What’s going on in Venezuela

February 19, 2014

I’m a little surprised at how many posts I’ve written about Venezuela. It’s not as though I have any special interest in the country, but it’s certainly a textbook example of how things can go wrong under a Socialist government.

I don’t believe that the leaders of Venezuela are all socialists in good faith. I suspect that many of them are just thugs using socialism to legitimize the take-over of their country. It wouldn’t be the first that had happened.

There are peaceful, law-abiding socialist governments after all, so I don’t assume that the violence in Venezuela is solely due to socialism. And there are plenty of fascist tyrannies on the right; the left has no monopoly on civil violence.

But socialist or fascist, they’re all statists of one stripe or another. A leopard may change his politics daily but he never changes his spots.

It has mystified me since I was a teenager why people would give up control of anything else to the social agent which controls the guns — i.e., to a government which controls the police and military.

Why in the world would you trust that supreme armed authority in any country with controlling public media, or controlling an economy, or with managing the health care system? The temptations to corruption are so much stronger when the power is concentrated in the government.

That’s why I think socialist governments tend to encourage strong men and tyrants to take power. As I told a socialist friend of mine a few years ago, "When you go to bed with Karl, you’re likely to wake up with Uncle Joe."

Let’s look at the alternative: is the market always fair and even-handed? Hell no, it’s not. Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen. Business people are no more angels than bureaucrats are. We’re always dealing with the crooked timber of humanity.

But dealing with a market at least leaves you with more alternatives than dealing with a government. Some particular business may give you ‘the business’, but it won’t send you to prison and it won’t conscript you (or your child) to fight in an unjust war.

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