This past Sunday, September 17, passed nearly unnoticed as Constitution Day, the day that our Constitution was signed in 1787 by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
Americans take our Constitution for granted, and an increasing number view it with indifference, or even worse, hostility. No other country has one that is like ours or that has lasted so long. It was designed by honest, intelligent and Godly men who sought to establish freedom for everyone by limiting the power of government. They had seen how an expanding, dictatorial government treated their subjects, and were determined that America would be different.
One of the ways that this was accomplished was through the separation of powers through the three branches of legislative, executive and judicial parts of government. When these break down – as we see beginning to happen in America – society breaks down, and even though we have plenty of examples of socialist governments, we need look no further for yet another example than the laboratory of Venezuela to see how the lack of a constitution brings misery upon its people.
In May of 2016, an article appeared on theguardian.com entitled “’We are like a bomb’: food riots show Venezuela crisis has gone beyond politics.” Food had already been in short supply for three years following Hugo Chavez’s disastrous presidency. Chavez died from cancer in 2013, and was replaced by an even worse president, Nicolas Maduro. Maduro, who remains in power today.
The article documented how Venezuelans had lined up at a supermarket after a rumor that chicken would be available there. But when the trucks arrived, national guardsmen ordered the trucks to leave. Soon, the crowd turned into a mob that began looting, burning tires, and clashing with Venezuelan security forces. Between January and April of 2016, there were 2,138 such protests recorded by the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.
In June of 2016, the New York Times reported that trucks delivering food in Venezuela had to be escorted by armed guards, as hungry people ransacked stores looking for food. It said, “In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed.”
That same month, Forbes reported that “Venezuelans are starving, and they are tired of waiting in line. In a revolt against president Nicolas Maduro’s failing government, they are increasingly turning to rioting and looting to feed themselves. In the city of Cumana they raided more than 100 supermarkets and other stores last week. Hundreds were arrested; one died.”
Fox News also reported much the same, but also that Maduro blamed the riots on criminals and opposition political parties, and that one expert said that “people are angry because it’s not easy to find food and they want the government to solve the problem…protests and lootings are scattered and uncoordinated. The government is just trying to criminalize people to have an excuse to suppress all these demonstrations.”
That was last year, but the food riots are still ongoing. On April 21st of this year, the New York Times reported, “At least a dozen people were killed as the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, erupted into a night of riots, looting and clashes between government opponents and the National Guard late Thursday and early Friday, with anger from two days of pro-democracy demonstrations spilling into unrest in working-class and poor neighborhoods” and that “the government has responded by trying to repress the protests with rubber bullets and tear gas. Making matters worse, bitterness against the government has been boiling over as the country struggles with severe shortages of food and medicine, forcing Venezuelans to wait in lines for hours for basics like cornmeal.”
The irony of the Venezuela debacle is that it is a wealthy nation. According to Wikipedia, it “has the largest oil reserves, and the eighth largest natural gas reserves in the world, and consistently ranks among the top ten world crude oil producers.”
During the Chavez presidency, price controls were placed on food items and other basic necessities, resulting in food shortages.
Our Constitution allows for a free market economy. While there is still hunger in America, it is minimal and solvable in comparison to Venezuela and other countries, and there are no shortages of food. We are guaranteed equal rights and opportunities in America, not equal stuff and certainly not equal misery.