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The winners and the losers: Venezuela, terrorism, Spider Man

Published: Saturday, May 18 2013 12:27 a.m. MDT

Volunteer Elana Johnson helps build a garden for veterans at the Valor Apartments in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 16, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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Loser: Anyone looking for a real-world example of why government price controls don't work needs look no further than Venezuela. In an effort to keep prices low for the nation's poorest citizens, the government of the late Hugo Chavez ordered prices lower and put controls on foreign currency. The result has been nationwide shortages in staples like milk and sugar and in medical supplies. Now, the nation faces a shortage of toilet paper, which sent thousands of Venezuelans to stores this week to grab whatever they could of it. The free market sets prices in response to supply and demand. The profit motive pushes companies to provide things like toilet paper to meet a nation's needs. When government steps in to disrupt this process, often in the name of helping the poor, people suffer.

Winner: Fazliddin Kurbanov will get his day in court and an opportunity to prove his innocence. Until then, the rest of us can take solace in the trust that federal officials are correct when they say they had to arrest him in Boise this week because he posed a terrorist threat both there and in Utah. According to a one-count indictment filed in Salt Lake City, Kurbanov allegedly taught people here how to make various explosive devices, leading shopping trips for the necessary ingredients. Authorities won't comment on what they think his intentions were. However, after the recent tragedy in Boston, it isn't too hard to imagine what someone with terrorist intention might devise. Authorities, it would seem, did what was prudent and essential.

Winner: Thanks to volunteers from Home Depot, several previously homeless veterans now have a garden on which to focus their attention. The idea is to foster a sense of community, give the veterans something to care for and help them back into society's fold. The garden is at an apartment complex in Salt Lake City that is transitional housing for homeless veterans, who typically live there for two years before moving into a place of their own. A Home Depot manager said the garden, which will include a wall of honor, is one way to give back to veterans for their service to their country. It's also a way to help those who are homeless — and that describes too many veterans of recent wars — overcome difficult problems.

Winner: The window washer who dressed as Spider Man on Thursday in order to thrill the children who are patients at Primary Children's Medical Center deserves an award. Mimicking the movements of the popular fictional character, he washed the windows of the tall structure and gave the children a thrill, which was, no doubt, exactly what many of them needed that day.

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