By Rachel Witherspoon
As America has grown and evolved as a capitalist nation, its citizens have been the benefactors of many American privileges. One such American privilege is glaringly evident in the plentiful amounts of gluten-free cookies and soy ice cream in American grocery stores.
In capitalist societies such as America, grocery stores each carry between 40,000 and 50,000 different products(1). This vast supply has allowed a growing number of Americans to adopt specialized diets such as the 6% who are vegan and the 30% who are gluten-free (2 and 3). It also provides a venue for entrepreneurs to sell their products geared towards these diets. Other entrepreneurs have had the freedom to revolutionize the way Americans receive groceries through pick-up orders, grocery delivery services, and even delivering meal kits straight to consumers’ homes. Beyond making shopping easier for busy people, these services have proven to be instrumental for those quarantining during the coronavirus pandemic.
There is a stark contrast between the American grocery reality and that of many socialist countries. All of the services and options discussed above are made possible thanks to a capitalist system that allows for private ownership and rewards entrepreneurship. A vital feature of a socialist economic system is that the government controls most, if not all, means of production and operations. Put simply, in countries like Venezuela, the government controls the supply and distribution of food items, leading to widespread starvation and malnutrition.
While they were once a fruitful country with individual farmers and producers creating a robust food supply, as socialism took hold, starvation came. Now, one in three Venezuelans suffers from starvation(4). This is because the government took over the majority of farms and grocery stores. The nationalization continued to spread throughout the entire food supply chain, and the government could not properly maintain it. To make up for the lack of food production, Venezuela now imports most of it(5). However, its state-run grocery stores are still barren wastelands with many empty shelves. The government has also restricted the number of times a family can shop per week and how much they can buy(6). For many Venezuelans, though, this is a trivial fact as they cannot afford to purchase items from the grocery store, even with the government-imposed price controls, due to the hyperinflation that has plagued the country.
For the Venezuelans registered with their community council, their family can receive a CLAP box which is a monthly box of basic foods like powdered milk, 1 or 2 kilos of grains, and some beans or canned tuna, all for a tenth of the price it would cost in a grocery store(7). While seemingly charitable, the CLAP box program has been riddled with corruption. The result is a box with less food than the family needs and very little nutritional value. Thus, Venezuela has widespread starvation and has reduced its citizens to scavenging the streets and scouring through trash, hoping for something edible.
The next time you advocate for socialism in America, first ask yourself if you are ready to give up your daily vegan, nonfat, extra foam, an organically sourced latte for a life plagued by starvation.
About Rachel Witherspoon
Rachel Witherspoon is a young American graduate student with a passion for utilizing the knowledge found in economics, business, and political science to help others. She is a fierce advocate for America and an even bigger advocate for the First Amendment.