Pundits should have fixed terms,” left-wing author Naomi Klein recently told the BBC. Awarded “jobs for life,” most professional commentators — whether opining in newspaper columns like this one or blathering on television — suffer no consequence for making predictions that turn out “spectacularly wrong.” Klein’s (partly tongue-in-cheek) solution? Hold our pundits to account by making them reapply for their sinecures every four years, banishing those whose prognostications prove most wide of the mark.
The socialist Klein’s embrace of market forces, however selective, is welcome. Might I offer the unfolding horror in Venezuela as the first litmus test of her proposal?
In 2004, she signed a petition headlined, “We would vote for Hugo Chavez.” Three years later, she lauded Venezuela as a place where “citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives.” In her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine,” she portrayed capitalism as a sort of global conspiracy that instigates financial crises and exploits poor countries in the wake of natural disasters. But Klein declared that Venezuela had been rendered immune to the “shocks” administered by free market fundamentalists thanks to Chavez’s “21st Century Socialism,” which had created “a zone of relative economic calm and predictability.”