Everything socialism touches it destroys. Including beer.
Socialism makes for bad beer
Socialism is a hot topic these days. Democratic presidential wannabes, including Bernie Sanders, say they’re for it, and recent polls indicate about 40% of American young people are, too.
Over the last few years, my buddy Ben Powell, who is a professor of economics at Texas Tech, and I toured the world, drank a lot of beer, and saw for ourselves how things are going in former and current socialist nations. It turns out the quality and availability of beer in each of these countries is an accurate, at-a-glance way to assess their political systems.
Our first stop was Sweden, which Bernie Sanders and others extol as an ideal example of socialism. I’ve got news for Bernie and his crew. Sweden is no more socialist than the United States. Ben and I have been there, and the beer is good and cold, produced by privately owned companies, imported from all over the world, and sold at privately owned bars at unregulated prices. Those prices are high, because of Sweden’s notoriously high taxes, which are about 50% higher than in the U.S., but that’s not socialism.
Socialism is a system of government in which the means of production and the raw materials are controlled by the government. Think of your least-favorite government office — is it the post office? Or maybe your state division of motor vehicles? Then imagine every business in our nation, from Starbucks to Procter & Gamble to car manufacturers, being run the same way.
What does that do to beer? We went to Venezuela and Cuba to find out.
In Venezuela, the country has actually run out of beer on several occasions. Yes, you read that right. The entire country has run out of beer. How could that happen? The government, which controls the foreign exchange market, couldn’t or wouldn’t allocate enough hard currency for the largest beer company, Empresas Polar, to buy sufficient quantities of malted barley from outside the country.
In Cuba, they had beer, but the central planners in charge of the economy decided they only need two kinds. There is Cristal, a light lager, and Bucanero, a dark, bock-like beer. Both taste like Budweiser that’s been left out in the sun too long.
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