Stephens: Hugo Chávez and the 47% - WSJ.com: "Since coming to power 14 years ago, Mr. Chávez has manufactured dependency on a scale unseen elsewhere in the post-Soviet world. He has nationalized farms, steel mills, cement factories, telecoms and the assets of foreign oil companies. His government subsidizes everything from oil to milk. Government spending, much of it on cheap housing, has risen at a blowout rate of 30% in the past year alone.
The result? Chronic shortages of everything from oil to milk. A 24% inflation rate. A homicide rate that in 2011 clocked in at 67 per 100,000 people—nearly five times the rate in Mexico. Latin America's lowest growth in GDP per capita over the past decade, despite record-high oil prices. Constant devaluations. The diversion of an estimated $100 billion in recent years to a slush fund controlled exclusively by Mr. Chávez. Rolling blackouts. A credit rating on a par with Ghana's and Bolivia's. The steady degradation of the country's once formidable oil company, PdVSA."
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