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Anorak | The Glorious Bolivarian Socialist Revolution: country runs out of toilet paper

The Glorious Bolivarian Socialist Revolution: country runs out of toilet paper

by | 12th, June 2013

THERE are economic cock ups and then there are economic cock ups. OK, so allowing half the banks to go bust in 2008 doesn’t make neoliberalism look all that good, sure. But allowing a nation to run out of toilet paper is the sort of thing that only happens in Bolivarian socialism:

Toilet roll has been in short supply in the South American country in recent months, with economists blaming price controls imposed by the government.

The new programme, launched last week, uses crowdsourcing technology to enable users to let each other know which supermarkets still have stocks of the tissue.

Called Abasteceme – “Supply Me” in English – the free Android app has already been downloaded more than 12,000 times.

No, seriously, imagine having to use a smartphone app to find out where the bog roll in the city is.

The problem here is not that, like the neoliberals, markets got trusted too much. Rather, it’s that the Bolivarian socialists do not trust markets enough. Let’s, just for the sakeof argument here, agree that there are times that markets stuff up. But at the same time let’s agree that there are times when they work just fine. and it’s in those second set of examples that you can make things worse by intervening in the markets. Which is exactly what that glorious Bolivarian socialist revolution has done. They’ve set the retail price of things like milk, flour, cooking oil and loo roll at below the cost of making and transporting them. Thus no one makes them and no one can buy them.

There’s a further lesson here too. Let’s say that the poor couldn’t afford that bog roll. Thjis is a grave injustice and something that a righteous government would like to correct. OK, fine: but what’s the better way to do this? Give those poor a bit more cash so they can buy bog roll? Or fix the price so that the entire country runs out of it?

Of course, it could really be as the President says it is. There isn’t actually any shortage and the prices aren’t too low. It’s just that the capitalists are buying it all up to make him look bad. Hey, could be true. Although I tend to think that capitalist revolutionaries would come up with something better than simply sticky bums to make the socialist revolution fail.



Posted: 12th, June 2013 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink