"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Column by Emiliano Antunez.
Exclusive to STR
A former resident of Hialeah, Florida today finds himself in the less hospitable surroundings of a Cuban prison for the unspeakable crime of running a successful farm on the island gulag. Among other things, Juan Carlos Rodriguez allegedly produced too much milk and overpaid his employees, because apparently the last thing a workers' paradise needs is overpaid and well fed workers.
According to a report in The Miami Herald, Mr. Rodriguez was able to obtain products that are usually in short supply in Cuba (which is basically everything) from “corrupt” government workers, while paying his employees up to $48 per month compared to the $17 a month earned by most Cuban workers; no wonder they have to “moonlight.” The Cuban government stated that the unfathomable amount of 70-80 liters of milk per day were produced on the corrupt farm (a comparable US farm produces 665 liters per day), and that the corrupt government workers provided the owner of the farm with electric post and wiring and even had the audacity to trim the trees around the power lines (maybe they’ve seen the Florida Power & Light commercials on Yankee Imperialist TV).
What the Cuban government still hasn’t made clear is where all the milk went. In Cuba, all milk must be sold to the government at government-set prices, which according to The Miami Herald is rationed to children and the elderly at “heavily subsidized prices” by the always benevolent Cuban Government.
Like everything else in Cuba, milk is in short supply, not because cows are jumping on rafts to come to Florida (maybe they would if they could build one), but because the government sets the price rather than the market. Perhaps (perhaps not) milk prices would be higher if greedy capitalists were allowed to sell it on the open market, as opposed at the heavily subsidized prices mentioned in The Herald, but you can bet your last worthless ten thousand Cuban Pesos that there’d be a lot more milk to go around.
Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban government--named after the boat Fidel Castro sailed to Cuba from Mexico on—states, “It is doubtful that no functionary … inquired about the goings on at a farm, owned in the name of a woman and without any employees, which turned into a prosperous cattle farm,” which tells us that prosperity is frowned upon in Cuba, much like in certain parts of Massachusetts.
But the Cuban government doesn’t stop at just showing contempt for prosperous farmers. It also cast aspersions at lazy bureaucrats by stating, “No one can lead from behind a desk, trusting blindly on the information that others provide….To remain disengaged or passive, when others are profiting, wounds as much as the crimes themselves.” This tells us that the Cuban government views profit as a crime, which isn’t much different as to how many politicians and bureaucrats in the US view them.
This would all be just somewhat interesting and to some extent amusing if it only pertained to some Third World communist banana (which are also in short supply in Cuba) republic, but it doesn’t. Many of the statements made by the Cuban government are parroted by politicians (not in short supply) of all stripes here in the US. There is precedent for price and wage controls in the US last set by a Republican president named Richard Nixon, who wasn’t impeached for his socialist faux pas but for a mere botched burglary attempt.
The statements pertaining to lazy bureaucrats who do not bother to check for facts are sometimes made here by elected officials in reference to the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Securities and Exchange Commission or the Department of Homeland (in)Security. Today there are politicians both Republican and Democrat calling for price controls and/or subsidies for gasoline, college tuitions and prescription drugs. Cuba is not only geographically close to the US (about 95 miles from Jimmy Buffet’s house), ideologically, the similarities are becoming clearer with each passing election.