Opposition leader and U.S.-recognized President of Venezuela Juan Guaido attempted to oust Nicolas Maduro’s regime this week in what he dubbed, “Operation Liberty." Guaido's rebellion has failed for now as Maduro appeared on state television Thursday morning in front of 4,500 troops.
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Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America, but in recent years the socialist country has been plagued by poverty, a lack of medicine, rampant inflation, and rolling power blackouts.
Brian Brenberg, associate professor of economics at The King’s College, said the country’s descent into poverty followed socialism’s typical pattern.
“First of all, you’ve got to convince the people in your country that it’s all going to be different this time. This is the recipe time and again for socialism,” he said on FOX Business' Kennedy Thursday. “We see it fails here, there, and everywhere, but the way we’re going to do it is going to be just fine.”
When Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, came to power in 1998, he nationalized large swaths of the Venezuelan economy and drove many private companies out of the country. Brenberg said this is the typical path of socialist regimes.
“You kick the people out of your country who know how to help run a business, run a country, and create wealth,” he said. “You put power in the hands of cronyists who work for you, who are politically motivated and that basically created this slow, steady, but eventually tragic fall into poverty, which is what we are seeing right now.”
Brenberg warned that the rhetoric in America right now that demonizes wealth and private business is dangerous.
“You look at Elizabeth Warren, you look at Bernie Sanders, you look at many others in the 2020 race, and they are out there saying, ‘Billionaires are evidence of immorality.’ Where else have you heard that? You have heard that in Venezuela. And that’s the beginning then of policies that say, ‘Get out. We’re going to push you out, we’re going to nationalize these industries.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has called for a “wealth tax” of 2% for people with assets over $50 million, and 3% on people with assets over $1 billion. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has called for a big hike in the estate tax and a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent.