Lessons From South America?

There were a couple of interesting things happening this week in South America. Little was heard of it on the major USA media since nothing but Trump Bashing matters to them. I think there are lessons here for the Global Governance Elite. Those folks who wish to grab power and hold it dear. You know, the folks running the EU, the Democrats Deep State, the Neo-Cons In Exile…

First off, in Venezuela, things have gotten even worse. So bad that the Judicial branch voted to strip all legislative power from the congress. This, as you might think, caused some rankle as the people had elected that congress in the hopes it might fix things.

Then, in Paraguay, they had a tiff over an attempt by their present President, Horacio Cartes, to not, um, go home. (Dear Madam Clinton: Please consider what happens to those who do not heed the wisdom in the song “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”…) They had a dictator for almost forever, and when the finally got rid of him, made it the Law that you get one term, then you go home. This guy was trying to undo that.

In response, The People “expressed their will”. They burned down Parliament. (Dear EU Parliament: Please consider that. A Lot. In a related thought, perhaps we ought to have a Greek Festival Day in Brussels… BBQ “near” the lawn…)

Now, in a move that surprised everyone, the President of Venezuela (you know, the ex-Bus Driver) mused that maybe it was a Bad Idea for the court to take legislative power to itself and the court, in a move astonishing no one, rescinded their earlier order. Guess no “Toasty Robe Baked Chicken” in Caracas this weekend…

It amazes me just how much crap folks will put up with before they “go postal” and finally say “To Hell With It, burn it all down!”. Yet more surprising is that given the very long history of such things, Politicians globally and in all cultures regularly push to that limit and risk “The French Haircut” of revolution. Something in the nature of the Political Class makes them blind to it. Perhaps the mass noun for a large collection of Politicians (like a “pride of lions” or a “murder of crows”) ought to be “An Arrogance Of Politicians”. So you could have news reports like “An arrogance of Politicians met in Paris this week to discus Climate Change”.

Ah, well. We’ll see if the EU Parliament can learn from history, or even from the recent news in South America. (The UK Parliament seems a bit more clueful, having actually listened to the resolution of The People in their referendum. Though I note in passing that recently they are saying that in order to remove the yoke of EU law they must incorporate all of it into UK law first. Say what? I thought the point was to dump that crap…)

Well it makes for interesting times. Here in the USA, the ousted Democrats are trying their best to be sand in the teeth of everyone else and shoes in the gears of the Government (yes, as in ‘sabot’ in our ‘age’…) They are also inciting riot via funding and “organizing” violent attacks on We The People who voted in Trump. It is a very poor tactic to violently confront the people you wish to have vote for you ‘next time’. It tends to form “Steely Resolve” instead. At this point, I’d not vote for Jesus Christ if he were running as a Democrat. Not until Pelosi, Schumer, and that ilk are sidelined and sHrillary shuts the Fup. Oh, and they blow off Soros as “not good for them”… (BTW, that does NOT mean I’m “in the bag” for Republicans. There are plenty of other choices with special note of Libertarians and Bernie. I’ll take Bernie over the present crop of Dims any day for the single reason that he is open about his desires. I’d fight some policies of his, but be comfortable knowing he advocates honestly for what he wants.)

We have a “none of the above” as POTUS in Trump. Fence sitting between classical Liberal and Progressive values on many things. Not beholden to any party machinery. Either the Republican Party realizes that and starts to support him honestly, or they can deal with a very large “independent” movement. (That does NOT mean having the Freedom Caucus knuckle under to the Republican Party just because Trump says too. It means to work with Trump for the people and not for your own political avarice nor mega-donor largess. Folks like Ryan and McCain are the problem with the Party.)

IMHO, the lesson from South America is really a simple one:

Work for The People, or eventually they will burn your house down.

With Trump, We The People sent an emissary for orderly change. So far, between the Neo-Cons and the Dimocrats, they are doing their best to prevent such orderly change. They MUST fail. The alternative is disorderly change. THAT is the lesson of South America (and of all of history, really. What is Nero remembered for?)

The reference material, chosen at semi-random given what was served up by the web search engine:

Hey, Serioso, I’m going to quote the NY Times here in this first one, just for you! Per Venezuela stripping the legislature:


Venezuela Muzzles Legislature, Moving Closer to One-Man Rule


IQUITOS, Peru — Venezuela took its strongest step yet toward one-man rule under the leftist President Nicolás Maduro as his loyalists on the Supreme Court seized power from the National Assembly in a ruling late Wednesday night.

