A few days ago in a post titled "The Deep Mystery Of Why Venezuela Is Failing," I made fun of the New York Times and Time Magazine for publishing long articles about why Venezuela is failing without so much as mentioning its adoption of socialism. But as I've read more on this subject in the last week, I've realized that this is not just a couple of isolated instances of cluelessness. This really is "the one whose name must not be spoken." My conclusion is that there is an official list of talking points, and "socialism" has been banned from the list. Am I wrong?
The Times followed up its article from May 15 with another long one yesterday titled "How Venezuela Fell Into Crisis, and What Could Happen Next." OK, this time they explicitly say that they are going to tell us the "how" of what got Venezuela into this mess. And the official answer is, falling oil prices, too much borrowing, and a drought. Socialism? We've never heard of it! Don't believe me? Here are their words:
How could this happen in a country that has the largest reserves of oil in the world?
The price of oil, Venezuela’s only significant export, has plummeted, which means revenue could fall by 40 percent this year. The government’s huge borrowing, partly a legacy of the years when oil prices were far higher, has helped bring the crisis to a head because Venezuela now has far less money to repay its foreign debt, forcing Mr. Maduro to slash imports in order to avoid default. On top of that are the consequences of a drought, which has shriveled the country’s hydropower generation, a critical source of electricity.
Let's try another left wing news site. How about the Huffington Post? They have a post titled "Why Venezuela Is on the Verge of Actual Collapse" from May 20. Five reasons are given:
1. Murder—lots of murder; 2. Low oil prices—not always a good thing; 3. Plummeting economy; 4. Scarcity of essential goods; 5. Widespread corruption
I particularly like reasons 3 and 4. The economy is collapsing because the economy is collapsing! Why hadn't we figured that out on our own?
Try CNN. They took a crack at this back in January, in "5 reasons why Venezuela's economy is in a 'meltdown.'" It won't take you long to guess most of the five, because remember, they come from an official list of talking points:
1. Oil crash hurts Venezuela the most; 2. A currency worth less than a penny; 3. New power struggle dooms 2016; 4. Default in 2016 is 'difficult to avoid'; 5. Food crisis.
Probably you are wondering what Official Manhattan Contrarian Worst Economics Writer Paul Krugman has to say about Venezuela. Well, you'll just have to keep wondering, because Krugman doesn't choose to write about Venezuela. Same goes for the other bombastic voices of left-wing "economics." Ezra Klein? Silence. Matthew Yglesias? Silence.
Bernie Sanders? He got cornered on the subject of Venezuela a few days ago at an interview on Univision. Here's the transcript on the subject:
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure that you know about this topic: various leftist governments, especially the populists, are in serious trouble in Latin America. The socialist model in Venezuela has the country near collapse. Argentina, also Brazil, how do you explain that failure?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: You are asking me questions…
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: I am sure you’re interested in that.
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: I am very interested, but right now I’m running for President of the United States.
LEÓN KRAUZE, UNIVISION: So you don’t have an opinion about the crisis in Venezuela?
BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: Of course I have an opinion, but as I said, I’m focused on my campaign.
So can you really blame all these twenty-somethings for knowing nothing about socialism and its failures? Won't anybody level with them?