This is one of those “read the whole thing” posts. As bad as Chavez was, his successor, Nicolas Maduro, is worse.
Since Chávez’s death, the situation has changed in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro lacks Chavez’s brain-power and charisma and has become completely dependent on Cuban advice. The relationship with Cuba has also changed: Havana is an imperial capital, and Caracas is merely the viceroy’s seat of power. Maduro and his vice-president, Chávez’s son-in-law — a true Marxist fanatic with a degree from Cambridge University — know that merely tweaking electoral rolls and voting machines will not win them elections a-la Chávez. They need to enter the Fourth Stage and achieve the revolution now. The latest news out of Caracas is simply the attempt by Maduro’s and Chávez’s family members to keep hold of power despite their evident lack of popularity.
Thus, during the last few weeks, Maduro has decided to have his Kristallnacht. This time it is not the Jews that are persecuted, as in Hitler’s Germany (although Chavismohas always been openly anti-Semitic), but the entire business class of Venezuela — from small shop owners to executives from large companies. In the initial opening of Maduro’s declared “Economic War” against the business community, he accused all merchants of price gouging, and he forced shops to lower their prices by 70 to 30 per cent.
Many citizens think it is immoral for a merchant to price his goods according to his rational expectations of what the exchange rate will be in the next few months, and not at the exchange rate artificially set by the government today. Only last January, the currency was devalued 48 percent, and yet the average consumer does not understand the concept of pricing to replacement cost. Thus, Maduro has achieved a great initial success. People are happy with his decision, only two weeks before Municipal elections take place. No one is thinking of what will happen in January when most of the shops do not reopen as they have been forced to liquidate their inventories below replacement values. No one, except Maduro and his vice-president, that is.
Last Friday, Maduro approved two laws that finally ended free markets in Venezuela.
It’s a bit glib to say that we’re heading in the same direction, but we are. Next year’s midterms are mighty important.
Read the rest.