There is an absolute truth in the dialectic of economics and culture that goes something like this: man cannot survive on ideas alone, no matter how benevolent or egalitarian those ideas might be. And so it is with Venezuela.
Once again, I am forced to say it. Yes, in theory the Kumbayaness of socialist principals when presented, as a way of making everyone feel good, is a noble concept — a perfectly gallant concept that unfortunately doesn’t work.
Venezuela’s version of unbridled socialism showed itself as a losing formula this week as we watched young men who used to identify as Chavistas taking to the streets to renounce the very thing they once embraced.
When it comes to crime, things appear to be so bad; the government no longer produces stats. A person is murdered in Venezuela every 21 minutes, making it one of the most violent places in the world.
There they were, congregated on the streets of Caracas protesting the government of Nicolás Maduro, while echoing the laments we’ve heard before in places like the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Cuba. They are young men and women who want nothing more than jobs and opportunities. But after a decade and a half of Chavismo, replete with thousands of feel-good speeches and unfulfilled promises, Venezuela’s youth is at the end of its rope and seemingly losing hope.
The country’s inflation rate has soared to a staggering 56 percent, a 300 percent increase over the previous year. And when it comes to crime, things appear to be so bad; the government no longer produces stats. A person is murdered in Venezuela every 21 minutes, making it one of the most violent places in the world.
How did Venezuela get to where it is? It’s a pattern that seems to repeat itself more often than not in places where large segments of the population perceive that greed creates dysfunction. True or not, when the rich are perceived as very, very rich and the poor as very, very poor, even Popes complain. Francis recently decried the “idolatry of money” in secular culture and warned that it would lead to “a new tyranny.”
Fair enough, but in Venezuela the cure is turning out to be worse than the disease. The question is no longer whether unbridled greed and a lack of consideration for the plight of the poor in pre Chavez Venezuela was bad; the new and more important question is, Why has the country’s social and economic fabric been nearly destroyed in the so-called fix that is the Bolivarian revolution?
The answer lies in balance, or a lack thereof. Venezuela’s wealth creators have been pushed aside, and replaced with F-O-C's, friends of Chavez, who display barely a fraction of the skill, knowledge or experience of their predecessors. It’s the classic recipe for economic disaster and it’s materializing in today’s Venezuela. The chickens have come home to roost. Can you say brain drain?
If today’s troubled Venezuela proves one thing it is this: an egalitarian “Kumbayaish” concept of government aimed at making everyone feel good is a virtuous, but impractical concept — one that eventually leaves even the youngest and brashest of revolutionaries with nothing more than a plate of Chavismo served cold and a hunger for something else.