The ruling effectively dissolved the elected legislature, which is led by Mr. Maduro’s opponents, and allows the court to write laws itself, experts said.

The move caps a year in which the last vestiges of Venezuela’s democracy have been torn down, critics and regional leaders say, leaving what many now describe as not just an authoritarian regime, but an outright dictatorship.

“What we have warned of has finally come to pass,” said Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States, a regional diplomacy group that includes Venezuela and is investigating the country for violating the bloc’s Democratic Charter.

Mr. Almagro called the move a “self-inflicted coup,” a term used in Latin America to denote takeovers typical of the 1990s in Guatemala and Peru — but virtually unheard-of in the region today.

Recent months have seen a swift consolidation of power by Mr. Maduro as scores of political prisoners have been detained without trial, protesters violently repressed and local elections postponed. In taking power from the National Assembly, the ruling removed what most consider to be the only remaining counterbalance to the president’s growing power in the country.

The court said that lawmakers were “in a situation of contempt,” and that while that lasted, the justices themselves would step in to “ensure that parliamentary powers were exercised directly by this chamber, or by the body that the chamber chooses.” It did not say whether it might hand power back.

Members of the National Assembly denounced the ruling on Thursday.

“They have kidnapped the Constitution, they have kidnapped our rights, they have kidnapped our liberty,” said Julio Borges, the opposition lawmaker who heads the body, holding a crumpled copy of the ruling before reporters on Thursday.

Oneida Guaipe, an opposition lawmaker from the country’s central coast, said the body would continue to do its work, even if its laws would now be ignored when it produced legislation. “This is demonstrating before the world the authoritarianism here,” she said. “The people chose us through a popular vote.”

The ruling was also a challenge to Venezuela’s neighbors, which met in Washington this week to put pressure on the country to hold elections, and to discuss a possible expulsion of Venezuela from the O.A.S. on the grounds that the country is not democratic.

Last week, the United States, Canada and a dozen of Latin America’s largest nations called for Mr. Maduro to recognize the National Assembly’s powers, a rare joint statement that reflected deep impatience with his government.

“We consider it a serious setback for democracy in Venezuela,” the United States State Department said on Thursday of the court decision. Peru withdrew its ambassador in protest.

David Smilde, an analyst from the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group, said it might now be up to Venezuela’s neighbors to encourage the country to hold elections again, given resistance from within the government. “The Maduro government seems to have no intention of respecting the basic elements of electoral democracy,” he said.

Critics say a long litany of other moves by the government are taking a toll on Venezuela’s democracy. Perhaps most visible to Venezuelans was an effort last year to hold a recall referendum against the president, whose popularity is sinking along with the country’s collapsing economy.

While such a referendum was permitted by the country’s Constitution, and highly favored in polls, Mr. Maduro alternatively called the effort illegal or a coup staged by his opponents. In October, a lower court suspended the process on the grounds that there had been irregularities in the gathering of signatures.

Meanwhile, political prisoners continued to be arrested. In January, Mr. Maduro established a new “anti-coup commando” to round up political dissidents accused of treason. The group has taken aim at members of the opposition, arresting many, including a city councilman from central Venezuela and a deputy lawmaker in the National Assembly.

Then the next day:



Protesters burn Paraguay parliament over constitutional reform bill
Apr 1, 2017, 05.33PM IST AFP

ASUNCION (PARAGUAY): Furious protesters stormed Paraguay’s legislature, ransacked lawmakers’ offices and set fires after senators approved a law allowing the country’s president to be re-elected.

The unrest late on Friday left about 30 people injured, including three lawmakers, according to firefighters and an opposition senator.

Right-wing President Horacio Cartes is seeking to reform the constitution to let him run for office again in an election in 2018 after his current term ends.

Paraguay is still recovering from the 35 year-long dictatorship of general Alfredo Stroessner (1954-1989).

To chants of “Dictatorship never again!” hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police and broke into the congress building, battering down entrances and fences and shattering windows.

Once inside, the demonstrators ransacked the offices of lawmakers who backed the reform and started fires, television images showed.

Flames could be seen coming from large parts of the building.

Police used mounted units and water cannon to try and disperse the rioters.

Calm was restored around midnight on Friday (0400 GMT Saturday) at the building, where large numbers of police remained on alert.

Cortes’ allies in the upper house of the legislature passed the bill on Friday, sidestepping resistance from opponents who say it clears the way for dictatorships.

