by Tho Bishop
The crisis in Venezuela is the most modern illustration of the horrific consequences of socialism and the devastating reality of hyperinflation. What makes this disaster all the more infuriating is that it could have been avoided with a basic understanding of history. We’ve seen the disaster of socialism and interventionism in various forms play out across the world time and time again with similar results, and yet new generations of central planners — backed by ideologically aligned intellectuals — are consistently able to fool people into believing that “this time will be different.”
Ludwig von Mises himself lived through one of these historical episodes.
Following defeat in World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was in a state of crisis. The Habsburg monarchy ended in 1918 and with it came the dissolution of the Empire. The German-speaking population formed what we now know as Austria, and the nation soon faced a severe economic crisis. The government, led by a coalition of Social Democrats, Christian Socialists, and a Nationalist Party, implemented an ambitious economic program of price controls, food subsidies, nationalization of industries, protectionism, and welfare — and funded it with a printing press.