Venezuela Nationalizes Toilet Paper Factory

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 9/23/2013 12:50:00 PM

"I am the Great MADURO", etc., etc.
[NOTE: For those unfamiliar with the "Beavis and Butt-head" reference, see here and here.] If this is an example of socialists taking over the "commanding heights" of the economy, I am at a complete loss for words. To me at least, toilet paper manufacturing as a strategic sector bog-gles the mind, but it may make sense in Venezuela. It is no big secret that the Chavistas have nationalized broad swathes of the Venezuelan economy. Supply problems? Central planning will solve them, free market be damned. From Economics 101, I was taught that price controls and import controls create rather than alleviate goods shortages. Apparently this stupid bourgeois logic holds no water in modern-day Venezuela. Silly me. Instead of relenting on government controls to remedy the supply situation for various goods including toilet paper, the ultimate solution apparently involves nationalizing these enterprises lock, stock and barrel. You got it--TP users of Venezuela, unite!
On Saturday, Vice President Jorge Arreaza announced the "temporary occupation" of the Paper Manufacturing Company's plant in the state of Aragua. The aim, he explained, is to review the "production, marketing and distribution (of) toilet paper [...] The People's Defense from the Economy will not allow hoarding or failures in the production and distribution of essential commodities," the vice president said. 

By the "People's Defense," Arreaza was referring to a government agency created on September 13 by President Nicolas Maduro to "defeat the economic war that has been declared in the country," according to a report from state-run ATV. This group is charged with looking at inefficiencies across various industries in the nation, including foods and other products, and taking action presumably in the South American nation's best interests.
For what it's worth, Venezuela's leaders see a conspiracy to hoard toilet paper--presumably to, ah, dump them when prices have risen sufficiently:
But the government has said private companies aren't doing their part, accusing them of hoarding their products in hopes of selling it later at a higher price. They've also suggested the problem is tied to a broader conspiracy. "There is no deficiency in production," Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming said in May according to ATV, "but an excessive demand generating purchases by a nervous population because of a media campaign."
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. To paraphrase Marx, the TP expropriators have been expropriated (or something like that).