“If you trade your liberty for food, you will be condemned to be a slave.” This was how Cedice Liberty, one of Latin America’s greatest think tanks described the not-too-surprising announcement that Venezuela is finally moving to a cashless ‘ration card’ system for the centrally planned allocation of food-stuffs to the population.
So there we have it, the infamous ‘ration card’ – the end result in every communist country. China, Cuba, Nicaragua, the Soviet Union, Angola and Mozambique. I could go on, but it’s too depressing. Oh sure, Venezuela under Chavez pretended that this was not their end goal. They liked to call it first the ‘Third Way’, then ‘Participatory and Protagonist Democracy’, then ‘Democratic Socialism’, to eventually land on just plain old ‘Socialism’. 19 years of stupidity. It’s all the same. After all the money has been stolen from bank accounts and companies nationalized to be redistributed to idiots; malinvested into grandiose schemes of national pride that remain half-finished and crumbling into the Caribbean storms; dumped in to purchase weapons that sputter away their utility for lack of maintenance and purpose; or simply frittered away on propaganda or whatever else the Politburos come up with that morning in the shower (they, at least, still have water), we arrive at the ration card. Stability. This is what the communist regimes say it’s about. Food stability.
Avoiding starvation, well mostly – at least for those that matter. Those who are not socialists can starve; why should they be allowed to be a drain on the national wealth when they provide no good service to the fatherland anyway?? – all their conspiring and marching and voting in ways that are uncomfortable for their betters.
Communism. It always starts off with imposing schemes. Fifty meter tall statues of this or that liberator – monumental architecture to demonstrate that engineers and architects don’t only work for profit; but can be induced to great acts of creation also through tremendous violence. But then things slow down as the revolutions lose their shine and the mundane issues of governance catch up with the idealistic. Garbage collection, paint for new buildings, vaccination campaigns to avoid spread of disease. And the commies move on to their next pursuits – personal enrichment through theft. But you gotta keep the people fed!
Cue the ration cards.
Prison wardens know the exact amount of calories, vitamins and nutrients and carbohydrates that are required to keep the inmates alive and somewhat healthy. They don’t have to be concerned with the special likes, tastes, or fancies of their charges. After all – the prisoners are paying their dues to society, right? So too Venezuela, thirty million prisoners in the latest of the world’s nation-prisons. Their crime? They were stupid – and voted to power a band of criminals. They were angry, full of hate and violence against those who had more: envious. They were reckless, casting their “what the hell” vote as an answer to the question, “what do I have to lose?” Their penance? Slavery – the living, breathing, writhing organ of collectivity that keeps their betters in new yachts, expensive whiskey, elite hotel stays, sumptuous dining experiences and limitless personal power.
And now – after what feels like an endless battle for the minds of men, attempting to explain to them their folly comes the end result. And I fear for Venezuela; because the ration cards probably will bring a certain measure of stability. They will suck liquidity from the economy, reducing inflation. They will create a better distribution of limited foodstuffs. And they will allow the warden government to find the right balance of calories to keep their inmates alive, using oil wealth to purchase them. The stability of prison life; a stability that Cuba has known for six generations. A colorless, lifeless, choiceless stability. And I sorrow for the parade of unfree generations that will march on until the right people at the right time finally say ENOUGH.