The vote took place in the Senate offices as the main assembly hall was occupied by senators from the opposition Liberal Party which opposes the reforms.

Opposition senator Luis Wagner said those injured included Senate speaker Roberto Acevedo, lawmaker Edgar Ortiz, who was hit in the mouth by a rubber bullet fired by police, and Efrain Alegre, who lost to Cartes in the 2013 presidential elections.

Acevedo has challenged the bill in the Supreme Court, arguing it is unconstitutional.

The measure was scheduled to be considered Saturday in the lower house Chamber of Deputies, where the president has a majority.

But after the rioting Chamber president Hugo Velazquez announced that the vote was postponed, and said he was shocked by the violence.

“I hope that calm and harmony will return,” Velazquez said in a televised message.

Since 1992 Paraguay has banned re-election in an attempt to avoid a return to dictatorships such as that of Stroessner.

By removing the ban, the reform will also allow left-wing former president Fernando Lugo to run again for office. He held power from 2008 to 2012.

If it is approved by the two houses, the measure is expected to be put to a referendum within three months.

The opposition condemned the move as a “parliamentary coup” and called for “resistance.”

“It is a dictatorial plan by Horacio Cartes with the complicity of Ferdinand Lugo,” said Senator Carlos Amarilla.

Cartes labeled the demonstrators “barbarians”, and blamed the violence on “a group of Paraguayans embedded in politics and the media aimed at destroying democracy and political and economic stability.”

“Democracy is not won or defended by violence,” he said on his Twitter account.

“We continue to live in a state of law and we must not allow barbarians to destroy the peace, tranquility and welfare of the people.”

Then, quick as can be, as soon as the sun rises over the smoldering Parliament:


Denounced as dictatorship, Venezuela backs down, reverses court’s ruling on legislature’s powers

By Mariana Zuñiga and Nick Miroff April 1 at 11:17 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela — On the instructions of President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s top court on Saturday walked back its attempt to incapacitate the country’s opposition-controlled parliament, a move that triggered condemnation across the Americas.

The announcement Saturday morning came just minutes before Venezuelan protesters gathered to march through the streets of Caracas and denounce what they called a coup that handed Maduro dictatorial powers.

The latest court ruling preserves Maduro’s executive authority for the purposes of entering into joint-venture business investments, deals that are supposed to require lawmakers’ approval. But the court said its new decision replaces the previous decision that appeared to completely neuter the National Assembly.

Maduro declared on national television just after midnight Saturday that “the controversy had been overcome” after convening an emergency meeting of his national security council, which told the court to revise its decision in the interest of “maintaining institutional stability.”

Government opponents were hardly placated by the moves, calling them a “circus” that reflects a broader erosion of democratic norms and a government drowning from incompetence. They planned to go forward with their protest Saturday.

Maduro has essentially run Venezuela by decree since his United Socialist party lost control of parliament in 2015 amid chronic shortages of food and medicine. Since then, the country’s humanitarian crisis has worsened, but Maduro’s government has not given his opponents an inch.

Saturday’s decision indicated that the government realized it had crossed a line. Luisa Ortega, the country’s top prosecutor, broke ranks in dramatic fashion Friday, saying the court’s decision “broke” the constitution.

With international criticism raining down and neighboring countries yanking their ambassadors from Caracas, Maduro attempted to characterize the controversy as a dispute between different branches of government, proof of the country’s separation of powers.

In reality, Maduro has loaded the court with loyalists, and critics say he has used its chambers as a rubber stamp to block any attempt to check his power or put the country on a different course.

“I’m sick of protesting, but I’m just as sick of standing in line for hours to find something to eat,” said Julio César Díaz, 69, a Caracas resident who came to protest Saturday and struggles to survive on a meager pension. He joined a small crowd of demonstrators gathering in a city square where opposition lawmakers planned to hold a protest.

“I voted for this parliament, and this decision violates the constitution and my rights,” said Ignacio Wells, 59, an ophthalmologist. “My patients can’t even find basic things like eye drops.”

From the “You MUST drink the poison to excape the poison” (or perhaps ‘drink the cool-aid to find out what is in it’) department, the UK is planning to adopt wholesale all the EU Laws that they are attempting to escape via BREXIT. Definitely from the “We Want A French Haircut” school of Political Listening Skills.


