May 14, 2003

Let's Get Even More Depressed About Cuba

Just because people begin their papers with quotes from Ludwig von Mises does not automatically mean that they are wrong:

http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/asce/cuba8/30smith.pdf

http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/asce/pdfs/volume12/perezlopez.pdf

The hideously depressing thing is that Cuba under Battista--Cuba in 1957--was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people--fifth highest in the world. Cuba today has fewer telephones per capita than it had TVs in 1957.

You take a look at the standard Human Development Indicator variables--GDP per capita, infant mortality, education--and you try to throw together an HDI for Cuba in the late 1950s, and you come out in the range of Japan, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Israel. Today? Today the UN puts Cuba's HDI in the range of Lithuania, Trinidad, and Mexico. (And Carmelo Mesa-Lago thinks the UN's calculations are seriously flawed: that Cuba's right HDI peers today are places like China, Tunisia, Iran, and South Africa.)

Thus I don't understand lefties who talk about the achievements of the Cuban Revolution: "...to have better health care, housing, education, and general social relations than virtually all other comparably developed countries." Yes, Cuba today has a GDP per capita level roughly that of--is "comparably developed"--Bolivia or Honduras or Zimbabwe, but given where Cuba was in 1957 we ought to be talking about how it is as developed as Italy or Spain.

Posted by DeLong at May 14, 2003 10:46 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Give over. Cuba in 1957 was a developed narcostate. When you compare it with Italy and Spain, are you really suggesting that Italy and Spain would have developed to where they are today if their only industries had been basic agriculture, plus the provision of cocaine and casino services to Germany and France?

Posted by: dsquared on May 14, 2003 11:15 PM

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while Communism has been demonstrated by the former USSR to be an ineffective system for long term growth, the report is blase about the effect of the USA sanctions on... ... the USA.

what if the (useless for regieme change) sanctions that have been in place against Fidel for over 40 years had not stayed in place?

..the same sanctions that are still there because apparently the Florida Cuban expat vote is important.

..the same Florida Cuban expats whose leaders cut down Everglades to grow sugar, and that are also the beneficieries of the sugar trade barriers...

..those same sugar trade barriers that helped make High Fructose Corn Syrup a much more viable proposition and so it ended up replacing sugar in prepared foods...

...the same HFSC that is not processed by the stomach but goes on to the liver and essentially is turned into fat.... (refer "Fatland")

...contributing to the growing incidence of obesity in the USA

maybe all those people could eaten tastier and healthier food, travelled to Cuba for their vacations and contributed to the Cuban economy while learning to Salsa...

Posted by: Lance Wiggs on May 15, 2003 12:02 AM

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This is really something - it puts a very different perspective on the Cuban situation. Keep the good work, Brad; this is the sort of thing that keeps me reading your weblog, however much I may disagree with (some of) of the things you say.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 15, 2003 12:35 AM

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Cuba's alienation of the United States and loss of the U.S. as a trading partner was a diaster for Cuba. The magnitude of this diplomatic/political blunder makes it impossible to draw conclusions about the economic regime Castro established.

What would the economies of Japan or South Korea be today if those countries were shut out of the U.S. market for the last 40 years?

Posted by: CMike on May 15, 2003 02:48 AM

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WHO stats on health for Cuba (can't attest to accuracy):

Male life expectancy at birth: 74.7 (better than US; 2nd in WHO-defined "Americas" region);

Female leab: 79.2 (looks like tied for 4th, but very close to #2/#3 (USA, Chile @79.5);

Male child mortality: 11 per thousand (4th)

Female cm: 8 pt (tied for 3rd)

Other countries you mentioned (male leab, female leab, male cm, female cm):
Italy: 76.2 82.2 6 5
Spain: 75.3 82.6 5 4
Bolivia: 61.1 64.3 84 76
Honduras: 64.4 70.3 44 41
Zimbabwe: 37.1 36.5 129 119

USA: 74.3 79.5 9 7

(Hope I transcribed these right...)

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on May 15, 2003 03:01 AM

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So Brad's bashing "lefties" again...

Sorta reminds me of an old song...How did it go?....

"How you gonna keep 'em down on the plantation...


"...Right now Cubans only hear one voice, that is Fidel Castro's. All they know is what they want them to hear, and he currently has complete control there. By allowing ordinary Americans to travel to Cuba, we will surely export freedom there,"--Jeff Flake (R) AZ

(From: "US Lawmakers Call for End to Cuba Travel Ban" by Deborah Tate; VOA 14 May 2003) http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=E377F5F4-92AE-4A45-864C00B3DA0EF9A9

...after they've seen OUR situation?"

Something like that...

Bucking the Texas Lockstep

By Molly Ivins
Thursday, May 15, 2003


AUSTIN -- Legislators on the lam. You can tell how grave this situation is by the news that Texas's last few remaining elected Democrats have bolted to Ardmore, Okla. If they were doin' this for fun they'd be in Mexico, drinkin' margaritas. This is serious.

Okay, so it's Texas politics and so naturally it's got this weird hitch in the get-along. But we are looking at something grave, portentous, weighty and fateful. (I just consulted the thesaurus.) Just because Texas always has this ridiculous pie-eyed quality of exaggeration (Ann Richards recently observed that the price of gasoline has gotten so high that Texas women who want to run over their husbands have to carpool) is no reason to ignore the deeper meaning in this semi-ludicrous caper. Creepin' fascism. That's what we're lookin' at.

All these years we've been listening to nutty right-wing preachers talking about creepin' socialism, and it turns out we've fixated on the wrong damn threat. It's a shame that it appears the proximate cause for the Big Bolt by the Texas legislators was a redistricting map. We must acknowledge, Republican and Democrat alike, that this map is a work of art. It's got districts that stretch for 300 miles and are two blocks wide.

Too bad redistricting is such an inside-baseball deal: Only wonks and political junkies care. But redistricting is the proverbial back-breaking straw here: The real reason Democrats are outta here is a session-long display of meanness and unfairness that finally became unbearable. The session was summed up by Rep. Senfronia Thompson when she carried the House rulebook up to the podium and dropped it on the floor. The legislative process has been shredded, rules ignored, points of order pointless. It's like a parody of the legislative process. Republicans, for the first time ever in the majority of both houses of our Legislature, have been voting in lockstep. No Democratic amendment, no matter how obvious or how sensible, is allowed to pollute Republican bills.

Faced with a $10 billion deficit, the Republicans decided to outlaw gay marriage. Then they kicked 250,000 poor children off a health insurance program that is mostly paid for by the feds in the first place. Picking on the weakest, the frailest, the youngest and oldest Texans has been the sport of choice this session. When the handicapped came to the capital to protest cuts in their services, the governor had them arrested. The combination of cruel budget choices and an unfair process made this the session from hell.

During a committee meeting, Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Houston) demanded earnestly, "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education? Free medical care? Free whatever? It comes from Moscow. From Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell." Rep. Joe Crabb explained why no public hearings were held on the now-infamous redistricting bill: "The rest of us would have a very difficult time if we were out in an area -- other than Austin or other English-speaking areas -- to be able to have committee hearings to be able to converse with people that did not speak English." The guy's talking about South Texas.

What planet do these people come from? Carl Parker of Port Arthur used to say, "If you took all the fools out of the Legislature, it would not be a representative body anymore." When one confronts such people with facts -- such as that free education was established in the United States long before there was ever a Communist revolution in Russia, or that people in South Texas speak English quite fluently (some of them are even college graduates) -- it does no good. These folks are not stupid, they're like members of some weird cult. You can't dent their worldview with reality. It's like trying to talk to the people who followed David Koresh.

They are, at long last, the perfect unpoliticians -- they don't compromise, they don't deal, they don't look for the middle way, they don't give a damn about accommodating anybody else. Because they believe they're right. And they won't go out for a beer after work. They think it's them against evil. And everybody who ain't them is evil. These are Shiite Republicans.

Since all of y'all in the North think Texas is eternally screwed up, I'm not going to try to defend this lunacy (although it has causes), I'm just warning you: This is about to happen everywhere. A good country song says, "Lubbock on Everythang." Make it bigger, expand that. "Texas on Everythang." The whole country is being turned into the state whose proudest boast is that sometimes we're ahead of Mississippi.

When our governor, Rick "Goodhair" Perry (that's a head of hair every Texan can be proud of, regardless of party), asked New Mexico to arrest any escapees lurking there, the state's attorney general, Patricia Madrid, said, "I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the lookout for politicians in favor of health care and against tax cuts for the wealthy."


© 2003 The Washington Post Company

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57328-2003May14.html

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 03:12 AM

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Well Monte Carlo hasn't done too badly, D^2. But I suppose it doesn't have the agriculture.

Posted by: Matthew on May 15, 2003 04:40 AM

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Wey-yull, if we compare Cuba with Iraq, I'd say it's doing pretty well for a country the US has been trying to destroy. At least they get to take in their crops this year.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on May 15, 2003 06:07 AM

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I believe Argentina comes out of similar comparison based in 1900 quite badly too. Come to think of it nowhere in the Americas south of Texas did very well last century.

Is this meant to justify US policy towards Cuba?

Posted by: Jack on May 15, 2003 06:09 AM

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David, of course it is the US's fault and the US is also responsible for making the Chinese private sector much more efficient than the Chinese state-owned sector. Its the same thing the US did with the USSR and Eastern Europe! Its all a US driven conspiracy!

Jack, you might want to check out how Chile and Mexico have fared versus 1900 (no, the end doesn't justify the means in Chile and I would prefer engagement in Cuba).

