Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got Coffee? Not in Bolivarian Venezuela

Ah, the miracles of Bolivarianism... This political fad was able to transform one of the largest producers of coffee in the world into a country uncapable of providing even for its own domestic demand. Another excellent example of extreme government failure. As Mary O'Grady summarizes in this WSJ article:

The late Milton Friedman once quipped that "if you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand."

Friedman was using hyperbole to make a point about central planning. Or so I thought until Hugo Chávez put himself in charge of Venezuela's coffee sector. Last year, for the first extended period of time in the country's history, Venezuela did not produce enough of the little red berry to satisfy domestic demand. It has now become a coffee importer and is facing serious shortages.

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