Quick – can you guess who I’m describing here?
He campaigned against financial mismanagement, and the “harsh realities” of global capitalism. He pledged during his campaign to end corruption in both the government and the private sector.
After being elected President, he claimed that he had “inherited” the worst economic situation in recent history and then went about consolidating his power. Once privately-owned enterprises were “restructured” into government owned entities, some even organized into workers’ cooperatives.
Unemployment remained painfully high, even as the much-celebrated “reform” measures were being implemented. As private sector workers suffered with worsening economic conditions, government employees enjoyed the comforts of steady work and benefits while the President and other policy makers sought increasing control over the nation’s privately-owned wealth.
Does this seem like a description of the Obama Presidency? Certainly this depicts, at least in part, what we’ve experienced in the U.S. since the earliest days of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.
But - believe it or not - this is actually a description of the ascendency of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In fact, you could call this a “textbook case.” I’ve paraphrased a bit for the sake of column space, but this description of Chavez appears in “International Business: Competing In The Global Marketplace,” a text book currently used among M.B.A. students at many of America’s top graduate business schools.
Chavez became the democratically elected President of Venezuela in 1998, a decade before Barack Obama was elected to be our President. And the reason Chavez has been able to morph in to a dictator – he has successfully seized control over privately owned banks, tv stations, farms and gold holdings, to name a few items – and the reason he is still in power today, is because the first thing he did after taking office in 1999 was to substantively change his country’s constitution and re-arrange the nation’s judiciary.
The fact that one man could so quickly seize control of the entire country of Venezuela, probably speaks to some relative weaknesses in that nation’s constitution. And the fact that no U.S. President – not even Barack Obama – has seized this type of control over America, speaks to the relative strengths of both our U.S. Constitution itself, and the separation of powers among our three branches of government that are stipulated by our Constitution.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.