Sir, is this statement about you true?Response:
Sometime before 1989, a Soviet official asked economist Paul Seabright who was in charge of London’s bread supply. Seabright gave him an answer that is comical but also true: ‘nobody’.If it is true, would you please provide me some background information about it? Where/when were you asked? Do you know the official who asked this question?
I marvel at the idea that one person would be responsible for something that doesn't need such an overseer--but the Russian official couldn't imagine things any other way! There are people all over the globe, though, who think government can and should dictate and regulate the market to such a degree--many of them in this country, too--but for the life me I cannot understand what flaw in their brains would cause them to against all evidence about the real world.
The statement is basically true but the details are not. The question was put to me around 1991 or 1992 in St. Petersburg by an official of the city of St. Petersburg (so not a "Soviet" official). I mention it in the first chapter of my book "The Company of Strangers".
Here's just the latest example:
Shortages of basic products such as corn, milk and chicken have plagued Venezuela for years, creating long lines at supermarkets and pushing inflation well past the 60% mark just in the last year alone.This is a family blog so I'll avoid the temptation to make a joke about getting "blanked" by your government and needing condoms :-)
More recently, shortages are affecting people in the South American country in a more personal way. Venezuelan consumers complain condoms and birth control pills are nowhere to be found. Shortages that first affected the dining table have now made their way into the bedroom...
Venezuelans are turning to Mercado Libre, or Free Market. It's a website similar to eBay where consumers buy and sell all kinds of products.
One subscriber is selling a box of 36 condoms for 4,760 bolivars. That's a whopping $755 U.S. dollars at the official exchange rate. It's also 85% of the Venezuelan monthly minimum salary, currently at 5,602 bolivars.