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Venezuela: Cheap Television Sets For All! 702

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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  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:12PM (#45408713) Journal

    People said that the characters in Atlas Shrugged were two-dimensional cardboard cutouts and that real life is totally not like that... I guess they never went to Venezuela.

    They also said that Ayn Rand would leave us in some sort of post-apocalyptic world with no police, firemen, schools, or anything basic services. Who knew that the entire city government of Detroit for the last 40 years were all a bunch of secret Ayn Rand worshipers who have finally put her dreams into action!?!?!?!??

    • "Maduro showed astonishment at a fridge on sale in Daka for 196,000 bolivars ($31,111 at the official rate), and said an air-conditioning unit that goes for 7,000 bolivars ($1,111) in state stores was marked up 36,000 bolivars ($5,714) by Daka.."

      Seems something is dratically wrong there, though. I don't know is this sort of approach will yield any results, but it'll be interesting to see the fallout.

      • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:27PM (#45408851)
        The important phrase here is official rate. The bolivar is bullshit, and everybody knows it. That's why it trades at 10 times as many per dollar as the official exchange rate. Venezuela doesn't make televisions. They're imported, and the people who do make them price them in yen, RenMinBi, or Won, or perhaps dollars. The people who sell them are likely to want hard currency to pay for them. So the price in bolivars looks nuts. This is what happens when you peg an artificial exchange rate, folks.
    • by maccodemonkey ( 1438585 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:28PM (#45408867)

      People said that the characters in Atlas Shrugged were two-dimensional cardboard cutouts and that real life is totally not like that... I guess they never went to Venezuela.

      To be fair, I'm pretty sure Venezuela is a parody of real life.

      I also don't think Ayn Rand was talking about Venezuela, or that most of her detractors would support a government take over of Best Buy, but you know, shades of grey and all that.

      • You haven't read Atlas Shrugged, have you?

      • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:17AM (#45409175)

        I also don't think Ayn Rand was talking about Venezuela, or that most of her detractors would support a government take over of Best Buy, but you know, shades of grey and all that.

        Have you even read Atlas Shrugged? Venezuela might not have been mentioned, but Mexico was nationalizing everything in the story, later followed by America passing the "Fair Share Directive" leading to "Directive 10-289" which locks the entire workforce into their current jobs and at their current pay, and demands that they consume exactly as much as they did the previous year. Thats a government takeover of everything.

        • by jcr ( 53032 )

          "Directive 10-289" which locks the entire workforce into their current jobs

          Which is precisely what the emperor Diocletian did, hastening the collapse of the Roman empire.


      • I also don't think Ayn Rand was talking about Venezuela, or that most of her detractors would support a government take over of Best Buy

        The World Social Forum [] — yes, it is just what it sounds like, plenty of Ayn Rand detractors, to put it mildly — once declared Hugo Chavez a "guest of honor". Yeah, they would support just such a government. Of course, when the take-overs (a.k.a. confiscations) begin in earnest, the weaker among them will try to forget it and lament, how this particular attempt at Communism "was not done right either" and how the next one — the one they'll undertake — will finally show the whole glory of the new order.

        • 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 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.)

      • I also don't think Ayn Rand was talking about Venezuela, or that most of her detractors would support a government take over of Best Buy...

        Why take over BestBuy when they're too busy at the moment trying to consume the entire US healthcare (and related insurance) industry?

    • Detroit has been run by Democrats for decades.

    • There's a difference between GETTING money and MAKING money.

    • by dameron ( 307970 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:51AM (#45409399)
      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...


      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.
      • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:16AM (#45410419)
        I'll just note that currently her dystopian novel is closer to the mark than other classic dystopian novels of those times (such as 1984 or Brave New World). I think a big part of the problem is simply that the people who she villainizes in novels like Atlas Shrugged have their counterparts in shallow, greedy people out there today.

        A politician who uses military power just to steal some TVs really is the sort of living, two-dimensional cardboard cutout that would fit nicely in an Rand tome.
  • by simonbp ( 412489 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:12PM (#45408715) Homepage

    Get it now, because no one in their right might is going to import electronics into Venezuela anytime soon.

    Isn't vaguely socialist dictatorship great?

    • Re:Get it now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:29AM (#45409255) Homepage Journal

      Get it now, because no one in their right might is going to import electronics into Venezuela anytime soon.

      Oh, they will... Take it from a USSR survivor, there will be two groups of importers: official and otherwise.

      The officially-imported electronics will be available in the government-run stores — for Sean Penn and other supporters of Socialism to see. No, ordinary people would not be able to buy anything there — you'd either need to have a special pass to enter the store, or have hard-currency (or some sort of government-issued coupons). Though the prices will be denominated in Bolivars, you'll have to exchange your foreign currency right there — at the official rate...

      The unofficially imported stuff will be sold on the black market, which the government will fight tooth and nail — thus providing law-enforcement with easy side-income (that is likely to exceed their official salary). The corruption will, well, corrupt the entire population — and the law-enforcement in particular — for generations to come. The actual businessmen bothering with such imports will be denounced as "speculators" — by contrasting their prices with those of the government stores (described above).

