Tag: Venezuela

Socialist Sanders Refuses to Call Venezuela’s Maduro a “Dictator”

Socialist presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) refused to call Venezuela’s disputed President Nicolás Maduro a “dictator,” insisting “there are still democratic operations taking place” in the embattled South American country.

Fox News points out that during a CNN town hall last night, Sanders was asked why he has “stopped short” of calling Maduro a “dictator.” The Senator replied, “I think it’s fair to say that the last election was undemocratic, but there are still democratic operations taking place in that country. The point is, what I’m calling for right now is internationally supervised fair elections.”

He quickly pivoted to criticizing President Trump, and even called him “authoritarian” for enacting a national emergency to build the wall along the southern border.

For the full story, click HERE.

Ep. 903 The Democrats Have a Big Problem

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In this episode I address the political problem the Democrats have created for themselves in the shutdown fight. I also address the reason that the Roger Stone indictment is devastating for the collusion narrative. Finally, I address the catastrophe in Venezuela and the liberal effort to cover it up.

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More Liberal Lies About Venezuela

The reign of Nicholas Maduro may be nearing an end as Venezuela reaches a breaking point after being ravaged by socialism. Maduro has declared that he will “defeat a coup,” and the military has his backing, but lacks the backing of nearly the entire international community.

Desperate to cling onto power, Maduro has declared his replacement Juan Guaidó a “puppet regime for the interests of the United States empire.” If we’re to take Maduro’s logic at face value, we’d have to believe that the hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators in the streets are a secret cabal of wealthy people (in a country with a 90+% poverty rate) looking to advance American “imperialist” interests. Color me skeptical.

It’s no surprise why the citizens of a country where the average person lost nearly 20 pounds in 2017 alone are fed up with the status quo, and it doesn’t require any conspiracies about American meddling to explain it. While you’ll only really see claims resembling Maduro’s in state-run socialist news outlets such as TeleSur or among basement dwelling communists on Twitter, at least one member of our House of Representatives is echoing the rhetoric.

Myth 1: Venezuela’s Regime Change is a U.S. Backed Coup

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has built herself a reputation for skills in using social media to her advantage – and fellow socialist freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is set to create the opposite reputation. Like Maduro, Omar claims that Trump is trying to install a far-right opposition that will destabilize the nation. To be honest, I’m not sure how Venezuela could possibly be destabilized any further. 

Plenty of right-wingers have long joked that phrases like “far-right” are used by the modern left to describe anyone to the right of Joseph Stalin, and that appears to be the case with Maduro’s potential replacement. Juan Guaidó is a member of the centrist/social-democratic Popular Will party, which is part of the Socialist Internationale.

With the support of Congress and the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans across the country protesting, Guaidó has declared himself President until Maduro steps down and free and fair elections can take place. While Omar would like to present Maduro’s overthrow as American in origin, nearly the entire nation of Venezuela is rising up against Maduro, and virtually every country in Latin America has recognized Guaidó as the new President. One of the few countries that does back the Maduro regime is Russia – though I suppose mentioning that would disrupt another narrative.

It’s noteworthy that none of the so-called “Democratic” socialists in Congress (with the exception of Bernie Sanders) have denounced the Maduro regime themselves. Maybe that’s because “democratic” socialism isn’t so different from plain-vanilla socialism.

Myth 2: Venezuela’s Collapse Was due to Low Oil Prices, Not Socialism

Another common claim from socialists in denial is that despite the hellscape Venezuela has become, it’s not due to socialism, but rather because their economy was largely dependent on oil exports, and the price of oil began crashing in late 2014.

Oil exports account for 25% of Venezuela’s GDP. One can only then wonder why the citizens of Saudi Arabia aren’t starving in the streets too, given that a larger percentage of their economy is dependent on their petroleum sector. Oil exports as a percentage of total exports are also higher in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, while oil revenues account for upwards of 70% of Venezuela’s government revenue (when prices are high), they account for 85% of government revenues in Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, Venezuela’s problems predate a crash in oil prices. Food shortages began in 2011 when Hugo Chavez was still alive and oil prices were at their peak, near $110 a barrel. Inflation also soared to nearly 30% that year, though that’s nothing compared to the incredible 1 million percent inflation seen in 2018.

