Feeling the Burn of Socialism in Venezuela: $150 for One-Dozen Eggs
Not long ago, a video surfaced featuring Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders claiming bread lines were a sign of good times.
You know, it’s funny. Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is when people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing. In other countries, people don’t line up for food. The rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”
Well, it must be the best of times in Venezuela!
Here’s how Public Radio International described the scene just a couple of weeks ago:
It was around noon when a food truck rolled up to a Venezuelan state-subsidized supermarket in the town of Guarenas just east of the capital.
“But, to the fury of the long line of people waiting out front, the cargo wasn’t unloaded. Instead soldiers took it away.
“‘We want food!’ the crowd roared in protest, to no avail. Some tried to run after the truck.”
In fact, Venezuela is feeling the burn of socialism. The country has devolved into complete chaos. Inflation may well hit 1200% this year.
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The official price of eggs is 1,020 bolivars. Yes, the government maintains “official prices.” But Venezuelans can rarely find eggs at the government-run food stores. Maria Linares is a 42-year-old single mother who works for a government ministry as an accounting assistant. She told the Los Angeles Times she has to buy eggs on the street from vendors. Cost? Around 1,500 bolivars for 1-dozen eggs. That translates to $150 at the official exchange rate.
Linares spends almost her entire salary just buying food. She can find the best deals at government-run stores such as Mercal and Bicentenario. But to shop there, she has to line up overnight. Even then, she still often comes home with nothing – or things she doesn’t want:
The last time I bought food in a Mercal was three months ago. They sold me one kilo [2.2 pounds] of rice, a kilo of pasta, a kilo of sugar and a liter of cooking oil for 1,540 bolivars. But to buy the basket of regulated products, I had to buy a watermelon for 400 bolivars. I didn’t want the watermelon and didn’t have the extra money to pay for it.”
For the most part, Linares must resort to illegal street vendors called bachaqueros in order to obtain food.
The Venezuelan government is so broke it can’t even afford to print more money. But it did recently raise the minimum wage.
Could rampant hyperinflation in Venezuela provide a peek into America’s future? That seems far-fetched, but Bernie advocates many of the same policies that plunged the South American country into economic chaos and millions of Americans embrace that vision.
Tho Bishop recently summed up the situation in Venezuela for the Mises Wire.
The crisis in Venezuela is the most modern illustration of the horrific consequences of socialism and the devastating reality of hyperinflation. What makes this disaster all the more infuriating is that it could have been avoided with a basic understanding of history. We’ve seen the disaster of socialism and interventionism in various forms play out across the world time and time again with similar results, and yet new generations of central planners — backed by ideologically aligned intellectuals — are consistently able to fool people into believing that ‘this time will be different.’
Just remember, bread lines are a good thing.
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