PM’s plan to adopt EU laws blasted as ‘great Brexit betrayal’ by furious fishermen
THE GOVERNMENT’s plan to adopt all EU law once Britain quits the bloc has been branded the “great betrayal of Brexit” by furious fishermen.
By Greg Heffer, Political Reporter
15:11, Mon, Oct 10, 2016 | UPDATED: 18:16, Mon, Oct 10, 2016

Ahead of the Conservative Party conference last week, Theresa May set out her proposal for a Great Repeal Bill to end the supremacy of Brussels’ law over UK legislation on the day Britain leaves the EU.

But, despite returning lawmaking sovereignty to Westminster, the Bill will also convert existing EU law into domestic law in a bid to ensure continuity.

The move will see Brussels rules adopted wholesale by Britain on the day the two-year divorce period – as set out under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – expires.

The plans have sparked concerns among Brexit campaigners the UK could be left saddled with harmful Brussels legislation even after leaving the EU, which MPs will later struggle – or have little motivation – to scrap.

Fishing For Leave have voiced their anger at the Prime Minister’s approach to overturning Brussels’ rule, fearing it could mean British fishermen will still be subject to the “disastrous” EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) even outside the bloc.

The group have declared the Great Repeal Bill should be of “dire concern” and will represent an “unacceptable sell out of Brexit”.

Since when has “escape the jailer” required accepting “continuity of confinement”?

The stupid, it burns… (well, certainly in Paraguay. UK TBD.)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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35 Responses to Lessons From South America?

  1. gallopingcamel says:

    “Either the Republican Party realizes that and starts to support him honestly, or they can deal with a very large “independent” movement.”

    The GOP leadership betraying its base led to the Tea Party. When the same leadership sidelined the Tea Party they created an even stronger reaction in the shape of Trumpism.

    What happens when the GOP “Leadership” finds a way to betray Donald Trump?

  2. For the UK, there are 40 years’ worth of laws and regulations that are referred to, and changing them all at once is just not possible in the time. What the government is doing, therefore, is to simply weed out the references to the EU institutions and make them into UK law in order to provide continuity. Once that is sorted out, then they can go back and change the ones that are not liked or are bad for the UK, and hopefully keep the good ones. I’d like the Trump idea of removing two laws/regulations for every new one you want to add, but I doubt if they’ll do that. Still, the idea of the change is to avoid a legal vacuum where the EU laws don’t apply yet the UK has nothing to replace them.

    As such, the idea makes sense and I’d hope that things like fishery protection is put on a high priority to rewrite.

    Meantime, looks like the UK have dropped a bollock on Gibraltar and the Spanish are going to make the negotiations impossible unless they get the Rock back. It sure looks like the UK will be on WTO rules with no agreements in place in 2 years’ time. That’s the real problem with the EU, in that it requires unanimous agreement from all 27 remaining states in order to ratify any agreements. It’s a halfway house, where each state can dramatically change an opinion after an election and there is no higher authority to kick them into line. It seems that this confederation either needs to have one government overall (and one tax authority) or split back into 27 governments and tax authorities, and where it stands at the moment is just too unstable. Wallonia almost stopped the Canadian trade deal from going through until they’d got more concessions for Wallonia in the deal, and of course that’s going to be repeated now politicians realise the power they have to disrupt a deal that’s generally wanted.

    I don’t see anything wrong with separate states/countries anyway, while politicians still borrow and spend without regard to the bills. It would of course be different if the politicians were forced to pay personally for government budget overruns. That would be fun, and that way the Euro would have worked.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    The EU is playing a very dangerous game of chicken as they have far more to lose.

    At this point, the best deal for the UK would be to just negotiate free trade with the USA and Commonwealth on conclusion of exit, then announce they are done. Germany would shit bricks and France would have a cow (where to sell their produce?).

    UK can get everthing it needs from the ROW while Germany has a huge cut in car sales. Spain gets nothing and the UK can make friendly noises about Nexit and Frexit and Scandexit all welcome in her club…

    When faced with an abusive spouse the best thing to do is a swift knee and bolt out the exit. Negitiating with sociopaths is a losing prospect.

    BTW: Junkers needs to look up The Civil War and then The Texas Decision. While many of us would like our State to leave the Union, that is now settled law. We have no exit provision, the EU does. But he is welcome to advocate for Texit and Calexit. I’d be all for it. His threat is basically a very empty one either way. On the one hand, it is toothless as it can’t happen. On the other, if it did happen, we would be having one giant party…

    Though California would immediately divde into the S.F. / L.A. strip and the new State (or maybe Nation) of Jefferson. Saw signs for it by the road two days ago driving to Chico…

    A threat works better when the threat doesn’t make folks happier…

  4. Power Grab says:

    What about Brazil? I’m asking because friend recently moved down there. In a recent selfie, I noticed that she had lost weight and mentioned it to a friend. The friend commented that there is no food down there so, yes, she would be losing weight.

