TSA lines and Venezuelan beer


May 18, 2016 10:39 PM


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Martial law in Venezuela.  Riots in Caracas.  The people suffered in silent resignation when electricity, milk, bread, toilet paper and disposable diapers a all went in very short supply.  But when they ran out of beer.  Well, that was too much.  Not to worry, says the Modero government.  The beer shortage is caused by greedy capitalists.  So we’ll nationalize the breweries and all will be well..

That’s what they tried with toilet paper.  It won’t work any better with beer.   State-directed economies have never delivered prosperity.  Not once, anywhere, ever.  Milton Friedman once quipped, “If government were put in charge of the Sahara, in five years we’d have a shortage of sand”.

No one should be surprised by a coup.  (It would be led by junior officers.  Hugo Chavez, may he rest in peace, Modero’s predecessor, appointed all the generals).  Empty stomachs and unwiped bottoms we can stand.  Take away our beer at your peril!

Not to claim any direct analogy, but have you noticed the TSA lines at major airports?  No one under 40 has any recollection of what it took to buy food in the old Soviet Union.  Standing in long lines only to find out they just ran out of cabbage.  Those airport security lines look too much like Russian food lines, except the disappointment isn’t that the cabbage is gone.  It’s that your flight took off without you.  (I recently flew out of IND.  No problem.. Coming back, at Reagan the line was insane.  Five minutes later and my flight would have been gone).  TSA has responded by asking for more money and people (a cynic would point out this means more dues-paying upon members).  All this might be tolerable if those screeners were doing some good.  But standing in line one can’t but reflect on all those tests TSA routinely flunks.  95% of simulated explosives always seem to make it through.

James Madison once reflected that he spent 20 years of his life making sure the federal government would not function quickly or smoothly.  He succeeded.

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