A Generation’s Decision

A new generation of Americans will soon be casting their initial votes. Most have been educated by public schools controlled by federal government money attached to strong strings. The information they will rely on to decide their vote is dangerously close to nothing less than government propaganda. But there may be lessons available.

While the people of Venezuela fight to buy the last of the food available in their grocery stores, the Obama’s were celebrating with the communist in Cuba and dancing the tango for the socialists in Argentina. While Obama warned of sanctions if president Maduro increased violence against his political opposition, his IRS director was being exposed as using her powerful agency to impose financial ‘violence’ on Obama’s political opposition.

Matt O’Brien of The Washington Post writes,

It’s come to this: The country with the largest oil reserves in the world can’t afford to brew its own beer, stay in its own time zone, or even have its own people show up to work more than two times a week.

Venezuela, in spite of having the world’s largest oil reserves, has economically collapsed under the stress of trying to support strong socialist government established more than a decade ago by Hugo Chavez. The International Monetary Fund experts report the people of Venezuela are expected to suffer under hyper-inflation at a rate exceeding 700% this year. But already with the second highest murder rate in the world, violence is predicted to get even worse as the strong arm of the socialist regime threatens violence against those in the growing opposition to President Maduro.

It seems unreal that the once thriving nation is now facing a choice between anarchy and civil war. Meanwhile, as bankruptcy approaches in a nation that can’t afford to buy ink to print money, the question needs to be ask; could this happen in the United States?

Mark O’Brien writes:

How did Venezuela get here? Well, by spending more than it had and not having as much as it should. Let’s take these in reverse order. It really shouldn’t have been hard for the government to use some of its petrodollars on the poor without destroying the economy. Every other oil-rich country, after all, has figured that out. But you can’t redistribute oil profits if there aren’t oil profits to redistribute, or at least not many of them. And there weren’t after Hugo Chavez replaced people who knew what they were doing with people he knew would be loyal to him at the state-owned oil company. It didn’t help that he scared foreign oil companies off too. Or that he took money out, but didn’t put it back in, so that they can no longer turn as much of their extra-heavy crude into refined oil. Add it all up, and Venezuela’s oil production actually fell by about 25 percent between 1999 and 2013. (Chavez’s years as president)

Now let’s think for a moment about the last 8 years in the United States. Bureaucrats being appointed for their political loyalty to Obama’s socialist ideology rather than their expertise or experiences with the responsibilities of the bureaus they are charged with running. Regulations on businesses being used to advance political whims of the administration without concern for outcome for the businesses. And an energy policy designed to bankrupt the coal and oil industries through expensive regulations created by appointed political bureaucrats not elected lawmakers.

One small difference between Venezuela and the United States is the way in which money is printed. Venezuela has its bolivars printed out of country while the United States has its own printing presses. But both nations have tried to keep their economies from decline by printing more and more currency. Ironically, since the value of the bolivar has dropped some 99% relative to the US dollar since 2012, Venezuela is now reaching a point where the government can’t even afford to buy more bolivars to pay for daily operations. As fewer and fewer buyers step up to purchase US treasury bonds with each successive offering, the US has resorted to printing billions of unbacked dollars to pay for daily operating costs. Meanwhile, America’s largest trading partners are building trade agreements which exclude the US dollar and replace it, in some cases, with oil.

Which brings the discussion back to why the economy in the nation with the largest oil reserves on the planet would be so poor that even its largest brewery was shut down after it couldn’t afford to import ingredients to make beer. And beer isn’t the only commodity missing from store shelves. The government has mandated selling prices to stores to fight inflation. But without any profits the stores were closing. Then government attempted to keep those stores from closing by giving them currency to buy stock for everything from food to toilet paper. But these dollars intended to resupply shelves and keep prices low are worth more on the black market than the government’s designed profits – so store shelves are empty, food is hard to find, and where it is available, there are long lines, patience is short and violence is often spontaneous.

With some of the largest refineries in the world, it would seem that energy would at least be abundant and affordable. After all, since Hugo Chavez seized and nationalized the refineries when crude was selling at near $100 a barrel, the government owned energy systems should at least have all the fuel oil necessary to produce cheap abundant energy. But unfortunately, instead of keeping the experts in charge of power plants and refineries, Chavez appointed political loyalists in control of both refineries and the nation’s energy policy. Touting their forward thinking, Venezuela put its electric production needs into a hydroelectric system instead of maintaining or building power plants which could use the nations domestic oil. Drought has now reduced that hydroelectric system’s output capacity so dramatically that all government workers are on a two day a week schedule to save electricity. (That’s the official reason, although most observers believe reducing payroll may be just as important) The government ordered clocks be reset by a half hour to reduce the need for lights in the evening. These cutbacks follow recent withdraw from the country by the two largest oil production support companies in the world and crude production has dropped even further.

It is not difficult to draw many parallels between the policies of Hugo Chavez and those of Barack Obama. Nationalizing huge sectors of the economy, uncontrolled printing of currency, borrowing money to pay the interest on an increasing debt resulting from expanding unfunded socialist programs, and energy policies based on political whims instead of reality and resource avail abilities. We have even seen both presidents issuing executive orders trying to subsidize consumer goods. Trade agreements were wrought with unintended consequences of job losses causing increased government spending for social services, and so on and so forth.

Now the United States faces an election in which voters can choose between the socialist agenda with its selective law enforcement of the past 8 years by electing Hillary Clinton, expanding that agenda with a Marxist by supporting Bernie Sanders, or potentially creating gridlock in the central government between Donald Trump and the power establishment fighting to maintain their own positions in power.

As Ronald Reagan said it so well, freedom is only one generation away from extinction. Are we about to see that generation vote?

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