  5. Power Grab says:

    Oh, and a friend of a friend who was visiting from Venezuela (and greatly enjoying our home-cooked pot roast meal) said the same thing about her home. No food to speak of.

  6. EM – there’s a slight problem with free trade agreements, in that while the UK remains part of the EU it is not allowed to negotiate any trade deals with anyone else. This seems designed as a lock-in to the club, but unfortunately has been agreed to. Negotiations can only start once the UK is out of the EU. I expect that negotiations with the EU will get bogged down in the hope of forcing the request for an extended transition-period, where since the UK is still part of the EU they will still be blocked from negotiation trade deals with others during that transition period.

    As such, maybe the best strategy is to walk away with no deal, and use WTO rules while negotiating better deals. Painful for a few years and then a lot better after that. I’d suggest giving Northern Ireland a referendum to decide on whether they wanted to rejoin Eire and stay in the EU and thus avoid the problems of the land border. Allowing the Northern Irish dual nationality would be useful here, if they decide to re-unify Ireland.

    For sure the EU has more to lose by holding to the principles of free movement of people which several countries within the EU are also finding to be a problem. The attitude is that there can be no free trade without also having totally free movement of people, whereas if the principle was modified to the extent of it being possible to employ someone from the other country without problems, but not for someone to move without a job-offer, then the problem would be resolved. The problem is after all that job-seekers and unemployed (and immigrants) can also move freely between countries and thus make planning for expenses and infrastructure damn-near impossible.

    It seems to me that the EU will insist on having it all their way or there will be no deal, and thus that the split-up will be a lot more damaging than it needs to be. When you have 27 countries all adding their red-lines that they won’t negotiate on, it’s pretty obvious that there’s no chance of reaching an equitable agreement. The UK will however recover in a couple of years or so, where the rest of the EU will take a lot longer even if the stresses don’t break off more countries.

  7. M Simon says:

    Government is what it is. The INs always working against the OUTs.

    Elections are meant to be safety valves. Tie down the safeties and keep firing the boiler and then……

  8. M Simon says:

    Simon Derricutt says:
    2 April 2017 at 11:15 am

    What happens when laws or agreements are inconvenient is that they get ignored.

    Look at what is happening to the UN Single Convention Treaty on Drugs.

  9. philjourdan says:

    @Galloping Camel – It is the leadership that is betraying the base. What saddens me (it does not disturb or surprise me) is that Trump has decided to go DC and side with the leadership over the base. It does not surprise me because that is who Trump is – he worked with the mob and the unions (but then I repeat myself) to get things done. That is who he is. Those wanting him to be a conservative or a white knight do not know the man.

    Switching topics, on the theme of “burning down the house”, apparently the LA Times is seeking to do that as well – http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

    Which again does not surprise me or disturb me. They have yet to understand what happened. What amuses me is that they would print their gross ignorance so the whole world can laugh at them. But I guess when you live in an echo chamber, you do not realize that the laughter is AT you not with you.

  10. gary turner says:

    The UK pols are meeting NNTaleb’s definition of IYIs, intellectual yet idiot. If the Brits are going to leave, then by god, leave. Melt down their pewter and unilaterally secede. Tell the EU to write if they find work and want to seriously discuss going forward.

    Say ‘we gone’, and get the hell out of Dodge..

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    Nicolás Maduro recently asked the world for medicines. [ E.M., They still have beer. ]
    Life there was better when Hugo Chavez had Senator Chris Dodd, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and celebrity types giving aid and comfort.
    Yanquis for Chavez

  12. John F. Hultquist says:

    . . . at Gary Turner “get the hell out of Dodge”
    Some folks might not “get” this reference.

    The Urban Dictionary dot com, says
    To leave somewhere immediately, to evacuate or scram.

    “Get the hell out of Dodge” is a reference to Dodge City, Kansas, which was a favorite location for westerns in the early to mid 20th century. Most memorably, the phrase was made famous by the TV show “Gunsmoke,” in which villians were often commanded to “get the hell out of Dodge.” The phrase took on its current meaning in the 1960s and 70s when teenagers began to use it in its current form.
    Awesome. We’re done here, so lets get the hell out of dodge!

