Daily Links: Venezuela Crisis and Texas Secession

The Worst New Thing in the World Is…
The continuing crisis occurring in Venezuela. There has been no shortage of dystopian headlines coming out of the oil-rich country lately, including the following:

Now there is another one we can add to the list. Here was how MSN described the latest developments:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a sweeping crackdown Saturday under a new emergency decree, ordering the seizure of paralyzed factories, the arrest of their owners and military exercises to counter alleged foreign threats.

At root, this crisis is caused by Venezuela’s massive government intervention in the economy. But as the crisis deepens, the solution adopted by the government is more intervention, while trying to blame anything else. In Venezuela’s case, that means pointing the finger at the “bourgeosie”, the old Marxist term for the wealthy. But hopefully, as the crisis inevitably worsens with each new stopgap measure, the Venezuelan people will put the blame where it belongs–on a government that has the hubris to try to plan economic activity from the top and is now either ignorant or indifferent to the immense suffering of its people. Until that realization is widespread and/or the government runs out of bullets and tear gas in addition to toilet paper, expect more apocalyptic stories of suffering out of Venezuela.

Dis/Honorable Mentions

Texas GOP Committee Votes Down Secession
A growing movement for secession in Texas nearly scored a major victory recently. They managed to get the question of secession formally considered by the Texas Republican Platform Committee. (Major bureaucracies at work here, but basically, this committee was voting on whether this question should be submitted to the whole GOP convention to be voted on en masse.) The committee voted down the proposal, but the fact that it even got that close is a big development in US politics. From a libertarian perspective, it’s also a good thing this is in the news. It’s not at all clear the advocates of secession believe in libertarian principles–some of the issues they highlighted are more in line with modern conservatism. Even so, this is a positive development because governments that are more local and decentralized tend to be more responsive to their constituents’ desires–whether that means moving left, right, or libertarian is beside the point. We should cheer equally for conservative Texans and left-leaning Vermonters who are disappointed with the antics of Washington D.C. and think a more decentralized government could do better.

Trump Suggests US Could (Effectively) Default on Its Debt
Trump offered some imminently reasonable and honest comments on the US national debt recently, implying that the US likely would not end up paying it off in full. Naturally, however, he took it back right away in the face of a media uproar. Note that many of the same arguments we made in favor of allowing Puerto Rico to default / declare bankruptcy would apply relatively well to the US as a whole.

The Silver Lining Is…
That a surprising number of Congresspeople are rushing to read the classified 28 pages that pertain to Saudi Arabia’s potential involvement or complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Pressure on this issue remains higher than it has been in years, and it may actually result in new information being released on the matter. This is good news because the 9/11 victims clearly deserve to know what happened and the US alliance with Saudi Arabia is definitely a net negative for the US’s image and national security, as well as the stability of the Middle East more broadly (see, the War in Yemen).

If You Only Read One (More) Thing Today…
Make it Zero Hedge’s recent summary on the chaos in Venezuela, complete with pictures and a video. I’m sure it still only scratches the surface of the suffering that’s going on there, but it does make it seem a little more real.

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