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Venezuela: Cheap Television Sets For All! 702

Posted by Soulskill
from the you're-next-radio-shack dept.
solareagle writes "Venezuelan President Maduro has declared war on 'bourgeois parasites' by taking over Daka, an electronics retailer similar to Best Buy. USA Today reports, 'National guardsmen, some of whom had assault rifles, were positioned around outlets of [Daka] ... Maduro has ordered to lower prices or face prosecution. Thousands of people lined up at the Daka stores hoping for a bargain after the government forced the companies to charge "fair" prices. "I want a Sony plasma television for the house," said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator who waited seven hours outside a Caracas store ... "It's going to be so cheap!" "This is for the good of the nation," Maduro said, referring to the military's occupation of Daka. "Leave nothing on the shelves, nothing in the warehouses Let nothing remain in stock!" Maduro said his seizures are the 'tip of the iceberg' and that other stores would be next if they did not comply with his orders.'"
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Venezuela: Cheap Television Sets For All!

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  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dskzero (960168) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:14PM (#45408723) Homepage
    Yes. Source: I live in Venezuela.
  • by xzvf (924443) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:17PM (#45408759)
    Yes and as stupid as it sounds. This will work for a short while. Every person of means is probably desperately trying to leave. Once the "bargains" are gone, there will be no more product. Price controls drive growth into the ground and set the stage to inflation when they are released. Next comes wage control, then shortages, rise in crime (fueled by black markets), persecution of the wealthy, then hollowing out the middle class, and finally riots and needless death.
  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:17PM (#45408765)
    Yeah. It's real. And the ironic part is that Chavez died at just the right time that a lot of people are going to look back on his rule as the good ole days. The path he laid out was utterly unsustainable, but was pleasant in the sort term for a lot of the people who ended up on the right end of his ultimately self-defeating economic policies. A lot of what he did was paying for things on credit against oil that wasn't even pumped yet. The wheels would have come off the bus eventually, but now they're going to come off while Maduro's driving, not Chavez. And people will blame Maduro (not that he doesn't have it coming as well, as is obvious from this article).
  • Thailand Sugar (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:25PM (#45408835)

    Thailand last non-elected Prime Minister tried to buy popularity in a similar way, by capping sugar prices very low. The penalty he introduced was 7 years in prison!
    Sugar producers smuggled the sugar and sold it across the border, others abandoned crops since it wasn't worth the cost of the fertilizer.

    There was a sugar shortage after that.

    (comment snipped due to NSA surveillance).

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by puto (533470) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:31AM (#45409267) Homepage
    And they also robbed Exito, the Colombian grocery store chain, and 65 percent of the food imported comes from Colombia. Thank god I do not live there.
  • by dameron (307970) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:51AM (#45409399) Homepage
    The characters from Atlas Shrugged are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. They're sock puppets for her political (and perhaps psychosexual) theories. She's terrible at character and conveying any emotion beyond juvenile petulance. So yeah, "people" said that and they're right. Now, that being said, I don't think Ayn Rand's theories are wrong. For example, the concept of enlightened self inter...

    /coughs

    I mean. Sure. She's a dry writer. Her prose alone should have sent her to a gulag but that doesn't mean that she didn't have some goo...

    /coughs again

    Sorry. I just can't do it. I know that sucking Ayn Rand's pole is a great way to ride the slashdot karma rocket (and a great way to make eye contact with Rand Paul) but no, she was a terrible hack whose only real skills were shitting out Cold War era odes to capitalism and giving the pretentious or privileged someone to blame their personal (and sometimes sexual) failings.

    And really, Detroit? That's like blaming the Gulch because Galt got a better deal on property in Mexico.
  • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pav (4298) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:53AM (#45409403)
    Siding with the rich works better? Sometimes, sometimes not. The Indian Moghuls were rich and secure... and for decades the foreigners were the lesser party, until they weren't. I don't think the 1% realise how their short-sighted policies are hastening their own fading, though they'll keep saying it's everyone elses fault even as the ship sinks. Sure, join them switching off bilge pumps to power the 1st class suite.
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:58AM (#45409439)
    A minimum wage doesn't destroy prosperity but it doesn't create it either. A minimum wage simply raises the price of all goods and services, nullifying its intended benefit [of raising the living standards of the lower to lower-middle class]. Think someone working for minimum wage can afford property in Sydney? Ever compared the cost of goods and services there to the USA? Or compared the prices of US cities with a high minimum wage, such as San Francisco? (even before the tech boom).
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:06AM (#45409485) Homepage

    No, you didn't read the story.

