Reuters reports that the inevitable result of market price controls has occurred in Venezuela:
Venezuelan consumers are increasingly facing periodic shortages of basic food products as the economy shows signs of overheating amid record revenues from an oil boom.
The shortages have increased skepticism of Chavez’s economic policies and provided a political backdrop to campaigning this month for a referendum on a new constitution that he says is needed to make Venezuela a socialist state.
Businesses say price controls on staple foods are so low they discourage investment and force stores to sell at a loss.
Venezuelan construction worker Gustavo Arteaga has no trouble finding jobs in this OPEC nation’s booming economy, but on a recent Monday morning he skipped work as part of a more complicated search — for milk.
The 37-year-old father-of-two has for months scrambled to find basic products like cooking oil, beef and milk, despite leftist President Hugo Chavez’s social program that promises to provide low-cost groceries to the majority poor.
"It takes a miracle to find milk," said Arteaga, who spent two hours in line outside a store in the poor Caracas neighborhood of Eucaliptus. "Don’t you see I’m here slaving away to see if I can get even one or two of those (containers)?"
Of course Chavez’s cronies blame everyone and everything except for their own foolish policies:
The government says the problem is caused by growing demand by poor citizens who benefit from social programs, exaggerated media hype and food hoarding by unscrupulous businesses.
Supermarket shelves remain stocked with aged whiskey and imported wine, but for up to 25 percent of staple food products this year supplies have been irregular, according to public opinion and economic research group Datanalisis.
The group says Venezuelans waste several hours a week trawling for food. Retailers ration their supplies, and some even stamp customers’ hands so they do not line up twice.
Strange, it’s almost like the lessons that most of the world learned from the failure of the Soviets and the rest of their Communist Bloc have been lost on Mr. Chavez.
The last ninety years of Communism summed up: Force someone to sell a product of at a price that’s less than what it takes them to make it and they’ll stop producing.