Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is cranking up his efforts to transform still-prosperous Venezuela into a Latin American version of East Germany. Taking a break from nationalizing the oil industry and scaring off foreign investors, Hugo has now shifted his benevolent gaze towards the average Joe on the street.
In his opinion, Venezuelans drink too much, and they're too desirous of consumer goods. It all doesn't fit in with his vision of the "New Man", a proper socialist who eschews all luxuries and distractions for the benefit of the collective. Venezuela's government announced new heavy taxation of booze and luxury goods, which will really give legs to the black market there. Once the taxation policy fails to curb the boozing (and we know it will), there'll be an outright ban on booze and bling...which will, of course, be just as futile.
Look, Hugo: it's the twenty-first century. You can no longer keep information in your country or out of it, because we now have all sort of instantaneous global communications options. No matter how much you go pimping the "New Man" ideal, human nature is what it is, and part of what makes us what we are is the desire to acquire things. Your countrymen and -women can turn on the TV or go on the Internet, and see how the rest of the civilized world has a good time quaffing Martinis and delicious beer while wearing blue jeans and riding to the liquor store in chrome-bumpered Hummers. People aren't buying the "New Man" thing anymore.
It's amazing how every single crusader for socialism thinks that it hasn't worked yet because the right people (namely, them) haven't been in charge. Since the inception of that insidious ideology, no nation has ever prospered under it. Socialism simply doesn't work, because it contradicts the human desire to own stuff, and because it negates the biggest productive force in any society, which is self-interest.
It'll be interesting to see how quickly Hugo can turn a relatively prosperous nation awash in oil revenue into a communist hellhole. It'll get really interesting once he decides to stop asking people to be "New Men" and starts telling them. At gunpoint.
Because that's the only way socialist systems can prolong their existence long enough for the Dear Leader to live a lifetime of power and privilege--they have to start building fences to keep people from voting with their feet, and then they have to break out the guns to ensure compliance. (Notice that all socialist and communist nations in history share one characteristic--they place more restrictions on people leaving than they do on people coming in.)
Alas, Hugo Chavez will soon find out that the best way to piss off the proles is to try and take away their booze, their car keys, their tasty foods, and their CD collections--in other words, everything that makes a guy get up in the morning and go to work. Sheesh--even the Soviets may have rifled through their citizens' drawers on a daily basis, but at least they left the liquor cabinets alone.