Young And Old

 We’ll get to our Down The Rabbit Hole segment in a minute but first…The Venezuela migrant crisis (and the policies of 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism) have destroyed the middle class…and have made a large portion of the population, those of middle age, disappear. Many of those still there are young or old. We’ve followed the pattern in previous posts. Those first to leave were the one’s who saw the writing on the wall with Chavismo and packed up their families and headed to the airport. The next group, tired of being ground down by Chavismo, packed their families in the car or took the bus and headed out. As things became (and continue to be) more and more desperate the current migrants, and those of the last few years, are picking up whatever they can carry and are walking out. It’s this last group that has really had the effect that we see today of a lot of old and young (and by young I mean children) people. Since they were heading out on foot for the perilous journey to escape “socialist paradise” most of the old people stayed behind because they couldn’t handle the rigors of walking day after day carrying their meager belongings with them. Many families left the young behind because the trip was dangerous and they could leave them with their grandparents hoping to send for them after they were established wherever their destination might be. This gets us to where we are today. First we have the young.

 Asociacion Con La Escuela reports 81% of those students that still attend school, and the numbers are down significantly, only go to school 2-3 times a week and of those 60% only go 2-4 hours a day. One of the casualties of the Maduro regime’s mishandling of the economy has been that many school lunch programs have been discontinued so students that used to, if for no other reason, go to school to get a meal simply don’t go. A lot of them spend their days helping their grandparents (or families if they’re still there) scrounge for food. The Venezuela Observatory Of Health reports that the food situation in Venezuela hasn’t changed. This has been going on almost continuously since the “Guarimba” (food protests in which 40 protesters were killed) of 2014. It was typified by the Univision interview in which Maduro denied the dire situation and then stormed out of the interview when Jorge Rodriguez showed him a video of people digging for food in the back of garbage trucks. There is basically no protein in their diet (they can’t afford it) and the collapse of basic services limits what people can eat.The ever present black outs impact both refrigeration and cooking options. We covered a while ago a report that 35% of children in Venezuela are wasting. I didn’t even know what wasting was until I read the article. They’re losing weight, which kids aren’t supposed to do, and that doesn’t count those that are actually malnourished.

 Then there was a piece from Save The Children telling us that 1 in 4 Venezuelan migrant children in Peru are not in school. As concerning as this might be it’s a far better situation than that facing children still in Venezuela.

 And what about the old people? Well, we’ve covered the ongoing protests by retirees many times. The New Yorker did a piece that included a story about a retired professor. He contributed about $16,000 dollars to Social Security over his 20 years teaching and now due to the massive devaluation of the bolivar will receive only approximately $300 in retirement. That must be why the average professor in retirement lost 19 pounds last year,

 Then we have the Daily Mail reporting that Venezuela has over 5 million pensioners (out of a population of approximately 26 million). Their pension is equal to the monthly minimum wage of 130 bolivares (after the huge 18 fold increase) which is about $30 a month (once again, the UN metric for extreme poverty is earning a dollar a day) Other Latin American countries have pensions ranging from $230 – $650 a month. Oh, and the $30 a month doesn’t include medical supplies which patients must bring with them to hospitals if they are to receive treatment … the hospitals are severely lacking in supplies. There were dozens of protests last year to no avail. It doesn’t look good for the old folks in Venezuela. It doesn’t look good for the young ones either.

 Then we have the ongoing litany of court cases in which the Maduro regime is seeking to avoid paying for expropriations, breaches of contract, etc. Law 360 reports that the British Virgin Islands mining company, CME, is asking the 11th Circuit court to back the arbitration award of $188 million against the Venezuela government-owned mining company. The only thing unusual about this one is that it pertains to Venezuela government-owned mining and not government-owned oil. It’s just another example of the ubiquitous cases that are winding through courts around the world.

 And we have Telesur (government media) telling us that Maduro has shared his decisions regarding consolidation of Chavismo’s Great Housing Mission. The good news is that the government has built several million (conflicting reports put the number between 3-5 million) houses for the poor. That’s a good thing that was much needed. The bad news is that the Chavistas are perverting something good (as they always do) for their own purposes. The recipients of these houses have yet to receive titles to their homes,as promised by Hugo Chavez. The government retains them so they can extort compliance with government policies and for electoral purposes.

 Now, let’s head Down The Rabbit Hole….

 In my humble (?) opinion the founding fathers weren’t all that concerned with personal protection when they came up with the idea of guaranteed gun ownership. In fact, it may not have been a factor at all, simply a by-product of the real reason to insure that the population had (has) access to firearms. And that reason was (is) …not to protect ourselves from each other but to protect ourselves collectively from the government we created.

 The founding fathers were great men, great thinkers, forward thinkers. The American Experiment is the greatest success in the history of government. The men who drafted it’s foundational documents seemed to have an understanding of a basic truth, no one knows what the future will bring and governments seem to transform themselves based on the lowest common denominator. When Ben Franklin responded to the question of what kind of government they had set up for us his response was perfect, “A constitutional republic…if you can keep it.” The way they set things up all seem to serve the same purpose, to protect the government (us) from itself (ourselves).

 They were very fearful of the power of government having just sacrificed so much to win their freedom. It was this fear that caused them to implement all the checks and balances contained in our system and still they knew we had the potential to screw it up.There was one thing that could help defend the people from the unforeseen  consequences of actions taken by unknown future leaders, an armed populace. They weren’t worried about someone coming and robbing us in our home. They were worried about the government coming and taking our home away from us! I always fall back on one of my favorite quotes of all time regarding the government and it’s not from a founding father  but it shows a healthy distrust of centralized government when it becomes too strong. “A government big enough and powerful enough to give you everything you want is big enough and powerful enough to take everything you have.”

 More tomorrow….

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