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Feb 26, 201409:27 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

The grotesque tragedy of the centrally planned economy

(page 1 of 2)

The Atlantic magazine may be the best general interest periodical in our language. My criteria are: Take a position, source it well, present it logically, write felicitously, but — this, above all — don’t reinforce the prevailing wisdom. Argue against the grain.

The Atlantic famously declared that Dan Quayle was right about unwed motherhood. It proposed that more law-abiding people should carry guns if they want to reduce crime and Aurora-style mass shootings. It drew a direct causation between Section 8 government subsidized housing and the deterioration of neighborhoods. It introduced the Broken Windows theory of policing to protect quality of life before neighborhoods descend into crime zones.

The Tragedy of Venezuela” is less startling, but equally defiant of accepted dogma. It says flat-out what Barack Obama, Ed Schultz, Tammy Baldwin, Mark Pocan, Chris Taylor, Paul Soglin, John Nichols, Amy Goodman, and company will not tell you: Socialism is failure. Not that socialism has failed (if only the right people could be found to operate its heavy machinery) but that it IS failure.

“The catastrophic consequences of Chávez’s 21st Century Socialism are impossible to mask any longer and the government has run out of excuses.”

You won’t read that in the State Journal, The Capital Times, Isthmus, or Madison Magazine. You won’t see or hear it on PBS, WPR, MSNBC, CNN, or CBS. The professors on Bascom Hill will talk theory, not results. The Progressive magazine is bobbing for apples in 27,000 pages of old emails. The New York Times is exulting in the big city’s newly inaugurated income leveler, Bill de Blasio. Quite unilaterally, the president is rewriting federal statute to save his signature big-government overreach.

Let us quote at further length Moisés Naím, contributing editor at The Atlantic, a senior associate in the International Economics Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

Venezuela is now the world champion of inflation, homicide, insecurity, and shortages of essential goods — from milk for children to insulin for diabetics and all kinds of indispensable products. All this despite having the greatest oil reserves in the world and a government with absolute control of all state institutions and levers of power. Sadly, that government has used its immense wealth and authority to push through unsustainable populist policies, buy votes, jail opposition leaders, and shut down television channels. Daily shortages of basic goods, fear of crime, and hopelessness have become unbearable.


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Feb 26, 2014 11:34 am
 Posted by  Leo

Excellent blog post! You may have also noted the recent press coverage explaining how the Venezuelan state-run economy has engineered a toilet paper shortage in the oil-rich country. They may have indoor toilets here and there, but nothing to clean up with afterwards. In short, a socialist nirvana.

That's where America is headed if the nit wit left holds on to power and whatever may be left of America when Obama and his wrecking ball leave the nation's capital.

Feb 26, 2014 02:52 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

You guys don't believe much in understatement, do you. I haven't read the article and I won't defend Venezuela - it's clearly a mess - but maybe the problem has more to do with strongman dictatorships (right and left) than economic/political systems. There are socialists in Caracas and Havana, but they're also in Oslo, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, etc. The world isn't so black and white (or red). Just sayin'. AnonyBob

Feb 27, 2014 04:29 am
 Posted by  madisonexpat

The Lefties hated GWB, loved Chavez and admire Obama. The trifecta of stupid.

Feb 27, 2014 07:52 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

I've already recounted how President Hollande of France is going all trickle-down. Check out the Recent Blog Posts column at upper right on this page. BTW, Bob, socialism REQUIRES strongmen.

Feb 27, 2014 10:27 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Yeah, those Norwegian and Swedish strongmen. Nuance, Dave, nuance.

Feb 27, 2014 11:15 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

" 'Sweden has always been a solid market economy', states the present right-wing government on its website. And that is certainly true. Sweden has never been a socialist society - based on public ownership of production, workers’ control and management, social equality and a democratic plan of production. Neither has Sweden been a ‘mixed economy’ or provided a ‘third way’ - an alternative to both capitalism and socialism, if such a thing were possible.

" the 1960s and in the early 1970s ... a welfare system was created that became a model for the rest of the world. ... But this Swedish model ceased to exist long time ago." --

Facts, AnnonyBoob, facts!

If not Cuba, I'm guessing you're in North Korea. Am I warm?

Feb 27, 2014 01:46 pm
 Posted by  David Blaska

The Progressive comes to the defense of the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Yes, "groups funded by the United States have engaged in a campaign of violent protests, riots, street blockades and attacks on public facilities, with the stated purpose of forcing Maduro to resign." That is what The Progressive says. Substitute "Ukraine" for "Venezuela" and you can hear Vladimir Putin.

Feb 27, 2014 03:00 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Another tragedy is the constant chipping away of local control by the current administration in Madison. The agenda and outcome is very similar to what Blaska is complaining about, but he has yet to raise his voice against this new form of centrally planned economy.

Feb 27, 2014 09:14 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, my point is that you guys need to quit overusing the boogeyman of socialism when you really mean authoritarianism or totalitarianism. Not the same.
N. Korea? "Oh, it's cold, and there's not enough rice!" Happy? Comrade AnonyBob.

Feb 28, 2014 08:17 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

But it's cold in South Korea and they have plenty of rice. Nazi Germany had plenty of food. Labour Britain had queues and shortages. Is France totalitarian? Why is it turning away from socialism?

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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