http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044402420457804...Laws that allow Mr. Chávez to commandeer the airwaves of every TV station at any hour—but limit the opposition to three minutes of advertising a day. The use of state buildings for partisan purposes. No debates. No independent electoral observers. Threats that public workers could lose their jobs if they voted against the incumbent.Since coming to power 14 years ago, Mr. Chávez has manufactured dependency on a scale unseen elsewhere in the post-Soviet world. He has nationalized farms, steel mills, cement factories, telecoms and the assets of foreign oil companies. His government subsidizes everything from oil to milk. Government spending, much of it on cheap housing, has risen at a blowout rate of 30% in the past year alone.The result? Chronic shortages of everything from oil to milk. A 24% inflation rate. A homicide rate that in 2011 clocked in at 67 per 100,000 people—nearly five times the rate in Mexico. Latin America's lowest growth in GDP per capita over the past decade, despite record-high oil prices. Constant devaluations. The diversion of an estimated $100 billion in recent years to a slush fund controlled exclusively by Mr. Chávez. Rolling blackouts. A credit rating on a par with Ghana's and Bolivia's. The steady degradation of the country's once formidable oil company, PdVSA.The only bright spot, according to the BBC, is that Venezuela "now boasts the fairest income distribution in Latin America." Isn't that wonderful?____________________No wonder Sean Penn and the rest of the Democrats like Chávez so much -- it's such a small price to pay for fairness.--fleg
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