The Corner

Economy & Business

Venezuelan Government Robs Toy Warehouse Before Christmas

Not content to limit its destructive interference to the oil and toilet-paper industries, the Venezuelan government has seized nearly 4 million toys from distributor Kreisel in the lead-up to Christmas.

It’s hard to steal toys without drawing comparisons to the Grinch, but President Nicolás Maduro is jockeying for status akin to Santa Claus — or “Baby Jesus” — instead. The justification for this seizure is Maduro’s “Operation Merry Christmas,” which involves state price controls on toys. Leaving aside the intrinsic impracticality of price controls, this action is absurd. It is Maduro’s economic policies that have led to the hyperinflation of the bolivar, Venezuela’s currency. Thus, Maduro’s government is punishing a toy seller for its “high prices” when the government is to blame for driving down the value of the bolivar in the first place.

Maduro’s justification is that the toy seller was holding onto toys in the hope that inflation would increase their profits. But as Tim Worstall pointed out in Forbes, such a policy would not in fact lead to higher profits “because you get charged your corporation tax (and yes, Venezuela does have one of them) on the difference between your costs and your revenues. But there is no inflation adjustment.” Nevertheless, two Kreisel executives have been arrested and Maduro is selling this fraudulent seizure as a patriotic defense of Christmas. He even said, “This is like reinforcement for Baby Jesus.”

Facing empty stores, consumers have nothing but a corrupt government’s promise that presents will be “given to the poor.” Once again, Venezuelan children will spend Christmas lacking much more than presents. Shortages of basic goods plague the socialist nation, whose government has done more harm than the Grinch ever dared to plot.

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