Venezuela is in the throes of a deep political and economic crisis. The country's democratic system has produced two successive tyrannical dictators, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. There are extreme shortages of food and other essential items. Prices are rising at a rate of around 700 percent. There are massive anti-government protests involving hundreds of thousands of people, with the government killing some of the protestors.
What is the solution to Venezuela's woes?
The answer depends on whether you're talking to an American liberal (i.e., leftist or progressive), conservative, or libertarian.
The liberal says: Venezuela just needs to raise the minimum wage, tax the rich and give the money to the poor, and increase government welfare spending and debt.
After all, isn't that what liberals say is the key to ending poverty? Well, poverty is one big problem in Venezuela today. In fact, people are on the verge of starvation there.
So, in the mind of the liberal, that's what needs to be done to combat poverty in Venezuela — just raise the minimum wage, tax the rich and give the money to the poor, and increase government welfare spending.
There is one big problem, however: Chavez and Maduro have already done all those things. And guess what happened: the economic crisis got worse. In fact, the more that Maduro take these steps, the worse things get. Today there are few rich people to tax because governmental policies have made most everyone poor. In fact, Venezuela today (along with Cuba and North Korea) actually constitutes the ideal leftist society: almost total economic equality — i.e., no big disparities in wealth — because most everyone is equally poor.
What Venezuela is confirming is that it is precisely leftist solutions to ending poverty that are the cause of poverty. That should serve as a valuable lesson for Americans, given that leftists here (and conservatives) are heading America in the same direction as Venezuela, with massive welfare spending, massive warfare spending, and ever-increasing debt.
The conservative says: Impose economic sanctions that will increase the suffering of the Venezuelan people, in the hopes that they will support a military coup, or send in the Marines or the CIA to oust Maduro from office and replace him with a pro-U.S. and "pro-capitalist" military dictatorship, much like the U.S. government did in Chile in the early 1970s, when the CIA engineered a coup that brought Chilean military strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet into power.
There is a big problem, however, with the conservative solution: the military dictatorship will inevitably begin doing what Pinochet did: clean up the country by rounding up socialists, leftists, and communists and incarcerating, torturing, raping, executing, and disappearing them — all because of their leftist beliefs.
Of course, some conservatives will say that that's no big deal because the victims are bad people, given that they are socialists, communists, and leftists. They'll also say that all these "human rights abuses" will be worth it because the military dictatorship will bring "free markets" to Venezuela, much like, conservatives say, the "Chicago Boys" did for Chile.