• Arne Mortensen

Venezuela: a teaching moment

In the news today are pictures of the serious troubles in the collapsing country of Venezuela. For most of us, Venezuela will seem to have little to no importance for us, but, in fact, it is a superb teaching moment … if only we will set aside our false notions and look at the data of the last 5,000 years of human history, or, more narrowly the data of a Chavista Venezuela.

Venezuela, on a per capita basis, compares favorably with (if not exceeds) the United States if we measure only natural resources. Overall, Venezuela is a disaster today, but, frankly, it never has lived up to the potential of its resources. The reason is the attitude of the people.

No, it is not that there is some intrinsic deficiency in the biology of the Venezuelan; Venezuelans are made up largely of immigrants, same as here. While the US was built on the concept of rugged individualism and the rule of law, Venezuela was built on the concept of patronage and the idea of the rule of men. Spin the clock for a century or more and you can see the results. There are many other examples: our own Jamestown experiment in socialism failed; Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is still in shambles.

Today we see just how popular socialist policies have become in our presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, whose policies will convert us into another Venezuela rapidly. But even if we do not elect Bernie, the public notion that socialism is viable remains. And that notion currently is exercised at every level of government in our country, and it will take us Venezuela bound, but at a slower pace than Bernie.

Cowlitz County has been suffering from the growing attitude that the government can fix things for us. How long have we been struggling with the homeless problem, the unemployment problem, etc.? We should push back on local government excursion beyond its infrastructure and protection of life and property; that really is the best we can do for ourselves. As Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, it is the problem.”

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