In my geography class back in the 1960s I watched an educational movie focused on Venezuela, a thriving and beautiful country that was among the most prosperous in the world. Unlike Cuba, its leaders were elected; it had a free press, thriving businesses and well-educated, happy people. In the early 1950s it had the fourth highest gross domestic product in the world! The geography lesson instilled in me a desire to visit this thriving country one day; alas, as years passed, the country sadly declined and today is on the verge of economic collapse. Imagine going to your grocery store and finding the shelves largely empty or being forced to wait hours in line to get clean water, bread or other necessities. No longer affording to feed your family you turn your pet dog or cat loose. Bodies of the dead lie and bloat in morgues where there is no refrigeration due to shortages of power. Newborn babies are placed in cardboard boxes in hospitals due to shortages of incubators. Welcome to the nightmare of Venezuela, which shows what happens to a rich nation after decades of government corruption and mismanagement of a country that has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. It’s convenient to blame socialist Hugo Chavez and his successor, but the problems of Venezuela started well before their regime took power in 1998. They just put the last nails in the coffin of what happens when people elect corrupt leaders and accept government handouts. This is nothing new in the annals or human history – just look back at the Roman Empire for life under “bread and circuses.” Venezuela’s decline started in 1958 after the nationalization of the oil industry and the restrictive, misguided economic policy of import substitution industrialization. Next came further government interference with land reforms, elimination of alternative political parties, nationalization of other industries, a punitive, controlled judiciary, wage and price controls and currency devaluations (printing money without backing). Today, heavily subsidized gasoline costs less than four cents a gallon, but there is no food, electricity or clean water. Welcome to an economy run by an entrenched, elite “democratic socialist”/socialist government. No need to travel to Venezuela any longer; sadly, its seeds are planted here in America. Giving too much control over our daily lives to faceless bureaucrats and unresponsive elected officials and a totalitarian judiciary gives us the chaos and costs of Obamacare, needless overregulation of businesses, increasing taxation, stagnant wages, unsustainable monetary policies and other interferences that will doom our economy – allowing us to experience first-hand the nightmare of our brothers and sisters in Venezuela. As you cast your vote, think of Venezuela’s outcome with its experiment with socialistic policies and a “ruling class.” Do you want that for your heirs? Walt Watson is a Saugus resident.