I Get It Now

Nicolás Maduro is J. Jonah Jameson. Maduro even looks a little like Jameson. And he certainly acts like him:

What to do if your country’s economy is on the ropes, inflation is soaring, shortages are rampant, political support is fragile and violence is flaring? For critics of Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela, the answer is that you wrap yourself in the national flag and blame somebody else, anybody else, even Spider-Man.

Since becoming president five months ago, Mr Maduro has routinely cited vague international conspiracies by capitalist plotters, or even cartoon superheroes, for Venezuela’s mounting problems that range from a lack of toilet paper and national electricity blackouts to one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Most recently, he has set up a hotline 0-800-SABOTAGE, for Venezuelans to file reports on illegal economic activity, part of new measures aimed at countering economic “sabotage”; said he would sue Airbus with “the help of an international law firm” after his presidential aircraft suffered a fault; and identified what he calls US “factories of anti-values” such as Hollywood.

“Take a 14-year-old youngster who has a 9mm pistol in his hand and is carrying in his head thousands of hours of violent programming,” mused the 50-year-old president this month, after watching Spider-Man 3 with his wife. “Stimulated by such consumerism and violence, no wonder he goes out and kills.”

Yup. Spider-Man is responsible for Venezuela's economic crisis, according to Maduro. And you thought that Venezuela's governing political class couldn't get any crazier.

I Am Sure that This Is a Sign of a Thriving Society

Everything is going just fine in Venezuela. What could make anyone think otherwise?

Oh.

A Venezuelan state agency on Friday ordered the temporary takeover of a factory that produces toilet paper in what it called an effort to ensure consistent supplies after embarrassing shortages earlier this year.

Critics of President Nicolas Maduro say the nagging shortages of products ranging from bathroom tissue to milk are a sign his socialist government's rigid price and currency controls are failing. They have also used the situation to poke fun at his administration on social media networks.

A national agency called Sundecop, which enforces price controls, said in a statement it would occupy one of the factories belonging to paper producer Manpa for 15 days, adding that National Guard troops would "safeguard" the facility.

"The action in the producer of toilet paper, sanitary napkins and disposable diapers responds to the state's obligation to ensure a steady supply of basic goods for the people," Sundecop said, adding it had observed "the violation of the right" to access such products.

Further commentary really isn't needed, is it?

Of Venezuela and Toilet Paper

For those who think that all has gone swimmingly in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, I give you this.

I'll spare you the obvious jokes that I could make about this situation; this is a family blog, after all, and one tries to keep things clean. I will note, however, that if the Venezuelan government can't handle the relatively easy task of ensuring that people have sufficient access to toilet paper, it is probably fouling up a host of other more complicated projects even as I write and you read this blog post.

Also, who still thinks that price controls are a good idea? It's 2013. Have we learned nothing?