Editorials | Opinions
|Failed Socialism: Cubans Know it, Will Obama, Too?|
It's taken 51 years, but the Castro regime has finally figured out what the rest of the world has already learned and what Americans need to be reminded of — that private enterprise creates wealth far better than government ever could.
Cuba's president since 2006, Raúl Castro, recently announced his government will be laying off 500,000 people, one-tenth of the country's work force.
|Even the Castro regime can't ignore this: The Revolution is over. The country that was once the world's biggest exporter of coffee can't even satisfy domestic demand.|
Meanwhile, the Cuban government has opened up hundreds of jobs to self-employment, announced that small businesses can obtain bank loans and hire employees, and decided foreign investors now can purchase Cuban real estate.
Cuba still has a long way to go before it has the kind of free market economy the United States has — well, sort of still has. Cubans now can create a business repairing mattresses but still can't sell them. They can operate beauty parlors and barber shops, but only as long as they have three chairs or fewer. And of course, the country has not had a leader with a name other than "Castro" since 1959.
It's unknown if this opening will forestall Cuban communism's inevitable demise or, like Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika before it, speed it up.
But even the Castro regime can't ignore this: The Revolution is over. The country that was once the world's biggest exporter of coffee can't even satisfy domestic demand. All of Cuba's historical benefactors have rejected communism. Raúl's brother, the dictator Fidel, even told The Atlantic, "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."
One would hope that folks in Washington would heed that message. The truth is that the Cuban model has never worked at all — not in Cuba, not anywhere. That's why Cuban-Americans in Florida and elsewhere long ago fled their country for the opportunities and freedoms they enjoy here.
And yet with all of the historical evidence to the contrary, this present U.S. administration seems unable to resist the temptation to dip its toe time and again into the quicksand of state control. Taxpayers have watched their government bail out huge corporations at taxpayer expense, nationalize part of the banking and automotive industries, and gain control of part of the nation's health-care system.
The United States continues to have the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world, along with myriad deductions designed to entice private employers to do the government's bidding.
In the midst of the longest economic downturn in recent memory, the Obama administration continues to try to spend our way to prosperity, as if our children and grandchildren will never have to pay the price for our recklessness.
Any U.S. political leader with the guts to cut the work force by 10 percent would get my vote immediately, so in that sense, bravo Raúl.
At the same time, let's not forget that he was at Fidel's side during his long reign over Cuba, when Cubans' personal, political and property rights were violated as a matter of state policy. The long-awaited transformation of Cuba may have begun, but it probably will have to be completed by someone not named Castro.
Regardless of who is in charge, the island Americans have long watched so warily as a potential launching pad could soon be a vacation spot or, for some Cuban-Americans, a place to reunite with families not seen for many years.
Someday Cubans may enjoy the prosperity that comes when the government allows the free market to work.
Let's hope Americans do as well.
Noelle Nikpour, a Republican strategist and fundraiser, regularly appears on Fox News, The Strategy Room and various political talk shows. Respond to this column by writing to letters(at)sun-sentinel.com.