I think that a lot of us have read the books of Ayn Rand. Although there is a tremendous amount to admire in her writing, most of us walked away thinking that the world she depicted was extreme, melodramatic and unrealistic. Whenever I read about Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and now Nicholas Maduro, I wonder if she wasn’t a master of understatement.
Venezuela is exactly a country under the control of the Ellsworth Tooheys, Peter Keatings, James Taggarts, and Wesley Mouchs of the world, all of whom have been democratically elected. They have collectively taken a country with immense potential and natural endowments, including the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, and reduced it to a state where they literally cannot afford to put toilet paper on the shelves of their supermarkets.
President Nicholas Maduro has recently returned from a worldwide begging tour, including a visit to his old buddies in China (who, as previously reported, had lent Hugo Chavez $42.5 billion to bribe Venezuela’s benighted electorate). But with his debt trading at pennies on the dollar and default imminent, not even his Chinese friends, usually only too happy to jump into bed with resource-rich despots and demagogues, were willing to lend him more. He returned with his begging cup empty. His comment to a suffering population that he, and his kind, had done so much to impoverish and enslave: “we have less foreign currency…but god will provide.”
Reality is stranger than fiction. Ayn Rand could not have imagined a more fitting epithet.
Roger Barris, London