May 28, 2018

No Lesson Learned in Venezuela

The worst way to run an economy is one based on socialism. The Soviet Union killed 30 million trying to make it work. China murdered an equal number of people under the socialist banner. Once China turned to capitalism, its economy began to boom. Many European nations have experimented with socialism, and the typical result has been economic stagnation.

“I would rather be subjected to the few failures of capitalism than the few successes of socialism.” –Unknown

The nation of Venezuela is the most current example of socialism’s destructive nature. About 40 years ago, Venezuela was the richest country in South America. It has the world’s largest reserve of oil. According to OPEC’s 2015 figures, Venezuela has the most proven crude oil reserves in the world, with over 300 billion barrels. That puts it ahead of Saudi Arabia (266 billion barrels), Iran (158 billion barrels) and Iraq (142 billion barrels).

The Rise of Hugo Chávez was the turning point for Venezuela. Chávez kicked out all the Western oil companies that he claimed were stealing the nation’s wealth. He used the oil money to provide free goods to people. For a short time it appeared that Chávez had finally proved that socialism can be made to work.

The socialist dream began to turn into a nightmare when oil revenues began to decline.

Immediately after the state kicked foreign oil firms out of the country, the production of oil began to decline, going from 3.1 million barrels per day to 1.6 million barrels per day.

Chávez was so focused on filling his pockets with money from the oil, he neglected to reinvest back into the national oil company.

When global oil prices declined from $140 to $30, the Venezuela economy completely unraveled. There have been numerous food riots, and people stand in line for hours to buy whatever is available.

Venezuela’s Marxist government made matters worse by seizing private businesses. In 2016, Venezuela’s new leader Nicolás Maduro took over a plant belonging to US-based hygiene products manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. The plant was turned over to the workers. Venezuela quickly ran out of toilet paper because the workers at Kimberly-Clark could not obtain or hadn’t the incentive to find the needed raw materials.

Last week, the socialist Venezuelan government seized a closed Kellogg’s factory. Maduro, who has previously accused the United States of waging economic war against his government, called the factory closure “absolutely unconstitutional and illegal,” even though his policies are the ones which caused the closure of the factory to begin with. Most people won’t work long without being paid, and if Kellogg’s cannot find supplies to produce their infamous cereals, it’s unlikely the workers will be successful.

No new business will want to invest in Venezuela. The firms that remain in the country are likely looking for the exit.

Life for the average Venezuelan citizen has become extremely difficult. A domestic survey of Venezuela’s living conditions found that over 73% of the population lost an average of 19 pounds due to food shortages in 2015 and 2016. The IMF forecasts that inflation in 2018 will likely top 13,000%. Prices rise an average of 4% each day. One woman told a reporter that a single banana now has the same worth her house had five years ago.

The hardships have not been enough to force out the socialist government. Nicolas Maduro has just won re-election with 67.7% of the vote. The election was a sham. The mainstream opposition called for a boycott, and turnout was 46 percent compared with 80 percent in 2013’s presidential election.

Now that Maduro has a “mandate” to continue destroying Venezuela for another six years, citizens are buying bus tickets for a mass exodus. According to Reuters, some Venezuelans have saved for months to buy a bus ticket out of the country. Nearly one million Venezuelans have left their country over the past two years.

There is no lesson to be learned from Venezuela’s attempt at socialism. Most media outlets ignore the hardships that are taking place in the nation. The few reporters that do cover Venezuela blame the poor economy on U.S. sanctions. John Oliver of the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” blamed Venezuela’s problems on “epic mismanagement.”

The fact that we almost had a communist as the Democratic candidate in the last election just shows how deception has taken over in these last days. If people can’t notice what should be an obvious truth, they will be no match for a cunning lie.

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).


Careful, Mr. President

There is growing worry that the Trump administration’s move to cut funding for various Palestinian causes formerly provided by previous administrations might incite uprisings. This, while talk of a soon-to-come peace plan proposal by the administration grows among the several interlocutors within the process.

But, the peace deal is far from a done deal. The following news excerpt frames the obstacles.

Yet any Palestinian willingness to even consider the plan would require conditions to improve and anger to subside considerably in the coming weeks, an unlikely scenario as the Palestinians say evidence of one-sided Trump giveaways to Israel continues to pile up. US allies in Europe and the Persian Gulf also have felt compelled to criticize the administration for its approach. Ostensibly, Trump would need buy-in from those same countries to build enough momentum for any peace plan to succeed. (“US Readies Mideast Peace Plan Rollout Next Month, but Threatens Palestinian Aid,” by Matt Lee, Times of Israel, 5/20/18)

Sources say that the Trump administration will release the peace proposal following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Reportedly, a number of US officials tell that the administration will likely release the peace plan in mid to late June. However, the timeline for release is subject to conditions in the regions at the time.

Word has it nonetheless that the primary authors of the plan, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, have already begun unveiling the plan to key people involved in the process.

It is said that there is a great furor growing over details of the plan because there is in the offing significant cuts to funding Palestinian programs. This, of course, is something Donald Trump promised even during the run for the presidency in 2016. He, like many of us, sees only foolishness in continuing to throw taxpayers hard-earned dollars at those blood vowed to exterminate our chief ally in the region, the nation Israel.

Added to the threat of withdrawing considerable amounts of American dollars from the Palestinian cause is the move of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This has caused the controllers of the Palestinian militants to incite rioting. Israel, in defending against assault after assault, is universally condemned by the international community. Always, the American media–news and otherwise–show the film and still photos of the relatively few rioters who are killed or wounded. Always the mainstream newshounds take the side of those who do their best to inflict damage to Israeli men and women simply defending Israeli borders.

Hatred, worldwide, for the Jewish state–for Jewish people in general–is ratcheting up.

While Europe, despite increases in rapes, killings, and other crimes by Muslim immigrants, continues to pamper and coddle those who have invaded their borders, those European leaders castigate Israeli leadership for simply defending Israel’s borders against such hostile invaders. It seems to me that this is a form of insanity going on in Europe today. Perhaps it is an insanity of the sort that will one day welcome the prince that shall come…

All of this enragement is certainly something the president of the United States should be wary of–of which he should be cognizant. But this is not the purpose of this commentary’s title: “Careful, Mr. President.”

The reason for the caution in the title of this essay is directed at the so-called peace effort itself. Any president–any leader–involved in the peace process that has as its center the nation Israel should be fully informed of the dangers posed. The very heart and mind of the Creator of everything is focused on this one issue being toyed with in the Middle East at this moment. Anyone on the wrong side of this issue holds his own fate as well as the fate of the world in his hand. The God of Heaven is uncompromising in His holy view of the peace of Jerusalem.

There is only One who can bring that peace. His Name is Jesus.

Those who try to force the peace, God’s prophetic Word says, will be responsible for Armageddon itself.

“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.” (Joel 3: 1-2)

So: Careful, Mr. President. Don’t concern yourself with the possible hostilities that will break out by supporting God’s chosen nation. Be concerned about being party to forcing that nation to give up land for peace in order to achieve a peace that Isaiah the prophet termed “a covenant made with death and hell” (Isaiah 28: 15, 18).