Imagine being so poor, so deprived of consumer choice and supply, that you’d go to the poorest country in an entire half of the world in order to be able to go shopping. That’s the triumph of Cuban socialism for you right there, the achievement of the Castro rule. Sure, they’ve got free health care and they go shopping to Haiti – yes, Haiti, that place devastated by the earthquake, environmental destruction, the Duvalier dictatorship and the Clinton aid – to buy light bulbs. Just think on what a success that is for the socioeconomic system implemented in Cuba.
Most people don’t think of Haiti as a shopping destination. Unless they’re Cuban. Every afternoon, hundreds of Cubans swarm a rutted crossroads in the capital of the hemisphere’s poorest nation, hunting clothes, light bulbs, perfume and other goods that are in short supply back home.
So, why is this?
Clothing, housewares, hardware, personal-care products and other goods at state-run stores in Cuba cost two or three times what they do elsewhere. And that’s when they are on sale at all in an economy hampered by incessant shortage. What’s more, Cuba’s state monopoly on imports and exports excludes the small but vibrant private sector, which employs more than a half million people who often earn three or four times a state worker’s salary.
We actually saw exactly the same system of shuttle traders as the Soviet Union fell apart in the 1980s. Government controlling and directing the economy meant there was nothing to buy in that economy. So, go to another country where there is something to buy and then bring it home. Because, you know, government controlling the economy is one of those things which simply doesn’t work.
Socialism, not even once folks, not even once.