By Bradley Harrington
“Directive 10-289, Point One: All workers, wage earners and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail …” — Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged,” 1957 —
The above quote comes from a work of fiction.
THIS, however, does not:
“Thousands of oil workers are fleeing the state-run oil firm [PDVSA] under the watch of its new military commander [Venezuelan Oil Minister Major General Manuel Quevedo], who has quickly alienated the firm’s embattled upper echelon and its rank-and-file … Some PDVSA offices now have lines outside with dozens of workers waiting to quit. In at least one administrative office in Zulia state, human resources staff quit processing out the quitters, hanging a sign, ‘we do not accept resignations,’ an oil worker there told Reuters.” (“Workers are fleeing Venezuela’s state oil company, radiating pain through the country’s already crippled economy,” “The Business Insider,” April 17.)
Anyone want to start up an office pool on how long it will take Venezuela to adopt the principle of Directive 10-289’s Point One explicitly, and actually OUTLAW workers quitting their jobs?
And, speaking of Venezuela:
■ In response to a murder rate of 18,000 people per year back in 2011, Venezuela, in 2012, instituted a ban on the private ownership of firearms as well as bans on private purchases of firearms and ammunition. And, now? Venezuela’s murder rate comes in at well over 27,000 people annually, an increase of 50 percent while population has only increased by 9 percent — and Caracas is now listed as the second-most violent city in the world.
■ And, in 2017, “Prices in Venezuela rose 4,068 percent in the 12 months to the end of January , according to estimates by the country’s opposition-led National Assembly, broadly in line with independent economists’ figures.” (“Venezuela annual inflation at more than 4,000 percent,” “Reuters,” Feb. 7.) And, now? “Inflation in January alone was 84.2 percent … The monthly figure implies annualized inflation of more than 150,000 percent and that prices will double at least every 35 days.”
■ And, also in 2017: “Zoo animals in Venezuela are being stolen and eaten as the country sinks further into a food shortage crisis, local police have said” (“Venezuela crisis: Zoo animals stolen and eaten amid food shortages,” “The Independent,” Aug. 17). And, now? “Disturbing footage showing a malnourished man butchering a dog in the street has been shared to highlight the dire economic state in Venezuela.” (“Horrific footage of starving man butchering dog in the street shared to highlight food crisis in Venezuela,” “The Mirror,” March 6).
Well, there’s plenty more where that came from — including parents abandoning their children at orphanages because they can no longer feed them — but we’ve seen enough to ask ourselves, in shocked horror: WHAT is going on in Venezuela?
Well, Dear Readers, I’ll give you that answer in one word: Socialism.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s what a native has to say: “We have experienced hyperinflation. We have people eating garbage, schools that do not teach, hospitals that do not heal, long and humiliating lines to buy flour, bread and basic medicines. We endure the militarization of practically every aspect of life.” (“How socialism ruined Venezuela,” Rafael Acevedo, “The Mises Institute,” Oct. 13, 2017.)
And, amidst all of those abominations — what have we got going on, right here in the United States?
Socialism is all the rage in the colleges and coffee shops all across our land, touted by many Millennials as the supposed “system of the future” for mankind. And who can forget 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, himself an avowed socialist, hailing Venezuela as one of the places in which “incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger”? (“Close the gaps: Disparities that threaten America,” Aug. 5, 2011.) (Of those Millennials, by the way, 55 percent of them had a favorable opinion of Sanders.)
Maybe what all of these “useful idiots” really need, is a one-way flight to Caracas — assuming the airports still work there, that is. Or, short of that, maybe our high-school students, so eager to take to the streets to protest “injustice,” will decide to hold their protests on the steps of the Venezuelan embassy instead?
For, as Venezuela spirals down into debilitating chaos and destruction, we should remember that what went for Cuba, Russia and North Korea goes for Venezuela, too.
And, of course, it goes for us here in the United States as well.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on April 29, 2018.