Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Money is For Nothing and the Cafe For Free

Tipped by Cafe Hayek, I come across this exercise in dumb-ass reporting from Caracas:

Tucked into a corner on Plaza Bolívar is Café Venezuela, part of a chain of open-air restaurants established by the government this year. The cafe serves Venezuela-grown coffee and Venezuelan snacks like cassava bread at so-called solidarity prices, half or less than what customers would pay elsewhere.

Ideology is also on the menu. The cafes were created by Comerso, a state holding company for socialist enterprises, which also manages stores that sell everything from subsidized arepas, the crispy corn cakes that are the staple of the Venezuelan diet, to inexpensive Chinese cars. The branch in Plaza Bolívar replaced a clothing store that once occupied the same spot and was expropriated live on television by Mr. Chávez


The prices are intended to offer a respite from the country’s rampant inflation and may help deflect heat from a recent scandal in the government’s food-distribution network in which thousands of tons of imported food were found rotting in ports.

As Don Boudreaux points out at Cafe Hayek—which must count as some sort of anti-matter to Cafe Venezuela—the cheap coffee is the reason inflation is rampant in Venezuela.  The funds for that coffee have to come from somewhere and they are likely coming from printing money.  As P.J. O’Rourke always said, the law of supply and demand tells us what happens when you set the price of something below market value.  Pretty soon, you run out of it.

It gets better.  The NYT, not content to uncritically report on the cafes, interviews a couple of ... well, back in the 80’s, they were called Sandalistas—stupid people from the US who went to Nicaragua to support the brutal Sandanista regime.  Apparently, America is plum out of stupid people, so these are cheap Italian knock-offs.

“We’re Chavistas, too, of course,” said Maria Consuelo Togni, 66, who was bedecked in gold jewelry, adding that most of the members of her family were “escuálidos,” or squalid ones, the term commonly used to deride the president’s critics. She said she and her husband, Ettore Togni, an Italian immigrant, frequented the cafe to absorb the atmosphere and relax.

“People say the crime in Caracas is bad, but clearly they don’t know what Rome was like in the ’70s when we lived there and the city was terrorized by thieves and the Red Brigades,” she said.

Mr. Togni, 74, a retired economist in a blazer and a tie, said that Caracas still had its share of problems but that life had improved under Mr. Chávez. He attributed his support to the care he recently received at a clinic here run by Cuban doctors.

“The Cuban physician treated me like a human being, and I was impressed by that civility and professionalism,” he said.

I’ll wait while you bury the desire to punch these moronic seniors in the face.  Yes, socialism can be nice when you’re rich and it keeps the masses down.  But it’s not so nice for the masses when Venezuela is more violent than Iraq and most people wind up getting terrible healthcare from the government, as noted in the next interview with a woman who couldn’t get care for her 12-year-old daughter.

You have to feel sorry for leftist bastions like the NYT.  Communism has become such a joke that even Fidel Castro is admitting it doesn’t work.  Hugo and Lil’ Kim are all they’ve got left.  They can’t get into North Korea, but Hugo is more than happy to let reporters wander around his country and talk about the spirit of the cafes.

I realize this is just a breezy slice of life piece from the NYT, but I have a raw nerve where pieces like this are concerned.  News outlets frequently do “ain’t it cute” stories like this about communists and their sympathizers, usually complete with framed pictures of murderers like Chavez, Castro, Che, Mao and/or Stalin.

I don’t think it’s funny or cute.  People in Venezuela are dying.  Their economy is crumbling despite sitting on one of the largest troves of natural resources in the world.  Any reporting on these cafes that does not expose them for the horrible economy-crushing joke that they are deserves all the scorn it can get.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 09/26/10 at 04:41 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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