Noah, my 10-year-old son, was reading over my shoulder a powerfulstory about the state of medicine in Venezuela by Nick Casey in Sunday’s New York Times. We scrolled through images of filthy operating rooms, broken incubators and desperate patients lying in pools of blood, dying for lack of such basics as antibiotics.
“Dad, why are the hospitals like this?”
I told him it’s an economic system in which the government seizes and runs industries, sets prices for goods, and otherwise dictates what you can and cannot do with your money, and therefore your life. He received my answer with the abstracted interest you’d expect if I had been describing atmospheric conditions on Uranus.
Here’s what I wish I had said: Socialism is a mental poison that leads to human misery of the sort you see in these wrenching pictures.
The lesson seems all the more necessary when discredited ideologies are finding new champions in high places. When Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died in 2013, an obscure U.K. parliamentarian tweeted, “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.”
The parliamentarian was Jeremy Corbyn, now leader of the Labour Party.