Socialist Death Spirals, Young And Mature Versions

Every month when I pay my subscription fee for the print edition of the New York Times ($70.40 -- ouch!) I swear that this month will be the last.  But somehow I'm having too much fun bashing them to give it up.  One of my posts about Pravda a couple of weeks ago suddenly got about 50,000 readers (and counting).  So perhaps you readers out there -- particularly those who have had the good judgment to discontinue your Times subscriptions months or years ago -- would enjoy another post on today's dose of cluelessness.

We find on the front page of today's New York Times two big lead stories.  The one on the left is about the current economic crisis in Venezuela: "Risking Lives to Flee Ruin/Hungry Venezuelans Flock to Boats as Economy Collapses."  On the right, it's about Obamacare: "Where Trump Won, Many Want to Keep Health Care/Florida Offers Glimpse of G.O.P.'s Obstacles in Trying to Undo Obama's Law."   Now, in multi-thousands of words in these two articles put together, can we find any mention or recognition that these are two examples of a single economic phenomenon, namely the inevitable failure of socialism?  Of course not.  Indeed, a fair description of the Obamacare article is that it argues for continuation of the law without any change, and without containing any recognition that the current structure is not sustainable.

I started writing about the phenomenon of the Socialist Death Spiral in June 2015 here.  In a post in April 2016, I had this to say specifically about Obamacare:

There's every reason to think that Obamacare is in the early stages of a socialist death spiral.  After all, all you really need to know to predict a socialist death spiral is that people aren't stupid.  As soon as the government puts you on the "from" side of "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs," you start to spend your waking hours figuring out how to minimize or otherwise get out from under the confiscation. 

Of the Times's two articles today, the one on Venezuela is far the longer, and should be given at least a little credit for slightly associating the economic collapse with the explicit Socialism of the economic program that caused it:

And as Mr. Chávez’s Socialist-inspired revolution collapses into economic ruin, as food and medicine slip further out of reach, the new migrants include the same impoverished people that Venezuela’s policies were supposed to help.

But aside from that one mention of the genesis of the problem in Socialism, the rest of the article -- several thousand words -- is mostly just a litany of stories of the thousands now fleeing and the hardships they are suffering. For example:

Desperate Venezuelans are streaming across the Amazon Basin by the tens of thousands to reach Brazil. They are concocting elaborate scams to sneak through airports in Caribbean nations that once accepted them freely. When Venezuela opened its border with Colombia for just two days in July, 120,000 people poured across, simply to buy food, officials said. An untold number stayed.

Do you mean that government efforts to provide for all by massive universal handouts can end in disaster?  The conclusion is never explicitly drawn.    

Over in the Obamacare article, the theme is that hundreds of thousands of people, even including some Trump supporters, have come to "depend" on the new Obamacare subsidies to obtain "health care."  

Ninety-one percent of plan holders in Florida this year receive premium subsidies — a higher percentage than in any other state — and 71 percent also have reduced deductibles, a benefit available to people at or below 250 percent of the poverty level.  Some of them, like Ms. Carmeli, voted for Mr. Trump. She pays $45 toward her monthly premium, with a subsidy of about $600 covering the rest.

Is there any possible problem with that?  Not that you'll find in this article.  If people have come to "depend" on a government handout once given, how could anyone be so cruel and heartless as to suggest that it should not be continued forever?

Well, Obamacare is still in what we might call the "young" phase of the Socialist Death Spiral.  It couldn't all fall apart some day, could it?  You can always look to the "mature" version of the death spiral if you want the answer.  Venezuela is a current example for anyone willing to look.

And a special bonus, try this lengthy article on the death of Fidel Castro.  It didn't make it into today's print edition, but is available online.  It's too long to quote extensively here, but a fair summary is that, despite some recognition of "repression" and "abject poverty," the Times still cannot let go of its fundamental admiration of this brutal dictator.  For a far more straight assessment of economic conditions in Cuba after 50+ years of the Castro dictatorship, try this article by Scott Beyer in National Review last October.  Average wages in Cuba are about $20 per month.  We can have that too if we pursue far enough the economic policies advocated by the Times!  Cuba is the really mature version of the Socialist Death Spiral.  Should we start a pool on how long the dictatorship lasts now that Castro is gone?