April 10, 2019 Reading Time: 2 minutes

You are sick so you go to the hospital. There is no medicine. Diagnostic machines don’t work because the power is out. The lights aren’t on either. After nightfall, the whole place is pitch black. You can’t wander the halls. Too dangerous.

Small wounds lead to amputation without anesthesia because there is no other way to treat them. The whole place stinks of rotting flesh and death because that’s pretty much what is there. The doctors can do nothing about it. Their talents and love are useless.

Incredibly, this is Venezuela today.

It’s just the beginning of the disaster. The food shortages have led to the end of anything normally called morality. Gangs of a thousand go hunting for food. They seize on a grocery store and light it on fire to provide light so that people can see in order to loot the place. Then it burns to the ground.

Anything and everything is being stolen for possible use in barter but mainly because no one knows what else to do.

Venezuela has become a place without economic forces at work, which means the end of morality and the end of civilization.

Young people in America are blithely talking about socialism, the need for government to control things, the effortlessness of planning the economy, the magic elixir of easy money, the productivity of regulation, and the need for leadership to put all this together in a central plan.

Venezuela has all this and more.

Young people today were not around for the Weimar inflation to watch it lead to the rise of Hitler. They didn’t see the collapse of socialism in the old Soviet Union and its satellite states. They didn’t hear the reports from Cambodia in the 1970s. The tales from China before the economy was freed in the 1980s are the stuff of history books.

But Venezuela is happening right now. Millions are suffering and dying in deep pain. It is there as an example.

The usual response to all this is to name not socialism but US sanctions as the culprit. Sanctions are indeed damaging, cruel, and pointless. They are a kind of reverse protectionism and, as such, burden economic growth. The US should have free trade with the world and that means no sanctions on anyone. (Meanwhile, the US president is under the impression that protectionism makes a country richer; does he also believe he is helping Venezuela with his sanctions?)

That said, it is utterly preposterous that the failure to trade with the US could reduce a once prosperous country to this level of barbarism and rampant criminality.

I would strongly recommend this brilliant and terrifying New York Times Daily podcast for a first-hand report on what’s really going on here. Take 15 minutes of your day, please, and share this with others.

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey A. Tucker served as Editorial Director for the American Institute for Economic Research from 2017 to 2021.

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