Socialism in One Lesson

How far is it from Paradise to Hell? About a half-hour, by air

Police confront protesters in Venezuela (left), while the palm-lined pool beckons in Curaçao (right).

If heaven were a place on Earth, it might look like Curaçao. An island in the Lesser Antilles near the South American coast, Curaçao is about 170 square miles of palm trees, white sand beaches and warm tropical breezes, the temperature ranging from 88 °F in the day to 78 °F at night. Curaçao has prospered under Dutch colonial rule, and its 160,000 residents enjoy a high standard of living. Tourism is big business in Curaçao, with more than 600,000 visitors from cruise ships each year and 1.7 million arriving by air. The coastline boasts highly rated resort hotels, including the Royal Sea Aquarium Resort, the Renaissance Curaçao Resort & Casino, the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort and the Hilton Curaçao.

A cruise ship near the Renaissance Curaçao (left); lunch at the Santa Barbara Resort (right).

The beautiful dream of Curaçao, however, is just 40 miles away from one of the worst nightmares of the 21st century — Venezuela, where a corrupt socialist regime has wrecked the economy, plunging the nation into hunger and poverty. “Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and it was once Latin America’s richest country,” as Nick Gillespie and Todd Krainin of Reason magazine explained. “Today, most grocery store shelves are empty, and Venezuelans are so hungry that they’re killing zoo animals for sustenance. Toilet paper, diapers, and toothpaste are luxury goods. Venezuelan hospitals have disintegrated, children are dying because they can’t get antibiotics, and the infant mortality rate is higher than Syria. The capital city of Caracas is the murder capital of the world . . . The real cause is the socialist economy. The government sets the price of staples such as rice, pasta, and flour, resulting in chronic shortages. Former President Hugo Chavez nationalized industries, confiscated property, and kicked out foreign companies. The government is trying to print its way out of the crisis, resulting in a 700 percent annual inflation rate. After a sham election, President Nicolas Maduro, the handpicked successor of Hugo Chavez, is rounding up his opponents and putting them in jail.”

Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro pays tribute to Hugo Chavez (left); anti-Maduro rioter in Caracas (right).

Socialism has so destroyed Venezuela’s economy that its currency has become nearly worthless. Hungry citizens have staged massive protests, and yet the corrupt Maduro regime maintains power by brute force. The contrast between the violence and poverty of Venezuela and the peaceful prosperity of nearby Curaçao should teach you all you need to know about socialism.

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Robert Stacy McCain is the author of Sex Trouble: Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature. A journalist for more than 30 years, he is a correspondent for The American Spectator and blogs regularly at The Other McCain. His ongoing research and reporting about feminism have been sponsored by blog readers’ contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund.

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