...Venezuela is still Venezuela.
It’s Economics 101 that even a good American liberal would understand: price caps/controls cause shortages.
Hugo Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Madura did not receive this memo and in an attempt to rein-in his country’s run-away inflation as well as keep the soup kitchen socialism of his predecessor alive, Maduro has, literally, sent in the troop to do the will of the people or something.
And when we say price controls cause shortages, these Venezuelans take it to a whole another level.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is extending price controls and will place limits on profits as he extends attempts to curb the galloping inflation that is eroding support for his rule.
Maduro made the announcement in a late-night television address Sunday in which he also vowed to step up inspections of businesses selling shoes, clothing, automobiles and other goods to make sure they aren't gouging consumers.
"We can't just close the businesses; the owners have to go to jail," Maduro said in an impassioned speech in which he cited Jewish, Muslim and Christian texts to harangue businessmen he accuses of usury. "We can't allow our hard currency to be used to rob people through the sale of these goods."
Huge crowds of government loyalists and opponents formed outside appliance stores over the weekend after Maduro ordered the military to occupy the Daka chain of electronic stores and slash by more than half prices for washing machines, televisions and other white goods.
While soldiers with assault rifles were deployed to keep bargain hunters in check, at least one Daka store, in the country's third largest city of Valencia, was looted by unruly crowds, according to photos and videos posted online.
Maduro Sunday night urged Venezuelans to remain calm, saying that he won't allow the "parasitic bourgeoisie" to overcharge consumers ever again.
To that end, he vowed to place percentage limits on profit margins if congress approves a bill granting him special powers.
Free-market economists say such a move would exacerbate shortages that reached a record in October, according to the central bank. They say that to stabilize the economy, and shore up a currency whose black market value is a ninth of the official rate, the government needs to lift capital controls put in place a decade ago by former President Hugo Chavez and devalue the bolivar.
In this context, “free-market economists” can also mean “anybody that can rub two brain cells together”.
And as for those shortages, here’s some footage of that Daka store where the merch was flying off the shelf.
When the President of a country unlawfully seizes private assets, why should anybody be surprised that the populace would follow his lead in pursuit of their own lawlessness?
A President that sets prices for goods in an arbitrary fashion can fully expect his people to exercise common civility in a completely arbitrary fashion as well.
The folks at that Daka store are merely the logical result of leftist class warfare. Rule of law starts at the top.