Here we have Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro telling the "unwashed masses" that if they put their fist into a ball and use it correctly, there is no need for toilet paper. True, the soap shortage will have to be figured out with the increased demand, but price controls will fix that, too. Or not.
Here we have Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro telling the “unwashed masses” that if they put their fist into a ball and use the surface area correctly (knuckles are key!), there is no need for toilet paper. True, the soap shortage will have to be figured out with the increased demand, but price controls will fix that, too. Or not.

How greedy are capitalists? They’re so greedy that they would dare to make a profit on something as essential as toilet paper. Or … perhaps not. Perhaps socialists are so economically challenged that they would try price controls on something as essential to odorless living as toilet paper.

I’ve been meaning to write on this subject for quite some time, but I’ve held off because I feel bad doing so. The free market allows me to buy Quilted Northern as well as Charmin. My bottom is so pampered living in the United States that I don’t want to kick a socialist while he’s down. But … what the heck. At some point we all must answer for our own stupidity; life is full of learning moments if we’re willing to listen.

The Associated Press reports:

CARACAS, Venezuela — Police in Venezuela say they have seized nearly 2,500 rolls of toilet paper in an overnight raid of a clandestine warehouse storing scarce goods.

The Thursday announcement on Twitter said that the officers raiding the garage in western Caracas also seized about 400 diapers and 7,000 liters of fruit juice.

Police chief Luis Karabin told Venezuelan news agency AVN that police, acting on a telephone tip, found “merchandise that we know is scarce on the shelves and doesn’t reach the people.”

Toilet paper is hard to find in Venezuelan grocery stores, as are staple food items such as sugar, milk and cooking oil.

What would it be like to live in a society where tipsters are ratting out their friends and family over rolls of toilet paper? I don’t particularly know, although if you pay attention to the news in the U.S. you’ll find that many, many Americans buy into the notion that price controls work.

I’ll leave it to Lee Doran of “How the World Works” to explain in greater detail:

Over and over and over again, politicians and well-intentioned folks act on behalf of “the poor,” in ways that predictably hurt “the poor.” And when that happens, people are ignorant enough when it comes to basic economics to continue to blame businessmen whose crime is apparently trying to produce a product and get it to the market.

Don’t like what you’re seeing in Venezuela? Think it’s funny? It’s actually not that funny because basic economics is not taught in high school. Most people avoid it like I’d avoid eating burritos in Venezuela right now.

America is on a strange trajectory. A frightening size of its population sees nothing wrong with $17 trillion dollar debt toilet drains, trillion dollar deficits and public policy primordial soup messes that come out of Congress crafted with sound economics as an afterthought.

To my fellow Americans, I say: Do not laugh too hard at our friends from Venezuela. There are plenty of stealth socialists right here at home, and listening to them already has us on the path to Skidmark Row. Let’s wake up before it’s too late.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

15 comments

  1. I think maybe we should try the free market here at home. no more farm subsidies, no more bank bailouts, no more unfair tax advantages for big corporations, no more big investment firms propping up the housing market. if the free market really existed in America, things would look very different.

    1. That actually is a fairly good point. Capitalism is quite different from corporatism… There are many Republicans who are not advocates of the free market because they are really advocates solely for corporate interests. I do agree with that. And it’s sad, because a lot of people can’t really distinguish between the two.

    2. it is difficult, from both side of the political spectrum. I helped a libertarian promote a project he was involved with looking at how some regulations are onerous barriers for small businesses. one of the examples was a woman who made empanadas and then sold them at our local farmer’s market. she almost had to stop because the kitchen she was using didn’t have an industrial grease trap, and the city was going to shut her down if she didn’t install the grease trap system, which would have cost her tens of thousands of dollars. it was ridiculous to impose this on her because her operation was so small scale. because I suspended my knee-jerk reaction to the anti-regulation rhetoric that often is deployed to benefit corporations from the right, I was able to see this libertarian had a good point.

    3. Here’s an interesting video that details some of the regs that hurt food vendors here in D.C.

      I’m also a fan of this video because it shows that whether you’re gay or straight, first generation immigrant or a citizen who can trace his roots to the Revolutionary War … ridiculous regs don’t care. They hit everyone.

      Some of these street vendors have amazing food, and yet they have to jump through hoops to sell it.

    4. I agree with Liz here as well.

      I happen to know quite a few Venezuelans (as my favorite band is from there). They’ve all either left the country, are in the process of leaving, or want to leave badly but cannot yet.

  2. I was catching up on new books by Grant Morrison, and I stumbled upon your blog. I’m laughing right now. Your blog is no different than the millions of 13 year old girls on tumblr, whining, “life’s this way”, “life’s like this”, all the while nothing changes the fact that you’re all hacks with miserable perceptions. Bare knuckle conservatism? More like bare-***, self-righteous, and contrived b******t. Good thing nobody with a brain or that matters would ever take a joke like you seriously. Damn you, for prompting me to write this due to your amateur, half witted, and rhetorical blemishes. What you’re saying isn’t interesting, you’re not interesting, just another psuedo-angry white male with too much pride and nothing to contribute besides cannon fodder for other angry brats who think suffering is sharing. Oh what privilege, you bring shame to Americans by way of your toxic thoughts and attempt to poison the hapless.

