Venezuela no longer can feed or care for its people. Yet many Americans have forgotten what socialism really is. Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigns as if Karl Marx was just another Santa Claus.
Real socialism largely disappeared decades ago. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites effectively ended the age of collectivism.
Nevertheless, oil-rich Venezuela since became a flamboyant exponent of socialism. Its travails should remind us how America’s power is built upon a prosperous economy. Prodigal spending at home and promiscuous intervention abroad are undermining our nation’s economic foundation.
Like most Latin American nations, Venezuela never enjoyed a genuine market economy. After years of misrule, Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez attempted a coup in 1992. He failed, but six years later frustrated Venezuelans elected him president, leading to his “Bolivarian Revolution.” Before his death in 2013 he nationalized industries, provided bountiful social benefits, spent wildly on domestic and foreign ventures, turned the state oil company into a fount of political patronage, and imposed price controls.
Chavez’s successor, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, is no more competent but less charismatic. Today the economy is in virtual collapse. With oil revenues declining the regime no longer can mask its many failures.