    Many in the U. S. might have a general idea where Dodge City is, Few could locate Brussels on a map of the world.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Power Grab:
    Interesting. Brazil are massive food exporters, so that is odd… have to take a look…

    Note that Equador is voting for President today. One of the major candidates has said he will remove Assange from their Embassy… so WikiLeaks may be riding on the Equador vote.

    The funny thing is that the US Democrats and Soros would be backing the conservative Equadorian candidate in order to get at the DNC Leaks… Oh well… but “watch this space” today.

    And the penalty for just ignoring that EU rule would be what? The gonna kick you out? :-) issue a fine enforced by the court you are repudiating? Threaten bad trade terms?

    The problem with over the top bullies and threats is that the added cost or threat from just kicking them in the crotch is zero (or a negative cost…)

  14. EM – that repudiation (and subsequent kick in the cobblers) has been mentioned. Philip Hammond (the current Chancellor) said that if that was done then the UK would lose its reputation for keeping its word on trade deals, and thus he wouldn’t do that. On the other hand, I believe he’s in informal discussions and the agreements may thus run somewhat faster when he can in good faith enter into negotiation. I’m sure he’ll keep to the letter of the law, but since the intention of it is inequitable I expect something to happen under the table as well.

    Of course, it is possible that the EU is just making nasty noises in order to keep their populations scared of the consequences of following the UK. The results will however be public, so it will be interesting to see what is agreed. Or, of course, not agreed.

  15. Lars P. says:

    I simply can hardly understand how can Venezuela manage to get food shortages?
    The country should be self sufficient with food production, really, how could they mismanage to come down to this?

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    Price controls and distribution controls. They only allocate sufficient flour for about 30% of normal business to a bakery and then price control the cost of bread where it is not profitable.

    So the baker makes cakes which are not price controlled, sells out his ration on those higher profit confectioneries and the people who can only afford bread go hungry.


  17. cdquarles says:

    @ Lars, I understand it very well. There are at least two facets. 1. Socialism cannot do economic calculations. 2. Socialism can do political calculations. Thus, politics trumps all and add a dollop of bureaucracy on top. What would be surprising would be a lack of major mismanagement.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    The bottom line in every socialist/communist system is to force farmers into a hive collective with a layer of “Bosses” making the decisions. All farmers know that this can not work. The man out standing in his field is the only one that has that knowledge of his dirt and the crop’s needs. Educated, political connected, managers just don’t get it. A real farmer on his own land will always get the most production from all the inputs he can command. Farming IS the Wealth Creator that everything else is built on. Socialism is the disease that wastes every productive person’s effort in it’s drive to aggrandize bureaucracy.
    We don’t meed them!…pg

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    There are two stable systems (note: that does not mean GOOD systems) and a very unstable hybrid.

    The two stable systems are 100% Central Control vs Free Markets. The unstable system is partially free over regulated markets; especially where prices are controlled by Central Authority.

    This fails because price is NOT just a cost of acquisition. It is also (and some would say the most important function) an information signaling system.

    When the price of wheat rises in a free market, EVERY potential wheat farmer makes an assessment. Now some might do it by simply thinking “Wheat has gone up, too bad I hate growing wheat and love barley” and some might do it with an Operations Research Linear Programming Model ( had to learn them in micro-econ class). But they DO get done.

    Similarly, every consumer of wheat makes a calculation: “Is it worth it to me to use wheat at this price?”. There are literally billions of those decisions made.

    For example, last week I chose to make chicken BARLEY soup instead of chicken RICE soup. Part of that decision is the nature of the product, part is the cost and availability of the alternatives.

    NO Central Authority can EVER regulate, replace, duplicate, or even approximate that process. The information flow just does not exist and can not exist.

    So instead someone sitting at a desk in the Capital decides “We ought to have FOO amount of wheat” and issues the Directive to grow it. Now politics and more information flow issues arise. Was the system built such as to tell the fertilizer plant how much nitrogen fertilizer to produce? The truck fleet where to get it from and take it to? The fuel refiners where to PUT that fuel needed for all of this? The TRILLIONS of decisions made every day by a robust free market society? The typical answer is “No Way” to “Hell No!”

    Consequently, things “don’t work right” and the production goals are not met. Or they are met, but in the wrong places and 30% rots in storage. Then the political angle kicks in. The Senator leans on the Bureau to make sure HIS home town gets extra, screw the other town. Some gets sold out of the country and the proceeds into a Swiss Bank. Etc. etc.

