In an animated video clip posted to Twitter on Nov. 1, Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris argued that America needs to strive not for equal treatment of individuals but for equity. “Equitable treatment,” she explained, “means we all end up at the same place.”
Efforts to guarantee outcomes are at odds with what it means to live in a free society where equality under the law is the guiding principle. So either Ms. Harris was blowing smoke or she wants to change America into a place where liberty takes a back seat to central planning. The latter is called socialism, a system that is not particularly kind to the poor.
Hugo Chávez also promised to make everyone in his country equally well-off. The concept sold in a nation that believed it was infinitely rich because it was swimming in oil. Intellectuals reasoned that he ought to stick it to the haves. When he did, they packed their bags and left.
Of the more than four million Venezuelans who are estimated to have fled their country since 2015, many are unskilled workers who have been forced into menial labor or lives as mendicants in foreign countries. Images of their march into exile have provoked compassion and grief across the globe.
Yet it is the flight of the knowledge worker that has done the most harm to the nation. As one Venezuelan economist told me recently, “you can be sure that the country’s most skilled professionals were among the first to leave and valued tradesmen were not far behind.”
The Bolivarian revolution’s earliest large-scale assault on know-how came during a lockout at the monopoly oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) in December 2002.
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