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Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

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  • Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

    Hugo Chavez is now nationalizing the rice business, what's next? This is why I am against government participation. Oh yea they start as helping the people but then when their screwed up policies fail (like trying to control prices because of problems from other failed plans they started) obviously the answer is more screwed up policies and control (reminds me of the US and programs for banks and education). Poor Venezuela, they are headed down the road like Argentina with Peron with I feel has never recovered from the false hope that governments can suspend reality and make everyday Christmas.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7923073.stm
    "The issue ... which will have to be fought sooner or later is the People versus the Banks." Acton

  • #2
    Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

    Well, everyone believes healthcare is a right that should be guaranteed by the government. Certainly, food, shelter, and clothing are far more important for our survival than health care.

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    • #3
      Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

      Originally posted by orion View Post
      Hugo Chavez is now nationalizing the rice business, what's next? This is why I am against government participation.
      Sorry Orion -

      If your argument is intended as an arm wave or a poke at the viability of ANY "government participation" (in any country) to establish a floor for basic public services, it risks being a parochial and narrow socioeconomic argument to this reader. Adopting Chavez' nationalisation campaign and his dysfunctional rule as examples to evidence the "inevitable dysfunctionality" of government funded services of any kind is a highly problematic argument for you to defend in the 21st Century in just about any mature economy. Take national health services. Cast your gaze at all the countries of Western Europe and how they are diametrically opposite to the US supposed "right" way to hand these functions over to a private entreprenurial class.

      I'm not sure where you reside, but if you've ever spent any time in Europe and and observed their national health as opposed to the "US way of doing things" those are hardly "dysfunctional" countries compared to the US. Actually they begin to look somewhat more civilized than we are in grasping where basic services to the entire population constitute the threshold for a civilized society. There are doubtless a lot of Americans imbued with a zealous free market spirit who look at such assertions for a national social contract on basic services blankly, as though it were an idea intruding upon an already civilized world.

      I'm suggesting after living half my life in Europe where it's done differently that this sociopolitically libertarian inspired blank-eyed rejection of "socialised anything anywhere, at any time" viewpoint is actually today in a distinct social minority in 2009 - across the entire world of mature economies. Most of us moderate centrists simply don't see the social contract as something that can remain societally balanced when handled purely by the private sector -people from my viewpoint find such a spartan, economic purist's capitalistically driven and "for-profit" view of basic national social services to be abhorrent se it is brittle and ideological in it's premises - and because this can lead to a phenomenal callousness.

      Just to be clear, I am wholly in agreement that Chavez was and continues to be the worst sort of pseudo populist little tinpot and a disaster for Venezuela. I also noticed in the news today his nationalisation of all of CARGILL's grain operations in-country. He will single handedly alienate every strategic partner of Venezuela and the net result will be worsening disaster for the very people he pretends to paternalistically guide. That aside, I have some comments on the classic American conservative's understanding of the relative merits of a national health service.

      However seeing as we are sitting here passing judgement upon Chavez's misguided attempts at socializing certain services for Venezuelans, it behoves us also to note, these days, that it looks like it is precisely the raw, Reagan-style US fetish for privatisation and the too-comfortable abstractions which for twenty years we've referred to somewhat smugly as a "free market system" which can turn into seriously dysfunctional services right here in the US, such as in "private medicine". And yet it is precisely this presumed wonderfully "dynamic and self balancing" free market principle which has produced the cratered, smogking black hole which is the US economy today, while it's privatized health services exhibit some of the highest inflation rates of any developed nation.

      So you have this rampantly inflationary and therefore structurally dysfunctional medical system here in the US, where a vast number of US doctors in private practice have as their primary missions to extract as much in ever rising fees as the disposable income of the general populace can sustain before cracking or foregoing health care altogether unless they are critically ill. My take-away has been this: Health Services inflation in the US is much higher and more out of control than in the European countries.

      While there are some dividends in more cutting edge medical R&D which occurs in the US, your rank and file US citizens are far more concerned with the mere availability of affordable and decent basic health care than they are with our private system's presumed glorious advances in medical research and innovation. Medical care's primary responsibility is to reach out equitably to an entire population and in the US this mechanism in my view is dysfunctional. Bottom line: the US medical system when compared side by side with that in many EU countries frankly to me appears somewhat obscene in it's socio-economic disparities.

      I object to any suggestion that the nationalizations under Chavez are an indictment of nationalized basic services anywhere (if this is what you were obliquely implying) because it obscures the point that the US's dispensation of medical care equitably across the population is decidedly skewed in quality towards the wealthy, and has evolved to be so rampantly inflationary as to be dysfunctional in it's own right, in the US, sometimes touted as "the most advanced country in the world", while in fact to this reader it flatly compares unfavorably to similar basic services at the national level in a good number of EU countries.

      I lived there for a good number of years, and the catastrophic financial dysfunction you darkly hint at as inevitable in any nationalised government steered services is simply a false depiction of the reality - at least it is most certainly to this reader, as regards national health, compared to many othcoer mature economies which appear strikingly more civilized than we are! Americans who travel and live abroad ma readily come to understand just how shockingly short changed they are getting in this one area in the "free market" USA. These other nations government services are not perfect, but they make the American system appear to this reader as somewhat of a disgrace in comparison.

      So if your oblique suggestion was that the reprehensible nationalizations of Chavez serve to illustrate that this notion of basic government sponsored services is reprehensible everywhere, then I could not disagree with you more. The Reagan / Thatcher social revolution is not only dead, it's real world outcome has been recently disgraced.
      Last edited by Contemptuous; 03-05-09, 03:13 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

        Excellent post, Lukester. It will be interesting to see how the body politic responds to this next initiative in public health care. Repubs are beginning to make the argument this week that the Dems are over-reaching in the same manner that liberal governments did in the 1960s and 70s in a country that remains essentially center-right. But one senses political tectonic plates shifting underfoot; that it has become clear to much of this "center right" country that the free market revolution brought in by Reagan and sustained through Clinton and both Bushes fundamentally served the strong at the expense of the large majority; and that the public's willingness to accept government as a legitimate and indeed welcome actor in the economy brings with it the possibility of a paradigm shift. It's a new silent majority taking shape.

