Photo: Noticias Canal retrieved

“IT’S NOT A GIFT!” I yelled at the unresponsive car radio (at least three times), while listening to a chavista talk about the awesome “revolutionary gift” the Maduro government would hand through CLAP this December: pernil—the traditional Venezuelan Christmas leg of pork.

Do you consider that the resources administered by the head of the homeowners’ association or your condo board belong to him? Do you thank him every time he approves a maintenance expense? If he buys ornaments for the Christmas tree in the entrance do you consider it a gift? I dare say NO.

The same applies for the government: governments do not own public resources; governments are mere administrators of those resources.

Governments do not own public resources; governments are mere administrators of those resources.

However, the Venezuelan governments of the 20th century have been traditionally paternalistic, a phenomenon that sat on the massive amount of resources generated due to the black gold: oil. And if you take this and add two cups of 21st century socialism, you end up with the most inefficient government Venezuela has ever seen.

And this isn’t a Venezuelan novelty.

This is actually related to the so-called “soft budget constraint”, originally formulated by Janos Kornai to illuminate economic behavior in socialist economies marked by shortages, and regularly invoked in the literature on economic transition from socialism to capitalism.

According to Janos Kornai:

“The soft budget constraint phenomenon is a joint outcome of two closely related socio-political trends. First, the increasing, and often overloading demand of society on the State to become a ‘protector,’ responsible for the welfare, growth and the national economic interest, and second, the self-reinforcing tendency of bureaucratization. The softening of the budget constraint is an indicator of the fact that many basic allocative and selective processes are not left to the market, but are highly influenced or taken over by bureaucracies and by political forces.”

What has this done in our case?

Chavismo has done everything to make Venezuelans economically dependent on the State, forcing them to remain loyal. Hence: it’s not quite right to say chavismo wants people to be poor; it wants them to depend on the State.

Chavismo has done everything to make Venezuelans economically dependent on the State, forcing them to remain loyal.

And right now, given the current hyperinflation and shortages, the Christmas celebrations depend on the State. So the whole #FelizChavidad isn’t mere propaganda.

Interesting enough, social dependency on the State is turning against the resourceless Maduro government and chavismo has been having a hard time defending itself. So far, Rangel Silva takes the Christmas trophy for the most ridiculous statement: “There are people who have never eaten pernil and now they protest because it hasn’t arrived”.

So this Christmas, everytime you hear someone talking about the the awesome “revolutionary gift” the Maduro government gave them, remind them that it’s because of the economic chaos that 21st century socialism has generated that families can’t buy their own pernil.

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