There’s the old joke I heard way back in college that was more or less rendered obsolete in the 1980s, but which has made a comeback of sorts in the era of Obama’s crypto-socialist crony-capitalism: “The trouble with capitalism is that it’s people exploiting other people; the trouble with socialism is just the opposite.” Of course this is false: it is capitalism, not government control of the economy, that has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty–especially in China–over the last 25 years. It seems silly to have to repeat this over and over again, but the socialist impulse is irrepressible, along with the sentimental ignorance that fuels the socialist impulse.
But it is fun to point out, as the Wall Street Journal does today, that one of the biggest beneficiaries of socialism turns out to be capitalists. Just as the Soviet Union suffered something like 75 years of “bad weather” on its farms following the revolution, much the same is happening in tropical Venezuela:
U.S. Rice Farmers Cash in on Venezuelan Socialism: U.S. Exporters Benefit as Production Falls in Latin American Country
STUTTGART, Ark.—Steve Orlicek, a rice farmer here, is living the American dream. He owns a thriving business; he vacations in the Bahamas.
His good fortune springs from many roots, including an unlikely one: He is a prime beneficiary of the socialist economic policies of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s late president and critic of what he called U.S. “imperialism.”
It is a paradoxical legacy of Mr. Chávez’s self-styled socialist revolution that his policies became a moneymaker for the capitalist systems he deplored. During his 14 years in power, he nationalized large farms, redistributed land and controlled food prices as part of a strategy to help the poor. But these policies turned Venezuela from a net exporter to a net importer of rice—from farmers like Mr. Orlicek. “The rice industry has been very good to us,” Mr. Orlicek said, sitting in his newly renovated home, appointed with a baby grand piano played by his wife, Phyllis.
It isn’t just rice. Production of steel, sugar and many other goods has fallen in Venezuela, leading to occasional shortages. Until recently, Venezuela was largely self-sufficient in beef and coffee. Now it imports both.
Memo to socialists everywhere: You can’t win.