        I lived in Europe for many years and was astounded at the quality, availability, and affordability (nearly free) of health care in just about every country I lived (excluding Britain, whose NHS is truly awful). Having a doctor make a house call late on a Saturday evening, and then apologizing for having to charge me the equivalent of $7.00 because I was not part of the national health system, was unlike any medical experience I've ever had here in the States. Here my company pays large and increasing (more rapidly than inflation) amounts of money every year to insure myself and my family for visits we never make, or for visits in which I am still left to pay expensive medical bills all the way up to the deductibles. In my view the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance complex in the U.S. has become a vast rent-seeking apparatus, not unlike other sectors of the economy.

        Now that large businesses are struggling under the weight of this financial burden, as we small businesses have for years, and ordinary people are beginning to see how ill-served they have been by allowing the private sector to run amok with public health, we'll see if the Republicans' old-hat strategy of shouting "socialism" and "road to serfdom" will have the same effect. Denouncing tax increases while defending rent seekers is not a formula that is likely to work as well as it has in the past.

        And citing Chavez and the rice mills in support is kind of silly.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

          Lukester,

          Wow, very nice post that has me working to respond. Yes my shot at government was wide but moving the topic to health care doesn't reduce my resolve by much. I have never lived in Europe to use national healthcare so I will have to resort to using sources that claim it is not good (Prazak has already confirmed that Britain has problems). I pay my own health insurance and I can see we are in dire straits with 20% / yr cost increases.

          However my guiding light is that government ultimately becomes corrupted (look at SEC oversite, FED, etc.) or inefficient like any big bureaucracy or large institution. So what is my answer? Well that is a work in progress. I realize that pure individualism is not a workable solution either. Hopefully we will always gently swing between the two extremes without getting completley one sided. That is my biggest fear. Government has the guns and power which can make changes difficult.

          Finally I think of Argentina as an example where entitlement (thank you Mr Peron) becomes a fixture of popular thought that lasts in a significant portion of the population to this day. Of course if we had a more moral world I think we could easily find some middle ground.
          "The issue ... which will have to be fought sooner or later is the People versus the Banks." Acton

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

            Orion -

            Thanks for your gracious response. Here's an addendum to the above. I have purchased a travel-guide and "how-to" book on Ecuador because I'm interested in buying a small house there up in the mountains. One thing that stands out like a glaring neon sign in this country, and it's typical of A LOT of countries outside the US and also outside the OECD developed countries, is that in Ecuador the entire health service is free, to foreigners as well as to Ecuadoreans! :eek: :eek: :eek:

            Here you've got a country which is among the poorest in all of Latin America, and look how they run things when it comes to healthcare? Meanwhile America is (was) the richest country in the world. Put men on the moon. Fields more science breakthroughs than any country on earth. Has the largest and baddest military force on the plant, by far. Etc. etc. And we are still mired in this country debating whether the government has any place in mandating healthcare for all, as though this were some sort of horrific Rubicon which once crossed conveys us hopelessly a condition perilously close to communism.

            It is truly shaming of the entire US social contract, that we are still bumbling about trying to figure out "how this thing works" while Ecuador, a country with a per capita GDP of I think about $6000 a year, not only has a near-free national health service but offers it without much impediment to any resident foreigners?? How do we wiggle and squirm our way out of this comparison. US is trailing a good part of the world, like a pathetically beat up tin can on a string, when it comes to summoning the gumption to simply allocate some part of it's vast outlays to guarantee it's citizens basic rights - such as a right to medical care.

            If we supposedly "can't afford it" with it's full existing array of options, then what we are bound to do regardless, is reduce it's options, but also insist that it is rolled out affordably in some decent minimum to everyone, just like they manage to do with infinitely lesser means in Ecuador. It is not just bad. It's shocking, when compared to dirt poor countries like Ecuador. I appreciate your modulated and considered reply.

            Originally posted by orion View Post
            Lukester,

            Wow, very nice post that has me working to respond. Yes my shot at government was wide but moving the topic to health care doesn't reduce my resolve by much. I have never lived in Europe to use national healthcare so I will have to resort to using sources that claim it is not good (Prazak has already confirmed that Britain has problems). I pay my own health insurance and I can see we are in dire straits with 20% / yr cost increases.

            However my guiding light is that government ultimately becomes corrupted (look at SEC oversite, FED, etc.) or inefficient like any big bureaucracy or large institution. So what is my answer? Well that is a work in progress. I realize that pure individualism is not a workable solution either. Hopefully we will always gently swing between the two extremes without getting completley one sided. That is my biggest fear. Government has the guns and power which can make changes difficult.

            Finally I think of Argentina as an example where entitlement (thank you Mr Peron) becomes a fixture of popular thought that lasts in a significant portion of the population to this day. Of course if we had a more moral world I think we could easily find some middle ground.
            Last edited by Contemptuous; 03-05-09, 09:40 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

              Cuba is corrupt my most people's measure but it sounds like they still have a better health system than the US. Thats pretty messed up.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Venezuela on the Road to Serfdom

                I will speak with my Ecuadorian friends about the true state of their health care. I know a lot more about Colombia who I believe does not have a "free" system but the government run social security system went or is going bankrupt. I wouldn't want to be in one of those hospitals.
                "The issue ... which will have to be fought sooner or later is the People versus the Banks." Acton

                Comment

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