey cited by the Economist, the poverty rate is 76 percent, compared with 55 percent when Hugo Chávez, the late founder of the regime, took power in 1999.

Worst of all, the country is running desperately short of food and medicine. Venezuelans spend much of their time waiting in lines outside stores, but increasingly the shelves are bare. The head of the nation’s pharmaceutical association recently appealed to the World Health Organization for aid, saying that distribution of 70 percent of basic medicines was disrupted. The chairman of the largest domestic food producer has said that if the government does not quickly seek aid to import food, it “will cause grave harm to ordinary Venezuelans.”
The math behind these warnings is stark, as economist Ricardo Hausmann recently outlined in the Financial Times. At current oil prices, Venezuela will earn less than $18 billion from exports this year, while it owes $10 billion in payments on the $120 billion in debt it has racked up. That leaves $8 billion for imports, but even after contracting 20 percent, imports were $37 billion in 2015 — and Venezuela now imports most of its food. Even with a debt default that the markets expect, it’s hard to see where additional hard currency will come from: The country broke relations with the International Monetary Fund almost a decade ago, has no ability to obtain private loans and has nearly exhausted its liquid reserves. It already owes China, its latest benefactor, $50 billion.
Facing this calamity, the government of President Nicolás Maduro appears paralyzed. Mr. Maduro and one of his ministers have spoken of taking desperately needed common-sense measures, such as raising the price of state-retailed gasoline, now below 1 cent per gallon, and altering a currency exchange system under which the U.S. dollar is worth 150 times more on the black market than it is at the official rate. Day after day, however, the government does not act; in a Facebook post Wednesday, Mr. Maduro hinted at disputes among his ministers, one of whom argues that inflation does not exist.

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