Monday, February 25, 2008

'Crumbling elegance'? Do me a favour.
Let's get real about Cuba

by Chris Walker - February 24th, 2008 - The Independent (London)

Cuba is a textbook example of how political mismanagement can push entire nations to the breadline. Economic statistics are wrapped up in propaganda. Thus we are told the economy surged 12 per cent last year, and wage growth was 5 per cent. The reality is that average incomes are estimated at $15 (£7.60) a month and the population live close to poverty. More than 50 per cent of housing is unsanitary.

Supposed achievements of Castro's Cuba are cleverly put out for external consumption – mainly the high level of literacy and the very low level of infant mortality. But given the absence of a free press in Cuba, it is hard to be sure that even these achievements are real. Talk of doctors begging tourists for aspirins hardly equates with a thriving health system.

The inability of some people to understand one simple basic fact about wealth is sad. Wealth is created by hard work rewarded by a free enterprise system. It does not exist in a vacuum. Individual freedom is a necessity. Socialism has failed every where it has been tried and individual freedom always dies along with the economic failure. However those who want to believe in socialism still fool themselves into believing clever arguments that distort the facts.

One thing is true about socialism. No one can believe anything that its adherents say. Cuba is an abysmal failure. Yet Harry Belafonte and various other advocates of a "living wage" have convinced themselves that America would be better off emulating Cuba. The stunning stupidity required to compare these two nations and believe Cuba has any lessons to teach us cannot be refuted by reason. I use "living wage" as an example of the self delusion of socialists because it is one that is so often touted as what we need here in America.

"Living wage" is the process of allowing government goons to force one person to pay another person more money than they are worth in a free martketplace. The institutional evil necessary to enforce this redistribution of wealth is the transfer of power to government. It gives government officials the power to determine what portion of your personal wealth you are allowed to keep.

This power always destroys the willingness of people to work hard. It thus destroys the wealth of a nation. Cuba is just the latest example.


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