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Hugo Chavez’s Communist Legacy: Food Shortages

Written by Robert Murphy on October 3, 2013

The news is rife with stories of the awful shortages of basic essentials in Venezuela. For example, the BBC World Service did an extended report, and the following comes from a Guardian article:

It’s the rainy season in Venezuela and Pedro Rodríguez has had to battle upturned manhole lids, flooded avenues and infernal traffic jams in his quest for sugar, oil and milk in Caracas.

In Avenida Victoria, a low-income sector of Caracas, Zeneida Caballero complains about waiting in endless queues for a sack of low-quality rice. “It fills me with rage to have to spend the one free day I have wasting my time for a bag of rice,” she says. “I end up paying more at the re-sellers. In the end, all these price controls proved useless.”

In 2008, when there was another serious wave of food scarcity, most people blamed shop owners for hoarding food as a mechanism to exert pressure on the government’s price controls, a measure that former president Hugo Chávez adopted as part of his self-styled socialist revolution.

This time, however, food shortages have gone on for almost a year and certain items long gone from the shelves are hitting a particular nerve with Venezuelans. Toilet paper, rice, coffee, and cornflour, used to make arepas, Venezuela’s national dish, have become emblematic of more than just an economic crisis.

Although people often use the phrase merely for rhetorical points, this episode really is Econ 101. The price controls instituted under former president Chavez are the ultimate source of the shortages. Naturally, Chavez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, blames everything on a “wider plan concocted by the CIA to destabilize his government,” according to the Guardian piece.

As any intro economics textbook explains, when the government sets the price of a good below the market-clearing level, you get a shortage. That is, buyers want more units of the good than sellers want to provide. This is playing out in literal textbook fashion in Venezuela.

(For the rest of the article, click the link.)

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11 thoughts on “Hugo Chavez’s Communist Legacy: Food Shortages

  1. When will they ever learn? as Pete Seegar sang.

  2. The fools voted for it now let them suffer ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  3. The late Hugo Chavez also wanted to stop selling his country's resources for only US dollars. Just like the late Ghaddafi, just like the late Saddam, just like the late Arbentz……

    As a US general told one of the Saudis: Do things our way and we'll promise you a carpet of gold. Otherwise, it will be a carpet of bombs. Your pick.

  4. President Ofukup is simply reding from the Chavez manual

  5. Bob Marshall says:

    I wish more people would wake up and read ROUGE STATE A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum. Are we really hated because of our freedom or is it because of what we have done to 52 countries since WWII. This book is a real eye opener for those who can handle the truth about the American Empire.

  6. william spires says:

    Send Sean Penn there again, so he can tell us what a great guy Hugo Chavez was and how proud he was to be his friend !!

  7. Econoranter says:

    People who will not learn from the sad experience of others have to learn from their own suffering. Right, America?

  8. While our infrastructure (bridges, highways, hospitals, schools, power plants) crumbles and falls apart, the US sends soldiers and materiel across the globe to invade countries that never attacked us nor do they spend the tiniest fraction of what we do on a standing army, navy and air force ($1 million per man per year for the war in Afghanistan alone). We are being destroyed from within (Obamacare, illegal in-migration by the millions, outsourced high-paying jobs and offshored manufacturing) while our armed forces try to police the rest of the world. Insanity reigns.

  9. That , and much worse is ALWAYS the result of communist rule and control . The great equalizer of the majority is and always will be CAPITALISM .

  10. Yes. And when we are all starving and sick under Obama, the Venezuelans will just say, "What goes around comes around."

  11. The military industrial complex made so much money druing WWII, that it did not want to shut down full scale military operations. Eisenhower warned the public about this, but "patriotism" continued to be cited as the reason we needed to protect the Vietnames from other Vietnamese, the Koreans from other Koreans, the Germans from other Germans, Muslims stranded in the Balkans after the last jihad in the 1500's, and so forth. In the end, it was a success. It made money for defense contractors. But it has been both a foreign policy and public relations disaster of Biblical proportions.

    We don't have the resources to police the entire world. And from the violence breaking out all over our own country after years of neglecting our own affairs to run everyone else's, the chickens are coming home to roost.