Posted by: Stan on May 15, 2003 06:38 AM

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Brad, your point could as well be applied to the whole of South America (Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Chile etc.). All these countries had similar stats in the 50s and look where they are now.

Cuba is a dictatorship, no doubt about that, but on average people receive better health care and education (according to the World Bank there is an illiteracy rate in Cuba of 3.3% against a Latin American aggregate of 11%) than most other latin America countries. And this while the biggest and richest power in the world has imposed 50 years of economic embargo on Cuba. I doubt any country in the world, including Germany and Japan would manage very well in such a situation. Heck, even California would be in big trouble if the rest of the US decided to put an embargo on it.

This is not to defend Castro, he should have retired and passed control to a democratically elected Government a while ago, but we have to keep things into perspective.

Posted by: Mooraq on May 15, 2003 06:57 AM

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Stephen J Fromm, the HDI takes much more into account than life expectancy.

Matthew, the effectiveness of a planned economy is inversely proportional to its size and complexity.

Posted by: Stan on May 15, 2003 07:18 AM

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Re:dsquared's initial comment. Hypothetical history is not so easy, but I can picture pre-Castro Cuba developing into a Caribbean Las Vegas. Not exactly inspiring, but not so terrible, either.

Posted by: Matt on May 15, 2003 07:31 AM

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For Steven J. Fromm:

------------quote-----------
Comparative Education Review, May 1998 v42 n2 p119(19) The reliability
of Cuba's educational statistics. Benigno E. Aguirre; Roberto J. Vichot.

Abstract: Reliability in Cuba's educational statistics has been studied
from
the point of view of repeatability of individual scores in educational
statistical series. For about 30 years authenticity of statistics of various
kinds from Cuba have been questioned by social scientists. Reliability and
validity are systematically interrelated inasmuch as unreliable measures are
always invalid. Access to procedures used in Cuba to collect statistics is
not
available.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1998 Comparative and International Education Society

For nearly 30 years many social scientists have expressed concern about
the
reliability and validity of Cuban statistics. Camelo Mesa Lago was the first
to
explore these issues for economic statistics.(1) Demographic statistics have
been manipulated by the Cuban government: Lisandro Perez shows how 1970
census
data on race and education were suppressed for political reasons.(2) Using
health statistics, Norman Luxenburg describes the Communist government's
"achievements" as resulting from underestimating the progress of pre-1959
Cuban
society.(3) Marxist societies such as Cuba, after all, consider ideas
weapons
in the class struggle, stress the function of education in particular in
facilitating political indoctrination of the population, and value universal
education as a way to bring about social equality.(4)

--------endquote---------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on May 15, 2003 07:41 AM

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The point is that Cuba is a "cause celebre" for the left. Even with an economy that is bankrupt (America's fault of course), it still is a social paradise, so the left says. But apperantly it isn't...

Posted by: Ivan Janssens on May 15, 2003 07:57 AM

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The point is that Cuba is a "cause celebre" for the left. Even with an economy that is bankrupt (America's fault of course), it still is a social paradise, so the left says. But apparently it isn't...

Posted by: Ivan Janssens on May 15, 2003 07:57 AM

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Stan wrote, "Stephen J Fromm, the HDI takes much more into account than life expectancy."

(a) That's obvious.
(b) I'm adding more data to the discussion (though as Sullivan points out, one can question the data).

Ivan Janssens wrote, "The point is that Cuba is a 'cause celebre' for the left."

Ah...that big, bad monolithic Left. I consider myself liberal/left, and I don't support Castro's regime.

Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on May 15, 2003 08:04 AM

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>Just because people begin their papers with quotes from Ludwig von Mises does not automatically mean that they are wrong...

Why the gratuitous and off-topic swipe at Mises?

If you have a case against him, even a short one, why not share it?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 08:05 AM

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d squared, what's up with this drug thing always on your mind?

Anyway, this is quite a day for evidence that great minds think alike. First I read:

http://www.anncoulter.org/

> [Jayson] Blair's record of inaccuracies, lies and distortions made him a candidate
> for either immediate dismissal or his own regular column on the op-ed page.
>
> The editors have set up a special e-mail address for readers to report
> falsehoods they discover in Jayson Blair articles. OK, but how about setting
> up one for Paul Krugman?

And now Prof. DeLong is mirroring my (for one example from usenet in April 2000):

----------quote-----------
As to Cubans living much better than other Latin Americans, that is
preposterous. In 1959, when Castro took over, Cuba was the richest country in the Caribbean. Today it is probably the poorest.

[snip]

I only say "probably" because Castro has been cooking the
statistics for his nation for decades. Thus we can't be absolutely sure just
how badly off the people there are.

Observation by visitors clearly contradicts Fidel's version of his country's
position. Just yesterday I read a story on MSNBC's website about American
teenagers of Cuban emigre parents. One girl from New Jersey who had recently
visited Cuba talked about how poor the people were, kids walking around
barefooted, that kind of obvious poverty. There are thousands of anecdotes
like this. ....

Only an ideologue could ignore such obvious contradictions.
-------endquote----------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on May 15, 2003 08:13 AM

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> Posted by Patrick R. Sullivan at May 15, 2003 07:41 AM

What's wrong, Patty, tired of trolling the Gary Hart website?

Posted by: goethean on May 15, 2003 08:18 AM

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I'd also just point out that the way Brad's post is drafted sort of implies that the linked papers try to create an HDI for Cuba in 1957 and now, which they don't.

Posted by: dsquared on May 15, 2003 08:20 AM

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Brad,

I do not know where you dug your pre-Castro Cuban stats, because once I spent a whole day at Harvard's central library trying to dig social indicators for pre-Castro Cuba without finding anything close to reliable (i.e., a pre-revolution study) comparing Cuba to other Latin countries.

Having said that, there are several reasons to believe that the ceiling to Cuba's development under the Old Regime was Puerto Rico's current level of heavily subsidized development, after all, Puerto Ricans had the massive benefit of exporting their labor force to the US - benefit that would not be available to Cuba weren't for the Cuban revolution.

And of course, a very likely scenarion would probably be an Argentinean, Uruguayan or Chilean style meltdown, i.e., very low long run growth rates over the last 50 years.

To finish, Castro is long overdue. Until the mid eighties his regime was no worse or better than most of his Latin neighbors in terms of human rights or government intervention in private lives. After the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Chile got rid of their fascist regimes and transitioned to almost-healthy democracies, there is no excuse left for Castro's hold on power.

Posted by: economistaBrasileiro on May 15, 2003 08:22 AM

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I always tell to my undergrad class when I beging to teach growth theory that Cuba was richer than Spain in 1957. Now Spain is (at least) 7 times richer.
To all the lefties out there:
1) Cuba cannot trade with the US but they can
trade with everyone else in the world, including
the EU, Canada and Mexico. There is more distance between Japan and California than between Cuba and Europe and that did not stop Japan to become a export star. A better
analogy will be China and Japan. If you look at
a map, China is the natural trade partner of Japan. Under Mao's regime that trade was unfeasible, so the Japanese learned to put their
stuff in a boat and ship it to the US. Why couldn't Cuba have done the same with the EU?
Come on, we even offered them hundreds of millions of dollars in easy credit (and in general we did not really ask to be paid back).
2) Comparing improvements in GDP per capita, health or education, Franco's regime in Spain
was an order of magnitude more successful than Castro. Using your same arguments I guess that
you should have the highest respect for Franco,
don't you?
By the way, while you think about it, why don't
you rent "Antes que Anochezca" in your local videostore...

Posted by: JFV on May 15, 2003 08:24 AM

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"Even with an economy that is bankrupt . . . it still is a social paradise, so the left says"

Man, the stuff our right-wing colleagues say (and apparently believe) around here! If you can find a single US lefty not obviously dismissible as a member of the lunatic fringe (e. g., Communist Party member)who thinks Cuba is a "social paradise", I'll eat my Tiger baseball cap. You make it sound like Al Gore or Howard Dean are going around giving speeches hailing Cuba as a social paradise. I doubt even Chomsky is doing that . . .

Posted by: rea on May 15, 2003 08:52 AM

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>If you can find a single US lefty not obviously dismissible as a member of the lunatic fringe (e. g., Communist Party member)who thinks Cuba is a "social paradise", I'll eat my Tiger baseball cap.

"I am extremely impressed that President Fidel Castro has trained 60,000 doctors. They do an excellent job and have impressive healthcare despite the lack of adequate supplies." Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

http://www.house.gov/waters/pr_000119_cuba.htm

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 09:20 AM

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Thanks for the stats, Brad. I never realized how much Cuba had regressed in the past 45 years. It's really quite sad.

I find it a bit odd: it seems like communism always lasts best where it fails most utterly. Eastern Europe, with the exception of Ceausescu's Romania, while certainly not very rich, was reasonably well off in the 1980s, but it collapsed first. The USSR, poorer and less governable, collapsed two years later. Now, we have Cuba and North Korea left: Cuba took a fairly wealthy country and turned it into a third-world nation in a generation, and North Korea's dichotomy of wealth and freedom with its southern counterpart is, I think, certainly greater than that between East and West Germany.

It's rather interesting, in a macabre way, to see that. It reminds me of something I read about how revolutions never come at the worst of times, but when things are bad, but improving, but not enough to satisfy the revolutionaries. I can't remember where I read that, though.

Posted by: Julian Elson on May 15, 2003 09:28 AM

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Sorry, Bucky.

You can't use Maxine Waters. Rea said: "If you can find a single US lefty not obviously dismissible as a member of the lunatic fringe..."

;-)

I was going to use, "Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal education,..."

...but that was followed by, "...but last month, most Latin American governments joined a majority in the United Nations Human Rights Commission in calling on Cuba to meet universally accepted standards in civil liberties."