    As the wheat doesn’t show up, the flour isn’t made, that means the bread isn’t made that means someone goes hungry (NOT those in the capital…). At that point, the Market tries to fix things, but is 1/2 broken by barriers to entry into particular tasks and price signals locked down to crazy settings. So you end up with cake, but no bread (see above, or see The French Haircut… and Marie).

    In one case in Soviet Russia, farmers learned it was cheaper to buy bread (subsidized price) and feed it to hogs than it was to buy raw wheat (limited supply and higher prices as wheat was ordered to the bakers…). So a LOT of bread was being fed to pigs… Until some folks started losing their heads over it (and one wonders if that lead to a shortage of bacon, or shortage of hog farmers…)

    Any time a price is set by fiat, you KNOW absolutely that the information flow function has been corrupted and that the markets will now be making irrational adjustments since “the price signals” are wrong.

    Most frequently this shows up as an attempt to win public approval via artificially low prices; which inevitably lead to lower production and shortages. Folks make only the very lowest level they can to avoid charges, turning their efforts to more productive (for them) pursuits instead. These can be legitimate (like a baker deciding to become a candy maker instead), illegitimate and obviously fraudulent (like farmers buying subsidized bread for their pigs, in the process wasting all the milling, transport, and baking costs), or marginal (like the baker making cakes for a profit instead of coarse bread at a mandated loss – a rational if non-PC decision…).

    This is inherent and structural in the Command Economy (any Central Authority really) vs the Free Market Economy.

    BTW, even “anti-price gouging” laws have bad side effects. IF allowing the price of gasoline to skyrocket from, say, $2 to $8 a gallon in a hurricane event is allowed, you know that the police, ambulance, hospital generator, etc. will pay that price. By forcing it to stay at $2, the gas station almost immediately sells out to folks tanking up “just in case” and there is NO supply to distribute to the Greatest Need.

    Also BTW: I don’t have to LIKE price gouging. Frankly, I despise it. But it does serve a valid distributional / rationing function.

    BTW #3: Minimum wage laws work exactly the opposite. With no minimum wage, everyone who wants a job will have one, at SOME wage rate. By putting a floor under the price of labor, you are guaranteeing many folks will have NO job so that a few will have a better paying job. Make it high enough, entire categories of job go out of existence. Is welfare payments really better than a $5 / hour job? … One of them actually does make some kind of product or service…

    So, in an entirely Central Authority run system, you can, by mandate, prevent price based actions OF ANY KIND, and have a stable system. Once you allow ANY price based actions, then you have the unstable hybrid, and remain that way until stabilized one way or the other. (i.e. oscillate back and forth with political winds and strife until resolved). Free Markets work very well, but have some unpleasant results for some folks, so a push is made to instill “controls”, that leads to mild, limited, and acceptable instabilities at first, but eventually increasing with more controls to unstable…

    Note that NONE of this cares one whit about the fundamental available means of production. I can have a million hectares of farm land but it feeds nobody if Central Authority doesn’t arrange ALL the “inputs” and ALL the transport and labor correctly. (And assigning 100,000 people from the Big City to work the land by hand without food or transport doesn’t constitute “correctly” – ask Mao.)

    Given that, you absolutely knew that as soon as Venezuela said they were embracing a Central Authority (Socialism) model of economics, food shortages were just a matter of time; unrelated to basic ability or resources. Once you poison the brains of a system, it matters not one whit how strong the body was…

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like Assange gets to stay in the embassy. A recount is being requested, but who knows…


  21. Wayne Job says:

    Love your analysis and basic common sense,your way with words is also priceless, thanks EM.

  22. Power Grab says:

    @ EM: “Interesting. Brazil are massive food exporters, so that is odd… have to take a look…”

    Makes me think of the situation where the South was forced to switch to growing cotton instead of food. You can’t eat cotton. The better to pay off the moneylenders, I assume.

    I don’t know the source for that story. It was told to me by someone who spent a lot of time following that sort of story.

  23. Lars P. says:

    cdquarles says:
    2 April 2017 at 8:25 pm
    @ Lars, I understand it very well. There are at least two facets.

