Paul Embery is a self-described socialist writing at Unherd. We always worry about self-descriptions like I’m a life-long XXX that can stand the current XXX elected official. Paul describes socialism as the traditional left so his idea of tradition left is much more left than our description. Here is what he says about the family and the spineless politicians that won’t support families:
What is so difficult or revolutionary about making the simple argument that, as the evidence conclusively demonstrates, children are generally better-served by being brought up by both biological parents, and that it should be the job of government to use every available lever available to encourage this outcome?
This is not to decry lone parents, many of whom undoubtedly do a grand job. It is merely to recognise that we should encourage as best we can the model that is proven to work most effectively.
We agree entirely but he might ask James Danforth Quayle how standing up to such folks works. We think that trying it now would create an even bigger firestorm. We agree with Paul that politicians are often spineless but they would need titanium reenforced ones to follow his suggestion.
The good news is that Paul is a socialist that listens to data. We hope that means he won’t be a socialist for long.
Kevin Williamson is on the Venezuela beat at NRO. It has the electronic marker of socialism-always-fails. Nice. Do read the whole thing. Kevin channels Jonah’s new book (the review is currently in the works) when he concludes about the aberration of capitalism’s great enrichment of humans:
That’s because being rich is temporary. Countries, like families, can go from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves — and it need not take three generations. As the Scots say: “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs.” A nation that is not building is on its way to begging. Venezuela is already there.
In a 2006 poll conducted by the University of Chicago, Venezuelans led the world in national pride. One wonders what they would say now, if they weren’t too terrorized to speak. It is difficult to be proud when you are scared, hungry, and miserable.
Funny thing: The second-proudest nation in that poll was the United States.
We need to avoid Venezuela. As many folks have pointed out the problem with socialism is socialism. It never works as NRO points out. The problem with capitalism is capitalists. Capitalism works but capitalists, like Harry Brock in Born Yesterday (another review from APT in the works) make folks reluctant to embrace capitalism. Keep reading Kevin will help us make the critical decisions.
What happens in Venezuela is largely up to its citizens. But the WSJ editors report that the Organization of American States (OAS) and The Donald are trying to make it easier for those folks. First the OAS:
The Organization of American States voted 19-4 on Tuesday for a resolution to suspend Venezuela as a member for its violations of democracy and human rights. The vote reflects shared horror over Venezuelan atrocities against its own people, fear of an exploding migration crisis and a notable shift in the region toward center-right governments willing to defend liberty.
And then The Donald:
The U.S. is also playing an important role in building regional consensus on Venezuela after eight years of abdication under Barack Obama. Venezuela bullies its neighbors, and many countries haven’t been willing to oppose Caracas and its handlers in Havana without assurances that the U.S. would back them up.
We agree that the previous administration harmed Venezuela but no US administration can fix Venezuela. What it can do is increase the probability that Venezuela can fix itself.
It doesn’t mean that the hell that is Venezuela is going to end soon. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It doesn’t mean that Venezuela will ever recover its freedom. But it does mean that Venezuela has a chance to escape socialism. We hope it does.
OK, the title is overwrought. We are talking about a specific quote. It is from Jonah’s new book. He starts his second chapter with quotes from Horace and Ronald Reagan. Ron’s quote ends with:
[F]or [freedom] only comes once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never know it again.
Of course, Ron was in part responsible for falsifying himself. Eastern Europe lost its freedom but got it back. We could argue about Russia or China but clearly countries like Poland lost their freedom and got it back. We have spent some time in Poland and know how aware Poles of our age are about losing and regaining freedom. Younger folks, like our students, who have always known freedom are not as aware of what can happen.
Two interesting questions are: whether it is harder to get freedom back or get freedom for the first time and does freedom wax and wane?
In answering the first question we are sure that both situations are difficult but we think that Venezuela has a better chance to become free again than those countries that have never known freedom. It is a chance for research.
In answering the second question, we are sure that freedom waxes and wanes. We left out the part of Ron’s quote about the necessity of defending freedom. Surely, almost everyone would agree that Ron had a positive impact on freedom in the US and elsewhere. Thanks Ron for your spirited defense of freedom. You were right in the larger sense even if you proved yourself wrong.