Of course, THAT was followed by: "I would ask that you permit the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisons and that you would receive the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner to address such issues as prisoners of conscience and the treatment of inmates. These visits could help refute any unwarranted criticisms."

So we can see that these slurs about "civil liberties" (which I guess may not even be part of a "social paradise" anyway)...may actually be slanderous lies. (Who's to say? These things are so difficult to determine... :-/)

My excerpts are from, of course, Jimmy Carter. No one could accuse Jimmy Carter of being a member of the lunatic fringe. A Castro suck-up, yes. But not a member of the lunatic fringe.

http://www.cubadata.com/chronology/052002-Jimmy_Carter_Speech-English.htm


Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 15, 2003 09:57 AM

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"I find it a bit odd: it seems like communism always lasts best where it fails most utterly."

That's not so surprising. It has to do with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

http://www.businessballs.com/maslow.htm

When people are starving, as they are currently in North Korea, and may be quite soon (a matter of years) in Cuba, they don't think about much more than getting food.

Hunger is actually a great pacifier. Particularly when the hungry have no guns, because only the government is allowed to own them.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 15, 2003 10:03 AM

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From the Reporters Without Borders "Cuba" page...

"...Cuba is now the world's biggest prison for journalists and President Castro has become the 'Maximum Leader' of predators of press freedom."

Anyone who really cares about freedom of the press can sign a petition through the web page that will be used to try to get imprisoned journalists freed.

http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=20

Posted by: Jim Glass on May 15, 2003 10:06 AM

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Well, neither Waters nor Carter called Cuba a social paradise, or anything resembling it. There is a difference between saying that certain parts of the Cuban society are functioning (health care, literacy) and calling the place a social paradise.

Posted by: rea on May 15, 2003 10:12 AM

____

Hummm, I suppose I am a "leftie" (which is formally correct, as I reside in Britain, I drive on the left side of the road).

JFV: Let's be honest, the US has actively undermined the Cuban economy for 50 years, it's not just the embargo, but the pressure on other country to do the same (for instance the threatened sanctions against companies operating in Cuba), and comparing the US which accounts for about 25% of the world's economy to China which, now at its economic peak, is probably in the low single digit it's really a weak argument. Europe and Japan had the economic miracle of the 50s because they could export to the only country in the world able to import massively: the US.

Again, in your Castro/Franco comparison you seem to be missing the point. Cuba situation and development must be compared with the other countries with similar geo-social profile, the Latin America's countries, with the added issue of the US embargo. On this count, Cuba does not score badly. If you compare any country in Latin America against any country in Europe or S-E Asia you would arrive at the same conclusion you get for Cuba.

Posted by: Mooraq on May 15, 2003 10:14 AM

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"the US has actively undermined the Cuban economy for 50 years"

Well, and if the embargo, and our other economic pressure, on Cuba over the last 45 years HASN'T had a detrimental effect on the Cuban economy, what was the point?

Posted by: rea on May 15, 2003 10:18 AM

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"Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland."

In 2001, Cuba had 58 doctors per 10,000 population. The U.S. had 27, Finland had 31, so did the Netherlands. U.S. and Cuba's infant mortality rates and life expectencies are almost identical. While we can certainly get depressed about economic activity in Cuba (which has been abysmal) it's hard to get too worked up about problems in a healthcare system that achieves results on par with the U.S. at an order of magnitude lower cost per capita. Cuba also has a higher literacy rate than the U.S.

Although you can certainly find "lefties" that praise Cuba to the skies, most of us regular folks just want the U.S. to stop bowing to the far-right expat crowd and lift the embargoes.

Posted by: Peter MacLeod on May 15, 2003 10:20 AM

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Mark Bahner says:

Sorry, Bucky.

You can't use Maxine Waters....No one could accuse Jimmy Carter of being a member of the lunatic fringe. A Castro suck-up, yes..."

THEN he goes on:

"...Hunger is actually a great pacifier..."

NOW do you guys understand what these courageous, fascistic "NON-suck-ups" up to?

"...What planet do these people come from? Carl Parker of Port Arthur used to say, "If you took all the fools out of the Legislature, it would not be a representative body anymore." When one confronts such people with facts -- such as that free education was established in the United States long before there was ever a Communist revolution in Russia, or that people in South Texas speak English quite fluently (some of them are even college graduates) -- it does no good. These folks are not stupid, they're like members of some weird cult. You can't dent their worldview with reality. It's like trying to talk to the people who followed David Koresh.

They are, at long last, the perfect unpoliticians -- they don't compromise, they don't deal, they don't look for the middle way, they don't give a damn about accommodating anybody else. Because they believe they're right. And they won't go out for a beer after work. They think it's them against evil. And everybody who ain't them is evil. These are Shiite Republicans...."

"Bucking the Texas Lockstep"http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57328-2003May14.html

(Pssssst!!!...Their royal jewels are are in a vault on Wall Street: http://www.divinerightofcapital.com/ . And the holy grail is somewhere under the Pentagon: "Weak on offense: Democrats and the defense budget" http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/05/14/ED122998.DTL ;!)

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 10:33 AM

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i enjoy rea's comments. perhaps "lefties" make any easy target, because they see nuance in issues and speak in a way that is non-confrontational. making it easy to find quotes that seem sympathetic to Fidel’s regime.

Posted by: markmeyer on May 15, 2003 10:36 AM

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>"lefties" make any easy target, because they see nuance in issues and speak in a way that is non-confrontational.

Nuanced non-confrontation is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Maxine Waters.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 10:51 AM

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markmeyer says:

"...perhaps "lefties" make any easy target, because they see nuance in issues and speak in a way that is non-confrontational..."

There are, or anyway, there USED to be a lot of "righties" who don't foam at the mouth around, Mark.

But, as Joseph Heller might have said, "Something Happened".....

The thing is, once we implicitly or explicitly buy into the premise that economics and/or politics is essentially a religious matter, it's only a matter of time before the fundamentalists "win" most the argument: If only because most intelligent and/or sane people eventually leave the room and leave the "fight" to those who are only to happy to kill anyone who doesn't see things THEIR way....

Which reminds me of another question Brad brought up last week

"...why didn't the Western European nobility re-enserf the peasantry after the Black Death..." http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/001447.html

Get a load of this, Brad (!:

"Crusades"

http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=1&q=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm&e=747

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 11:04 AM

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I am a non-lunatic-fringe lefty who is willing to state that Cuba is a "social paradise"... for fratboy tourists looking for a cheap sex holiday.

Posted by: nameless on May 15, 2003 11:05 AM

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Where exactly are these people who defend Castro? I'm 31. I've been reading news for, say, 16 years. I can't recall ever coming across a pro-Castro editorial, column, or biased news report.

What I do think bothers some liberals (or at least the ones I talk to) is this belief in the US that Castro is some sort of Pol Pot, when he isn't. Jeez, he isn't even the most brutal dictator south of the US in recent memory. Most of the most brutal ones were rightists. I think the predominant opinion about Castro is, in the grand scheme of things, where's the beef?

Posted by: Amitava Mazumdar on May 15, 2003 11:47 AM

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Let me see. Maxine Waters is African-American and a woman. Perfect example for the looney right to ridicule.

Posted by: arthur on May 15, 2003 12:19 PM

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Patty Sully

We do need you and your trashing at Princeton. Phooey.

Posted by: dahl on May 15, 2003 12:41 PM

____

Why the focus on Cuba at this time, Im sure that there are problems in Cuba, and that it's development has been arrested by US intervention. But leave it alone -what with the Texan Oil men bent on further war, and aso keen to be re-elected. (after all it was the fiddles in Florida that got them there last time, and bashing Castro will be a vote winner) Is there a desire to have another war already?

Posted by: Robert Winters on May 15, 2003 12:53 PM

____

Please. We can always afford another war. Any WMDs in Cuba? Oh for an unashamed American colonialism.

Posted by: bill on May 15, 2003 01:11 PM

____

Saying that Cuba has a surprisingly good health service is a far cry from proclaiming it a social paradise. If life expectancy is as good or better than the US, the most expensive health service in the world, it even seems reasonable.
As for Carter's comments, they are exactly what you would say if you were actually trying to persuade the Cubans to accept the Red Cross. You wouldn't get far with "we ask you to admit the Red Cross to fully document the enormous catalogue of attrocities commited by your regime every day" now would you?
Mrk Bahner's point about the pacifying effect raises some interesting questions about the purpose of US sanctions.

Posted by: Jack on May 15, 2003 01:11 PM

____

>Maxine Waters is African-American and a woman.

Yes, she is.

Do you know what they call someone who is "winning an argument with a liberal"? It's an old joke. Maybe google can help you.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 02:44 PM

____

It might be a good idea for some of you to actually read the article (is this not the custom at Princeton, dahl?). For instance:

" One Latin American head of state, for
example, recently called Cuba’s health care system
'spectacular', adding that Cuba 'proved the dialectic truth that revolutions produce healthy children'."

But,that praise of the socialist paradise ignores:

" the 25 years prior to Castro’s takeover con-stituted a period of rapid growth in the number of
healthcare facilities on the island. A 1977 article in the Journal of the Florida Medical Association (Navarro)lists 72 large hospitals operating in Cuba in 1958—double the number that existed just 25 years earlier—with more than 21,000 beds among them.

"....Cuba had about 35,000 beds for 6.6 million inhabitants—an impressive one bed per every 190 inhabitants."

And, Steven Fromm, take note:

" Cuba’s infant mortality rate of 32 per 1,000 live births in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data.

" Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Ger-many,Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, all of which would eventually overtake Cuba in this indicator during the following decades (UN 1979, pp. 67-188).