    1. Have fun reading the Tumblr accounts of 13 year old girls, Nevin. I won’t be joining you because that’s really creepy. Instead, I’ll continue reading news releases from the Associated Press or videos from men who worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute because that’s the kind of thing adults do.

      PS: Your IP address indicates you’re from Florida. Is this you? Perhaps you’re the one who’s angry. I hope you get that under control. Peace be with you.

    2. You found me. Cool man, thanks. I haven’t seen that photo in 13 years.

      You’re a fake wit. Don’t go for the easy digs buddy, you look stupid. Deflecting the truth, especially when it’s painful, with pedophile cracks? C’mon man. Oh, I see, I was arrested 13 years ago, that must mean I’m angry now. Seriously? That’s you at your best. You can negate me all you want or compartmentalize the truth, but you can’t gloss over the facts forever: you are useless, and in fact less qualified to share your misguided opinions, with the 5 people who read your blog, than my 14 year old cousin (on tumblr).

      I’m not saying you’re void of rational thought or a bad person, but the way you’re presenting yourself as a political analyst is a joke, and your perceptions are toxic. Maybe try being a busboy?

    3. No, Mr. Thorpe, you’re the one who started out with personal attacks instead of addressing the points made by me, The Associated Press and a guy who knows a thing or two about economics named Lee Doran. I think my point is sound: Perhaps a guy with an arrest record should be a little more judicious when it comes to impugning another man’s character and self worth. “Those who live in glass houses…”

      Because you say I’m “useless” it must be true? Okay. Excuse me while I laugh. I’m comfortable with my professional resume. Are you? Again, like your accusation that I’m angry, I think you’re projecting your own insecurities.

      Do you know what I do when I run across blogs that I find to be inconsequential? I ignore them.

      I suggest you spend less time calling guys like me toxic, and more time trying to remove the toxicity within yourself.

    4. Won’t let me reply down there….

      You’re right Douglas, I should ignore you (as I’m positive everyone around you does). And I’m sorry for my brutish intrusion in your little world ( although getting under your thin skin was my intention). Can’t believe you focused so heavily on my arrest record, being arrested for stepping between a cop who was about to club a drunk girl is shameful, I’m gonna kill myself later for standing up against what’s wrong in the world instead of doing what’s right like you do and bitching on the Internet. Farewell Douggie, you need all the help this world can offer.

      Here’s me ignoring you, starting now……………………………………………
      (Insert Douglas Ernsts final words here)

    5. How odd that on my own blog I’d think I get the last word with guys who show up and attack my character. It says a lot about a guy who goes around trying to get under the skin of others. Regardless, you failed — I just feel sorry for you.

      Those darn cops. I should have known. You should apply for Season 2 of ‘The Rock’s’ new show, ‘The Hero.’ You can tell them all about the time you defended an innocent girl from the big bad cop about to club her.

      Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Thorpe. I’m sorry that in your world that doesn’t include Venezuelan thug regimes that are so morally bankrupt that people are raided for having toilet paper.

