Venezuela Takes Extreme Measure to Solve Food Problems
Recently, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued an executive order asserting that all workers, public and private, can be forced to work in farm fields for up to 60 days at a time, or “if circumstances merit,” even longer. The order is designed to address the problems recently afflicting Venezuelan agriculture, which has resulted in massive food shortages for individuals across Venezuela.
As Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald details, the previous president, Hugo Chávez, confiscated nearly 7.5 million acres of agricultural land between 2004 and 2010, as he believed that the country would be better off and the prices would be lower if this production was left purely to government growers. When production fell, Chávez created price controls, which only making matters worse. Garvin notes that other socialist leaders like Fidel Castro and Joseph Stalin were also known to resort to slavery to make up for poor economies.
The scene in Venezuela is only the latest depressing example of the realities of socialism. When citizens grant to governments the full control over their labor and income, the control over their bodies and lives are only a sad, but logical conclusion.
This is the major distinction between free markets and government-controlled markets. In the former, private citizens are their own bosses, determining for themselves what is best. In the latter, the state can provide a certain amount of security, but the sacrifice of freedom is so great that it overrules any possible benefits.
While those on the political left suggest that in a capitalist economy, corporations and billionaires rule over the workers, the truth is that no other system provides to “common people” more ability to choose their paths. Simply put, no entrepreneur or corporate conglomerate can survive without diligent workers. There does come a necessary showing of value so that the worker may prove his or her worth, but this once again implicates the notions of personal responsibility and self-ownership.
Private persons retain the right to do a cost-benefit analysis to judge the merits of continuing on in a select field or choosing another venture. The same idea encompasses the marketplace, where consumers may choose goods based on their value to the buyers themselves. Likewise, vendors have the right to demand a price which they believe to be just. Each has the prerogative to engage in or forego a transaction simply on his or her own taste. However, the consequence is felt either way, so a reasonable decision must be made.
This is the major distinction between an economy pre-planned by bureaucrats and one controlled by the individual. As seen in Venezuela, as freedoms are sacrificed for security, no central planner can ever choose a life for a citizen and his family as well he or she can do so on his or her own. Even if a certain percentage are satisfied with the predetermined results, it is inevitable that another group will be left behind.
On the other hand, capitalism is not a zero-sum game. One group needn’t be without necessaries just so another can prosper. In fact, the opposite is typically true: free markets work best when all parties have the ability to advance what they believe to be their best interests. Simply because a relative improvement may be viewed disfavorably by another person in a different position, this should not discredit any modest gain. Each victory is in the eye of the beholder.
Venezuela is in dire straits thanks to years of socialism. One can only hope that the country and its people are soon able to throw off the shackles of totalitarianism in favor of a freer and better system. Until then, individual liberty and self-ownership will remain only a faint dream.