    No, you didn't read my comment.

    Importers specifically said they could not purchase replacements of the TVs Washers/Dryers at the official exchange rates.

    Hence the "only a complete fool would exchange dollars for bolivars at the official exchange rate" in my comment.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:08AM (#45409505)

    What's funny is the ones who say communism is a good idea that just hasn't been done right never really pay attention to the times it has been done exactly according to plan and still failed anyways.

    I like to cite the example of the Icarians in Nauvoo, IL. They had a whole town - facilities and all - literally just handed to them free and clear, and even got to cherry pick who would live there in their commune (picking only those who had a known good work ethic) and had a democratic policy making process. Things were going ok at first, but over time their productivity was on a steady decline. It soon got to the point where workers had to be forced to work harder (policies like no talking while on the job were enacted) and the once idealistic leaders became douches hell bent on seeing their commune succeed at any cost. In the end, people just got miserable and went their separate ways. Had it continued longer and that option not been available, an autocracy would have to have taken over to force people to go to work whether they liked it or not. This is what later happened in Russia, Korea, Vietnam, China, and others when communism was tried on a national scale.

    In the early days, Russia even had a system in place where they even wanted to get rid of laws and codes and remove lawyers from trials...it failed miserably as without laws, going "against the betterment of the people" was so selectively enforced, so they discovered the hard way why rules are critical.

    Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam originally wanted democracy, even having read the US declaration of independence and parts of the constitution in front of his followers as if that were ideal, only with communism for their economy. That too failed, requiring them to resort to indoctrination camps and effective slavery.

    Capitalism sort of happens own (even currency does - in the absence of one, people tend to create one on their own - after the fall of the soviet union, Russian denizens replaced the ruble with cigarettes and vodka as their currency until a new official one came about.) Communism, however, requires force to implement. That fact alone should tell you why communism will never work, and this "not exactly communism" that Venezuela is doing is likely to result in the same (indeed, they are sending the owners of these electronics shops to jail.)

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:29AM (#45409659) Homepage

    Venezuelans cannot by dollars from the government for any number of Bolivars. It's illegal for them to have any currency other than Bolivars.

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:36AM (#45409703)

    But importers ARE being forced to, and now they are being forced to sell their goods at those prices as well, so there will be no more imports.

  • Re:good for them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:24AM (#45409945)

    Only thing is it's not getting more unequal. Income maybe, but income doesn't equal wealth. Wealth has actually been spreading in the US, but not thanks to any government, rather thanks to capitalism. Government has actually been slowing that down in the form of tariffs, wage floors, and price controls.

    - Tariffs increase the cost of goods and reduce domestic production (imports and domestic production rise and fall with one another - this has been empirically proven numerous times.)
    - Wage floors increase unemployment and reduce purchasing power of the poor by making goods they buy more expensive. (A poor person is more likely to balk at a tomato rising in price from $.60 to $1 in order to make up for increased labor costs than Bill Gates would, and the poor person is also now less likely to be able to find a job. See the lump of labor [wikipedia.org].)
    - Price controls restrict supply and artificially create scarcity of wealth (lines at the gas pump in the 70's.)

    I like to make a comparison of a poor person today with a rich person of the 80's. In the 80's, you were one fatcat if you owned any combination of a car phone, a big screen TV, and a personal computer. Today even the poorest own laptops, big flat screen TV's, and cell phones, and the ones they own are of much better quality than those that were owned by the 80's fatcat.

    Government didn't make that happen, actually the very rich did. The rich got there by figuring out innovative ways of making things simultaneously cheaper and better so that you'd buy from them instead of some other rich guy.

    Anyways, we'll see the result of what happens in Venezuela. I think what's going to happen is they are creating a very bad situation of the first and third item I described that governments can do to reduce the distribution of wealth: Since shops in Venezuela are required to sell at prices well below their worth in the actual exchange rate, they'll be effectively forbidden from importing goods. The result will be fewer material goods in the country, which means that as these goods break and depreciate, the poor will become even less wealthy.