Myth 3: Venezuela Isn’t “Real Socialism”

The claim that Venezuela isn’t “real socialism” can be debunked by simply pointing out that there wasn’t a single socialist complaining that Venezuela wasn’t “real socialism” before the nation’s failure was undeniable. In fact, Venezuela was praised by socialists and other leftists as a socialist success story pre-collapse.

In 2007 economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz praised Venezuela’s economic policies, telling an audience that “Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have had success in bringing health and education to the people in the poor neighborhoods of Caracas, to those who previously saw few benefits of the country’s oil wealth.” “It is not only important to have sustainable growth,” Stiglitz later added, “but to ensure the best distribution of economic growth, for the benefit of all citizens.” They’re enjoying an equal distribution of poverty now.

Bernie Sanders re-published an article on his official Senate website that argued: “These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger.” Un-prophetically, the article concludes with the line “Who’s the banana republic now?” (Answer: Venezuela).

“Hugo Chavez declared the oil belonged to the ppl. He used the oil money to eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all,” tweeted documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in 2013. Socialist Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn wrote after Chavez’s passing “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.”

Noam Chomsky praised Hugo Chavez for his “sharp poverty reduction, probably the greatest in the Americas,” a compliment that Chavez returned by holding up a copy of a Chomsky book during a United Nations speech.

Perhaps the term “not real socialism” can be used synonymously with “failed socialism.”

Ep. 901 It’s The Biggest Scandal in American History & The Media is Silent

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In this episode I address the latest attack by Nancy Pelosi on the Trump administration, and what’s really happening behind the scenes. I also address the socialism catastrophe in Venezuela and President Trump’s response. Finally, I address the most explosive spying scandal in American history and why it may be bigger than previously believed.

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Cortez Embraces Zimbabwe-Economics

Answering the question of how she’ll fund the cradle-to-grave welfare state programs she desires for America had been a question that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez shied away from on the campaign trail. As Congresswomen, she’s at least conjured up one idea – taxing incomes above $10 million at 70% per year – though even taxing all incomes above $1 million at 100% wouldn’t pay for a quarter of what she wants to fund.

So what is a socialist to do? Simple – just ignore that debt has consequences.

In an interview with Business Insider, Ocasio endorsed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), an economic theory that deficits don’t matter since money can also be printed to pay off that debt (hello Zimbabwe and Venezuela). Because the government can print at will, not only do deficits not matter according to MTT, the only purpose of maintaining a level of taxation relative to government spending is simply to regulate inflation and unemployment. As quoted in Business Insider:

She [Cortez] said she was open to Modern Monetary Theory, a burgeoning theory among some economists positing that the federal debt is not an economic restraint for the US. She said the idea, which holds that the government doesn’t need to balance the budget and that budget surpluses actually hurt the economy, “absolutely” needed to be “a larger part of our conversation.”

Ironically, I agree. With our national debt nearing $22 trillion, it absolutely needs to be a larger part of the national conversation, just for the opposite reasons that Ms. Cortez thinks. As you would expect, deficits (and debt) do indeed matter.

More Debt, More Problems

Larger debt (relative to the size of an economy) depresses the size of that nation’s economy. A famous study by Harvard economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart titled “Growth in a Time of Debt” concluded that once a nation’s debt exceeds 90% of GDP, growth turns negative (on average) by -0.1%. In what was widely publicized in the economics community at the time, several issues were uncovered in the study that challenged the notion that growth turns negative once debt exceeds 90%. However, the same trend held, that more debt depresses growth.

Note that the difference between an economy growing at 3.1% per year and 2.2% year is the difference between one that doubles every 22 years vs. one that doubles every 33 years.

