Venezuela’s new decree

In his column “Socialism for the uninformed,” Thomas Sowell observed: “socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.”

Sowell cited the slow-motion catastrophe in Venezuela as a case in point: “While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.”

All is proceeding as Sowell foretold. This week’s news brings the latest chapter in Venezuela’s descent. Andrew Pestano reports for UPI: “At the end of last week, Maduro signed a decree that would give Venezuela’s Ministry of Popular Power for Social Process of Work the ability to order any Venezuelan with the physical or technical capabilities to join a government effort to work in the agriculture sector for up to 120 days.” If you have a problem with that, they will help you get your mind right.

Pestano adds that “Venezuela’s farming association in June said only 25 percent of the country’s agricultural land is being used to farm.” Gee, why would that be?

Richard Washington’s CNBC report on the decree includes a link to the text of Resolution No. 9855. Amnesty International drew attention to the decree in a press release and accordingly generated the news stories on it. It condemned the decree as “unlawful” and “effectively amount[ing] to forced labour.” The press release serves a useful purpose, but the organization doesn’t seem to have a handle on the applicable principle of right that socialism in general, or the decree specifically, violates.

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