    If things turn out the way I'm pretty sure they are (their bonds have already collapsed as a direct result of this, by the way) then I'd hope you'll see why your war against the 1% is a pretty bad idea. Sure, they'll lose their wealth, but you'll lose a lot more than that. You'll get to declare that you won a war, but you'll be permanently much worse off than when you started it.

    If I'm wrong, well then, viva la revolucion.

  • by Saúl González D. (3429883) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @02:42AM (#45410025)

    And did Venezuela stop being able to import groceries after they seized El Exito? Was the country ruined?

    Actually a lot of Venezuelans would answer "pretty much" to both questions. Major shortages of basic goods, like flour, sugar, cooking oil and toilet paper started around the time and continue to this day. The collapse of the economy and the skyrocketing crime make living in Venezuela very harsh now.

    Hunger and poverty have gone down significantly since 1999. Even the anti-Chavez people accept this.

    Chavez's only merit was to be lucky enough to rise to power just in time for the biggest boom in oil prices in the History of Venezuela. The governments of the 80s and 90s never had nearly as many resources as Chavez had. The governments of the 70s were close, and they were MUCH better at reducing poverty (without the violence and hate Chavez brought).

    Chavez also seized the oil companies, and stopped Venezuela's biggest resource being a cash cow for foreign companies.

    Plain false. Oil industry was nationalized in 1976, over 30 years before Chavez. If anything Chavez has led to Venezuela's biggest resource to be a huge cash cow for Cuba and China.

    I've never been there. It's probably the country I most want to visit, and one of the main reasons is because it's so hard for a foreigner to know what the country is really like. I just read the Venezuelan newspapers and talk to Venezuelans sometimes here in Europe (mostly rich Venezuelans who don't like Chavez).

    Please do. Venezuelan malandros eat naive, easily-deceived first-worldies like you for lunch.

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Smauler (915644) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:13AM (#45410397)

    Yes. However... this is not a result of socialism per se... it's a result of cronyism. There are quite a few Venezuelan companies which have not been targeted like this. There are plenty of stable social democracies around the world.

    That being said, with the US's record of destabilizing democracies in south America that it does not like... I wouldn't put it past them to nudge a bit (I'm not accusing, just guessing).

  • The objection was because state run shops were selling the same models for 1/5th the price or less. Since those shops would have taken payment in the local currency and had to buy in the sets with USD or Yen it is hard to see how such a high profit margin could be justified.

    Sure enough when you look into it you see that this shop was basically fleecing people, only making sales because they couldn't get to the state run shops. People don't like getting ripped off because they have no choice, and their government acted on their behalf to put an end to it.

    The same thing happens in the UK from time to time, only less dramatically. Some company starts screwing people a bit too much and the OFT steps in to put an end to it. Most recently there have been crackdowns on short term loan companies, for example.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jimbolauski (882977) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @10:02AM (#45411943) Journal

    Unfortunately, that's not a good plan either. If you look at the place in which it's succeeded the most, the US, you'll still see lots of undesirable byproducts of unregulated business, like major income inequality and, consequently, a higher prison population. Not to mention the decline the US has been experiencing due to relying on unsustainable exponential growth. What I mean to say is that we're fucked either way, embracing or extinguishing the free market.

    The prison growth has nothing to do with unregulated business, there is not even a correlation between regulation and prison population, or it would be decreasing. One of the few things that does correlate with prison population is single parent households. When children of single parents are corrected for there is little difference in crime rates between blacks and whites, 70% of children in juvenile prisons are from simple parent households, 80% of inmates are from single parent households. Many of these studies were done in the 90's when only 25% of children were raised by single parents, while now the number is over 40%, which would correlate with the growth in prison population. CEO's making 6 or 7 figure salaries are not causing it there is not evidence to even correlate it.

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @10:14AM (#45412035)

    Why don't they just buy at the state shops? They can't get to them? Why not? Somebody will surely deliver for a reasonable fee. If Daka has such high prices it will go out of business naturally.

  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @10:16AM (#45412059) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, 35 billion is nothing. That's half the budget, annually, for California. If they have these reserves and pull them out then the country truly is at rock bottom. It will be heading there as the attack on Daka demonstrates only state owned stores will flourish and they likely won't have anything in stock because nobody wants to sell to Venezuela and be paid in toilet paper Bolivars. It'll be like the good old days in Soviet Russia - where you sell your neighbor for a pair of blue jeans.

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