We have started Jonah Goldberg’s new book and it looks interesting. It is nice to see him fully supporting capitalism. As he is a philosopher at heart it is not surprising that his solution to the Miracle or Great Enrichment will be philosophical.
Starting Jonah’s book got us back to something that has been nagging us about capitalism: sports corruption. Jim Geraghty has been on that beat here and elsewhere. Capitalism is great because it creates income that allows individuals and society to fix problems. It also give folks the time and income to engage in activities other than work including being sports fans. Mostly, creating sports fans is great. Sports fans, however, are tribal for both sports and specific teams which is a topic near to Jonah’s heart. Thus, we sports fans will pay money and sometimes surrender our freedoms to get and keep our sporting events. Sports teams blackmail cities and states to get them to build stadiums. International events like the Olympics and the World Cup blackmail countries. Giving into blackmail seems to be a good move politically. Many folks are upset that the 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar and played in November-December when leagues are in full swing rather than the usual late spring early summer when players are off.
Sidebar: The US finished second to Qatar in the voting to host the World Cup. Our allegations of corruption sound a bit hollow given that the US might get the World Cup if the allegations are proven. Of course, that award would benefit certain tribes and cost others. End Sidebar.
So capitalism creates the wealth and income necessary to create billions of sports fans. Increasing income and wealth times billions of fans makes for corruption opportunities. Teams and human nature leads to tribal behavior means there are large benefits for one tribe and the costs are diffused among all the other tribes. Thus, sports corruption is going to get worse as the world continues to get richer. We don’t think the Venezuela model is a solution. We can’t throw the capitalism baby out with the bathwater. Perhaps Jonah will recommend a corruption solution that fits sports too.
We provide transportation to four-year-old kindergarten for one of the grand-deGloves. The letter of the week was V and one of the teachers said today’s subject would be Vacation In Venezuela. In fact, they liked Vacation In Venezuela so much that they extended it to two days.
Of course, our immediate thought was why are you glorifying that hell-hole? Yet we refrained from comment despite the facts. On the Heritage ranking of economic freedom it is 179 of 180. Six countries are not ranked. To put it kindly, it is a violent place without a reliable government. About a year ago the LA Times said:
Venezuela’s violent crime epidemic appears to be escalating into a full-blown humanitarian crisis. The precise dimensions are hard to know, however, because along with the collapse of the economy and widespread hunger has come a near blackout of reliable government crime statistics.
Nothing we have seen suggests the situation has improved since then. We are convinced that it was appropriate to leave this as a politics free zone. There are not many countries that start with V: Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Venezuela. The kids are just four. The discussion is not about governments but geography and letters. We are happy with our choice. The question is when should we speak up?
The Weekly Standard recently had and editorial and support piece by Barton Swaim on getting Maduro and his cronies out of Venezuela. We don’t think such an aggressive stance is warranted. The support piece quotes the editorial:
The reality is that the Chavistas must be deprived of their oil. Otherwise Maduro stays, and Venezuela’s nightmare continues. If the Trump administration wants to rid the Americas of their most odious regime, it will have to embargo Venezuelan oil. Announce the decision six months in advance: Maduro and his cronies step down peacefully or the U.S. deprives them of their only real source of money. In the meantime, strengthen the opposition with clandestine funding and overt encouragement.
Barton goes on to suggest that an alternative is to have a Venezuela airlift like the one in Berlin. Except it wouldn’t be anything like it. The most important difference would be that the allies controlled West Berlin according to treaty. Then Barton goes on to conclude:
It [the airlift] might be a wild idea. Perhaps the saner move would be the more immediately consequential one of embargoing the country’s oil. But either is better than watching another generation of Venezuelans starve.
There are two problems with US intervention leading to regime change in Venezuela: First, the set of variables are large and the possibility of disastrous outcomes is too large. The Knowledge Problem will make us ineffective.
The results would not be limited to Venezuela. US actions in Central and South America reverberates through all of Latin America. As NRODT tells us, Argentina has made remarkable progress in the last few years. Still, including the Caribbean, according Heritage, it is home to six of the 23 repressed economies in the world. Why do we take aggressive steps to fix the other five?
The empathy of Barton and the others at the Weekly Standard speaks well for them. Unfortunately, it is not something that we can fix. To create a working economy the Venezuelans (Zimbabwean etc.) need to fix it for themselves. We hope that they renounce socialism immediately but it is up to them.