Will a socialist Venezuela sink the US life raft?

The dysfunctional and corrupt establishment leaders in both U.S. political parties are poking economic holes in the US life raft. Will we go the way of Venezuela?

Venezuelans wait in line hoping to buy scarce necessities.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2016 – If you are wondering why Donald Trump so terrifies our southern neighbors, it’s because of a singular aspect of his presidential agenda if elected: securing our southern border. Doing so threatens to deny the teeming masses of Latin America, from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn, access to the life raft known as the United States of America.

They are fleeing instability, dictatorship, the wanton violence of narco warlords and the privations of democratic socialism. “National Assembly agrees to declare food emergency,” reads a headline in Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper. “Emergency measures include speeding up [business] permits and reducing bureaucracy… allowing small and medium-sized producers to cultivate their lands; and creating incentives for companies to hire staff.”

Venezuelan President (the socialist protégé of the late Hugo Chavez) Nicolas Maduro has dispatched emissaries to beg the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce oil production in order to boost falling oil prices. “They [the Maduro government] cannot understand that the world market and the economic interests of those countries govern their individual actions,” says El Universal.

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Additionally, Venezuela is selling off its gold reserves to entities like Deutsche Bank “to counter the 70% drop of its foreign currency revenues from oil sales in a year the country must repay some USD 9.5 billion in foreign debt service.”

And the Venezuelan Society of Public Health announced that 2015 saw 136,402 reported cases of malaria in the country, the worst in 75 years. That number represents an increase of 135 percent.

In the 1980s, the World Bank considered Venezuela a politically stable, upper-middle-income nation. Then its enormous national debt led to an economic crisis from which it never recovered.

But democracy came to the rescue.

In 1999, democratic socialist Hugo Chavez was elected Venezuela’s president with 56 percent of the vote. And his legislative allies enshrined economic democracy in a revised constitution: “Every worker has the right to a sufficient salary that allows a life with dignity and covers his own and his family’s basic material, social, and intellectual necessities.”

Venezuelans approved the changes in a plebiscite by 71.78 percent, with Hugo Chavez receiving a 95 percent approval rating.

Last Friday, the government of President Nicolas Maduro reported that the Venezuelan economy has declined every quarter since 2014, with another 10 percent drop expected this year. Inflation is up 141 percent, with the International Monetary Fund projecting another 204 percent jump for 2016.

And one bolivar, Venezuela’s currency, is worth less than one U.S. cent.

In the United States, meanwhile, the middle class represents less than half our population. Only 62.7 percent of working-age Americans have jobs. And American companies are relocating overseas to escape the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

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The national debt of the United States has doubled to more than $19 trillion under the income-redistributive Barack Obama. The avowed democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders promises to accelerate this dangerous trend.

“Hugo Chavez did not come to power in a political vacuum. His radical authoritarian message was capable of striking a deep chord among Venezuelans only after they became convinced that their institutions were incapable of bringing them prosperity or stability,” say Ricardo Hausmann (Harvard University) and Francisco Rodriguez (Bank of America) in the book “Venezuela Before Chavez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse.”

The dysfunctional and corrupt establishment leaders in both U.S. political parties are poking economic holes in the life raft known as the United States of America. But as was the case for Venezuela, it will be voting Americans who ultimately sink her.

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