" Today, Cuba remains the most advanced country in
the region in this measure, but its world ranking has fallen from 13th to 25th during the Castro era, according to UN Data (1997b, pp. 93-100).

" Also missing from the conventional analysis of Cuba’s infant mortality rates is its staggering abortion rate—0.71 abortions per live birth in 1991, according to the latest UN data —which, because of selective termination of 'high-risk' pregnancies, yields lower numbers
for infant mortality."

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on May 15, 2003 03:13 PM

____

The main point of the Perez-Lopez paper is that, relative to the rest of Latin America, Cuba looks good in terms of human development indicators today and it looked good before the Cuban revolution as well. This is not news to people who know much about Cuba.

The conclusion to the paper begins as follows:
"Not long after the previous version of this paper was published (State 1998), the Washington Times quoted the Cuban Interests Section’s objections to the statistical presentation found in the study (Carter 1998). It did not dispute the statistics themselves, the majority of which are reported by the Cuban government itself to multilateral institutions discussed earlier. Rather, a spokesman asserted that the statistics did not take into account the social achievements of the revolution in relation to the distribution of wealth. For example, he said, '[B]efore the revolution, the rich had more food and the poor had less.' This statement is, of course, indisputable, but it leaves unanswered how a society in which virtually everyone is poor is preferable to one in which some people are poor, others are middle class, and still others are rich."

To say that "virtually everyone is poor" in Cuba is not right, but the question of whether distribution matters is the right one to ask. I think without question the distribution of income/consumption is much more equal today than it was pre-Castro and than it would have been with any conceivable non-revolution counterfactual.

From their visit to Cuba just months before the revolution, my mother and grandparents recall seeing very wealthy people and the same extreme poverty that they saw elsewhere in Latin America in the 50s and 60s and that I've witnessed myself in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, and Nicaragua during the last few years. I visited Cuba for a couple weeks a few years ago and neither in the cities nor in the countryside did I see anything like the poverty one sees elsewhere.

As to what the level of GDP per capita would be with a non-revolution counterfactual, who can say? In the counterfactual world, as in other Latin American countries, the pre-1959 landowner class would almost certainly be better off than they are in Castro's Cuba (neglecting the improvement in welfare for those who emigrated to the U.S.) Would the mass of people in Cuba be better off if the revolution had never happened? The experience of the rest of Latin America would suggest probably not.

Posted by: Gabriel on May 15, 2003 04:11 PM

____

Just wondering--if the statistics in the article are correct, then shouldn't we be arguing that a corrupt Mafia-controlled rightwing dictatorship provided a better life for its people than the democracies in Western Europe?

I can see why Bush supporters would find this fact congenial to their worldview, but does anyone else besides me find this slightly implausible? It might be right, but if it is right then it is a fact that should surprise and upset more than just a handful of Castro-admirers.

Posted by: Donald Johnson on May 15, 2003 04:27 PM

____

Just wondering--if the statistics in the article are correct, then shouldn't we be arguing that a corrupt Mafia-controlled rightwing dictatorship provided a better life for its people than the democracies in Western Europe?

I can see why Bush supporters would find this fact congenial to their worldview, but does anyone else besides me find this slightly implausible? It might be right, but if it is right then it is a fact that should surprise and upset more than just a handful of Castro-admirers.

Posted by: Donald Johnson on May 15, 2003 04:28 PM

____

I once came across some late 1950s Readers Digests. One had an article about how the Belgian Congo was an exceptional colony, where the locals wanted to stay under colonial rule. Another had an article about how the Cubans really liked having Batista for a dictator, how he was truly a man of the people with a career going back to the 1930s and all.

Maybe the Readers Digest can supply some of these comparative statistics for the rest of us, from the files, if that wasn't where B de L got them in the first place? I'd certainly be interested to track down those copies again, just for some perspective on how the world has(n't) changed.

Posted by: P.M.Lawrence on May 15, 2003 04:30 PM

____

>Do you know what they call someone who is "winning an argument with a liberal"?

I'll bite: Delusional?

Posted by: a different chris on May 15, 2003 04:55 PM

____

>To say that "virtually everyone is poor" in Cuba is not right, but the question of whether distribution matters is the right one to ask. I think without question the distribution of income/consumption is much more equal today than it was pre-Castro...

No doubt the countless people who've risked/lost their lives fleeing Cuba over the years yearn for inequality. What other explanation could there be?

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 05:03 PM

____

>I'll bite: Delusional?

Lord, I said how to get the answer! You're ruining the fun! :)

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 05:14 PM

____

Hey Bucky, not to pop your bubble or anything, but calling someone a "lunatic" ISN'T the same thing as a "winning" argument--not this side of the nearest day care center anyway....

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 05:35 PM

____

It's true that for the years from 1962-1991, Cuba's economy, including its healthcare system, were hampered by U.S. sanctions. However, its economy was also helped by heavily subsidized Soviet sugar purchases from Cuba. The Cuban healthcare system has no doubt deteriorated since 1991, but had it even kept up from the revolution to 1991 compared with its trends before the revolution? I don't know, overall, whether Cuba got more in Soviet subsidies than it lost from U.S. trade or vice versa, but the revolution didn't JUST mean the U.S. cut off trade -- it also meant Soviet aid.

Posted by: Julian Elson on May 15, 2003 05:38 PM

____

"It's an old joke."

No, Bucky, that's you.

A couple of points, anyway: in 1957, much of Europe, along with Japan, was still rebuilding. Plus: Cuba was a narcostate. So it's a deceptive comparison in many, many ways.

A fair proportion of the time I devote to Amnesty International concerns Cuba's human rights abuses. Could some of the bent-rightwards Americans here start writing letters to their relevant pols about prison policy and the death penalty, just to show how committed they are to the cause?

Posted by: nick sweeney on May 15, 2003 06:05 PM

____

I'm gonna let you guys in on a 'dirty' little secret:

Castro is still around because he once dared to spit in Uncle Sam's eye AND he got away with it. That fact alone made him legitimate in many Latin American eyes. And that fact is what STILL makes many Latin Americans--patron and peon alike--willing 'to pretend not to notice' his faults and failures.

That fact also explains why some troglodytes on this side of the Strait will not rest as long as he's vertical. It's ALL about horomones.

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 06:05 PM

____

>calling someone a "lunatic"

... is something I did nowhere on this thread.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 15, 2003 06:10 PM

____

Dear Bucky:

rea at May 15, 2003 08:52 AM

WROTE:

"...If you can find a single US lefty not obviously dismissible as a member of the lunatic fringe (e. g., Communist Party member)who thinks Cuba is a "social paradise", I'll eat my Tiger baseball cap.

THEN YOU Bucky Dent at May 15, 2003 09:20 AM (quoting Maxine Waters)

WROTE:

"'I am extremely impressed that President Fidel Castro has trained 60,000 doctors. They do an excellent job and have impressive healthcare despite the lack of adequate supplies.' Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

http://www.house.gov/waters/pr_000119_cuba.htm "

THEN Mark Bahner at May 15, 2003 09:57 AM

WROTE:

"Sorry, Bucky.

You can't use Maxine Waters. Rea said: "If you can find a single US lefty not obviously dismissible as a member of the lunatic fringe..."

;-)...

[He then went on to slur Jimmy Carter]

THEN markmeyer at May 15, 2003 10:36 AM

WROTE

"i enjoy rea's comments. perhaps "lefties" make any easy target, because they see nuance in issues and speak in a way that is non-confrontational. making it easy to find quotes that seem sympathetic to Fidel’s regime."

THEN YOU Bucky Dent at May 15, 2003 10:51 AM

WROTE:

"Nuanced non-confrontation is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Maxine Waters."

THEN arthur at May 15, 2003 12:19 PM

WROTE:

"Let me see. Maxine Waters is African-American and a woman. Perfect example for the looney right to ridicule."

THEN YOU Bucky Dent at May 15, 2003 02:44 PM

WROTE:

"Yes, she is.

Do you know what they call someone who is "winning an argument with a liberal"?
It's an old joke. Maybe google can help you."

THEN a different chris at May 15, 2003 04:55 PM

WROTE:

"I'll bite: Delusional?"

THEN YOU Bucky Dent at May 15, 2003 05:14 PM

WROTE:

"Lord, I said how to get the answer! You're ruining the fun! :)"

THEN I Mike at May 15, 2003 05:35 PM

WROTE:

"Hey Bucky, not to pop your bubble or anything, but calling someone a "lunatic" ISN'T the same thing as a "winning" argument--not this side of the nearest day care center anyway...."


THEN YOU Bucky Dent at May 15, 2003 06:10 PM

WROTE:

">calling someone a 'lunatic'

... is something I did nowhere on this thread."

THEN I WROTE:

I didn't say YOU did Bucky.

BUT since that's the ONLY plausible "argument" that HAS been made against Ms. Waters HERE,

AND

Since you DID assert that you believed you and Mark Bahner were "winning [that] argument"

The fact that YOU didn't PERSONALLY make that "argument" is irrelevant.


Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 07:07 PM

____

"No, Bucky, that's you."

This is really irritating. So what if Maxine Waters is a black woman? Does that exempt her from all criticism? Here's a newsflash for you - I share a personal attribute in common with her (guess what), and I still think she's a raving loony. Does that make me a "racist" too? Or maybe "self-hating", an "oreo", or some other such insult?

