Two countries made the economic news recently. The first was Venezuela, which began food rationing. You need a biometric measurement, your fingerprint, to buy food, making it the first but perhaps not the last, country in the world to require more ID to purchase beans than is required to vote in the US.
Caracas has announced “it had taken over warehouses around Venezuela crammed with medical goods and food that ‘bourgeois criminals’ were hoarding for speculation and contraband.” Things are only going to get worse, as oil prices plummet, sending Caracas (as well as Tehran and Riyadh) into a blue funk. “The slump in oil prices comes as Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff warned this week that Venezuela is almost certain to default on its foreign-currency bonds. Deepening concern the South American country will renege on its debt payments triggered a selloff in its $4 billion benchmark bonds due 2027.”
The second country in the economic headlines was Britain. The UK has been told by the EU to pay an extra 1.7 billion pounds into the superstate’s coffers because ‘the economy has performed better than expected in recent years’. France on the other hand, will be awarded 790 million pounds because its economy is struggling. What message does this send to those who succeed? EU president Jose Manuel Barroso put it succinctly: the UK still has friends in EU. But ‘please keep them'”.
Welcome to the world of ‘shared prosperity’. Recently Labor Secretary Thomas Perez explained what that means. “Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said President Barack Obama will take ‘aggressive executive action’ on immigration, which Perez said will bring about more ‘shared prosperity.'”
Contrary to what you may think, shared prosperity doesn’t mean ‘pass around the joint’, but apparently conveys the sense that if you spread around money, more money will come to you. “The pie is getting bigger. American workers helped bake it, but they’re not getting a bigger slice … in private-sector job growth,” Perez said. “Shared prosperity is not a fringe concept. … and it’s a lynchpin of a thriving middle class.”
Perez called for a “shared prosperity” that he said relies, in part, on providing paid leave, raising the minimum wage and unions. He stressed the Obama administration’s resolution to protect collective bargaining rights, which he noted “have come under withering attack in recent years.” He also called for comprehensive immigration reform, which he said would increase the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) 5.4 percent over the next two decades.
Perez doubtless believes this. But then again, Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez believed Venezuela was entering a golden future. Too bad it wasn’t true. Socialist François Hollande, the president of France, must have similarly been sure that he was opening a new and wondrous chapter in his nation’s history. But since the cornucopia train of history has unaccountably been delayed, surely Britain wouldn’t be so churlish as to refuse to spot it a mere billion pounds, just to tide it over.
Contrary to popular belief, the real founder of socialism wasn’t Karl Marx, but J. Wellington Wimpy. Everything you need to know about that brilliant doctrine is embodied in his famous axiom, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” The idea is that if you somehow empty out the banks, confiscate the crops of anyone who manages to bring one in, the products of anyone who makes anything and put the warehouses under armed guard with mandated pay increases for everyone, you will somehow achieve “shared prosperity”.
On Tuesday all will be paid.
The fact that North Korea has been doing this for over 60 years without Tuesday ever coming around does nothing to disprove it. They will point out that if Tuesday comes it automatically becomes today, and today you owe the Kim Family another hamburger which they’ll pay off next Tuesday. Socialism’s benefits are always in the future, your taxes however, are due now if they aren’t already past due, you wrecker, saboteur and capitalist swine.
The more interesting implication of this behavior is that socialism rarely, if ever corrects itself by declaring ‘enough’. The only socialist form of self-correction is apparently collapse. Along with the toilet paper socialism also loses its ability to change course. Nothing on earth, not the shortage of food, water, toilet paper, medicine, coffins or oil — yes Venezuela is thinking of importing oil — can swerve them from the path to doom.
When Tuesday comes it will be all fire, brimstone, chaos and despair. One of the most interesting questions is why it must be so. Those who followed the collapse of authoritarian states in the Middle East will note how their leaders went directly from 100% approval to being displayed in meat freezers; from total regimentation to complete chaos with nothing in between. Sixty to zero in one second flat.
To the dismay of Western observers, countries like Syria did not drop down to some form of parliamentary democracy when the Assad regime began to wobble. There was no purgatory. It went straight to hell. Barring a miracle that is also what may happen to Venezuela. The day after socialism isn’t a smaller flame; it all too commonly ash.
The problem with “shared prosperity” is the politics that it demands. The road you have to get on. The silliness of its eschatological ends pales before the tawdry malignancy of its methods, which is ‘by any means necessary’ — whether ballot fixing, computer manipulating, myth making, PC enforcement — whatever it takes. They’re just daring you to risk burning the house down to stop them. And most people won’t. They’ll trickle away, clam up, try to survive, eke out a living on the edges of “shared prosperity” until they too are overwhelmed. But it burns down anyway.
The Washington Post asks: ‘Could non-citizens decide the November election?”
Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) won election in 2008 with a victory margin of 312 votes. Votes cast by just 0.65 percent of Minnesota non-citizens could account for this margin. It is also possible that non-citizen votes were responsible for Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina. Obama won the state by 14,177 votes, so a turnout by 5.1 percent of North Carolina’s adult non-citizens would have provided this victory margin.
It’s a wonderful article, written with all the dispassion of someone observing a T-Rex eating the visitors of an amusement park, describing the color, size and wonderful agility of the beast, without ever asking the most interesting question: why is there a T-Rex in the amusement park?
The ending comes at last. This will probably be the fate of Venezuela. It will not reform but continue to “progress” with such completeness that by the finish there will no one left to blame, so howling will be the wilderness. There will be nothing left but waste. Just a terrible waste.
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