    Yeah, that is clear, but once you do the wrong thing and you see it does not work, and you do it again and you see it gets worse, and repeat and rinse & repeat, there must come a certain time when you try to look for a different approach?

    p.g.sharrow says:
    2 April 2017 at 9:19 pm
    The bottom line in every socialist/communist system is to force farmers into a hive collective with a layer of “Bosses” making the decisions. All farmers know that this can not work. The man out standing in his field is the only one that has that knowledge of his dirt and the crop’s needs. Educated, political connected, managers just don’t get it.

    Again, what do socialists have against small producers who would cover all food needs for the nation? They should embrace them?

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    Early on I decided to work on “efficient thinking” and “direct language”. I try to regularly polish out excess fluff and nonsense along with any words beyond the needed or more ‘fancy’ than needed.

    Glad you noticed ;-)


    “For they argue from the wrong premises…”

    In a Central Authority government they do NOT care about efficiency, nor effectively meeting the needs of the ‘customer’. ALL Central Authority cares about is maintaining the power of the Central Authority.

    Seen in that context, a malnourished and weak populace that only gets food from YOU is under YOUR control, thus you have power (and they do not).

    It isn’t about results, it is about POWER.

  25. philjourdan says:

    @Lars P.

    I simply can hardly understand how can Venezuela manage to get food shortages?

    The same way Zimbabwe did – they ate their seed corn.

  26. Larry Ledwick says:

    The problem is 25 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, people no longer have an honest understanding of how a socialist country spirals into a disastrous mix of a police state and corruption driven state control of the economy. The major media only covers the all butterflies and flowers view of the northen European countries without covering the more mature socialist countries that are farther down the road to collapse.

    Northern Europe is on the same path it just has not finished gutting its economy yet.

    The true face of socialism is not what people believe socialism is

  27. Marc Major says:

    Mr. Smith. For me, you win the Internet today! Your pithy statement is truly worthy of Orwell and others…

    …Perhaps the mass noun for a large collection of Politicians (like a “pride of lions” or a “murder of crows”) ought to be “An Arrogance Of Politicians”. So you could have news reports like “An arrogance of Politicians met in Paris this week to discuss Climate Change”.”.

    As with all pithy statements it contains a succinct encapsulation of truth. A forceful demonstration of what keeps me coming to your site.

    All the best,


  28. Gail Combs says:

    philjourdan says:. “…What saddens me (it does not disturb or surprise me) is that Trump has decided to go DC and side with the leadership over the base. It does not surprise me because that is who Trump is – he worked with the mob and the unions (but then I repeat myself) to get things done. That is who he is. Those wanting him to be a conservative or a white knight do not know the man…”

    What the heck did you expect?

    Trump is NOT King or Dictator for Life.

    He has to work with the Mob – Congress, who said they want to impeach him before he even made it into the White House – and with the Unions – the Judicial who ‘finds against Trump’ despite the LAW being very clear that Trump has 100% authority to do what his EO says.

    At this point Trump is still hamstrung by NOT having his appointees confirmed so he still must tread lightly.

    Never forget Trump picks the best person for a particular job and he has already proved he will fire that person if they do not toe the line. Also Trump has point blank said he never announces his strategy.

    From what I can see you are reading too much Yellow Stream Media and not looking at what is actually happenning that is NOT reported.

  29. E.M.Smith says:




    Trump understands stagecraft and misdirection (used in magic acts). A very useful skillset often underappreciated…

  30. philjourdan says:

    @Gail – First Welcome back

    Second, I stated quite clearly that I was not surprised. I expect Trump to do what he is doing. He is a business man, not an idealist.

    I do not read the YSM. But just because Trump is not my ideal of a conservative leader does not mean I have started taking my news from the dark side.

  31. catweazle666 says:

    “It seems to me that the EU will insist on having it all their way or there will be no deal”

    The EU Kommissars in Brussels can insist on whatever they like.

    Given that the UK is the biggest destination for EU exports, there is no way that the German automakers, the French farmers and the Airbus assemblers – who depend on Rolls Royce engines, wings from BaE and undercarriages from Dowty, to name but three are going to take any notice of them whatsoever, they can’t afford to.

    Then there is the tourist industry, the Spanish and Greeks with over 50% youth unemployment are going to be very annoyed if the British don’t go there on holiday.

  32. E.M.Smith says:


    I guess it comes down to the goals of der commisarrs… do they want to punish the UK enough to think they can blame all bad things in the EU post brexit on the British…

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and the news continues with more riots in Venezuela and other countries uneasy. I think something is going to pop before too much longer. The average folks are turning on the government too. Once the poor abandon Dear Leader, it usually isn’t long…

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