Venezuela’s Tyranny of Bad Ideas

August 29, 2018

< 1 min read

Daniel Pipes

Ideas run the world: good ones create freedom and wealth; bad ones, oppression and poverty. Sure, money is important, but money is but a means to an end. Ideas are the end. You are not what you eat; you are what you think.

Politicians in particular fall under the sway of ideas. As John Maynard Keynes put it, “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. … it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”

The story of Venezuela, brought from affluence to misery by its own madman in authority, makes this point with singular clarity. In 1914, the discovery of oil on Venezuelan land brought the country vast revenues and produced a relatively free economy. By 1950, Venezuela enjoyed the fourth-highest per capita income in the world, behind only the U.S., Switzerland, and New Zealand. As late as 1980, it boasted the world’s fastest growing economy in the 20thcentury. In 2001, Venezuela still ranked as Latin America’s wealthiest country.

[Click here to read the remainder of the article.]

Reprinted with author’s permission from Daniel Pipes

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