When Oscar Wilde said, “Socialism would relieve us from that sordid necessity of living for others” he may have unintentionally intuited the mindset of future socialist rulers, i.e. socialism always leads to an attenuated “us”–a small clique of ruling elites–not “living for others” but instead carrying out their own ignorant fantasies at the expense of the vast majority of people they are claiming to help.

It is, after all, the free market–and not socialist governance–that truly allows us to live for others. And what a wonderful truth this is! The free market allows people to create mutual bonds and social cooperation and an expanded division of labor. That is, it allows free people to trade as they wish (which sort of begs the question: if “free people” cannot trade as they wish, are they in fact free?)

Yet, many a socialist will claim free and open market competition is at odds with social cooperation; that “speculators” and private property owners do not create wealth but rather “steal” wealth from the masses, and that it is the job of the government to intervene in order to alleviate poverty and suffering through a fair and equitable distribution of wealth between the different classes of society.

Yet, when the bill comes due for their free lunches, once social havoc has been inflicted upon the population by the policies of these economic ignoramuses, the hype of socialist leaders often turns away from “fairness and equity” and to callousness whereby, to quote Orwell, “some animals are more equal than others.”

And as bad luck would have it, we have Francisco Rangel, governor of the state of Bolívar, to provided us with an ample example of such absurdity in a single phrase. In response to widespread food shortages across Venezuela–a product of inflationary policies and price controls–Rangel had this to say to the struggling Venezuelan people:

“Let them take away whatever they want. We are capable of eating a stick, or instead of frying two eggs, fry two rocks, and we will eat fried rocks, ” he said, “but no one can beat us.”

I wonder if Mr. Rangel has any intention of following his own advice. Will he be frying up his own eggs while rocks sizzle in the mouths of “his” people? Or, will he join them in gnawing on a stick like a domesticated dog?

Hopefully, this bitter pill of a statement will signal the apogee of Venezuela’s economic catastrophe brought about by their “petro-socialism.” I could be wrong, but with an election on the horizon, my guess is people will tend to loathe being told not to “yield to temptation” when the “temptation” in question is simply “eating.” But whether or not strongman Nicolás Maduro would willingly abdicate power is another question.

The Economist reports:

“The public is enraged by shortages of everything from poultry to pharmaceuticals, by inflation approaching 200% and by rampant corruption and crime. Recent polls find that 70% of respondents expressing a preference will vote for opponents of the Socialist government led by Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s hand-picked successor.”

Things will probably get worse before they get better in Venezuela no matter the outcome of the election. But let this be a lesson for full blown socialists and “middle-of-the-road” interventionists of all stripes: socialism, even a tepid form of it, does not work.

And by “does not work” I mean it leads to the destruction of society’s liberty and prosperity.

Who would have thought violence and exploitation (and that is in fact what the State is in the business of doing, you damn dirty socialists!) destroy wealth and cooperation?

Who would have thought even subtle interventions into the market impoverish us all?

Who would have thought using force to conviscate and distribute the spoils of wealth, rather than creating wealth through trade, props up certain powerful people at the expense of others?

Once we diminish the dynamic discovery of wealth created through peaceful market cooperation, the vast majority of people suffer for it. In particular it is the poor that suffer, as they have little political clout and ultimately rely on their living standards rising due to economic growth in the real economy.

Safety nets, inflationary monetary policies, price controls, etc.,  cannot replace a growing and dynamic free market, which is simply free people trading as they wish. A crutch is fine, but it’s no replacement for a leg that was never broken in the first place.

And on that note, I suppose a fried rock is better than a dry rock or no rock at all. But it sure as shit isn’t better than nomming on thick cut bacon and fried eggs.

And now I’m hungry.

Luckily, the local grocery store down the road from me is “living for others” and always has their shelves stocked with these reasonably priced goodies to buy for my satisfaction.

If only the people of Venezuela had the freedom to “yield” to such “temptation.”

Post originally appeared on The Libertarian Republic