It’s good that the Catholic clergy in Venezuela has taken notice of Chavez’ “morally unacceptable” behavior. But where have the supposed arbiters of moral authority been since Chavez first took office in 1999? Hugo’s presidency is more aptly described as a “reign of terror,” and the ambivalence to the rule of law displayed by the country’s other elected officials today is a reflection of the citizenry’s ambivalence to Chavez’ lawlessness years ago.
Chavez campaigned in the late 90’s against private sector economic mismanagement, and what he called the “harsh realities” of global capitalism. He pledged during his campaign to end corruption in both the government, and the private sector.
After taking office, he claimed that he had “inherited” the worst economic situation in his country’s recent history (sound familiar?). And then, the new President began to consolidate his power. He managed to remove judges from his nation’s Supreme Court, and to appoint new members who would acquiesce to his agenda. Chavez then got the court to approve a new national constitution – one that would allow him to be re-elected to the presidency indefinitely.
Then came the economic and human rights abuses. Once privately-owned enterprises were confiscated by the “Chavez Administration” and became government-owned and operated entities. Several businesses were “restructured” so as to become, essentially, “workers’ cooperatives.”
Not surprisingly, unemployment has remained persistently high, even as Chavez has gone about implementing his much-celebrated “reform” measures. Hugo’s regime has seized privately owned banks, farmland, radio and television stations and newspapers, as well as private bank accounts and gold reserves. And while private citizens have had to struggle with worsening economic conditions, government officials have nonetheless continued to exert increasing levels of control over the nation’s wealth, and have continued to enrich themselves from that wealth, despite the suffering of “the governed.”
Throughout his presidency, Chavez has described himself as an “anti-imperialist,” preaching against wealth and power and promising to bring “economic justice” to the poor and middle class. Yet as history could have predicted, his supposed remedies to the “injustices” -confiscating other human being’s wealth in the name of the collective good of the country- have only added to his own personal power, so much so that now, the entire government is abandoning the rule of law so as to accommodate him. The fact that we really don’t know the truth of Chavez’ health is because he (and his lieutenants) control nearly all the nation’s media.
Americans, much like Venezuelans, are too quick to believe the promises of politicians. And the current U.S. President is on-record saying that the U.S. Constitution is deficient, because it only stipulates what the government cannot do to you, rather than specifying what it should do for you.
Problems are not solved by empowering one’s government – either through proactive support or by ambivalent disregard- to control more of private people’s lives. And ignoring abuses of power only begets more abuse.
Will Americans declare their own government “morally unacceptable” – before Chavez-styled constitutional crisis arrives?
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.