Finally: The Venezuelan Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness

I don’t know how I could have managed to miss this most glorious of news items last week, but it makes complete sense that the government of a bona fide socialist utopia would have little else to worry about than more perfectly coordinating the already effervescent happiness of its citizens — obviously.

Americans may insist on the right to pursue happiness, but Venezuela now has a formal government agency in charge of enforcing it.

President Nicolas Maduro says the new Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness will coordinate all the “mission” programs created by the late President Hugo Chavez to alleviate poverty.

Wags had a field day Friday, waxing sarcastic on Twitter about how happy they felt less than 24 hours after the announcement.

Oil-rich Venezuela is chronically short of basic goods and medical supplies. Annual inflation is running officially at near 50 percent and the U.S. dollar now fetches more than seven times the official rate on the black market.

Now, I could be wrong here, but I think the mere ability to obtain basic goods like toilet paper, soap, and milk would probably go a lot farther in furthering Venezuelans’ happiness than an entire bureaucracy of welfare programs dedicated to the incandescent memory of the late Hugo Chavez, no? Evidently, current “president” Nicolas Maduro does not happen to think so, via the Daily Beast:

“We must elevate the missions to heaven, in gratitude to Chávez,” Maduro announced in a national broadcast, in a nod to the founder of the so-called Bolivarian revolution, now in its 14th year.

The brand new ministry will “look after our elderly men and women [and] care for our boys and girls,” Maduro announced, in the spirit of “the most sublime and loved of revolutionary peoples” and in the name of “moving beyond the capitalist order.”

The announcement came on the heels of another recent Orwellian flourish, “Loyalty and Love to Hugo Chavez Day,” a new entry to the Bolivarian calendar, meant to rally loyal Chavistas ahead of the December 8 municipal elections.

In a land battered by street crime, the hemisphere’s worst inflation (50 percent a year), and blackouts that left 70 percent of the country in the dark at one point in September, word of yet another grand government reform initiative was met with skepticism and considerable public derision.

Maduro was content to run his entire election campaign earlier this year on a platform that entailed little more than his status as the right-hand man and personally chosen successor of Hugo Chavez, but as the economic situation in Venezuela has only continued to deteriorate, he’s only clinging more and more fiercely to Chevez’s legacy rather than even bothering to try and forge his own. This latest iteration of a “the beatings will continue until morale improves” socialist mentality is not doing much to dissuade Venezuelans that Maduro’s rule is anything less than an epic disaster, and I doubt even the imposition of mandatory happiness will be enough to stop his political opposition from making gains in their December 8th elections.