Dishonest debating tactics of this sort give the lie to the claim that "liberals" are exempt from the racism endemic amongst the hard right. Condescension of this sort, or what one might call "the Jayson Blair effect", is just as demeaning as name-calling; implicit in it is the notion that "these people can't hack it, so let's cut them some slack." Blacks shouldn't be held to a higher standard than others, but they shouldn't be held to a lower one either.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 15, 2003 07:08 PM

____

Speaking of "dishonest debating tactics" Abiola, "thinking" someone "is a raving loony" is about as "honest" a "debating tactic" as talking bad about their mother...

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 07:19 PM

____

"Speaking of "dishonest debating tactics" Abiola, "thinking" someone "is a raving loony" is about as "honest" a "debating tactic" as talking bad about their mother..."

I didn't claim to be using it as a debating tactic. It could have been motivated by an irrational hatred on my part, a personal gripe, or by some other insubstantial rationale. What I wish to point out is that one can dislike or critize Maxine Waters (even irrationally), without it being due to "racism" or "sexism". Hey, you've criticized me, and I'm not straining at the leash to call you a racist for it ...

At least two people on here have made such accusations against Bucky Dent, without any proof whatsoever, no doubt with the expectation that no one woould call them on it. That sort of conversational terrorism devalues those loaded terms.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 15, 2003 07:33 PM

____

Here's a news flash for you Abiola, you DID use "it" as a "debating tactic". Since "perfect" irony OBVIOUSLY isn't YOUR strong suit, let's have another look at the comment that "irritated" you:

"Let me see. Maxine Waters is African-American and a woman. Perfect example for the looney right to ridicule."

Posted by arthur at May 15, 2003 12:19 PM"

arthur SAID "loony right"--NOT "racist" or "sexist"... MAYBE this will help YOU to understand the point I believe HE was making, Abiola:

"...Creepin' fascism. That's what we're lookin' at.

All these years we've been listening to nutty right-wing preachers talking about creepin' socialism, and it turns out we've fixated on the wrong damn threat....

...Faced with a $10 billion deficit, the Republicans decided to outlaw gay marriage. Then they kicked 250,000 poor children off a health insurance program that is mostly paid for by the feds in the first place. Picking on the weakest, the frailest, the youngest and oldest Texans has been the sport of choice this session. When the handicapped came to the capital to protest cuts in their services, the governor had them arrested...

...What planet do these people come from?...When one confronts such people with facts...it does no good. These folks are not stupid, they're like members of some weird cult. You can't dent their worldview with reality. It's like trying to talk to the people who followed David Koresh.

They are, at long last, the perfect unpoliticians -- they don't compromise, they don't deal, they don't look for the middle way, they don't give a damn about accommodating anybody else. Because they believe they're right. And they won't go out for a beer after work. They think it's them against evil. And everybody who ain't them is evil. These are Shiite Republicans.

Since all of y'all in the North think Texas is eternally screwed up, I'm not going to try to defend this lunacy (although it has causes), I'm just warning you: This is about to happen everywhere...The whole country is being turned into the state whose proudest boast is that sometimes we're ahead of Mississippi..."

"Bucking the Texas Lockstep" by Molly Ivins (today's Washington Post) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57328-2003May14.html

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 08:00 PM

____

"Let me see. Maxine Waters is African-American and a woman. Perfect example for the looney right to ridicule."

Hmm...Who quoted Maxine Waters? And who could "looney right" therefore have been referring to? Are there any "looney" rightwingers ridiculing Maxine Waters on here? And why exactly did the statement quoted above refer to her race and her sex?

I think you're the one with the comprehension problem, buddy.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite on May 15, 2003 08:44 PM

____

Mike, your comments are well-nigh unreadable and posting entire copyrighted articles is inexcusable. Recapitulating an entire series of comments, badly formatted, in an effort to win a "no I'm not, you are" debate just goes entirely beyong the pale.

Posted by: Ketih M Ellis on May 15, 2003 09:02 PM

____

I'm NOT your buddy, Abiola.
(BRAD is YOUR "buddy".

This is really something - it puts a very different perspective on the Cuban situation. Keep the good work, Brad; this is the sort of thing that keeps me reading your weblog, however much I may disagree with (some of) of the things you say.

Posted by Abiola Lapite at May 15, 2003 12:35 AM


EVERYBODY knows THAT ;!)

I don't care what you say you believe to be "beyond the pale", Ketih. (But your name IS pretty hard to read ;!)

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 09:21 PM

____

P.S. Ketih

"...posting entire copyrighted articles is inexcusable..."

I didn't make a nickel off it. Nobody forced you to read it.

All the high dudgeon around here sorta reminds me of an old song...How did it go?....

"How you gonna keep 'em down on the plantation......after they've seen OUR situation?"

Something like that..."

Posted by Mike at May 15, 2003 03:12 AM

Posted by: Mike on May 15, 2003 09:35 PM

____

Mike, I'll read through your link later today. I wanted to offer that I'm pretty sure that competition for labor was the reason why "...the Western European nobility..." didn't "...re-enserf the peasantry after the Black Death..." http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/001447.html

The Crusades helped increase the demand for labor and further exacerbated the demand situation but the Black Death let the genie out of the bottle.

Posted by: Stan on May 16, 2003 06:27 AM

____

Abiola: One of the peculiarites of the comment boards on this blog is the reflexive need some posters have to fabricate unseemly attitudes/quotes/schemas and attribute them to folks who post things they don't like.

I've seen people here flat-out called racist for writing favorably about school vouchers, or questioning the social fallout from "affirmative action".

I quoted Maxine Waters, frankly, because I am time-constrained, and her material came up first on Google. I actually hesitated on posting it because I feared someone would take us off-topic (Cuba) by playing the race card, but I didn't have time to do additional legwork on, say, Ramsey Clark. :)

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 16, 2003 08:51 AM

____

Stan,

That:

"...Get a load of this, Brad (!:

'Crusades'

http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=1&q=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm&e=747 "


was a really just a 'snarky' aside for Brad--See, I took a SLIGHTLY different exception:


"WHOSE 'idea' WAS 'the idea of Homo economicus' in the first place ;?)


Main Entry: sa·pi·ent
Pronunciation: 'sA-pE-&nt, 'sa-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin sapient-, sapiens, from present participle of sapere to taste, be wise -- more at SAGE
Date: 15th century
: possessing or expressing great sagacity
synonym see WISE


Put your egos away now children it's time for today's lesson. And pay VERY close attention, because we're shooting at a moving target here....

THIS is the CART:

Main Entry: 1 cul·ture
Pronunciation: 'k&l-ch&r
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle
Date: 15th century

5 a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a company or corporation

THIS is the HORSE:

Main Entry: 1 econ·o·my
Pronunciation: i-'kä-n&-mE, &-, E-
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -mies
Etymology: Middle French yconomie, from Medieval Latin oeconomia, from Greek oikonomia, from oikonomos household manager, from oikos house + nemein to manage -- more at VICINITY, NIMBLE
Date: 15th century

4 : the structure of economic life in a country, area, or period; specifically : an economic system

Posted by: Mike on May 10, 2003 03:41 AM "

to something in The Economist:

"...Economist.com: ...The most striking development has been a move at Harvard, which has one of America's biggest and most influential economics faculties, to offer an alternative to the basic undergraduate economics course....One basis of the proposed course and others like it, however, is the rapid uptake of the ideas of behavioural economics. This uses lessons from psychology to undercut the idea of Homo economicus as a rational being..."


Which Brad didn't seem to take exceptionally ENOUGH to suit me (-:


"A Bizarre Piece from the Economist....

...Behavioral considerations make the economics of social welfare and of supply-and-demand more complex. But supply and demand curves do not lose their meaning..."

http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2003_archives/001444.html

Anyway Stan, unless you're REALLY interested in the Catholic version of The Crusades, I'd suggest you "skim" the first several chapters of

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm ("Crusades")

for 'range'. And concentrate your attention on

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm#IX ("IX. The crusade in the fifteenth century")

and

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04543c.htm#X ("X. Modifications and survival of the idea of the crusade")

for socio-political-economic 'effect'.

Posted by: Mike on May 16, 2003 09:07 AM

____

"Saying that Cuba has a surprisingly good health service is a far cry from proclaiming it a social paradise. If life expectancy is as good or better than the US, the most expensive health service in the world, it even seems reasonable."

Yes, as long as you ignore the fact that Cuba is a @@#$ing prison.

Why is medicine so "inexpensive" in Cuba? For the same reason professional baseball players play for so little in Cuba...BECAUSE THEY'RE IN PRISON!

It truly makes me sick, when people who call themselves "liberals" (root word, "liber"...meaning "free") ignore the fact that Cuba is, by all relevant measures, one of the LEAST FREE countries on the entire planet.

So, to any TRUE liberal, whether Cuba has inexpensive medical care (or TV sets, or lots of nice antique cars) shouldn't make any @#$% difference. The people of Cuba are NOT free. (Of course, Jimmy Carter, big human rights activist, didn't have the b@lls to state that fact. After all, it would have cost him a Nobel Peace prize.)

If Fidel Castro allowed doctors and their families to leave his prison, there probably wouldn't be more than a couple hundred doctors on the whole frigging island. After all, HALF of the doctors in Cuba left, immediately following the revolution. (Until Castro got better at shooting those who tried to leave...and/or those who families remained behind.)

http://www.speakeasy.org/wfp/30/Cuba.html

P.S. It's the U.S.'s loss that John Ruhland didn't stay in Cuba. :-/

P.P.S. And those "special clinics" for people with AIDS...those are basically PRISONS, John. THAT'S why there is so little AIDS transmission in Cuba...because people with AIDS aren't allowed out in the general public. (Can anyone even IMAGINE the howling of "liberals" if G.W. Bush or John Ashcroft suggested doing with AIDS patients what Fidel Castro has been doing for literally years?)

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 16, 2003 09:31 AM

____

>...BECAUSE THEY'RE IN PRISON!

Uh-oh. You're calling attention to the blindingly obvious.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 16, 2003 09:37 AM

____

"Uh-oh. You're calling attention to the blindingly obvious."

Yes...it must be the obviousness of it, was why Carter failed to mention it. And why I doubt you'll find even ONE "liberal" who uses the word "prison" in this set of ~70 posts. :-/

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 16, 2003 09:58 AM

____

I recently re-read some Orwell, and the references to doublethink, blackwhite and duckspeak leapt out at me.

Posted by: Bucky Dent on May 16, 2003 10:21 AM

____

Mike, as I said "I'll read through your link later today."

Posted by: Stan on May 16, 2003 11:31 AM

____

Stan, as I said (-:

"That...was really just a 'snarky' aside for Brad..."

AND

"...There are, or anyway, there USED to be a lot of "righties" who don't foam at the mouth around, Mark.

But, as Joseph Heller might have said, "Something Happened".....

The thing is, once we implicitly or explicitly buy into the premise that economics and/or politics is essentially a religious matter, it's only a matter of time before the fundamentalists "win" most [of] the argument[s]: If only because most intelligent and/or sane people eventually leave the room and...the "fight" to those who are only to happy to kill anyone who doesn't see things THEIR way...."

Posted by Mike at May 15, 2003 11:04 AM


Posted by: Mike on May 16, 2003 01:11 PM

____

P.S. Stan,

Did I tell you:

"I'm gonna let you guys in on a 'dirty' little secret:

Castro is still around because he once dared to spit in Uncle Sam's eye AND he got away with it. That fact alone made him legitimate in many Latin American eyes. And that fact is what STILL makes many Latin Americans--patron and peon alike--willing 'to pretend not to notice' his faults and failures.

That fact also explains why some troglodytes on this side of the Strait will not rest as long as he's vertical. It's ALL about horomones.

Posted by Mike at May 15, 2003 06:05 PM"

Yeah. Yeah. I guess I did...

Posted by: Mike on May 16, 2003 01:21 PM

____

Gabriel writes, "Would the mass of people in Cuba be better off if the revolution had never happened? The experience of the rest of Latin America would suggest probably not."

I'm curious, Gabriel...do you call yourself a "liberal?"

If so, what do you think about the fact that Cuba has, beyond dispute, the absolute worst "Freedom House" rankings for political and civil freedoms, in all of Latin America?

http://www.freedomhouse.org/ratings/

From 1972 to 2000, Cuba has NEVER received a Freedom House ranking above a "6" (where "7" is the worst) for either political or civil freedom. NO Latin American country (to my knowledge) has done even CLOSE to that poorly, that consistently, for that long a period of time.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/ratings/congo.htm

So, if you call yourself a "liberal"...why is it that you don't count people who have more political and civil freedom as being "better off?"

Maybe you don't care about political and civil freedoms? Maybe you care about (ho, ho, ho!) economic freedom?

Well, Cuba at the very bottom of all of Latin America in THAT regard, also:

http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/

So...Cuba doesn't have political freedom; it doesn't have civil (liberties) freedom; it doesn't have economic freedom.

Cuba is, beyond question, over the past 30 years, the LEAST free country in all of Latin America. Being a "liberal"...how can you say that the people of Cuba wouldn't have been better off if Castro hadn't come to power? Just what sort of freedom do you support, if you're a "liberal?"

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 16, 2003 02:13 PM

____

Don't take Mark's word for how much worse things are in Cuba than they are in some of our OTHER, more docile, vassals---er, I mean, NEIGHBORS--here in the Western Hemisphere, Gabriel.

Here's the last (pre-Orwellian) Human Rights report on the lot of them from The U.S. Department of State:

Department of State Human Rights Reports for 2000

Released by the U.S. Department of State in February 2001

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/wha.html

I'd quote for you from the reports on a "random" sample of shining examples like, for instance,

Bolivia:

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/bolivia.html

Dominican Republic

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/dominicanrepublic.html

Guatemala,

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/guatemala.html

Haiti

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/haiti.html

Panama

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/panama.html

Uraquay

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/uruguay.html


But I wouldn't want to divert Mark's laser like focus and rapier like finger on the truly EXCEPTIONAL case of Cuba.

That just wouldn't be prudent ;-)

Posted by: Mike on May 16, 2003 03:43 PM

____

With all due respect to a professional, neither of those papers contain the word "mafia," so I think there's some big omissions. The following questions occur to me:

1. Are statistics from a mafia-dominated state more or less honest than those from a Stalinist state?

2. To what extent was Cuba's pre-Castro wealth dependent on various illegal activities?

3. To what extent is Cuba's current poverty a result of its inability to run a modern economy because the USA keeps them from purchasing oil and Cuba cannot afford a massive investment in alternate energy technologies?

I find (3) particularly interesting, since the whole third world is going to be there in this century. (Well, all right, the USA isn't going to be what stops the oil purchases.)

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on May 16, 2003 06:48 PM

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I just had to focus in on this one line:

"One girl from New Jersey who had recently visited Cuba talked about how poor the people were, kids walking around barefooted, that kind of obvious poverty."

Not to say they weren't poor, but that particular symptom... (*snrch*) I'm sorry, it just conjures up an image of this horrified young New Jerseyite with her notions of the absolute minimum necessities of life.

Isn't the climate of Cuba a little different from New Jersey? And the culture more, umm, relaxed, at least for kids? Goodness, those Cuban kids were so deprived, I'll bet they didn't even have scheduled playdates!

Me, I ran around barefoot all summer when I was a kid, any time my mother would let me. Shoes were for church on Sundays. It seems there's one small freedom index where Cuba beats out New Jersey: more kids get to wiggle their toes in the dirt.

Posted by: Canadian Reader on May 16, 2003 08:32 PM

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The show so far (lightly paraphrased)

Mark Bahner: Lefties call Cuba a social paradise.
Rea: Like who?
MB: Like Carter, who said Cuba had a good health-care system.
Jack: Saying Cuba has good health care isn't the same thing as calling it a "social paradise." And maybe Cuba does have good health care.
MB: Cuba has good health care? Good God, is that all you can say? Don't you recognize that it's a dictatorship!

In other words, in order to counter Jack's point -- that all sane people should recognize that there is more to being a "social paradise" than having good health care -- Mark indignantly points out that that there is more to being a "social paradise" than having good health care.

Posted by: Jeffrey Kramer on May 17, 2003 04:15 AM

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It takes razing a village to save a child from itself, Jeffery: EVERYBODY knows THAT!!!

(What're ya, IGNORANT!?! Or YELLA'!?! Or WHAT ;?)

Posted by: Mike on May 17, 2003 06:58 AM

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Not "lightly paraphrased." More like "mostly invented." Don't put this account on your resume, should you ever apply for a job that involves taking meeting minutes. :-/

Mark Bahner: Lefties call Cuba a social paradise."

I wasn't the one who wrote that, "lefties call Cuba a social paradise." I noted that some of the things Jimmy Carter has said *could* be taken as supporting that thought. But then I immediately noted that "social paradise" is hard to define. (Perhaps an island prison really CAN be a "social paradise...")

"MB: Like Carter, who said Cuba had a good health-care system."

Carter didn't just say that "Cuba has a good health-care system." He said, "Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal education,..."

Further, Carter (correctly) called Batista a "dictator," but then called Castro a "president"...as though Castro has any legimitate power. Finally, Carter was seen joking around with Castro at a baseball game, and even throwing out the first pitch. If a country has, "superb systems of health care and universal education," and is run by a "president," who was responsible for the overthrow of a "dictator"...and we also see Carter having a grand time, throwing out a first pitch at a ballgame with the "president"...well, things sound and look pretty good at that country.

As for your final "paraphrases"...the statement wasn't that "maybe Cuba does have good health care." The statement was that Cuba appears to have "surprisingly good" health care. But one can only be "surprised" by how "good" the health care system is in Cuba, if one ignores the fact that Cuba is an island prison. It's much easier to get "good" health care, if: 1) the doctors aren't free to go elsewhere, no matter how low their salaries are, 2) people with AIDs are essentially put in special isolation prisons, within that general prison, and 3) abortions are favored by the State, such that a country with Catholic roots has, by far, the highest abortion rate in the Americas (North, Central, and South).

I challenge even one self-proclaimed "liberal" here to acknowledge the obvious: "Cuba is currently the least free country in all of the Americas." And then follow it with, "Freedom is important to me." (This is like a 12-step program... ;-))

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 19, 2003 09:29 AM

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Mike writes, "Don't take Mark's word for how much worse things are in Cuba..."

No, don't take *my* word. Take Freedom House's word. They're a non-partisan group that has been ranking freedom around the world, since 1972. (And they've been evaluating and advocating for freedom since Eleanor Roosevelt and others founded it, way back in the 1940s.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/aboutfh/index.htm

THEY are the ones who judge Cuba to be, since 1972, the absolutely least free country in all of Latin America.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/ratings/congo.htm

"Here's the last (pre-Orwellian) Human Rights report on the lot of them from The U.S. Department of State:..."

Mike, the Department of State's evaluations in NO WAY contradicts the rankings of Freedom House. Just look at the State Department's assessment of Cuba:

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/cuba.html

"Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro, who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President Castro exercises control over all aspects of life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. The Communist Party is the only legal political entity, and President Castro personally chooses the membership of the Politburo, the select group that heads the party. There are no contested elections for the 601-member National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP), which meets twice a year for a few days to rubber stamp decisions and policies already decided by the Government. The Party controls all government positions, including judicial offices. The judiciary is completely subordinate to the Government and to the Communist Party."

I defy you to find any State Department assessment that characterizes any other country in Latin America as currently being a "totalitarian state," controlled by a single person. And Cuba has been that way for 44 years! (Longer than any country in the *world,* at this time, to my knowledge.)

"But I wouldn't want to divert Mark's laser like focus and rapier like finger on the truly EXCEPTIONAL case of Cuba."

You're right. Cuba IS exceptional. The people of Cuba have the least amount of freedom in all of Latin America. (Which also means in all of the Western Hemisphere.)

One would think "liberals" would care about freedom. But it's clear that faux liberals don't.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 19, 2003 09:43 AM

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Mike writes, "Don't take Mark's word for how much worse things are in Cuba..."

No, don't take *my* word. Take Freedom House's word. They're a non-partisan group that has been ranking freedom around the world, since 1972. (And they've been evaluating and advocating for freedom since Eleanor Roosevelt and others founded it, way back in the 1940s.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/aboutfh/index.htm

THEY are the ones who judge Cuba to be, since 1972, the absolutely least free country in all of Latin America.

http://www.freedomhouse.org/ratings/congo.htm

"Here's the last (pre-Orwellian) Human Rights report on the lot of them from The U.S. Department of State:..."

Mike, the Department of State's evaluations in NO WAY contradicts the rankings of Freedom House. Just look at the State Department's assessment of Cuba:

http://www.humanrights-usa.net/reports/cuba.html

"Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro, who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President Castro exercises control over all aspects of life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and the state security apparatus. The Communist Party is the only legal political entity, and President Castro personally chooses the membership of the Politburo, the select group that heads the party. There are no contested elections for the 601-member National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP), which meets twice a year for a few days to rubber stamp decisions and policies already decided by the Government. The Party controls all government positions, including judicial offices. The judiciary is completely subordinate to the Government and to the Communist Party."

I defy you to find any State Department assessment that characterizes any other country in Latin America as currently being a "totalitarian state," controlled by a single person. And Cuba has been that way for 44 years! (Longer than any country in the *world,* at this time, to my knowledge.)

"But I wouldn't want to divert Mark's laser like focus and rapier like finger on the truly EXCEPTIONAL case of Cuba."

You're right. Cuba IS exceptional. The people of Cuba have the least amount of freedom in all of Latin America. (Which also means in all of the Western Hemisphere.)

One would think "liberals" would care about freedom. But it's clear that faux liberals don't.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on May 19, 2003 09:48 AM

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I spent a week in Cuba in February. It is a third world country. People are begging for soap. Our minder told us how well educated everyone was. They were, but there was nothing for these people to do with their training. Medical care is free, but there are no drugs or syringes, you have to wait for someone to die if you need a wheelchair. but they are free. The stores are empty unless you have dollars to spend. People depend on family living in the states to send clothes and money to buy food. Cuba is an island prison, where millions are tortured daily. Every day is a day in hell. The only difference from life in Iraq is a lack of mass graves.

Posted by: Henry on May 19, 2003 07:46 PM

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I spent a week in Cuba in February. It is a third world country. People are begging for soap. Our minder told us how well educated everyone was. They were, but there was nothing for these people to do with their training. Medical care is free, but there are no drugs or syringes, you have to wait for someone to die if you need a wheelchair. but they are free. The stores are empty unless you have dollars to spend. People depend on family living in the states to send clothes and money to buy food. Cuba is an island prison, where millions are tortured daily. Every day is a day in hell. The only difference from life in Iraq is a lack of mass graves.

Posted by: Henry on May 19, 2003 07:47 PM

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I spent a week in Cuba in February. It is a third world country. People are begging for soap. Our minder told us how well educated everyone was. They were, but there was nothing for these people to do with their training. Medical care is free, but there are no drugs or syringes, you have to wait for someone to die if you need a wheelchair. but they are free. The stores are empty unless you have dollars to spend. People depend on family living in the states to send clothes and money to buy food. Cuba is an island prison, where millions are tortured daily. Every day is a day in hell. The only difference from life in Iraq is a lack of mass graves.

Posted by: Henry on May 19, 2003 07:47 PM

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To believe that the Cuban economy would today be OK, or even functional, were it not for the US embargo, is to ignore a century's worth of evidence on the performance of command economies. Nowhere has the Cuban model worked. So why should we expect it to magically work in Cuba any more than it worked in East Germany, Poland, or North Korea?

The Cubans also had the benefit of 30 years of Soviet subsidies, which I think makes up for a few casinos.

The CIA World Factbook puts the Cuban per capita GDP on a purchasing power parity basis at $2,300. Mexico is at $9,000. Puerto Rico is at $11,200, Guatemala at $3,700, Haiti at $1,700.

Some say we should lift the sanctions in order to promote freedom in Cuba. Well, the Europeans have made Cuba a vacation stop. Has this noticiably increased freedom in Cuba? Not really, as the recent crackdowns have shown.


Posted by: Ernst Blofeld on May 19, 2003 08:14 PM

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I've been around Cuba. It did not seem like a great place to live. The poverty is terrible. I'm talking about more than people walking around barefoot here. everything and everybody was dirty and disgusting. Most people seemed to have nothing to do. Kids would run up and ask you for things.

Human rights reports be damned. Cuba is a very bad place to live in.

Posted by: Tynan S. on May 19, 2003 08:16 PM

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I've been around Cuba. It did not seem like a great place to live. The poverty is terrible. I'm talking about more than people walking around barefoot here. everything and everybody was dirty and disgusting. Most people seemed to have nothing to do. Kids would run up and ask you for things.

Human rights reports be damned. Cuba is a very bad place to live in.

Posted by: Tynan S. on May 19, 2003 08:20 PM

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> To believe that the Cuban economy would today be OK, or even functional, were it not for the US embargo, is to ignore a century's worth of evidence on the performance of command economies.

Precisely. The "big lie" is that the embargo is the sole source of Cuba's troubles, or as one Neomarxist student in one of my graduate seminars put it, "Cuba's experiment would work were it not for the US embargo."

Yes, the US is one-quarter of the world economy, and yes the effect of gravity on trade with Europe would make it less profitable than trade with the US, but the fact remains that nearly every country in the world that wants to trade with Cuba does, and yet the Cuban people have little economic progress to show for it.

Personally, I favor getting rid of the embargo for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because ending the embargo would deny Castro a rhetorical prop that he uses to mislead his people about the real source of their misery. And the fact that the embargo was seriously up for debate in the House recently is probably why Castro has been so brutal in his dealings with dissidents during the last few weeks. Without the embargo, the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by: Matthew on May 19, 2003 09:38 PM

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Castro visted China earlier this year and was shocked that some Chinese were no longer surviving on beans grown in pots on the balcony. Here's part of a report I posted:

"Castro, the world's longest-serving communist leader, said China's changes left him bewildered. Reforms in China have brought in foreign investment totalling hundreds of billions of dollars and produced a dynamic private sector - concepts still largely unknown in Castro's Cuba. While Castro has adhered closely to Marxist economics since seizing power in the 1959 revolution, China has produced ever-more market-oriented leaders focused on economic growth."

Casto is a fool and Cubans have suffered because of it. No amount of spin from leftist wannabee jungle fighters will change that fact.

There's a certain young lady here in Hong Kong who regularly flies to Cuba to provide her support to the great man's revolutionary project. Married into one of the wealthiest families in the SAR - and that my friends gives her access to one serious pile of money - she flits off whenever the urge to recharge her leftist batteries is overpowering (or hormones kick in, take your pick). She has gushed to me on numerous occasions how wonderful Castro's experiment in lunacy really is. This from a woman whose husband has his hands on more money than the entire Cuban population will see in its lifetime. Cause celebe? You tell me.

Posted by: Preston Whip on May 20, 2003 01:20 AM

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What's wrong with quoting Ludwig von Mises? do you disagree with his critiques of socialism, central planning, and interventionism? have you managed to write an extensive refutation of his treatise on "Socialism"?

do you maybe not see the irony in maligning him while providing further evidence that the socialist paradise in Cuba is a failure _just_as_von_Mises_ predicted of _all_ socialist systems? amazing.

Posted by: Kalle Barfot on May 20, 2003 04:32 AM

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For those who are honestly interested in von Mises's great classic, "Socialism," it is online in full (PDF, 30MB):
http://www.capitalism.net/Socialism%20JC/SOCIALISM.pdf
[courtesy of TJS -- The jefferson School of Philosophy, Economics, and Psychology]

Posted by: Kalle Barfot on May 20, 2003 04:47 AM

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In Cuba, mothers complain that the doctors eagerly abort high risk pregnancies, and even infanticide premature/ill babies--to keep the infant death statistics looking good.

They do not count an infanticide as an infant death, interestingly enough.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Where do you stay in Cuba if you are an independent journalist? In prison, you dolt!

Posted by: RB on May 20, 2003 07:45 AM

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What exactly is depressing about the fact that socialism doesn't work? didn't von Mises provide proof that Socialism _cannot_ work? do you maybe _wish_ that despite Castro's horrendous dictatorship and decades-long persecution of the Cuban people, _somehow_ Cuba would be a wealthy country to display as an example of mankind's "radiant" future?

Posted by: Kalle Barfot on May 20, 2003 07:53 AM

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What exactly is depressing about the fact that socialism doesn't work? didn't von Mises provide proof that Socialism _cannot_ work? do you maybe _wish_ that despite Castro's horrendous dictatorship and decades-long persecution of the Cuban people, _somehow_ Cuba would be a wealthy country to display as an example of mankind's "radiant, socialist" future?

