When will President Nicolas Maduro finally free Venezuelans from the tyrannical shackles of supply and demand ruining their lives? Despite his best efforts at establishing price caps, government rationing, currency controls, and stationing troops at places of business in order to prevent the collusion of greedy profit-seekers and American imperialists in their “economic war” against him, the mass shortages of basic goods plaguing Venezuelans persist. Indeed, since parliament granted Maduro his requested “emergency decree powers” in the weeks before the country’s municipal elections and he promised to impose a “new economic order” of fairness and equality, the shortages, the rampant inflation, and the black-market exchange rate of more than ten times the official rate all seem to be getting even worse. It just doesn’t make any sense, amirite?

The Washington Post has a nice write-up of the continuously devolving situation in the Socialist utopia:

Employees at the Excelsior Gama supermarket had set out a load of extra-soft six-roll packs so large that it nearly blocked the aisle. To stock the shelves with it would have been pointless. Soon word spread that the long-awaited rolls had arrived, and despite a government-imposed limit of one package per person, the checkout lines stretched all the way to the decimated dairy case in the back of the store.

“This is so depressing,” said Maria Plaza, 30, a lawyer, an hour and a half into her wait. “Pathetic.” …

“Soon we’ll be using newspaper, just like they do in Cuba!” said an elderly man nearby, inching forward in line. “Yeah! Like Cuba!” others shouted. …

[Sidebar: Er, no actually — they probably won’t even have that. Venezuela is struggling with a major shortage of newsprint, too, with press outlets unsure of whether they’ll be able to keep their newspapers in circulation.]

The arrival of basic staples such as cooking oil, chicken, flour or milk brings Venezuelans running to supermarkets and touches off surreal mob scenes, even as the government imposes price caps and rationing to prevent hoarding. …

“The store owners are doing this on purpose, to increase sales,” said Marjorie Urdaneta, a government supporter who said she believes Maduro when he accuses businesses of colluding with foreign powers to wage “economic war” against him.

“He should tell the stores: Make these items available — or else,” she said. …

“Make these items available — or else”? …Well. That’s one economic template that will certainly help to incentivize people’s behavior — just probably not with the precise types of incentives Venezuela needs right now.