The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that socialism does not work. The supreme example of this fact is the former Union of Soviet Socialists Republic (USSR). The USSR is a former communist country in Eastern Europe and northern Asia. It was established in 1922 and was officially dissolved on December 31, 1991. This union of nations lasted less than 70 years.
Politically the USSR was divided (from 1940 to 1991) into 15 constituent or union republics – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia (Belarus), Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia (Kyrgyzstan), Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia (Moldova), Russia, Tadzhikistan (Tajikistan), Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan – ostensibly joined in a federal union, but until the final year or so of the USSR’s existence the republics had little real power. Russia, officially the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR), was only one of the constituent republics, but the terms “Russia,” the “USSR,” and the “Soviet Union” were often used interchangeably.
The current situation in Venezuela is another good example of how socialism destroys nations. This article by Aljazeera describes conditions in Venezuela and how the nation went from riches to rags.
When Hugo Chavez was elected president in December 1998, he promised to tackle corruption and poverty.
He used Venezuela’s rapidly growing oil wealth to set up social programmes, known as the Misiones, with the aim of eradicating poverty and reducing inequality. It was, many claimed, a much-needed intervention in the entrenched disparity between Venezuela’s rich and poor.
As Chavez strived to transform the nation with what he called 21st century socialism, his populist policies began to take a more radical turn. He nationalised industries and bloated state bureaucracy at great national expense, all funded by high oil prices and unchecked borrowing. Venezuela became saddled with record-high levels of debt.
When Chavez died, he handed “the poisoned chalice of an economy about to implode” to Nicolas Maduro – and the nation continued down the slippery economic slope to the point that the people there are searching dumpsters for food. The situation is Venezuela is desperate and most likely will require help from the United States and other nations in order to recover. The article includes two quotes that explain conditions in Venezuela today.
Maduro has inherited a legacy of oil dependence at a period when Venezuela has gone bust, and at a time where the oil price has gone bust… [Maduro] has simply not addressed any of the problems or the legacy that he inherited from President Chavez (Professor Julia Buxton, author of The Failure of Political Reform in Venezuela).
The collapse of economic activity makes this period, 2013 onwards, the largest recession in Western Hemisphere history – significantly larger, almost twice as large as the Great Depression of the US (Ricardo Hausmann, former Venezuelan minister for planning).
I did not believe the statement about the situation in Venezuela being worse than the Great Depression, but I found an article in The Hill that supports it. Antonio Mora posted an extremely interesting article about the dire straits affecting the people in Venezuela.
If IMF forecasts are accurate, the Venezuelan economy will contract another 15 percent this year. That means half of the country’s economy will have disappeared in four years, making the Great Depression seem like a mild recession. No country in the Americas or Western Europe has come close to a suffering an economic calamity like this.
With these two examples of disaster staring Americans in the face, it seems that we would be smarter. However, there are growing numbers of people who want socialism in the United State. Recent “polls show that 36 percent of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 favor socialism over capitalism.” It is obvious that the younger generations are not being taught about the problems caused by socialism.
Politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and now newcomer Ocasio-Cortez, appeal to young voters with promises of free college and healthcare while demonizing capitalism – the very system under which they have flourished.
The freedoms and opportunities that are available in our American democratic republic allow anyone to rise from poverty to wealth. Some people can do it easier than others, but the freedoms are available to all. While politicians, such as those listed above, prosper in our democracy, they continue to spout the values of socialism. The fact is that the people suffer under socialism while the elites prosper. We must continue to teach the rising generation about the dangers of socialism while also teaching the values of democracy.