For those of you who thought things would improve in Venezuela once Hugo Chávez passed on, you might want to think again. Now there are food shortages, and the word from Caracas is that the government is going to Do Something. Unfortunately, it’s going to do what a Chavist government can’t help but do, and that’s muck things up worse:
Rather than understanding that the problem is due to a drop in production and a drought in foreign currency to buy the products required by the population, now the “queues” making the lives of consumers miserable every day get the blame. A few days ago, Andrés Eloy Méndez, the newly appointed Superintendent of Socio-Economic Rights, announced that the Government will start a “war against queues” at supermarkets, another fictitious conflagration that adds to the so-called “economic war” [Nicolás] Maduro frequently resorts to.
The first mistake, of course, is appointing a Superintendent of Socio-Economic Rights, which in terms of functionality is right up there with establishing a Ministry of Play-Doh.
Anyway, you may be sure that Méndez takes his phoney-baloney job seriously:
From this “battle” of audits arose the erroneous idea that one of the main causes of people spending up to three and four hours in a commercial establishment is that supermarkets have a significant number of checkout counters closed. And a couple of supermarkets were fined over this, including the Bicentenario Plaza Venezuela in Caracas, where only 26 checkout counters out of 60 were operational. Also, the Bicentenario branch was requested to outline a plan to cover and ensure the operation of all counters in the future.
Of course, opening more checkout counters will not add one single banana (probably imported from Colombia) to the stocks in Venezuelan food stores.
But wait! It gets worse:
[I]t has just been announced that the ministries of Science and Technology and Food are developing a biometric fingerprint recognition system that will allow to monitor “who buys and how he/she does it” and to control the so-called “bachaqueo” (a type of smuggling activity common in the Venezuelan border with Colombia), according to Méndez. This mechanism would be put into operation for both private and public network supermarkets by early 2015.
Number of additional bananas to be sold as a result: zero.
These ideas are so horrible and have such minimal potential positive impact that I expect Harry Reid to propose at least one of them before too long.