Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Toilet Paper Revolution

Venezuela's empty shelves conspiracy?

Please don't squeeze the economy!
Surely, Simon Bolivar and Carl Marx would have been proud: Venezuelan government officials announced yesterday that "The revolution will import toilet paper."

The revolutionary plan is to 'saturate' Venezuela with toilet paper in order to prove wrong the opponents' claims that the government has bungled the economy, creating shortages of basic goods, including things like toilet paper, milk, meat and sanitary napkins. Instead, the chavista government claims, the shortages are a conspiracy by opposition businesses (led by Empresas Polar) to destabilize the government.

Which way should the
toilet paper revolution turn?
The government's claims are absurd. If shortages could overthrow the Venezuelan government that would have happened long ago. Fourteen years into chavismo and counting, businesses are trying to survive and turn profits in the face of counter-productive government control measures.

Any conspiracy behind the widespread shortages is the government's doing. By limiting supplies of foreign exchange money, the government's made it difficult for companies to import supplies and spare parts. But mishandling the electricity system and generating fequent blackouts, the government has hobbled production. And, most of all, by limiting prices, the government has taken away the incentive to produce and sell goods.

The 'conspiracy' here is obvious and teaches a simple lesson: Governments don't know how to run business.

While other Latin nations have moved forward on social issues such as abortion and gay rightsVenezuela's so-called 'revolution' has been remarkably timid. But Caracas is importing toilet paper!

No word on where the Revolution will go toilet paper shopping. However, it certainly won't be close ally and inspiration Cuba, which suffers chronic shortages of basics such as toilet paper and light bulbs.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

Maduro says chavisim will love on for generations! I think we can contribute quite a few copies of the Guardian newspaper to them. They are going to need them more than us.

Miguel said...

Good point. But I don't think The Guardian's in the Chavistas' pocket. They've criticized the Revolution - and the reverse.


Stuart Oswald said...

They've critized for good measure. From time to time, I mingle with a few occasionally at their London head offices to know how much they the idolize Chavez.