An anonymous reader writes: Is it a subtle and devious conspiracy? Incompetent government at work? Market forces? Or perhaps the law of unintended consequences? Any way you look at it, Venezuela is in a bad way, as reported by the Guardian: "First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities – toilet paper. . . Economists say Venezuela's shortages stem from price controls meant to make basic goods available to the poorest parts of society and the government's controls on foreign currency. "State-controlled prices – prices that are set below market-clearing price – always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University. President Nicolás Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chávez to carry on his "Bolivarian revolution", claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilise the country. "