Dear Socialists of America: Let’s Chat About Venezuela

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s signature “You Might Be a Redneck” routine was running through my head these last few days as I thought about Venezuela and socialism.

No really, I promise there’s a connection.

An empty shelf inside a private market in Caracas on June 17, 2014. (LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An empty shelf inside a private market in Caracas on June 17, 2014. (LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

His classic routine goes through the tell-tale signs of redneck-ness:

“If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say ‘Cool Whip’ on the side, youuuuuu might be a redneck. If you’ve ever used your ironing board as a buffet table, youuuuuu might be a redneck. If you’ve ever been accused of lyin’ through your tooth, youuuuuu might be a redneck.”

Let’s borrow Foxworthy’s line of logic here for a minute and apply it to the socialist-laced collapse of a country that should otherwise be one of the richest nations in the world:

See, I promised there’d be a connection.

If an order of McDonald’s fries costs you the USD equivalent of $126 (oh and by the way, that’s 9 percent of your monthly wages), youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If your local state-run grocery store shelves are stocked with the same couple of items (when they’re stocked at all), youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If your president ordered a 30 percent minimum wage increase (the 33rd hike in 17 years) and yet “minimum wage is now only about 20 percent of the cost of feeding a family of five,” youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If what it once cost you to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner now barely gets you breakfast, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If you wait in line for hours for “a couple of little bags of flour or some butter,” youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If government regulations force prices of food down, but 700+ percent inflation makes it nearly impossible to buy it, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If the government takes over grocery stores for having supposedly “squirreled away food to stoke public exasperation over widespread shortages,” youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If you can only go to grocery stores on certain days and ONLY with a government-issued ID, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If your government threatens “to take over idle factories and jail their owners” because they’re being supposedly “paralyzed by the bourgeoisie,” youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If the government has imposed rolling electricity blackouts and the little food you have sits spoiling in a powerless refrigerator (unless of course, you’re a government official living in Caracas), youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If you “routinely skip one meal per day and increasingly rely on starches to make up for proteins that are too expensive or simply unavailable,” youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If you’re eating dogs, cats and garbage to survive, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If your government now only works two days a week, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If you’re ambushing and looting grocery trucks on the highway, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If being the editor of a newspaper investigating government corruption gets you thrown in jail, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

If it’s nearly impossible to leave your country because of your government’s stringent currency controls, youuuuuu might be living in a socialist country.

Listen, all Foxworthy-esque joking aside, this is serious stuff.

We’re talking about a country sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, and yet it is literally “almost too poor to afford inflation.” Translation: they can barely pay to print more money.

Venezuela (even with the global drop in oil prices) should be better than fine. It should be exceptional.

And yet today, Venezuela is gone. It has spiraled into a hellhole of violence, unimaginable poverty and government oppression.

Why?

Because the Venezuelan government, like so many before them, bought into the lie of socialism. Before my socialist friends point a finger, no, it’s not because of falling oil prices; even triple digit oil prices weren’t enough to pay for Venezuela’s wild redistributive spending spree.

They bought into the lie (or took advantage of it) that government can deal with economic problems with more government. They bought into the lie (or took advantage of it) that the government can orchestrate success.

To the 47 percent of Americans in this country who say they’d vote for a socialist:

What exactly did Venezuela do wrong? No really, what precisely went wrong?

What part of their top-down, government-run collectivism sounds any different that the socialism that Bernie Sanders and every other American socialist peddles?

Didn’t Venezuela’s current leadership (and decades’ worth of leadership before them) follow Karl Marx’s redistributive principles to a T?

So what gives?

I’ll leave you with a final thought:

If Venezuela’s socialist leader Nicolas Maduro praises would-be socialist leader Bernie Sanders as “an emerging candidate with a restorative and revolutionary message,” youuuuuu might want to rethink your worldview.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. ET). She can be reached at: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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