The Corner

Economy & Business

Too Ghastly

I can give only a qualified recommendation of Nicholas Casey’s New York Times report on the state of Venezuela’s hospitals. Click on the link if you don’t mind having your sleep disturbed: The text is horrifying, and the photography is the stuff of nightmare.

Question for the editors of Wired and the folks at CityLab: Does this look like a country dealing with the effects of successful economic policies, trying to manage the result of “Venezuela’s Economic Success”? Maybe earlier claims along those lines should be reevaluated, no?

Venezuela’s formula — restrictions on trade, deep and broad political intervention in the private market, price-fixing, undermining the profitability of private firms in the name of job-creation, nationalism, and social solidarity — is, we should note, the basic economic program of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It is the economic agenda of the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party and the Pat Buchanan wing — what we now, lamentably, must call the Jeff Sessions wing — of the Republican party.

How’s that “Let’s Keep the Dirty Foreigners From Selling Their Cheap Products in Our Markets!” philosophy working out for Venezuela? Casey:

Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.

At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.

The (worst) economic assumptions of the 19th century have their admirers here, too. This is the sort of primitivism the protectionists, nationalists, and partisans of “economic patriotism” — a totalitarian term if ever there was one — would inflict on us.

We cannot say we were not warned.


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