Daniel Doherty

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money,” Mrs. Thatcher once quipped. But perhaps it would be equally as accurate to say that the problem with socialist countries in general is that there is no such thing as the rule of law. Take this mind-blowing development in Venezuela, for example:

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro intensified his perceived fight Monday against "bourgeois parasites" he accuses of an economic war against the socialist country by threatening to force more stores to sell their merchandise at cut-rate prices.

National guardsmen, some of whom had assault rifles, were positioned around outlets of an electronics chain that Maduro has ordered to lower prices or face prosecution. Thousands of people lined up at the Daka stores hoping for a bargain after the government forced the companies to charge "fair" prices.

"I want a Sony plasma television for the house," said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator who waited seven hours outside a Caracas Daka store, similar to Best Buy. "It's going to be so cheap!"

Five managers of electronic retailers including Daka are being threatened with prosecution for unjustifiable price hikes, the Venezuela government said. More stores may be at risk, as well. Government inspectors were dispatched to check prices at an array of other businesses.

Businesses in a socialistic country like Venezuela do not operate independently of their paternalistic and all-seeing government. The most successful ones are “bourgeois parasites,” remember? They suck the life blood out of the Venezuelan economy. Never mind that a basic or rudimentary understanding of economics teaches us that entrepreneurs and small businesses drive economic growth -- not government thieves or kleptocrats. In Venezuela, however, businesses are the enemy, according to the government. They steal and plunder and pillage until there is nothing left for the "little guy." How then, pray tell, did Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez, become so fabulously and repulsively rich if businesses were hoarding all that cash? Ah:

Former president Hugo Chávez often theatrically expropriated or seized assets from more than 1,000 companies during his 14-year tenure. This, among other difficulties for foreign firms, led to a severe drop in foreign investment in the country that has hobbled its ability to produce oil despite having the world's largest estimated oil reserves.

"This is more like government-sanctioned looting," said Caracas-based engineer Carlos Rivero, 42. "What stops them going into pharmacies, supermarkets and shopping malls?"

Like his predecessor before him, Maduro takes what he wants when he wants it. That’s the socialist way -- the common man be damned.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography