Santa Claus Isn’t Coming to Venezuela

Adam Smith said that there is a lot of ruin in a country, but he didn’t know the half of it. The slow, agonizing descent of once-wealthy Venezuela into a Hobbesian state of nature has been painful to watch, even from afar. Every day brings a new set of disasters, and it is hard to understand why President Maduro hasn’t been strung up from a lamppost like fellow socialist Benito Mussolini. Maybe it’s because they have strict gun control laws in Venezuela.

Anyway, here is the latest: “‘Santa Claus isn’t coming,’ recession-hit Venezuelans tell kids.”

As a harrowing economic crisis makes food scarce for millions of Venezuelans, many families cannot buy their children Christmas presents, decorate their home, or even host a holiday dinner.

The oil-rich country is suffering the third year of a recession that has sparked product shortages and galloping inflation. With a recent currency depreciation pumping up prices even higher, some parents are simply canceling Christmas.

Correction: Venezuela isn’t experiencing a “recession.” It is in the last stages–one hopes!–of the death spiral of socialism. As is so often the case, the linked Reuters story never mentions the words “socialism” or “socialist.”

“Last year I bought everything for my daughter,” said Dileida Palacios, a 40-year-old hairdresser dressed in black to mourn her son killed in crime-rife Venezuela a few weeks ago.

“This year I had to tell her everything is tough and Santa Claus isn’t coming.”

Venezuela’s corrupt government sought a short-term solution by stealing 3.8 million toys from an importer. We wrote about that here. This presumably means the end of any toy industry in Venezuela, but Maduro isn’t thinking as far ahead as next year.

His government confiscated 3.8 million toys from importer Kreisel, accusing the company of hoarding and price gouging.

Two Kreisel executives have been jailed, and Socialist Party committees have been distributing the toys to children.

“That’s what you call a reinforcement for Father Christmas, right?” the president laughed, stroking his mustache during a recent speech on state TV. “Saint Nicolas without a beard; Saint Nicolas with a mustache!”

The socialist Maduro as Santa Claus: one could say it is a profound image. Under socialism, the state replaces religion–replaces everything, really. You don’t pray to God, you pray to the government, the source of all bounty. Only it doesn’t work, and the bounty rapidly dries up, unless you are one of the socialist ruling class like Hugo Chavez, in which case you are likely to wind up a billionaire.

I suspect that President Maduro has an airplane warmed up on a runway near his presidential palace at all times, ready for a quick getaway to a place that hasn’t experienced socialism, where he can cash in his Swiss bank account. He doesn’t want to repeat Mussolini’s experience, or Ceaușescu’s, or Hitler’s.

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