The Associated Press Departs From Venezuela

The Associated Press Departs From Venezuela, by John Hinderaker.

Socialism’s defenders say that Venezuela was doing fine until fracking caused global petroleum prices to decline, catching that country’s leftist leaders unprepared. …

Anyone who thinks a government can manage an economy is a fool. There is hardly any difference between management and mismanagement; the most brilliant managers would have performed only marginally better than Chavez and Maduro, if they were socialists or anything similar. If you try to fix prices, as the Chavez/Maduro regime did, you are doomed. …

It is blindingly obvious to a casual observer, let alone an economist, that the socialists’ price controls and other left-wing policies have destroyed Venezuela’s economy. …

Are there people in the world so dense as not to understand that if a government mandates that a product must be sold at a price less than its cost of production, that product will cease to exist? …

All socialist countries have bread lines. … But bread lines were only the beginning. Before long, Venezuelans living under socialist tyranny could only dream of bread. This is the inevitable end point of socialism, even in a country that has been described as having more natural resources per capita than any place on Earth. Resources, experience shows, have nothing to do with it. …

Socialists are the most greedy and corrupt people on Earth. Hugo Chavez’s daughter and his finance minister are both multi-billionaires … Socialists are not more moral than the rest of us. On the contrary, they are greedier and more cynical. …

Hannah Dreier, who has been the Associated Press’s reporter in Venezuela since 2014, writes that she is going home: “Departing AP reporter looks back at Venezuela’s slide.” … I don’t know Ms. Dreier, and I assume you have to be left-leaning to work for the Associated Press. …

From her article, Departing AP reporter looks back at Venezuela’s slide, by Hannah Drier:

Venezuela had been a rising nation, buoyed by the world’s largest oil reserves, but by the time I arrived, even high global oil prices couldn’t keep shortages and rapid inflation at bay. …

Life in Caracas was still often marked by optimism and ambition. My friends were buying apartments and cars and making lofty plans for their careers. On weekends, we’d go to pristine Caribbean beaches and drink imported whiskey at nightclubs that stayed open until dawn. There was still so much affordable food that one of my first stories was about a growing obesity epidemic.

Over the course of three years, I said good-bye to most of those friends, as well as regular long-distance phone service and six international airline carriers. I got used to carrying bricks of rapidly devaluing cash in tote bags to pay for meals. We still drove to the beach, but began hurrying back early to get off the highway before bandits came out. Stoplights became purely ornamental because of the risk of carjackings. …

There was no war or natural disaster. Just ruinous mismanagement that turned the collapse of prices for the country’s oil in 2015 into a national catastrophe. …

There often seemed to be a direct line between economic policy and daily hardship. One week, the administration declared that eggs would now be sold for no more than 30 cents a carton. The next week, eggs had disappeared from supermarkets, and still have not come back. …

The first time I saw people line up outside the bakery near my apartment, I stopped to take photos. How crazy: A literal bread line. …

Then true hunger crept into where I lived. People started digging through the trash at all hours, pulling out vegetable peelings and soggy pizza crusts and eating them on the spot. That seemed like rock bottom. Until my local bakery started organizing lines each morning, not to buy bread but to eat trash.

People waited for their turn to hunt through black bags of bakery garbage. A young woman found a box of muffin crumbs. A teenage boy focused on finding juice containers and drinking whatever remained.