The same trend holds true when it comes to the size of government as a percentage of GDP. A review in the Research Institute of Industrial Economics examined all the existing literature on the relationship between government size and growth since 2000 in rich counties and concluded that ” The most recent studies find a significant negative correlation: An increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5 to 1 percent lower annual growth rate.”

And a study by economists from Duke University and Wheaton College which examined OECD nations found the same trend: more debt, less growth.

Debt and Income

Given the effects of massive debt on the economy, it’s only natural that it’s the American taxpayer ultimately bearing the burden. New estimates from the Congressional Budget Office found that reducing our nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio to its historical average within three decades would increase incomes by $6,000. An extra $6,000 per year could certainly help the average American pay for many of the “freebies” that Cortez wants to fund through government.

By CBO’s estimate, every $1 increase in deficits reduces private domestic investment by 15 to 50 cents and increases foreign holdings of American assets by another 20 to 25 cents. Under current law, CBO projects that real Gross National Product (GNP) per capita – a proxy for average income – will grow from $63,000 today to $92,000 (in 2019 dollars) by 2048. If policymakers simply stabilize the debt at today’s high levels of 78 percent of GDP, CBO projects per-person income will rise to $96,000. That’s a $4,000 (4.3 percent) increase in income per person, per year.

Likewise, if we rack up the tens of trillions of dollars we’d need to fund Cortez’s socialist pipedream, Americans can expect the exact opposite effect on their incomes.

At least we’d all be equal in poverty.

Debunking Socialist Damage Control on Venezuela

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

In just a single year from 2016-2017, nearly 75% of Venezuelan’s lost weight, averaging 19 pounds in total.

They weren’t on a diet by choice.

Food shortages have become common in Venezuela as their economy continues to dwindle. Electricity and water are being rationed, unemployment tops levels higher than the peak during America’s Great Depression, and inflation is in the thousands of percent per year.

In response to the disaster, TeleSur, a Latin America socialist propaganda network funded by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela (among others), has played the denial game. Admittedly, the justifications for their denial would be hilarious, if it weren’t for the grim reality of what they’re denying. “The facts are clear — Venezuela does have a food crisis,” reported TeleSur, after acknowledging the “19 pounds lost” statistic. According to them, it’s “right-wing U.S.-backed opposition forces” that are intentionally sabotaging the economy, but encouraging supermarket owners to hoard food, all as an attempt to make Venezuela’s socialist government look bad.

Well, that’s certainly one (insane) theory.

The only remotely sensible argument I’ve seen from a socialist is that Venezuela’s problems have more to do with declines in the price of oil than socialism, given that about half of Venezuela’s economy is dependent on oil exports. One can only then wonder why the citizens of Saudi Arabia (of which 40% of their economy comes from oil) aren’t starving in the streets too.

And for that, blame the incompetency of Hugo Chavez.

Chavez decided to nationalize the nation’s oil industry, and the nation’s largest firm, PDVSA, comes as Exhibit A in the follies of socialism. In protest of Chavez during 2002-2003, workers went on strike with the goal of forcing a new election. In response, Chavez firing half of PDVSA’s workforce, 20,000 workers in total. Opposition was strongest among top management, 80% of which were fired (which also included engineers, and the firm’s research arm).

Replacing those employees with others equally knowledgeable about the oil industry proved impossible – and were replaced by political allies of Chavez. In fact, it was company policy during Chavez’ reign that only his supported would be hired – regardless of competency. While PDVSA produced 3 million barrels of oil a day before being taken over, they now average only 2 million a day.

But here’s where things get truly incredible. This is despite the fact that PDVSA has since seen their workforce explode from the pre-nationalization 40,000 employees to an incredible 150,000 employees today. Yet despite that massive increase in employment, the decline in barrel per day production has declined in percentage terms by what the nation saw during the 2002-2003 worker strikes. In other words, 20,000 striking (competent) workers caused as much damage to PDVSA’s production as the hiring of an additional 130,000 socialist workers. The workforce is up almost fourfold, yet production is down a third.

Perhaps Venezuela wouldn’t have to worry about low oil prices, if it wasn’t for their socialist government mismanaging the industry into oblivion.