Leave it to Reuters in this April 29 article, to express surprise that Hugo Chavez' planned economy, complete with “land reform,” price controls and forced production, is failing. Even worse, reporter Frank Jack Daniels relied on a Marxist outlook and socialist jargon to pretend that those tired policies weren't to blam.
Chavez wants to increase domestic food production; so, of course, the logical solution is to base the recovery on Marxist economics. After watching the failed totalitarian agronomics of Cuba and Russia, you'd think they could have invested a few bucks in a SimCity game so they could practice a little first.
Unbelievably, Reuters said Chavez “sheltered consumers from rising world food costs with subsidies and price controls,” and then in spite of all of that awesome planning, something surprisingly went wrong (all bolded portions mine):
Venezuela has promised to help other left-leaning governments in the region - like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba - to increase their grain production, but it has run into difficulties at home.
Chávez, who says high food prices show that capitalism is a failed system, has sheltered consumers from rising world food costs with subsidies and price controls.
Even so, some products have been scarce as world supplies tighten, fixed prices distort the supply chain and a bonanza from record oil prices drives up domestic demand.
Worried by the shortages, Chávez this year cut bureaucratic limitations on imports and opened state-run food stores. The long lines for milk and other basic products shrank.
Reuters framed the article as if it had been cribbed from a social justice and peace studies textbook. Daniels listed the same practices that devastated the Soviet Union's economy and resulted in bread lines, and yet, without a trace of facetiousness, wrote “Even so, some products have been scarce” as if the policies aren't related to the problems. That takes either a total lack of basic economics, which means he shouldn't be writing about Venezuela's economy, or Daniels has ignored the news for the last 30 years and believes planned economies work.
Daniels documented classic examples of the funny follies and unintended consequences that tend to occur in Marxist economies. For instance, to try to reduce milk shortages, the government set up a shiny new dairy plant in Venezuela's “hot, swampy” “hinterlands” stocked with high-yield dairy cattle that are better suited for the climates of Germany or Wisconsin and are vulnerable to “sweltering heat,” jungle predators and tropical disease.
Then there's the farmer who was paid to grow tomatoes that he can't get to market in decent condition because the roads are too poor. I guess the “Communist Manifesto” doesn't say anything about letting the actual farmers decide what they want and what they need to beef up agriculture production.
Instead of unbiased and neutral reporting, when describing Chavez's recent push for increased farming, Reuters parroted the Orwellian socialist terms “land redistribution” and “agrarian reform” for what really is simply stealing private property and restricting freedom:
[Andrés]Tuesta, the peasant leader, helped organize Venezuelan farmers to receive land redistributed by Chávez's government under an agrarian reform in the past several years. Although he is a supporter of Chávez, he says there is a long way to go before Venezuela becomes self-sufficient in food.
Reuters used a quote from that “peasant leader” and Chavez supporter Tuesta to pretend that the shortages weren't from the Marxist economics, but the greedy “elites”:
He blames the shortages on sabotage and hoarding by Venezuelan élites opposed to Chávez, but corruption and bureaucracy have also slowed production increases.
"You ask for a credit in December and it comes in June, after the planting season. You end up in debt and without a crop, the worst of both worlds," he said.
I'm not sure why legitimate media outlets like Reuters still pretend that Marxist/socialist economies actually work, but they continue to prop up countries like Cuba and Venezuela by not treating them to the same critiques and candid evaluations that Western democracies like America face.
Good to know that Reuters is on board the Bolivarian revolution.
***Interestingly, Reuters issued another version of this article later that day, edited by two others, that was more critical of Chavez's planned economy.
Lynn contributes to NewsBusters. Email her with tips or even complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 followed by at-yahoo-dot-com, but in the standard form.