      A grey area will be represented by people, who purchase their own stuff abroad. They would, probably, be allowed such items — perhaps, after paying some customs fee — and even permitted to sell them (used). As long, as of course, they don't attempt to profit from such sales...

  • by wrackspurt ( 3028771 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:14PM (#45408731)

    'National guardsmen, some of whom had assault rifles, were positioned around outlets of [Daka] ...

    FIRE! Sale

  • by dskzero ( 960168 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:19PM (#45408771) Homepage
    Prices are so high in Venezuela because of inflation and exchange control. A dollar is worth 6.30 Bs according to the government but it's nearly impossible to get them, so you have to search in the black market where it goes for at least 60 Bs. This store (Daka) though wasn't importing merchandise, so the prices were not just, but since it was allied with the government, it was allowed to sell at whatever prices: something happened, either they screwed up or this is just an election ploy (there are elections next month). Now, the rest of the affected stores ARE importing, and why would they do it now? Since Venezuela's production is nearly zero, this will only lead to broke merchants, and less market fluidity. And these "cheap television sets"? They are being sold at three or four times their price in the black market. As ussual, Chavists are breaking this country apart.
  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @11:21PM (#45408787)
    at least not sane ones. If anyone knows the background on this though I'd love to hear it. This sounds more like a political attack on the owner of the store. I'm all for getting electronics into the hands of those less fortunate. But do it like Britain used to do with the old Z (that's Zed)x, not like this...
  • 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).

  • by Canapial ( 1454625 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:19AM (#45409193)
    Venezuela sells oil to the world and receives US dollars in exchange. Dollars are NOT freely available for the common citizen. They are granted through much bureaucratic processes (institutions named CADIVI, SICAD and so on). Foreign exchange controls have set an official rate of 6,3 BsF per 1 US dollar, which are hardly obtainable as previously mentioned. A black market that widely operates outside the foreign exchange controls have set the price at around almost TEN times that amount (60,00 BsF as of today). Since Venezuela's inflation rates are going through the roof, people want to protect their money by obtaining dollars instead. Small businesses have imported goods using black market dollars [again, dollars are seldom available to the common folk], thus having to inflate prices ten times to protect their investments. This workaround upset the government and a crackdown ensued. Thus, many of these businesses are forced to sell at ludicrously low prices and subsequently shut down for good. Protip: there's a hefty election day in less than a month. With a raging food shortage that has been going on for many months, this was seen as a populist move to turn the balance back on their favour at the expense of dozens of legit businesses that got caught in this loop. Greetings from warm, sunny, and recently HDMI'zed Venezuela.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:25PM (#45414193)

      Many Americans and Europeans may have trouble with the idea of "official" and "real" exchange rates. You can go in to any bank and purchase or sell currency, you can trade larger amounts on foreign exchange markets. You find the price never varies much place to place at a given time, because you can always go elsewhere. If Citibank wants more for Euros than Deutsche Bank, well you can buy them from Deutsche Bank even if you are in America. The currencies truly float, their value against each other varying all the time based on trading.

      This is not the case in a place with a fixed currency like Venezuela. The government says "You can buy X amount of our currency for Y amount of foreign currency," with the foreign currency usually being US Dollars. Ok, easy enough to understand, and generally the government is happy to sell you as much of their currency as you want at that rate. The problem is when you try to go the other way. The government won't buy their currency back and give you dollars. In and of itself that makes sense, governments generally sell their currency to other people, they don't buy it back, since they are the ones who generate and control it.

      So you say ok, well I'll sell that currency on the foreign exchange markets. Ahh well here's where your problem comes in: Those markets don't value the currency the same as the government that sold it does. You have to give them a whole lot more of it to get the same amount of dollars (or other currency). So you have two rates: The real one and the official one. The real one being the rate things actually trade for on markets.

      Well government who implement currency controls don't like this. That is why they are implementing currency controls, to try and fix prices (it doesn't work, but they are still trying). Hence they usually restrict or ban trading like this. That then of course leads to a black market, where things are even higher, since the people involved are skirting the law.

      This is just the kind of thing that happens with fixed currencies/price controls. While it might seem to be workable internally, it doesn't work on a global scale since other countries don't value your currency the same and they don't sell goods directly in your currency.

  • by Saúl González D. ( 3429883 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:20AM (#45409579)
    In 30 years, current Venezuela will be held as the prime example of how they ran a thinly-veiled dictatorship while the rest of the world looked the other side and refused to call a spade a spade. It takes lots of guts to call "democracy" a country where critics of the government never appear on live, unedited TV. It takes lots of guts to call "democracy" a country where the president forcefully takes control of the media airwaves every day. It takes lots of guts to call "democracy" a country where the government openly threatens its workers with dismissal if they're found to be voting "for the counter-revolution". It takes lots of guts to call "democracy" a country where the next election day (Dec.8) has been officially declared "Day of Fealty to Chavez".

There's no future in time travel.