By Tyler Bauer
I like to start every day with a cup of coffee. I usually make my own at home, but occasionally I’ll stop at Starbucks or whatever coffee shop is nearby. A large (and overpriced) coffee from Starbucks costs about $2.50. I don’t like paying that much for coffee, but Starbucks has locations everywhere around the country and I know I’ll get good enough coffee at every location.
The reason I’m writing about coffee is because of news that came out of Venezuela yesterday. In Venezuela, a single cup of coffee costs one million bolivars. For the sake of comparison, the Venezuelan minimum wage guarantees workers a salary of at least five million bolivars per month. This means that many Venezuelans’ monthly salaries can afford no more than five cups of coffee.
The thought of paying one million US Dollars for a single cup of coffee seems outrageous, doesn’t it? Thankfully, Venezuelan coffee is much cheaper than that. At the current exchange rate, one million bolivars are equal to to a measly twenty-nine cents. How could such an imbalance happen? There is only one answer: socialism. Socialism in Venezuela – first introduced by President (actually a dictator) Hugo Chavez in 1998 – has ultimately led to the downfall of Venezuelan society. Under Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, things have only gotten worse. Hyperinflation has caused prices to skyrocket while bolivars become worthless. This is why one million bolivars are worth twenty-nine cents. As a result of extreme hyperinflation, food shortages are worse, the schools and hospitals cannot function, and people are lucky to find garbage cans to eat out of.
While the Venezuelan people are starving and struggling to survive, the political elite are not. Countless citizens are being killed by the government for no good reason. (A right to bear arms might help stop this.) Starving citizens are being forced to eat their pets and zoo animals. Meanwhile, Nicolas Maduro is getting fat on empanadas stored in his desk.
Venezuela’s story is tragic, but by no means rare. This is the story of every socialist and communist regime.