Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Still no April Sun in Cuba

Some food for thought here for fans of communist dictators -- and for opponents and supporters of free trade:

   In 1958, Cuba was almost as rich as Japan, one and half times as wealthy as Singapore, richer than Hong Kong, and three times as prosperous as South Korea.
   Fifty years later, Cuba is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.
   Meanwhile, jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan (the latter two also had dictators and problems similar to Cuba in the 1950s) have long eclipsed Cuba. They've done so not only in per capita wealth, but in measurements Castro's defenders point to when they assert the Marxist revolution "worked," such as in health care and education...

As Paul Walker comments, "GDP per person isn't a perfect measure of well being, but it is a rough guide to average living standards. And by that standard Castro has much to answer for."

Yes, he does.  But here's something else to think about, too:  given all we know about the liberating effects of free trade (see even the nominally communist Vietnam, for instance) -- and as we consider the merits of free trade with China -- and I invite readers to speculate on the state of Cuba and Castro and the country's communism today if the US had gone for free trade instead of blockade.  How liberating would fifty decades of free trade with Cuba have been, and what would have happened to Busy Whiskers and his communism if such a policy had been applied by the US?

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Julian said...

And if healthcare and education are so good in Cuba, why are so many risking their lives to go to the US?

Julian

3/25/2008 11:56:00 am  
Blogger Paul Walker said...

I do wonder what would have happened if the US had gone for free trade instead of blockade. Would have Cuba "blockaded themselves". The last thing Castro wanted was people setting just what capitalism could produce and then demanding it in Cuba.

3/25/2008 02:03:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Exactly, Paul. To paraphrase Bastiat, if goods don't cross borders, then armies and inventive will.

3/25/2008 02:40:00 pm  
Blogger Owen McShane said...

As a Cuban said:
We have good education and health care.
We only have three problems:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner.

3/25/2008 05:00:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

To rephrase my paraphrase of Bastiat, if goods don't cross borders, then armies and invective will.

3/25/2008 05:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

PC said...
if goods don't cross borders, then armies and invective will

May I add another modern day observation.

if goods don't cross borders, then desperate people will ( ie, they abandon their homes to go look for places where goods are abundant).

Some good examples are: Cuba, North Korea & Zimbabwe .

3/25/2008 05:41:00 pm  

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