Collectivism at work: After we run out of other people’s money edition

Well, a few years back every collectivist out there trying to peddle that failed ideology was lecturing those of us that see the inherent nature and end state of any collectivist experiment, on how Chavez’s revolutionary experiment had made Venezuela not just a more just and better place, but validated their faith in collectivism. The media and the usual big nanny state selling types could not stop talking about how great Venezuela was doing, and how it validated their beliefs and ideology. Chavez was visited by a host of virtue signaling douchebags, while the news cycle took every opportunity it could to tell people how collectivism in Venezuela was saving the poor. Those of us that pointed out that the natural course of events had not happened yet, and that eventually this experiment being lauded, when it reached its end state, would end in misery and failure, were basically mocked and called out as delusional wreckers and kulaks. That the historical president existed to actually validate the case of people pointing out that over time every previous big collectivist experiments the left praised and presented as proof of their ideological superiority, had imploded given enough time to run out of other people’s money, leading to the usual tropes about it not being true collectivism, the wrong people being in charge (a flip from them being the right people at first), the capitalist wreckers undermining the whole fairy tale, or a combination of all these things. It was never the fact that collectivism is a dumb idea because it goes both against human nature and practically every law of nature, physics, and economics.

Well, fast forward to today, and this is Venezuela. The place has been wrecked by the socialists, the corruption inherent in socialism, the attempts to force reality to bend to the will of an insane ideology, and of course, the fact that the saviors of the revolution really did the revolution so they could replace the oligarchy that existed with one of their own. I could be ironic and wonder why now that the place is falling apart the dnc operatives with bylines no longer have Venezuela constantly in the news, and on the rare occasion the do talk about the misery and horrible situation, they never find it in them to actually blame the cause for the current condition: collectivism.

there is a lesson here, but I doubt the people that should learn it will ever do so. Envy of what others have and the need to virtue signal are powerful things for the usual idiots that purposefully remain oblivious to the destruction, misery and death toll of their ideology. Queue the people that will now complain about me because there is no defense for the evils of collectivism outside the family unit.

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  1. stogy

    there is a lesson here, but I doubt the people that should learn it will ever do so. Envy of what others have and the need to virtue signal are powerful things for the usual idiots that purposefully remain oblivious to the destruction, misery and death toll of their ideology.

    Interestingly, to some extent you might be right here. However, I think you are taking the wrong lesson from what has happened in Venezuela. Prior to Chavez, economic life in Venezuela was almost completely dominated by the right, who monopolized wealth and power and kept the poor in a state of perpetual chronic poverty, with no opportunities to change their situation. Mass media presented a picture of what life could/should be like – hence the massive popularity of TV dramas.

    It was only a matter of time before a demagogue like Chavez came along and started to capture popular disastisfaction. Middle-class Venezuelan friends of mine told me their families were split when he took power – some genuinely hoped he would do something to improves the lives of the poor. And for the first few years, with oil prices high, he was able to deliver on his promises (and it wasn’t just the poor who supported him). But at the same time he was able to undermine and takeover the institutions necessary for him and his successors to remain in power.

    The key point is that if you want to avoid a radical demagogue from doing what has happened in Venezuela, the benefits of growth have to be equally distributed throughout the economy – that doesn’t mean everyone gets equal amounts – it means that everyone rises together. You have to provide sufficient incentive for the poor to believe that they can improve their lives. When that doesn’t happen, you end up with a revolution. It’s a complete failure of market capitalism – of which envy is a key part – to sustain itself.

    In the US both Trump and Sanders have demonstrated how populism that presents itself as being for the people and against the elites can turn elections. Now that he’s in power, Trump however lacks the political nous to be able to pull off what Chavez did, Clinton is way too establishment and Sanders is now probably too old, but the road is open for someone more savvy to capture the same pissed-off, marginalized demographic.

    But doing what you have done in your post – blaming the poor for wanting to improve their lives when they have very few avenues to do so – is poor politics that will always eventually backfire.

