Posted by Juan Carlos Hidalgo
The Washington Post has an interesting story today on the program of the
Cuban government to transfer idle state-owned land to private farmers so
they can resurrect the dilapidated agricultural sector on the communist
island. As Ian Vásquez and I wrote in the chapter on U.S. policy toward
Cuba in Cato Handbook for Policymakers, before this reform, the
agricultural productivity of Cuba's tiny non-state sector (comprising
cooperatives and small private farmers) was already 25 percent higher
than that of the state sector.
At stake is an issue of incentives. Collective land doesn't give farmers
an incentive to work hard and be productive, since the benefits of their
labor go to the government who distributes them (in theory) evenly among
everyone, regardless of who worked hard or not. While with private
property, "The harder you work, the better you do," as a Cuban farmer
said in the Post story.
The country's ruler, Raúl Castro, recently declared that "The land is
there, and here are the Cubans! Let's see if we can get to work or not,
if we produce or not… The land is there waiting for our sweat." However,
it's not a matter of just having land and lots of people. It's also a
matter of incentives to produce. Failing to see this, as in the case of
Cuba's failed communist model, is a recipe for failure.
The Land Is There, the Cubans Are There, but the Incentives Are Not |
Cato @ Liberty (28 September 2009)