Consider the latest from the gatekeeper of the late Hugo Chávez's experiment in "21st-Century Socialism": the Deputy Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness. Last week, to much fanfare, Nicolas Maduro unveiled this new government subdivision, which he said will oversee and troubleshoot some 30 separate social programs, known collectively in Venezuela as "missions."

The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

A year from today, a computer in a office cubicle somewhere will have just finished tallying the votes for and against Scottish independence. One possibility is that England's northern neighbor will remain a part of the UK, keeping the Queen, the pound, and its key to the NATO clubhouse. Another is that it will wave goodbye to its companion and ruler of 300 years and leap off into independence—possibly with the same Queen, the same pound, and the same set of keys to the NATO clubhouse.