Business Review Board / May 4, 2016

Socialism Sounds Great Until You Run Out of Beer

Venezuelans have had it with their government’s socialism experiment.

Venezuelans have had it with their government’s socialism experiment: It’s cheap gas, socialized medicine, rushing toward default. About 1.85 million of them signed a petition asking the National Electoral Board to kick off a recall election. For months now, thanks to the drop in the price of oil, the oil-producing country has slid toward collapse. When socialist leader Hugo Chavez first took power, about half of the country lived in poverty. The country embraced socialism as a way to economic prosperity back in the late 90s. These days, three out of four Venezuelans are destitute.

Last week, the country reached its tipping point: The nation’s largest beer company ran out of money to buy malted barley and it ceased production. Granted, the nation was facing shortages on everything from water to breast implants. Now the recall drive is raking in millions of votes many times more than what is needed to kick off a recall election. Jesus Torrealba, who is the executive secretary for the nation’s opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable, tweeted when sending the first 80 boxes of signatures to the elections board, “This is just the beginning of a road that will end in a recall referendum and the election of a unity government.” In this political stir lies opportunity. It’s an opportunity for Venezuelans to learn how free markets float all boats. It’s also an opportunity for us to remember that, despite the pleas here for a $15 minimum wage or universal health care, socialism does not work.

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