CYA? Venezula seizes toilet paper factory

posted at 4:01 pm on September 21, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

In fact, we can call this the most literal cover-your-ass operation we’ve seen in some time.  Thanks to price controls and government mandates, the manufacturing sector of Venezuela — which once had a solid standard of living based on its oil economy — can’t even produce enough toilet paper and sanitary napkins to serve the needs of the people.  Instead of learning its lesson from the socialist failure of Hugo Chavez, his successor Nicolas Maduro has temporarily seized a major paper production facility for violating the rights of Venezuelans by not producing enough price-controlled TP:

A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government’s rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks.

A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would “safeguard” the facility.

“The action in the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers responds to the state’s obligation to ensure a steady supply of basic goods for the people,” Sundecop said, adding it had observed “the violation of the right” to access such products.

Yes, that’s how shortages usually start — by declaring a product or service a “right” of the people.  When some people can’t afford to exercise that “right,” price controls of one sort or another get applied by the government to back up that “right” by force.  Price controls don’t do anything about cost, however, and as profit disappears so does the incentive to produce.  Almost inevitably, that results in a government takeover of the means of production or delivery of services, or both.

But enough about ObamaCare.  Let’s talk about Venezuela and toilet paper.  The Daily Mail provides some of the background on the Chavez-Maduro economic collapse:

President Maduro has cut dollar supplies for importers since winning election in April, creating shortages of goods including toilet paper and butter and stoking one of the world’s highest inflation rates. …

Annual inflation accelerated to 45.4 percent last month from 42.6 percent in July, while the scarcity index measuring the amount of goods out of stock on store shelves reached 20 percent, the central bank said.

The country devalued the official exchange rate to 6.3 bolivars per dollar from 4.3 bolivars in February.

On the black market, one dollar currently buys around 43.97 bolivars, according to dolartoday.com, which tracks the exchange rate on the border with Colombia.

The damage isn’t limited to toilet paper and milk, either.  Since the shift to the left by Chavez in the early 2000s, Venezuelan oil production has plummeted by a third.  The production rate of 2.3 million barrels a day is its lowest since 1990, and down from a peak of 3.28 million barrels a day in 1997, two years before Chavez won election as President and 3.155 million barrels a day in his first full year in office.  The hit to oil income makes it more difficult to keep inflation down and the standard of living up.

Will Maduro learn a lesson from this collapse?  Don’t count on it. The state-controlled media is blaming the middle class and the producers for hoarding resources in order to win quick profits (rather than the steady and reliable profits undamaged by inflation that a normal economy would bring, apparently), and hostility toward the socialist utopia built by Chavez and Maduro.  Everyone else points to the fact that price controls eliminate any production incentive, and the capital controls that make it impossible to buy the resources for production in the first place. This train wreck probably can’t be avoided short of a full collision.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

CYA? Venezula seizes toilet paper factory

Ed, shouldn’t that be WYA?

Oldnuke on September 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I foresee bad pun skid marks all over this thread.

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

Who controls toilet paper controls the universe!

Oldnuke on September 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I foresee bad pun skid marks all over this thread.

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

No siht!

Oldnuke on September 21, 2013 at 4:08 PM

They should stop those policies so fast they leave skid marks…

trubble on September 21, 2013 at 4:08 PM

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:07 PM

This is what I get for taking a minute to preview and proofread…

You beat me to it…

trubble on September 21, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Sounds to be like our soon to be health care system.

watertown on September 21, 2013 at 4:10 PM

The state-controlled media is blaming the middle class and the producers

…can they use newspaper?

KOOLAID2 on September 21, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Corn cob futures just went through the roof in Venezuela and I understand an old Sears Roebuck catalog is going for premo bucks.

Oldnuke on September 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM

But I thought socialism could wipe away every injustice, including all those bitter clingers.

