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Venezuela’s Lessons for the United States

Opposition supporters clash with police during protests against unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez


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Lesson 1: Socialism doesn’t work.
Free schooling. Free health care. Free retirement. Free welfare. Free everything. It just doesn’t work. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor ultimately makes everyone poor—i.e., the total equality of wealth that leftists love. Socialism produces economic crises, which then produce calls for more socialism and interventionism, which produce more crises. The cycle continues until there is a complete government takeover of economic activity, which necessarily entails a complete takeover of people’s lives and resources.

Lesson 2: Democracy is not freedom.
Oftentimes it destroys freedom. That’s why the Bill of Rights protects Americans from democracy. Moreover, democracy oftentimes ends up with unsavory candidates and public officials, as both Venezuelans and Americans have recently learned. Democracy simply provides a peaceful means by which people can elect public officials who run the government. Oftentimes, however, democracy is used to elect people with dictatorial power, as we have seen in Venezuela. Freedom entails restrictions on the power of those in office.

Lesson 3: Gun control deprives people of the ability to violently overthrow a tyrannical regime.
The U.S. press is describing the Maduro regime as tending toward dictatorship and tyranny. That’s nonsense. It’s there. The Maduro regime is the model of dictatorship and tyranny. Its power is now omnipotent, and it’s being used to jail and kill opponents and dissidents. As Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, when government becomes destructive of the rights of the people, the people have the right to violently overthrow the government. Yet, to do that, they need guns. Without guns, there are but two options: Acquiesce to the tyranny or die. With guns, there is another option.

Lesson 4: A national-security apparatus —i.e., a permanent standing army and secretive intelligence force—is the means by which a dictatorial regime imposes and enforces it rule.
Soldiers obey orders. If they are ordered to quell dissent, they will do so. And even if the military establishment turns on Maduro and takes power in a coup, as some people are hoping, the country will be no better off, as we saw with the CIA-installed regime of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. The coup will bring rapes, kidnappings, executions, torture, indefinite detention, concentration camps, and other such things that characterize military regimes. Different victims. Same sort of tyranny.

What should Americans do about Venezuela?

  1. Prohibit the U.S. government, including the CIA, from intervening in Venezuela. Leave Venezuela to the Venezuelans. It is no business of the U.S. government, whose meddling in the affairs of other countries has always made things worse, both for the people living there and for the American people.
  2. Establish a free society here at home to serve as a model for the rest of the world. Dismantle both the welfare state and the warfare state.  Place economic liberty alongside freedom of speech, religion, and press. End Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, subsidies, and welfare. Repeal the minimum wage and all other economic regulations. Separate economy and the state. Separate education and the state. Abolish the income tax and the IRS. End foreign interventionism, foreign wars, foreign bases, and foreign aid. End the drug war. Dismantle the military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the NSA. Lead the world to freedom by example.
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The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy. The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government.