by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz
Back in the day, Milton Friedman said,
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
The U.S. federal government is not in charge of the Sahara, but the Venezuelan government is in charge of the country’s water supply.
Small wonder water is now in short supply, along with many other basic goods:
Caracas to begin four months of water rationing
Water use in Caracas will be rationed for at least four months due to drought, authorities said Tuesday, as Venezuela grapples with shortages of basic goods which have spurred massive anti-government protests.
One in every four goods including basic food, hygiene products, medicine and auto parts, however, have already become difficult to find, resulting in long, lengthy lines.
The irony is that Venezuela has the highest water resources and greatest hydroelectric capacity (except for Brazil) in South America. The country has a dry season and a rainy season, but what’s important is this:
Even when fully operating and unaffected by drought, water supply levels in the capital area are below international standards, capable of providing 340 liters per person per day, which is sufficient for household consumption but falls short of commercial and industrial demands.
The deterioration of Venezuela’s infrastructure is nothing new. Back in 2011, The Economist had an article about the disastrous results of Hugo Chavez’s nationalization program:
After opposition candidates were elected to many state governorships in 2008, the president re-centralised many public services, taking them out of the hands of the states. These included roads, ports and airports, all of which have experienced accelerated deterioration ever since.
As we in the U.S. are facing ever-increasing federal government intrusion into all aspects of the economy (including the proposed federal tolls on interstate highways), remember Milton’s immortal words.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.