Liam on September 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM

This first time I went over to Macau on a port call to Hong Kong back in the 80s we walked over to the border crossing with China just to look. There was a huge line to get back into China and nearly every single person in that line was carrying as much toilet paper in huge clear plastic bags as they could handle.

Johnnyreb on September 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM

A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

the moral of the story … don’t shake hands with Venezuelans.

Of course, Sheryl Crow thought they were overproducing. “You only need one sheet.”

Don’t shake hands with Sheryl Crow, either.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 21, 2013 at 4:15 PM

trubble on September 21, 2013 at 4:10 PM

De nada… Some things bear (in the woods?) repeating.

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:16 PM

I see that Obama has exported Twerkonomics

faraway on September 21, 2013 at 4:16 PM

The Eurotrash were still using magazines and newspaper as recently as 30 years ago.

Don’t shake hands with Eurotrash, either … but that was always true – especially concerning the French.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 21, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Now I know what a blogroll is.

faraway on September 21, 2013 at 4:19 PM

And the National Chili Festival just kicked off too…

JetBoy on September 21, 2013 at 4:21 PM

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 21, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Slightly OT, but I really don’t enjoy shaking hands with most Europeans…. Ewww. Limp and with no emotion. I’d rather shake hands with a cold, dead fish.

Speaking of her, whats Shrillery up to today?

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

I thought liberals considered toilet paper to be toxic waste?

faraway on September 21, 2013 at 4:23 PM

:)

Schadenfreude on September 21, 2013 at 4:23 PM

Right out of Atlas shrugged.

rob verdi on September 21, 2013 at 4:24 PM

:)

Schadenfreude on September 21, 2013 at 4:23 PM

heh, toilet paper. The rightful end to the left wing movement.

faraway on September 21, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Detroit: “Hey, they left us hanging too”

faraway on September 21, 2013 at 4:27 PM

I forget where I read this but some expert predicted the end of East Germany based on TP. From the end of WWII to the 1980s quality of life had been going up for East Germans. Then, as things turned south, TP started to more resemble the Eastern Bloc standard.

Venezuela may or may not collapase as a socialist state but at some point those who used to have a stable existence are going to riot. And I can think of no product that might make the shortcomings of the state more personal than an absence of TP.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM

‘Austerity’ in freer societies: liberals and socialists don’t get their government handouts.

‘Austerity’ in socialist countries: the people don’t get basic needs, like toilet paper

Liam on September 21, 2013 at 4:40 PM

I understand Chavez’s old speeches make great toilet paper and the State always has an ample supply.

Bubba Redneck on September 21, 2013 at 4:43 PM

3rd world country

gerrym51 on September 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 21, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Slightly OT, but I really don’t enjoy shaking hands with most Europeans…. Ewww. Limp and with no emotion. I’d rather shake hands with a cold, dead fish.

Speaking of her, whats Shrillery up to today?

SteveInRTP on September 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Large swedish women named Helga or Heidi are the exception.

Bubba Redneck on September 21, 2013 at 4:47 PM

This is a delicate or delicious irony: a left, progressive government that can not produce enough paperwork, even to clean up its most abundant product.

Amendment X on September 21, 2013 at 4:48 PM

I hear pages off of Marx’s Communist Manifesto are ultra soft!

squint on September 21, 2013 at 4:50 PM

I hear pages off of Marx’s Communist Manifesto are ultra soft!

squint on September 21, 2013 at 4:50 PM

The squeezably-soft Charmin of political tomes?

Liam on September 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Directive 10-289.

LegendHasIt on September 21, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Jesus, what a load of crap…

john1schn on September 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

3rd world country

gerrym51 on September 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM

…Banana Republic!

KOOLAID2 on September 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM

This story could just as easily come out of Atlas Shrugged.

Egfrow on September 21, 2013 at 5:04 PM

The squeezably-soft Charmin of political tomes?

