Venezuela through the eyes of the BBC. "Auntie" is in no way a hardline critic of socialism, but they can't overlook this mess. Venezuela used to be obnoxiously rich; many Venezuelans used to be. Not all of them were rich and the middle class wasn't all that big a group; there was a sharp divide between rich and poor and not many paths up from poverty. As oil prices rose and fell, so did the national economy, with the poor and middle class affected the most. Socialism promised to fix that!
You could say it did: now just about everyone is grindingly poor, living hand to mouth when there's anything to eat, short on everything that makes modern civilization. --Well, everything but gasoline, heavily subsidized by the government. But gas smugglers are a problem thanks to the cheap gas and the socialist wizard running the place is talking about letting gasoline prices seek their level.
It was a rich country. Now it's not. They've still got enormous oil reserves, but it turns out of you break the economy, if you shake down everyone who's got more than his neighbors, instead of leveling out, the money....drains away.
That's what's at stake with the current crop of "Democratic Socialists" here in the U.S. I don't think they mean ill, just as I'd be surprised if Hugo Chavez had thought of himself as a villain. Nor would the U.S. fall apart as rapidly as Venezeula's single-commodity economy. But the end would be the same: a border-to-border slum, the equality of the starving, the kind of paradise a fool creates.
One of the things that worries me about the wild flip-flops at the Executive level and the deep divide in Congress is positive feedback: every swing goes farther than the preceding one and roughly half the electorate eggs it on each time. We're in a barely-controlled bus careening down a mountain road, hard rock on one side, a sheer drop-off on the other, and the passengers are cheering every swerve. How long 'til it goes smash?
6 months ago