The New York Times published an op-ed by Rory Carroll which does a good job characterizing the nightmare that was the rule of the now deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The problem is that the piece characterizes Chavez as a bad manager, rather than implementing a political philosophy that is disastrous everywhere it’s practiced.
That same dramatic flair deeply divided Venezuelans as he postured on the world stage and talked of restoring equilibrium between the rich countries and the rest of the world. It now obscures his real legacy, which is far less dramatic than he would have hoped. In fact, it’s mundane. Mr. Chávez, in the final analysis, was an awful manager.
The legacy of his 14-year “socialist revolution” is apparent across Venezuela: the decay, dysfunction and blight that afflict the economy and every state institution.
The endless debate about whether Mr. Chávez was a dictator or democrat — he was in fact a hybrid, an elected autocrat — distracted attention, at home and abroad, from the more prosaic issue of competence. Mr. Chávez was a brilliant politician and a disastrous ruler. He leaves Venezuela a ruin, and his death plunges its roughly 30 million citizens into profound uncertainty.
Whenever the miseries of communism are revealed to the world, the left comes out to say that the reason communist societies crumble is that they just didn’t have the right leaders. It’s not central planning that keeps them from reaching utopia, it’s the flawed planners that are the problem.
Something else that’s striking are the similarities in what’s happened to Venezuela to what’s happening here in the United States under the leadership of President Obama, another brilliant politician but disastrous ruler.
Underinvestment and ineptitude hit hydropower stations and the electricity grid, causing weekly blackouts that continue to darken cities, fry electrical equipment, silence machinery and require de facto rationing. The government has no shortage of scapegoats: its own workers, the C.I.A. and even cable-gnawing possums.
Reckless money printing and fiscal policies triggered soaring inflation, so much so that the currency, the bolívar, lost 90 percent of its value since Mr. Chávez took office, and was devalued five times over a decade. (Read More)
Just look at what the EPA is doing to the coal industry, and what the Federal Reserve is doing to the dollar for a few examples. The only reason the dollar isn’t completely wiped out is that it’s the leading world currency. How long it will last at this rate is anybody’s guess.
In all fairness to Carroll, at least he’s willing to admit that Venezuelans have suffered thanks to Hugo Chavez, unlike many on the left who have been quick to offer their heartfelt condolences. But it’s dangerous to believe that Chavez’s problem was one of incompetence rather than ideology. Sure, he was incompetent, but the real problem is like Stacy said, he was a looter, plain and simple.