Liam on September 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Yes! Also, we should send them all our copies of Rules for Radicals, with pages lightly scented with Febreze. They will love us forever.

squint on September 21, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I just can’t wait for this to happen here. I think we should keep Obama in office for the next 14 years or so because he is just… so awesome. And he has a brilliant smile, too.

/Puke

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Jesus, what a load of crap…

john1schn on September 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Don’t you be dissin Obama.

/

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM

3rd world country

gerrym51 on September 21, 2013 at 4:45 PM

…Banana Republic!

KOOLAID2 on September 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM

America by 2016.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Directive 10-289.

LegendHasIt on September 21, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Does that come in double-ply?

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Directive 10-289.

LegendHasIt on September 21, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Does that come in double-ply?

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

No.

Now sir, step to line #3 where the nice lady with gold teeth will examine your prostrate. Curtains are scarce so try to keep your DMV approved gown in place as you traverse your new healthcare facility.

/Obama and Socialism suck.

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Now sir, step to line #3 where the nice lady with gold teeth will examine your prostrate. Curtains are scarce so try to keep your DMV approved gown in place as you traverse your new healthcare facility.

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM

I rate a gown? WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;0

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

If they’re short of paper maybe we can ship them the ACA. Cut it into four squares…it’ll last a while.

CW on September 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM

I rate a gown?

Only if you purchase the Platinum Plan.

MichaelGabriel on September 21, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Only if you purchase the Platinum Plan.

MichaelGabriel on September 21, 2013 at 5:34 PM

LOL! ;0

Sad really that we can find humor in our own demise by our own making.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM

If they’re short of paper maybe we can ship them the ACA. Cut it into four squares…it’ll last a while.

CW on September 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Howabout we ship Nancy Pelosi along with the ACA. After all, you’ve got to [ahem] before you can use the ACA.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Why stop at TP? It should be a “right” of the people to have bidets.

“A bidet in every baño.”

TXUS on September 21, 2013 at 5:50 PM

We need to start supporting the “right” to see Alec Baldwin movies and the “right” to low-priced CDs… Maybe that will cause a shortage.

mankai on September 21, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Just the South American version of Zimbabwe.

GarandFan on September 21, 2013 at 6:15 PM

I rate a gown? WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;0

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Don’t get all excited until you see what/who will examine you in line number three.

/Sorry, had to do it!

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Don’t get all excited until you see what/who will examine you in line number three.

Key West Reader on September 21, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Oh! I fully expect the “creepy Uncle Sam” examination.

Happy Nomad on September 21, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Ah! The leftists’ dream.
They shut down the power plants and then force you to poop
in the dark without any toilet paper.
Progress!

shorebird on September 21, 2013 at 11:47 PM

Perhaps Sheryl Crow can teach them how to get by on one sheet a day. The enviros who push reusable shopping bags may have suggestions too.

KW64 on September 22, 2013 at 1:01 AM

Empty rolls.

unclesmrgol on September 22, 2013 at 1:25 AM

Maybe they should eat more bananas they are binding!

celtic warrior on September 22, 2013 at 2:44 AM

The shame of it is that many Venezuelans are productive, decent, pro-American people. Chavez managed to forge a coalition of the communists, other leftists, and the poor, and won election in what amounts to an accelerated form of what is happening in the USA today. The masses get subsidies, the leftists get power, the productive citizens get screwed.

It’s like Obama on crack or something.

Adjoran on September 22, 2013 at 4:16 AM

People in a number of counries in Asia use their hands – their left hands to be precise.. humanity has existed for a long period of time without toilet paper or any other form of paper..

I dont know why leftists dont advocate using your hands to wash yourself – after all if we did not use toilet paper think of all the trees that we would be saving !! Hail Mother Gaia !! of course we would need to wash our hands with soap afer wards

Feel sad for the Venezuelans but remember when all else fails, trust your hands to do the cleaning.

nagee76 on September 22, 2013 at 4:55 AM

They could do what the Romans did: use one hand for eating, the other for toilet.

Just trying to help.

virgo on September 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM