Cuba shows socialist societies stifle progress
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 12:30 am
One of the joys of the holiday season is visiting with family and
friends, and reliving memories of the past. Often, this includes going
through old photo albums, showing pictures of our relatives in front of
their homes and vehicles. It is interesting to compare the old settings
from the photographs, frequently from the 1950s and 1960s, to the world
we live in today. In particular, quite a comparison can be made between
the vehicles of this era, and the cars we now see on the road.
Short segments of daily life in Cuba, particularly downtown Havana, have
recently been popular media fare, with the announcement of President
Obama's wish to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. If these
scenes were in black and white, instead of color, many of them would
appear to be coming directly from the old photo albums Americans
cherished from the 1950s. They show a stark contrast between daily life
in Cuba today and daily life in virtually any American city.
Prior to the takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro in 1959 and subsequent
installation of his socialist/communist government, Cuba was widely
regarded as one of the most developed and prosperous countries of Latin
America. Images coming out of the country today speak volumes in regard
to the prosperity which has been realized under this socialist regime.
Most of the vehicles on Cuban roads appear to have been built in the
1940s through the 1960s. The average Cuban is now said to make less than
the equivalent of $50 per month.
Much debate can be brought forward as to the relative merits of
normalizing diplomatic relationships with Cuba, and even more debate can
likely be had in regard to whether the trade embargo with Cuba should be
lifted. One conclusion, however, for which there would seem to be little
room for debate is how dramatically the socialist policies of the Cuban
government fixed the Cuban economy and Cuban society in time. While much
of the rest of the world has moved forward, Cuba is still living in the
world of the 1950s, when the revolution occurred.
From the viewpoint of a capitalist society, the reason for this time
warp seems clear: socialism removes motivation from both ends of the
economic spectrum. For the low achievers in the economic jungle, more is
provided by the socialist government than they can see ever generating
for themselves and so motivation for greater productivity is stifled.
For the high achievers in the economic jungle, no reward is realized
from additional effort, and so no additional effort is put forth. As
such, little progress is made in regard to scientific discovery, new
inventions, new initiatives, new business, or even improvement of
While much discussion may be made as to the optimum balance between a
completely free market, capitalist economy/society and a completely
government controlled socialist or communist economy/society, the images
coming out of Cuba give a clear reminder of why over the last 200 years
of history the free market has provided better lives to its citizens.
As we enter a new year, and considering the recent elections, perhaps a
new political era, we must keep in mind and that every increase in taxes
or government attempt at redistribution of wealth moves us closer to a
socialist state. We must be mindful of what appears to be the starkly
glaring lesson of Cuba: socialist societies stifle motivation and
progress. If there is any doubt, simply watch one of the newsfeeds from
downtown Havana, and then look out the window in virtually any American
city of your choice — or pull out an old family photo album from the 1950s.
Source: Cuba shows socialist societies stifle progress - The Grand
Island Independent: Staff Editorials -