Chaos that Venezuela's socialist ruler unleashed by outrageously seizing stores selling electronics and extending blanket price controls elsewhere is a cautionary tale for all who think every problem's answer is more government intrusion and control.
That “state knows best” attitude, personified by the late President Hugo Chavez's penchant for nationalizing industries, has made Venezuela an economic basket case: 54-percent inflation, with such basics as milk, toilet paper and flour in short supply. Yet with municipal elections a month away, President Nicolas Maduro on Friday doubled down on his predecessor's ill-advised approach.
Accusing the five-store Daka chain of price gouging, Mr. Maduro ordered soldiers to “occupy” the stores and liquidate their stock at “significantly lower prices,” according to The New York Times. Huge crowds then went bargain-hunting — or, as in Valencia, Venezuela's third-largest city — looting at the stores.
Maduro maintains he's fighting an “economic war” against domestic right-wing opponents and their Colombian and American supporters. But what he's really fighting are immutable laws of basic economics — a losing battle for sure.
However many store managers he arrests for supposed price-gouging, however many other retailers he targets and however much anti-capitalist rhetoric he spouts, Maduro's not going to turn Venezuela's economy around by increasing state control. After all, it's nationalization and socialism — not free markets and capitalism — that have brought Venezuela its economic woes.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.