VENEZUELA ISSUES ID CARDS TO CURTAIL FOOD HOARDING
By HANNAH DREIER
— Apr. 1, 2014 3:09 PM EDT
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Battling food shortages, the government is rolling out a new ID system that is either a grocery loyalty card with extra muscle or the most dramatic step yet toward rationing in Venezuela, depending on who is describing it.
President Nicolas Maduro’s administration says the cards to track families’ purchases will foil people who stock up on groceries at subsidized prices and then illegally resell them for several times the amount. Critics say it’s another sign the oil-rich Venezuelan economy is headed toward Cuba-style dysfunction.
Registration began Tuesday at more than 100 government-run supermarkets across the country. Working-class shoppers who sometimes endure hours-long lines at government-run stores to buy groceries at steeply reduced prices are welcoming the plan.
“The rich people have things all hoarded away, and they pull the strings,” said Juan Rodriguez, who waited two hours to enter the government-run Abastos Bicentenario supermarket near downtown Caracas on Monday, and then waited another three hours to check out.
Rigid currency controls and a shortage of U.S. dollars make it increasingly difficult for Venezuelans to find imported basic products like milk, flour, toilet paper and cooking oil. Price controls don’t help either, with producers complaining that some goods are priced too low to make a profit and justify production.
As of January, more than a quarter of basic staples were out of stock in Venezuelan stores, according to the central bank’s scarcity index. The shortages are among the problems cited by Maduro’s opponents who have been staging protests since mid-February.
Checkout workers at Abastos Bicentenario were taking down customers’ cellphone numbers Monday, to ensure they couldn’t return for eight days. Shoppers said employees also banned purchases by minors, to stop parents from using their children to engage in hoarding, which the government calls “nervous buying.”
Rodriguez supports both measures.
“People who go shopping every day hurt us all,” he said, drawing approving nods from the friends he made over the course of his afternoon slowly snaking through the aisles with his oversized cart.
Reflecting Maduro’s increasingly militarized discourse against opponents he accuses of waging “economic war,” the government is calling the new program the “system of secure supply.”
Patrons will register with their fingerprints, and the new ID card will be linked to a computer system that monitors purchases. On Tuesday, Food Minister Felix Osorio said the process was off to a smooth start. He says the system will sound an alarm when it detects suspicious purchasing patterns, barring people from buying the same goods every day. But he also says the cards will be voluntary, with incentives like discounts and entry into raffles for homes and cars.
Expressionless men with rifles patrolled the warehouse-size supermarket Monday as shoppers hurried by, focusing on grabbing meat and pantry items before they were gone. Long shelves that should have been heaped with rice and coffee instead displayed six brands of ketchup. There was plenty of frozen beef selling for 22.64 bolivars a kilogram — $3.59 at the official exchange rate, or 32 cents at the black market rate increasingly used in pricing goods.
A local consumer watchdog, the National User and Consumer Alliance, invokes the specter of Cuba’s struggling economy and calls the ID program rationing by another name. It predicts all Venezuelans without cards will soon be barred from shopping at state supermarkets.
After five decades of rationing basic goods for Cubans, President Raul Castro’s communist government is phasing out subsidized foodstuffs as it opens the island’s economy to private enterprise. Cubans most dependent on the rationed goods say that in recent years their monthly quotas provided only enough food for a couple of weeks.
Until now, Venezuela’s restrictions on purchases have been toughest in its cities on the border with Colombia. Venezuelans can make a killing by buying goods at below-market prices and smuggling them into Colombia for sale at much higher prices.
Defenders of Venezuela’s socialist government say price controls imposed by the late President Hugo Chavez help poor people lead more dignified lives, and the United Nations has recognized Venezuela’s success in eradicating hunger.
Complaints aren’t heard in the long lines at government supermarkets. One young mother shielded her eyes against the afternoon sun as she approached a cashier with sugar, flour and Frosted Flakes cereal. She arrived at 10 a.m., but didn’t blame the government or its opponents for the long wait.
“I don’t know if it’s worth it, but when my children are crying what else can you do,” said the woman, who declined to provide her name as an armed National Guardsmen watched her at the checkout line.
She planned another five-hour run to another supermarket Tuesday to get everything out of stock at the downtown store.
Hannah Dreier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahdreier
I have some mixed messages and feelings when I watch this 2008 video of the former governer. It’s part pep-talk, it’s part campaign speech, party chummy condescension. If you love Sarah Palin, this video won’t bother you. If you don’t like her, this will make you hate her more.
But for those who live here, this is just another reason we are different here:
We had a sitting governor addressing the convention of the largest third party in Alaska, a secessionist party at that. While she clearly didn’t see them as a threat, she obviously feels they are legitimate enough to warrant comparison to her own viewpoint. She had during her time in office appointed and dismissed party members from her administration.
The AIP, while supposedly not wanting to secede but just vote on if we should… Remains the party that no one in Alaska has heard of but that everyone wants to join when they hear about it.
Why is this? What keeps the largest third party of capturing a single school board seat?
Anyhow, enjoy the show. Enjoy talking about peaceful secession and voluntaryism with people.
Another article from txfatherofseven.wordpress.com.
When we oppose subsidies, we are charged with opposing the very thing that it was proposed to subsidize and of being the enemies of all kinds of activity, because we want these activities to be voluntary and to seek their proper reward in themselves. Thus, if we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in religious matters, we are atheists. If we ask that the state not intervene, by taxation, in education, then we hate enlightenment. If we say that the state should not give, by taxation, an artificial value to land or to some branch of industry, then we are the enemies of property and of labor. If we think that the state should not subsidize artists, we are barbarians who judge the arts useless. — Frederic Bastiat
I’ve posted this quote onFacebookonce but never got to dig into it more. One of the things about the…
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Such a simple meme, but there’s so much there. All pots, and all flowers are not equal. However, such value is subjective. Some pots are small, others are large. Some empty and some crowded. Some of rich soil in them … Continue reading
Statists think it’s a good idea to keep you away from the ability to shoot 20, possibly 30 people- but, if 5 people have the ability to turn 6 billion into agonized -ash sculptures that is somehow just and moral. … Continue reading
In honor of the great Hermit King, all men will now be required to wear the same hair-do!
Photo: Reuters; Getty Images; Getty Images
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — and in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, that’s now an order!
All North Korean men are now required to get the same haircut as their nutjob leader — shaved close on the back and sides, with longer hair on top brushed back off the forehead.
The state-ordered guidelines were introduced in the capital, Pyongyang, roughly two weeks ago, according to South Korean media.
And the rule is now being enforced nationwide.
But not all of the dictator’s subjects are impressed with the strongman’s inverted bowl-style ’do.
“Our leader’s haircut is very particular, if you will,” a source told Radio Free Asia.
“It doesn’t always go with everyone, since everyone has different face and head shapes.”
Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China said the new haircut makes Koreans look like Chinese smugglers.
“Until the mid-2000s, we called it the ‘Chinese smuggler haircut,’” the Korea Times reported.
Until now, Korean men could take their pick of 10 state-approved styles.
Women will still enjoy far more freedom to wear their hair the way they want — with a list of 18 looks the communist government has deemed appropriate.
And it’s not the first time North Korea has ordered its citizens to clean up their act, the BBC reported.
North Korea’s state TV once launched a campaign against long hair, called “Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle.”