Monday, August 07, 2006

Cuba Has No Need For Capitalism

Editorial in today's Toronto Star

There are a great many journalists who are looking at Fidel Castro's illness as a hope for the Cuban people. The Star's editorial sums up with the line, "Cubans need to hear more about the benefits of multi-party democracy, human rights and the market economy."

Certainly democracy and a greater degree of human rights are goals which Cubans should strive to achieve. However, I must ask why pundits seem to want to lump capitalism into that assessment, as if inseparable from democracy? And why they seem to selectively forget that Cuba's planned economy has brought the small, island nation immense prosperity, particularly when compared to similar nations in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Caribbean nations of similar size and natural wealth, like Haiti or the Dominican Republic, which have taken a free market approach to development have built a record of poverty, inequality and political strife. Cuba, on the other hand, has a lower infant mortality rate and a higher literacy rate than even the United States or Canada, let alone her peers in the developing world. Cuba also has one of the highest doctor per-capita ratios in the world. There is no illiteracy or homelessness, something that only a precious few nations can boast.

These benefits exist precisely because of the planned economy. Pundits suggest that democracy and socialism are mutually exclusive. If this is so, I would ask for a solid, factual and politically sound explanation as to why the bureaucracy that currently regulates the Cuban economy could not be replaced by an elected body? Wouldn't an economy controlled by a functional, accountable and profoundly democratic government be even more able to enact the popular will than a free market one?

Capitalism has done few favours to the poor of the world; where is the evidence that it will start now?


Blogger jsb said...

Sorry, Matthew, but it is inevitable. You'll see.

9:01 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

Allowing small entreprenuers does not equal capitalism.

If you go to Cuba you see entreprenurialism everywhere. People selling things out of their home, people with restaurants in their homes, hotels in their homes, etc. This is not underground, it is all regulted by the state. You get taxed a huge percent, must maintain highly rigid standards and regulations that conform to the socialist ideal and be inspected often. This is not free market capitalism my friend.

Socialism is not against entreprenurialism for its own sake. It is just regarded as a another tool in the planners toolbox, by which to achieve the goals of the State. Of course, the inequalities very quickly then manifest themselves, about who is able to open a "business" and who can not afford it. Castro and most Cubans hate this, so it is closely watched. But there is no doubt it has helped many people since the fall of the Soviet Union...

7:01 PM  

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