Monday, October 4, 2010

Cuba has Finally Read 'Atlas Shrugged'

What does that mean?

It means that Cuba, one of the few remaining Communist countries, has finally begun to allow free enterprise.

What was the economic situation in Cuba?

Their economy has been about ready to collapse. Many workers in Cuba barely show up and they do little productive work when they do. In government offices in Havana, coffee and cigarette breaks last for hours. It's not that they are lazy, it's that they get paid about $20 per month, and have no motivation to work hard.

What specifically have they done to more toward freer markets?

Cuba has recently allowed beauticians and barbers to work for themselves. Drivers can operate their own taxis. Even some farmers have been allowed to own their own land. Of course, these are the people who are making a reasonable living. Also, Cuba just let go of 500,000 government workers, 10% of its government workforce.

Is this really a free market economy?

Certainly not, but it is a step closer. That seems to be the way it starts in all previously Communist countries.

What Communist countries are still remaining?

Mainly North Korea, although there are many countries that have such corrupt governments that they cannot be considered to have free markets.

What's so good about this?

For details about why free enterprise is the best system, see my blog entry about Economic Policy. The bottom line is that we are meant to be free. Therefore, governments whose main purpose is to protect each individual's freedom is the only sustainable form of government. After all, who has the right or authority to dictate how an adult should lead their life (as long as it is done in peace)?

Does this relate to the documentary, Waiting for Superman?

The documentary shows the plight of the poor and how desperate they are to get into good schools. The writer suggests having more charter schools, which is fine. But again, the only sustainable answer is to have school choice for all parents, rich or poor. There is no doubt that it will eventually happen, so why not start doing it now? If we are going to subsidize education, then allow the parents the freedom to decide how there children are educated.

Conclusion

In any area, the more free choices a person has for any product or service, the more those products and services tend to improve. Free enterprise, freedom or religion, freedom of education, free speech - all of these are natural rights, and should be protected by any good government. Hopefully, Cuba is taking its first steps in this direction.

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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.
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