Posted by: Kalle Barfot on May 20, 2003 08:10 AM

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Reality test:

Are people in Miami building rafts and trying to get to Havana or are they building rafts in Havana trying to get to Miami?

If Cuba is so dependent on American trade, despite having the rest of the world to trade with, shouldn't they give up Communism to get it? The USSR did. China is in process. What is holding Cuba back?

Posted by: M. Simon on May 20, 2003 11:04 AM

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Reality test:

Are people in Miami building rafts and trying to get to Havana or are they building rafts in Havana trying to get to Miami?

If Cuba is so dependent on American trade, despite having the rest of the world to trade with, shouldn't they give up Communism to get it? The USSR did. China is in process. What is holding Cuba back?

Posted by: M. Simon on May 20, 2003 11:07 AM

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And that, of course, depends on you believing Cuba's numbers. At least a few data series published by the Cuban government have been internally inconsistent at points (ref - "The Tyranny of Numbers - Mismeasurement and Misrule", an interesting global public policy stats review by Nicholas Eberstadt. No, seriously...)

Posted by: The Philosophical Cowboy on May 20, 2003 11:33 AM

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Along 4 and half centuries people from the Canary Islands used to emigrate to Cuba to escape poverty. Nowadays they go there only on holidays and thousands of Cuban exiles are coming into the Canaries. Only two types of countries in the world, those with polices at its frontier to stop inmigrations and those with polices to stop emigration.

Posted by: PACO CABRERA on May 20, 2003 01:26 PM

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57 hmm

not many americans kicking around in cuba after 59 you know. if you knew a damn thing, you conservative monkey, you might take into account the drag on the economy after the us pulled out and embargoed the crap out of the country. the standard of living in cuba ( and have you ever even been btw - oh i forgot you're american. whe the embargo lifts you should check it out it's beatiful ) is damn fine considering the usa is out to fuck it up, with its own dumb embargo and pressure it exherts on other countries to do the same (ie canada).

Posted by: name on May 20, 2003 01:52 PM

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57 hmm

not many americans kicking around in cuba after 59 you know. if you knew a damn thing, you conservative monkey, you might take into account the drag on the economy after the us pulled out and embargoed the crap out of the country. the standard of living in cuba ( and have you ever even been btw - oh i forgot you're american. whe the embargo lifts you should check it out it's beatiful ) is damn fine considering the usa is out to fuck it up, with its own dumb embargo and pressure it exherts on other countries to do the same (ie canada).

Posted by: name on May 20, 2003 01:54 PM

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>Reality test:

>Are people in Miami building rafts and trying to get to Havana or are they building rafts in Havana trying to get to Miami?

Reality test: Are people in El Paso dying to get to Mexico City or are they dying in trailers trying to get to El Paso?

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/19/opinion/19MON3.html

Posted by: Tresy on May 20, 2003 02:06 PM

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C'mon guys why are you so bummed by the US embargo? Calling people monkeys, it's starting to get mean. Aren't you happy that wicked globalization hasn't gotten to Cuba, and none of those rapacious US corporations are exploiting it like they do the rest of the world? The Cuban government is committed to the working class, so none of those poor people have to work in a Nike factory. They can rely on the paternal guidance of Castro, one of their own, instead of falling victim to cunning American executives. And the Cuban populace can rely on their home-grown, and no doubt sustainably developed, goods and services instead of the throw-away and resource intensive products the US forces on the world. Besides, Cuba already has good health care and education, what else is there to life? If it's good enough for Carter and Oliver Stone, it's good enough for me!

Posted by: Mateo on May 20, 2003 05:17 PM

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I acn't believe all those that try and paint Cuba in some positive light. Whatever the the U.S. shortcoming are, I can't recall many people swimming/rafting from Florida to Cuba. Maybe one, but I believe she was trying to break a world record rather than escape the U.S. Additionally, what say all you Cuba defending retards about the recent jailing of people for simply speaking their minds? Oh! I have to go! Castro's henchmen are hauling me off for writing this post.

Posted by: Chez Gayverra on May 20, 2003 07:09 PM

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I can't believe all those that try and paint Cuba in some positive light. Whatever the the U.S. shortcoming are, I can't recall many people swimming/rafting from Florida to Cuba. Maybe one, but I believe she was trying to break a world record rather than escape the U.S. Additionally, what say all you Cuba defending retards about the recent jailing of people for simply speaking their minds? Oh! I have to go! Castro's henchmen are hauling me off for writing this post.

Posted by: Chez Gayverra on May 20, 2003 07:11 PM

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I'm a Mexican and all I know is that lots of my countrypeople have told me that when the go to Cuba on vacations Cuban men and women kneel in front of them (literally or figuratively) begging them to marry, so they can leave Cuba and come to Mexico. Mexico is a lot better in practicaly every sense than Cuba, whereas in the 50's Cuba was much better off than us, no question about it. For those who whine about the embargo: have you ever thought of what a horrible admitance of socialism's total failure you make by that? One century ago socialist writers trumpeted that socialism was coming "to bury Capitalism under the HUGE production of the socialist society" Hahahaha. What a horrible admission of defeat. If daddy USA doesn't give us a hand we are doomed! hahahahaha. As a Mexican, I'm glad your daddy has given you...well, the middle extension of his right hand in an upward position hahahahaha. Duh!

Posted by: Miguel on May 21, 2003 02:55 AM

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Now we know the true objectivity of Bradford DeLong. Ludwig von Mises is ignored by many economists, but no one has proven his works to be incorrect. As time goes by, more and more of his insights, theories, methods, are proven correct and useful. This is much more than can be said of the mainstream economists.

Posted by: Mark Thornton on May 21, 2003 07:08 AM

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People in Cuba get on rafts to come to the U.S. because under U.S. law they're guaranteed the right to stay if they set foot on U.S. soil. If they same law applied to Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans, and Mexicans, you would have people doing the same from all those countries.

The poverty I saw in both rural and urban Cuba does not compare by any means to what I've seen in the slums of Buenos Aires, Rio, Bogota, Caracas, and Mexico City and rural pueblos across Latin America.

Posted by: Gabriel on May 21, 2003 06:03 PM

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It's pretty easy to bash Cuba, but can't the same be said for all of Latin America, and other parts of the world for that matter. All of Latin America is desperately poorer and less-well-off in many ways than it was in 1957. Do we blame all of that on Fidel, too.

Also, in the U.S. there is much that is on the decline, does this demand regime change there, too? I'm a middle-aged guy who remembers my dad's hard work as a painter (single-income family) providing modestly but adequately for his family. It isn't happening today that way in the U.S. And with all of U.S. statistical wealth, infant mortality is pretty high...and so on.

What troubles me the most is not whether someone criticizes Castro or anyone else, it's that polemical criticisms usually just blind us to the deep needs everywhere, including in the U.S. as we focus through polemical arguments on giving others hell rather than on bringing about the reforms in the U.S. that are essential.

One other point, no other country has been under attack from the U.S. like Cuba has been for more than 40 years. If we see something less than paradise in Cuba--even accepting the meanest, most brutal criticisms of Castro--wouldn't the role of the U.S. economic, ideological, and subversive warfare against that country and its government have to shoulder a large part of responsibility for present difficult conditions in Cuba? Let's be honest with ourselves, not simply for the sake of Cuba or its government but for the sake of the intellectual honesty that is needed to take care of the U.S.'s people--all of them, not just the upper few percentage who may do well with taxcuts, stock dividends, etc.

Posted by: Mike on May 29, 2003 08:08 AM

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It's pretty easy to bash Cuba, but can't the same be said for all of Latin America, and other parts of the world for that matter. All of Latin America is desperately poorer and less-well-off in many ways than it was in 1957. Do we blame all of that on Fidel, too.

Also, in the U.S. there is much that is on the decline, does this demand regime change there, too? I'm a middle-aged guy who remembers my dad's hard work as a painter (single-income family) providing modestly but adequately for his family. It isn't happening today that way in the U.S. And with all of U.S. statistical wealth, infant mortality is pretty high...and so on.

What troubles me the most is not whether someone criticizes Castro or anyone else, it's that polemical criticisms usually just blind us to the deep needs everywhere, including in the U.S. as we focus through polemical arguments on giving others hell rather than on bringing about the reforms in the U.S. that are essential.

One other point, no other country has been under attack from the U.S. like Cuba has been for more than 40 years. If we see something less than paradise in Cuba--even accepting the meanest, most brutal criticisms of Castro--wouldn't the role of the U.S. economic, ideological, and subversive warfare against that country and its government have to shoulder a large part of responsibility for present difficult conditions in Cuba? Let's be honest with ourselves, not simply for the sake of Cuba or its government but for the sake of the intellectual honesty that is needed to take care of the U.S.'s people--all of them, not just the upper few percentage who may do well with taxcuts, stock dividends, etc.

Posted by: Mike on May 29, 2003 08:11 AM

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See, "Communism and Development, " by Robert Bideleux, 1985, for more stats on declining growth rates, post '59.

Posted by: Michael Pugliese on June 25, 2003 07:21 PM

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Shall I teach you how to know something? Realize you know it when you know it, and realize you don't know it when you don't.

Posted by: Smoker Jeanene on December 10, 2003 03:47 AM

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In his errors a man is true to type. Observe the errors and you will know the man.

Posted by: Sweney Michael on December 10, 2003 03:48 AM

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Yes, congrats for this site, check those too

Posted by: Murray Ralph on December 10, 2003 11:22 AM

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Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.

Posted by: Spikol Liz on December 20, 2003 03:35 PM

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To be a human without passion is to be dead.

Posted by: Wearing Shannon on January 9, 2004 03:37 AM

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