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  2. CM

    Well said stogy. There is no way Alex will accept it though, he refuses to acknowledge market failure. It simply does not exist. And therefore reactions to it will always just ‘envy’ and written off in the such blindly simplistic terms.
    Corbyn just did a great job with that demographic in the UK. No rampant lying, ripping people off, boasting about sexual assault, encouraging violence against political opponents, open threats, or stealing from kids with cancer required.

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  3. InsipiD

    But doing what you have done in your post – blaming the poor for wanting to improve their lives when they have very few avenues to do so

    Not what he did at all.  He blamed the fools who believe that you can improve the poor’s lives by making the rich pay for them.  You can help everybody earn more, and there’s more for everyone if there’s more.  What you can’t do is take from the rich to balance it out.  Venezuela’s checkbook didn’t balance any more than any of the other failed collectivists’.

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  4. stogy

    You can help everybody earn more, and there’s more for everyone if there’s more. 

    er… the US is currently wealthier than it has ever been. It’s also the richest society that has ever been. But the wealth gap is also the greatest it has been in over 50 years. Increases in productivity are banked by the rich, but not passed on to workers. So there is plenty more but not everyone is getting it. It was the fear of communism that drove wages up amongst workers in the US after WW2, essentially sharing wealth better throughout the economy. And this led to better, more sustainable growth, wealth and productivity throughout most sectors of the economy.

    There is an enormous amount of evidence for this: that real economic growth is more likely to occur and to be sustainable when it is distributed throughout the economy. The important thing is to find the right mechanisms to do that in ways that do not create dependency while still fostering innovation.

    If you are proposing an economic model based on the principle of greed, such as market capitalism, then you need to recognize that if you frustrate people’s ability to engage with it proactively then they are going to seek other ways. If you don’t do this, as you say, you end up with “fools” who will take – violently or otherwise – from the (equally foolish) rich.

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  5. stogy

    Why wealth inequality isn’t a bad thing

    I completely agree. Societies need to strive and incentives for people and organizations to better themselves. A certain level of inequality is a good thing.

    But it has to be balanced. There is a point where increasingly higher levels of inequality results in disincentivising people or turns them into revolutionaries.

     

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  6. InsipiD

    But it has to be balanced. There is a point where increasingly higher levels of inequality results in disincentivising people or turns them into revolutionaries.

    So is Venezuela equal right now?  You think they aren’t revolutionary?  Our gap is too big, but Venezuela’s middle class is losing weight without trying.  Our poor are obese.  I know you’re going to say that they’re a poor example-show me the good one.

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  7. stogy

    So is Venezuela equal right now?  You think they aren’t revolutionary?  

    Well, yeah. Obviously not. As I said this is the outcome of inequality – years of instability and violence. The desire to overthrow inequality doesn’t actually lead to equality – just a new set of bloodthirsty fuckers with their hands on the state coffers and guns pointed at their former proletarian pals.

    Our poor are obese. 

    Poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive calorie consumption is an excellent indicator of poverty. It’s largely the same in the developing world.

    a poor example-show me the good one.

    Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland… all have low levels of inequality based on a GINI coefficient of less than 30 (there are better ways of measuring inequality, but this is the simplest). They also have high levels of human and social capital, and they sing songs and drink beer together. Brazil has a GINI of almost 50 and high levels of social violence and dissatisfaction. The further you get towards zero or one the less incentive there is to work hard – both ends of the spectrum are bad for society – complete equality, complete inequality. It’s finding the right balance and a fair mechanism for maintaining it that is the key.

    Brazil has a GINI of almost 50 and high levels of social violence, crime,  and dissatisfaction. The further you get towards a GINI of zero or one the less incentive there is to work hard – both ends of the spectrum are bad for society – complete equality and complete inequality. It’s finding the right balance and a fair mechanism for maintaining it that is the key.

     

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  8. InsipiD

    Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland… all have low levels of inequality based on a GINI coefficient of less than 30 (there are better ways of measuring inequality, but this is the simplest). 

    A trade surplus can fund some excess spending.  Take away their cash and let’s see if everybody’s just having a beer together then.  Cash is the great equalizer.  So you have to facilitate acquiring cash through productive means-making goods or performing a service.  We should not be so generous with the social benefits as to have productive people being paid to stay out of the way.  Sad.

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