Archive for February, 2016

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They’re paying the piper in Venezuela

February 16, 2016

Here’s the start of a recent article about Venezuela in the Wall Street Journal. It’s behind their paywall, of course.

Venezuela’s Collapse Brings ‘Savage Suffering’
Dying infants, chronic power outages and empty shelves mark the world’s worst-performing economy

CARACAS, Venezuela—In a hospital in the far west of this beleaguered country, the economic crisis took a grim toll in the past week: Six infants died because there wasn’t enough medicine or functioning respirators.

Here in the capital, the crisis has turned ordinary life into an ordeal for nearly everyone. Chronic power outages have prompted the government to begin rationing electricity, darkening shopping malls. Homes and apartments regularly suffer water shortages.

Rosalba Castellano, 74 years old, spent hours this week in what has become a desperate routine for millions: waiting in long lines to buy whatever food is available. She walked away with just two liters of cooking oil.

“I hoped to buy toilet paper, rice, pasta,” she said. “But you can’t find them.” Her only choice will be to hunt for the goods at marked-up prices on the black market. The government, she said, “is putting us through savage suffering.”

The National Assembly, now controlled by the opposition, declared a food emergency on Thursday—an attempt to spur the government of President Nicolás Maduro to, among other things, ease price controls that have created shortages of everything from medicine to meat.

“The people are being left without the ability to feed themselves,” said lawmaker Omar Barboza.

Inflation in this oil-rich country is expected to hit a world’s-worst 700% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy shrank by 10% last year and is expected to decline another 8% this year, according to the IMF, the worst performance in the world. And there is no end in sight. […]

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Still standing with Rand

February 14, 2016

It’s no secret that I backed Rand Paul’s presidential campaign (both here and financially). So naturally I was disappointed when he decided to end his campaign last week while I was traveling for business.

Not that I need another reason to despise Donald Trump, but I’ll add this one to the pile anyway. Thanks, Donald.

I think Nick Gillespie nails in it in this column, and that includes the parts about Rand trying to pass himself off as a conservative. Gillespie writes:

The short version of what went wrong is neither complicated nor difficult to explain.

Donald Trump happened, bending virtually all the light to him like a black hole for most of the past six months or more. […]

His [Rand’s] campaign was lackluster at times or, even worse, a conservative repudiation of the “libertarian-ish” tendencies that had earned him sobriquets such as “the most interesting man in the Senate” and “the most interesting man in politics.”

The guy whose 13-hour filibuster forced President Obama to promise not to drone-kill American citizens drinking coffee at Starbucks and who said the GOP needed to be “white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails, with beards, without” rarely hesitated to jump on the anti-Planned Parenthood and anti-Syrian refugee bandwagons along with all the other GOP candidates.

I don’t regard a conservative as someone who necessarily wants to conserve liberty. Some want to conserve American political heritage; others just want to conserve their idea of a “good social order.” I’m with the first; the others can take a hike.

That’s why I talk, write, and vote libertarian: I don’t trust conservatives (as a group) to maintain liberty in any consistent, principled sense. And I was disappointed when Rand jumped on the very bandwagons that Gillespie mentions.

But to paraphrase an old saying in the software business: good marketing beats good principles any day.

All that said, I still think Rand was the best choice for those of us who want liberty to be conserved and expanded. So I liked Rand’s farewell video last week.

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