  3. Mr. Douglas,
    By way of strange coincidence I came across your blog, and I felt compelled to comment on the dialogue, between you and Nevin, even though it has been awhile. While I respect others opinions, I feel if you are going to write a blog, for the world to see, then you are
    inviting the world to give constructive criticism and / or feedback. You must know that not everyone is in agreement with you, and by posting your thoughts, inviting others to comment, you will come across those people. I was very disheartened by the way you chose to respond to someone who didn’t agree with you. Yes, you held firm to your opinion, that is your right and you should, but the way you responded to Nevin was childlike. Posting a link to mugshot from his youth, making pedoph
    ile cracks and other silliness was extremely upsetting – for many reasons but one in particular – because it came from the author of the blog. You posted your opinions.
    You invited the world to read and comment. You should have conducted your response in a more professional way instead of a response that an eight year old
    would give. You have your opinion and I respect that. Nevin has his opinion and I respect that. You have the responsibility to respect Nevin’s opinion as well, since you
    asked for it. One last thing – About the reason he has an arrest record, that you are pretty much all but
    actually saying, is a lie – it’s not a lie. I know Nevin. The reason he
    was arrested – not that it is anyone’s business but Nevin himself shared it – is the truth. That was the reason he was arrested. I ask you to not crack jokes about someone who stood up for someone else. I am a member of Law Enforcement and I can tell you, first hand knowledge and experience, that just because members of Law Enforcement are certified do not mean that they are good people. Unfortunately, like every job position, there are bad apples. Nevin was arrested for doing something good and for stopping something bad from happening. Law Enforcement power was being abused and he stood up for a young lady’s rights. So yes, he has a record. He should hold that high and wave it around! He should be extremely proud of that arrest! I would be.
    In closing I want to just say again, in case this message isn’t being interpreted correctly, as the author of a blog I hope you will have respect for the opinions of others that are left on your blog. I hope that, since you asked for said opinions, you won’t attack someone because you don’t agree with their opinion. I hope, when you read comments that you don’t agree with, like and aren’t very nice, that you remember you asked for those comments. You respond in a way that is not going to fuel negativity and just plain hate. Everyone is completely entitled to their own opinion and you asked for them to give it to you. Remember you own words…”People in glass houses.. ”
    Encourage friendly conversation and learn from others opinions while they can learn from yours. Please do not ever forget that we all have the right to our own opinions and we all have feelings. If you run across someone who keeps trying to spread hate and speak negatively about something that has nothing to do with the subject of your topic, let it go. Be the better person. Just pass over their comments like it’s not even there. If you can’t say something nice than just don’t say anything. Provoking a argument with someone who left a comment that you don’t agree with is childish. You and Nevin could have had a perfectly calm discussion about your post but you chose to bring up his past. I hope all bloggers, that read this, learn from it. When you attack people who you’ve invited to comment on your blog you are only spreading hate and encouraging anger towards your fellow humans. There is plenty of that in this world as it is, please don’t add to it. Thank you for your time and I wish you a wonderful day. If Nevin happens to ever see this – 😉 – I hope you and your family are well!!! Also, thank you for taking the time to read blogs and comment on them. Spreading awareness on issues that need to be addressed is a wonderful thing to do. You could have been watching music videos, or looking at silly celebrity websites like the majority of people do, but you weren’t and that’s awesome!!!
    To everyone – Nothing – nothing – gets fixed in this world until we are all kind to each other and we all stand united together. Unfortunately I don’t think it will ever be that way but we can take the first steps in that direction. We can strive to make this world whole, beautiful and safe for our children and their children. Others should always be first on our minds before ourselves. Start small – say Thank you to someone who has helped you. Make dinner for a family who lives paycheck to paycheck. Rally the neighborhood and plan a block party! Donate the clothes that hang in your closet, that you never wear, to a family in need. Turn on the news – there are families losing their loved ones or their homes (in your town) almost on a daily basis. Reach out to them. If you live paycheck to paycheck then try to help by doing something simple like make a pot of spaghetti (really cheap) and take it to someone who needs it. There are plenty of ways to help, no matter what your personal situation is, and not only does it make you feel good to help someone but it is contagious. Others will see and want to help as well!!!

    1. T.M.,

      The fact that you used one giant block of text to attack me for calling out someone whose response to my blog was disgusting and devoid of any tact or intellectual curiosity is telling. I have run this blog for years and my track record is there for everyone to see in the comments section. Who is spreading hate? Me, or the guy who responded to my post with this:

      “I was catching up on new books by Grant Morrison, and I stumbled upon your blog. I’m laughing right now. Your blog is no different than the millions of 13 year old girls on tumblr, whining, ‘life’s this way’, ‘life’s like this’, all the while nothing changes the fact that you’re all hacks with miserable perceptions. Bare knuckle conservatism? More like bare-***, self-righteous, and contrived b******t. Good thing nobody with a brain or that matters would ever take a joke like you seriously. Damn you, for prompting me to write this due to your amateur, half witted, and rhetorical blemishes. What you’re saying isn’t interesting, you’re not interesting, just another psuedo-angry white male with too much pride and nothing to contribute besides cannon fodder for other angry brats who think suffering is sharing. Oh what privilege, you bring shame to Americans by way of your toxic thoughts and attempt to poison the hapless.”

      You’re going to come on my blog and accuse me of provoking an argument when that is how Nevin came out of the gates? He admitted that the only reason he commented was to be a troll and “get under” my skin. I knew exactly what he was doing and responded in a way said troll was not expecting.

      It is one thing for us to debate public policy issues, but it is another thing for someone to introduce themselves to me by launching into an expletive-laced diatribe.

      I’m sure your friend Nevin — the guy who admits he slings invective at bloggers for no reason other than to troll — is a little angel. How could one think otherwise?

      My response was incredibly tame considering his entrance, but I will grant you that I most likely would not respond the same way if it happened today.

      I do not need lectures from you atop your moral pedestal. I do not need to “respect” Nevin’s decision to swear at me or spew his personal attacks. Instead of lecturing me on my behavior, you should have focused on your friend. Although I am not perfect — and never claimed to be — my history of dealing with trolls like Nevin shows a moderator with incredible restraint.

      You say you came to this blog through a “strange coincidence.” Indeed, it is strange for Nevin and his friends to still jab at me three years after the initial exchange. I must have hit a really deep nerve. I hope he has moved on from trolling random blogs. That kind of behavior isn’t healthy.

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