Sunday, February 17, 2019

I wish I had been this smart at 20

English isn't even this kid's native language, but 20-year-old Daniel Di Martino has written an article for USA Today in which he talks about how socialism has destroyed his home country of Venezuela. Di Martino offers a warning to Americans who are carelessly thinking of tumbling off the same cliff. Not that our native crop of socialists will heed this warning: it's something of a sad running joke that people who defect from leftist-run countries end up being ignored by the PC/leftie crowds in the countries to which they emigrate.

Di Martino is impressively articulate for a young man his age, especially given that he's not a native speaker of English (true: his words may have undergone some editing and proofreading, but he's a college student who can't afford to hire professional word-groomers for every single thing he writes, i.e., he probably is as fluent as he sounds). I wish people would heed his warning, but I'm not hopeful. An excerpt:

The first time I couldn’t buy food at the grocery store, I was 15 years old. It was 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela, and I had spent more than an hour in line waiting. When I got to the register I noticed I’d forgotten my ID that day. Without the ID, the government rationing system would let the supermarket sell my family the full quota of food we needed. It was four days until the government allowed me to buy more.

This was fairly normal for me. All my life I lived under socialism in Venezuela until I left and came to the U.S. as a student in 2016. Since the regime in charge imposed price controls and nationalized the most important private industries, production plummeted. No wonder I had to wait hours in lines to buy simple products such as toothpaste or flour.

And the shortages went far beyond the supermarket.


The excuses for these shortages were hollow: In reality, Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world to use for electricity, and three times more fresh water resources per person than the United States. The real reason my family went without water and electricity was the socialist economy instituted by the dictators Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.

The welfare programs, many minimum wage hikes, and nationalizations implemented by their regimes resulted in a colossal government deficit that the central bank covered by simply printing more money — leading to rampant inflation. Now, prices double every few weeks and the standard of living continues to plummet.

I watched what was once one of the richest countries in Latin America gradually fall apart under the weight of big government.


Even though so many of us Venezuelans fled to America to escape from the destructive consequences of socialism, liberal politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., have praised the same kind of policies that produced famine, mass exodus and soaring inflation in Venezuela.

Even worse, in recent weeks, Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, and Tulsi Gabbard have mischaracterized the current protests against Maduro and condemned President Trump’s widely-supported moves to help end Maduro’s dictatorship.

Additionally, many congressional Democrats support “Medicare-for-all” and the "Green New Deal,” proposals that would nationalize the health insurance industry, guarantee everyone who wants it a job and massively raise taxes, increasing government intervention in the economy like few countries except Cuba and Venezuela have seen before. Proponents think that they can give all Americans quality health care, housing, and everything for free and that somehow politicians can do a better job at running a business than the business owners themselves.

These proposals would skyrocket the budget deficit and national debt, which just reached a record $22 trillion. If that is not enough, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, endorsed paying for the proposal by asking the Federal Reserve to print money. This is exactly what produced Venezuela’s nightmare.

Still, the liberal economist Paul Krugman recently argued in a column that “whenever you see someone invoking Venezuela as a reason not to consider progressive policy ideas, you know right away that the person in question is uninformed, dishonest, or both.”

I can assure Mr. Krugman that I’m neither uninformed nor dishonest. Of course, it’s true that neither "Medicare-for-all" nor a wealth tax alone would turn the United States into Venezuela overnight. No single radical proposal would do that. However, if all or most of these measures are implemented, they could have the same catastrophic consequences for the American people that they had for Venezuela.

Be sure to read the rest. When I was 20, I was studying in Europe, skating by on an easy class schedule, hiking local Swiss mountain trails, and feeling little to none of the burdens of responsibility that a kid like Di Martino must be feeling. I wasn't particularly engaged with the world except, perhaps, in some distantly touristy sense: living in Europe was fun. Any depth I gained from the experience of being abroad came much later, and my interest in politics wasn't kindled until the misguided 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US. At 20, I was shallow and callow. The author of this article puts me to shame, and I'm filled with respect for him.


John Mac said...

Yep, impressive young man indeed. I was a pot smoking new father in a dead end job at 20. Took me a couple more years to get my shit together and start sucking the government teat as a Federal employee. Still living off Uncle Sam via my pension.

Still, Di Martino's warning resonates with me. Although I've chosen to live on the other side of the world at least in part to escape the political shit storm in the USA, this article reminds me that I am not immune to the impact of socialistic policies.

If the government starts printing money to cover deficit spending, the dollar is going to lose its value. Right now I'm getting just over 50 pesos to the dollar. Over the years of visiting here I've seen it as low as 43. If the bottom ever falls out I'll have a worthless pension and truly be fucked.

I guess it's a race...will I die before the crazies take over?

Kevin Kim said...

I guess it's time to vote for the capitalist in every election that comes up. (Not that you haven't been doing so already...)