Utopian idealism in pursuit of a classless world of affluent workers is the stuff of myth. When government owns and controls almost all economic activity, as in Cuba, the real world grinds slowly into a quagmire of administrative and regulatory morass. The economic engine becomes a rusty, creaky dinosaur barely able to stand on its own legs, much less adapt to the times.
Defenders of such a system conveniently overlook the perpetual prodding and poking of heavy-handed government into the personal lives of individuals. Inefficiency and corruption herald the methods of production and distribution of wealth. As we saw in Russia, black marketeers and grafters come to dominate such a system. Even well intentioned administrators are ultimately forced into this game if they are to remain minimally functional. Black markets always thrive in an atmosphere of imposed economic dictates that run contrary to the basic instincts of humankind. Despite the rhetoric and selfless idealism of those who support such “pie-in-the-sky” goals as total equality of wealth and an egletarian society, individuals with brains, cunning and cleverness will always garner a larger piece of the pie for themselves. It is human nature. In Orwell’s animal farm these were the pigs who ultimately deemed themselves “more equal than the others.” In the end all became their slaves. Even the highly touted educational and health benefits of the Cuban system are paid for by “that which is not permitted,” a list that would reach from Havana to Miami. And remember, tyrants always give something back for their hold on tyranny.
The sad truth is that Cuban socialism/communism does not work. All one has to do is to view the rusting hulks of her former fishing fleet, perpetually tied up on decaying docks, to see this reality. Or view sparse streets with little or no economic activity, or witness the desperate attempts to make enough pesos just to keep food on the table and body and soul together, where is the “worker’s paradise” here?
The regulatory overload of extreme socialism strangles individual incentive and frustrates invention, it inherently depresses productivity and is neurotic in its resistance and opposition to change. In such a system only the “bosses” prosper to any degree. They live in relative luxury, waited on hand and foot, enjoying five pound lobsters and best cuts of steak, while those who serve them are thin as rails, fighting over their leavings. Such a system also leads to the sadly comical reality of hotel chamber maids making (with tips) ten times the monthly salary of neurosurgeons and Ph.D. biochemists. And, lest we forget, “step out of line and they come and take you away.” Cuba is truly a place where up is down and hard work is rewarded with only more hard work. Without the threatening U.S. opposition, such a system would blow away in the first hard wind of spring, as it did in Russia. Or at least it would be forced into a major overhaul.
Inside Cuba the “little emperors” are wearing no clothes, yet, largely because of present U.S. policies, the wind in the trees is the only one that can say so.