The Corner

Venezuela Runs Out of Toilet Paper

Hugo Chávez is dead, but his economic policies live on:

First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper.

Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies.

That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.

“This is the last straw,” said Manuel Fagundes, a shopper hunting for tissue in downtown Caracas. “I’m 71 years old and this is the first time I’ve seen this.” . . .

“State-controlled prices — prices that are set below market-clearing price — always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union,” said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

Commerce minister Alejandro Fleming sees forces other than the laws of supply and demand at work. He blames the shortage on “a media campaign that has been generated to disrupt the country,” and intends to fight back. “We will bring in 50 million [rolls] to show those groups that they won’t make us bow down,” he said.

President Nicolas Maduro likewise vowed that “the revolution will bring the country the equivalent of 50 million rolls of toilet paper.”

Maybe there’s an opening here for Joe Kennedy to give back to the Venezuelan people. JOE-4-TP?

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