World Leaders Shut Eyes to Venezuela’s Hunger Games

By: Antonella Marty - @AntonellaMarty - May 19, 2016, 12:11 pm

EspañolVenezuela is tearing itself apart but no one is speaking up. There isn’t a single Latin American president raising his or her voice against starving Venezuelans suffering under the country’s communist, Chavista regime.

In Venezuela, poverty, death, and “hungerism” prevail, the inevitable consequence of communist, socialist or Marxist ideologies.

The earthquake of corruption and shortages that has been shaking the country for almost two decades has left it in ruins, and there are plenty of numbers to show for it:

  • Inflation in Venezuela is predicted to reach 700 percent within the year, which would be the world’s highest.
  • According to the Confederation of Venezuela Industry, in the Chavista era, approximately 8,000 businesses have closed.
  • More than 70 percent of Venezuelans believe President Nicolás Maduro should step down.
  • There were 2,138 protests and more than 170 lootings between January and April this year, according to the Venezuelan Observatory for Social Conflict. That’s about 18 per day.
  • Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world. There were 28,000 in 2015. That’s 76 violent deaths per day and three per hour.
  • According to an Encovi survey, 87 percent of Venezuelans can’t afford to buy food.
  • According to the National Federation of Farmers, 2015 saw Venezuelans reduce their meat consumption by 42 percent compared to 2012 — the largest drop in 55 years.
  • Ninety percent of citizens said they buy less food due to scarcity.
  • According to polling group Datanálisis, there are shortages of basic food in 80 percent of supermarkets and 40 percent of homes.
  • While Latin America’s infant malnutrition rate hovers around 5 percent, the Bengoa Foundation found that it was near 9 percent in Venezuela as of 2015.
  • Public medical systems have reported that 44 percent of operating rooms are non-functional, and 94 percent of labs do not have sufficient supplies.

The Venezuelan people have no medicine, electricity, food or water. What they do have, and plenty of it, is street crime and homicide.

Normally, when we’re missing something from the fridge, we grab the keys off the counter and make a run to the supermarket. Not in Venezuela.

Venezuelans get in line at dawn for food. The appearance of a food truck causes pushing, piling up, running, looting.

People have lost their patience. They skip meals. Food is now a luxury.

Some of the scarcer products are regulated with price controls: oil, grains, sugar, juices, coffee, chicken, beef, pork, milk, shampoo, detergent, corn, cornmeal, toothpaste, fish, deodorant, diapers, toilet paper, chlorine and razors, among other things.

The reality that the Chavista ruling elite doesn’t want to admit is that the price controls they enacted is exactly what’s causing the widespread shortages. If there is hunger in Venezuela today, it is the government’s fault.

“We need food,” one woman said. “How long will this situation last? It’s too much. A child cannot endure hunger, the children need to eat to grow.”

In a country with one of the largest oil reserves, how is it that electricity, water, medicine and so many other basic products are running out? The answer is simple: Corruption, bad management, and socialism.

One must be pretty naive, to say the least, to believe that price controls can result in anything good. It’s fine for a governmental entity to claim to know the most about needs and lives of its people, but not to impose strict regulations that ultimately eliminate the things that fulfill those needs.

Price control is a policy that has always failed wherever it has been tried.

Shortages Kill People

As one could expect, the scarcity also affects the supply of medicine in Venezuela.

People suffering from high blood pressure, respiratory problems, diabetes or infections are turned away at the pharmacy because there simply isn’t enough medication to go around. They die in their homes from something that is curable in virtually every other country.

“Here, the majority of patients who wind up unemployed will die,” said an expert at the University Hospital in Caracas.

Newborns die, the elderly die, the sick die. Those who survive do everything they can to set foot in the airport in hopes of finding a better future.

They are all victims of Chavismo. It’s high time that we denounce the real culprits and their failed ideology.

Antonella Marty Antonella Marty

Antonella is founder and project coordinator of the Youth Foundation for Liberty in Argentina. She has worked as an intern at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Cato Institute, The IFEF, and Cedice Libertad. Follow her @AntonellaMarty.

Who Will Build the Roads? Soon, Not the US Government

By: Nick Zaiac - @NickZaiac - May 19, 2016, 12:08 pm
But who will build the roads?

A generation or two into the future, people will look back on the 21st century in amazement that nearly every piece of transportation infrastructure in the United States was once owned by the government. The nation's roads, airports, seaports and mass transit systems are almost all currently under the stewardship of a federal, state or local body. But as maintenance costs balloon and systems deteriorate, money to pay for the ongoing costs of infrastructure remain scarce. Without enough money to maintain the product that they monopolize, governments are seeking outside sources of capital. Faced with the prospect of cutting costs elsewhere to pay for road repairs or upgrades to port facilities, cities and states are more and more deciding that the private sector has a role to play in transportation. This also according to eminent infrastructure economist Robert Poole at the Reason Foundation. He has been writing on infrastructure privatization for decades, including a monthly newsletter that documents developments in the world of private infrastructure, as well as the growing trend against government monopoly in infrastructure. Today, there are more miles of private, tolled interstate lanes being built than at any time in history. Meanwhile, the commercialization of the federally run air traffic control system could very well happen this year. Read More: US Public Transport Is a Disaster, and Urban Planners Are to Blame Abroad, private airports, air traffic control systems, seaports and highways are far more common. The U.S. is playing catch up, and catching up it is. New projects are popping up across the country, the latest being the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where the state approved miles of tolled highway lanes. Recently opened toll lanes elsewhere, including cities like Denver, have proven to be a success. It all comes back to money. Without enough money to maintain the product that they monopolize, governments are seeking outside sources of capital. The status quo for most infrastructure is that the government pays for construction and maintenance, and anyone can use the resulting product. Heavy users are typically subsidized by those who use the goods less. // What this means is logistics companies, such as UPS, FedEx and the nation's patchwork of trucking companies are subsidized by taxpayers as a whole, even while their heavy machines do far more damage to roads than passenger cars. What's worse, it gives the benefiting companies and their workers a reason to lobby for more free infrastructure. They work hard to defeat private infrastructure where they would otherwise be forced to pay for such infrastructure services. Despite this, the trend against the government's monopoly on infrastructure is real. State and local budgets really can't keep up with demand for new roads, bridges, airports and tunnels. Economic theory predicts monopolists will provide fewer goods at higher prices than the market would provide without the monopoly. To cut costs, we expect monopolists to sap the quality of their products to maximize the money for them to use at their discretion. Service has deteriorated and money is spent on expensive unionized construction labor and lavish public pensions for workers rather than steel and concrete. Read More: End Amtrak Failure: Privatize Passenger Rail People see this, or at least some do. Many states are changing their laws to allow new infrastructure to be built with dollars that do not come from taxpayers on products that are not free to all. When new private infrastructure is built, it typically wears after only a few years. If there's any silver lining to the governments running out of money, its faltering infrastructure monopoly may well be it.

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