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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Conservatives and Chavez


Conservatives are on the warpath over the reelection of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. They’re saying that Venezuelans have made a huge mistake in extending Chavez’s term as president, pointing out that Chavez’s socialism is destroying Venezuela’s economy. They’re also pointing out how unfair it is that Chavez used the powers of incumbency to buy votes with federal money in the run-up to the election.

Oh, come on. Chavez’s actions are no different from those of any conservative or liberal incumbent running for president here in the United States.

Isn’t one of the most powerful tools employed by federal incumbents the doling out of federal grants to states and communities in the run-up to an election? Indeed, doesn’t the mainstream press measure the effectiveness of congressmen by how much federal candy they bring back to their districts?

Let’s go back to the advent of socialism in America. Pray tell: How is Chavez different, in principle, from conservative and liberal icon Franklin D. Roosevelt?

Chavez nationalizes industries, and American conservatives go ballistic. But what about Roosevelt’s nationalization of gold? What’s the difference? Didn’t Roosevelt order every American to deliver his gold to the U.S. government? Didn’t he make it a felony offense for Americans to own gold? Didn’t he criminally prosecute Americans who were caught illegally owning gold?

Oh, and let’s not forget about the TVA — the Tennessee Valley Authority, a massive socialist enterprise involving a government-owned electricity project that Chavez undoubtedly has emulated in Venezuela.

What do conservatives say about Roosevelt’s gold confiscation and TVA? They’re either as quiet as church mice or they come out and loudly proclaim what a great president Franklin Roosevelt was. Meanwhile, they exclaim against Chavez’s socialism, not because they oppose socialism but simply because Chavez has the audacity to stand up to the U.S. military empire’s antics in the Middle East, Latin America, and elsewhere.

What about Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act and National Industrial Recovery Administration, along with his Blue Eagle campaign? Show me a better example of economic fascism than that. In a country that was supposed to be free enterprise, the federal government organized businesses and industries into industrial cartels, each with the power to set its own wages and prices, which were enforced by the federal government. If a business refused to participate in this fascist undertaking, members of the Blue Eagle intimidated, threatened, and boycotted his business until he fell in line.

So, what do conservatives say about the NRA and the NIRA? Even though the program would have made Benito Mussolini’s Top 10 fascist programs, conservatives seal their lips. They’re too scared that voters will punish them for criticizing FDR. But they’re not too scared to criticize Chavez for doing much the same things that FDR did.

Oh, and let’s not forget the conservatives’ favorite government program, which stems back to FDR too. I’m referring, of course, to Social Security, which conservatives have vowed to protect and defend to their dying breath.

Well, guess what — Hugo Chavez believes in Social Security too. So does Fidel Castro, another statist that conservatives love to rail against simply because he too stands up against American imperialism.

Just thing of the irony of it all — Chavez, Castro, and American conservatives all ardently believe in Social Security, a socialist program that originated in Germany.

Oh, did I mention that Adolf Hitler also believed in Social Security? As a National Socialist, Social Security was one of his favorite socialist programs too.

Of course, that’s not the only socialist program that conservatives and Chavez embrace. There is also Medicare and Medicaid. Public (i.e., government) schooling too.

Let’s not forget the drug war. Chavez and conservatives have that in common too.

There is also the concept of a managed economy. Oh, sure, conservatives love to rail at Chavez for mismanaging the Venezuelan economy. But in doing so, they overlook an important point — that both Chavez and conservatives believe in a government-managed economy.

The only difference is that conservatives say that they’re better at managing an economy than Chavez is. That’s, of course, problematic given the out-of-control federal spending and debt that conservatives, along with liberals, inflict upon our nation whenever they are in charge.

Chavez does have one an advantage over American conservatives. At least he knows that he’s a socialist. American conservatives know he’s a socialist too, but the problem is that they don’t see that conservatives are too.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.