Watch and Learn from Hugo Chavez
January 12, 2009
Washington, D.C.--Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has halted construction of a private shopping mall in downtown Caracas as a first step toward confiscation. “We’re going to expropriate that and turn it into a hospital--I don’t know--a school, a university,” said Chavez on his weekly radio show.
“Americans can learn an important lesson from the spread of socialism in Venezuela,” said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “What is Chavez counting on when he grabs a private building and vows to make it into a hospital, school, or university? He’s counting on his listeners to excuse the seizure of private property because a higher moral purpose is supposedly being served.
“Chavez is relying on the fact that socialism embodies the world’s moral ideal of individual sacrifice for the ‘common good.’ History has taught him that no opponent will denounce that ideal. And so he climbs to the moral high ground, turning his back on socialism’s dismal historical record of economic decline, lost freedoms, and human misery.
“As long as the moral ideal of self-sacrifice remains unchallenged, socialism will continue to spread--not only in the third world, but in America as well.
“There is a rational alternative. It’s laissez-faire capitalism, which upholds the individual’s moral right to live and work for his own sake, not society’s. But to establish freedom we must dig up the moral roots that continue to nourish socialism worldwide.”
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Thomas A. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Institute, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his Op-Eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on the Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes.
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