[OPE] "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore, " he said.

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Wed Sep 15 2010 - 16:23:27 EDT

I haven't visited Cuba at this point. Socialism works very good for some
issues where socialists have experience, not for some other issues where
they don't have the experience.

If you look at it realistically, Cuba has actually done pretty well under
difficult circumstances, to which Jerry referred. Whatever ideological
prejudices you may have, this cannot be denied. It not only maintained its
relative position in the world across one half of a century of human
progress, but improved it. This is a pretty good achievement in a world
which, as Bob Sutcliffe has illustrated, is becoming more and more unequal
in terms of wealth, income, social and environmental indicators.

If for example I take the 2009 UN Human Development Indicators list, Cuba
slots in at number 51 out of 182 nations, in other words it does better than
131 countries where the bulk of the world's population is - that is, it does
better than countries containing about 5/6 of the world population (Cuba has
a population of about 11 million).

The only Latin American countries that synthetically do better in human
development according to this list are Uruguay (50) Argentina (49), and
Chile (44), and, in Central America, Barbados (37). The countries ahead of
Cuba include the wealthier OECD countries.

Cuba is not only ahead in human development of most Latin American and
Central American countries, but also ahead of the Bahamas (52), Mexico (53),
Saudi Arabia (59), Russian Federation (71), Turkey (59), Iran (88),
Dominican Republic (91), China (92), Suriname (97), Phillippines (105), Cape
Verde (121), Egypt (123) etc.

In the 2009 list of countries ranked by per capita GDP in ppp terms, Cuba is
ahead of Colombia and not far behind Brazil; it is close to the world
average. But I do not know exactly how Cuba's GDP is valued, particularly as
regards non-market production.

According to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index
2009, Cuba slots in at 61 out of 180 countries. Again, the better performers
are the OECD countries, with some exceptions. On this measure, Cuba's public
service is perceived as less corrupt than Italy (63!), Greece (71!), Brazil
(75!) etc. I have some methodological criticisms of how they do these stats,
but the Western media fantasies are simply not up to speed with the real
world. Things are torn wildly out of proportion.

According to the World Health Organization 2000 ranking of national health
systems, Cuba weighed in at 39, very close to the USA at 37 (with Slovenia
in between) and ahead of New Zealand at 41. The only countries that
according to WHO scored better in the region were the island of Dominica,
and Costa Rica. France was number one, the Netherlands was at 17, just ahead
of Britain at 18. The ranking is no longer being produced "because of the
complexity of the task" (?). The performance of the Cuban health system is
on a par with Canada, reaching 36 in a list of 191 countries.

Although Central America is notorious for its high crime rates, the crime
rates in Cuba are relatively low, among the lowest in Latin and Central
America, as far as I can establish. The quantitatively significant problems
qua incidence there are, concern mainly theft, bribery, and nepotism, not
murder and violent crime. The morality of the Cuban population generally
could be called very good indeed.

On the Yale environmental performance index, Cuba ranks 36 out of 141
countries. The top countries are the Scandinavian states,
Switzerland/Austria, Australia/New Zealand, Latvia, Colombia and France.

Cuba does is not mentioned in the Global Competitiveness Report. I do not
know why.

I suppose you could argue that on some indicators Cuba was already doing
pretty well already before Castro's rebel army took state power; there were
a lot of medics already, some workers earnt high wages etc. But
socio-economic inequality was high, and the country was to a large extent a
banana republic infested with organized crime and corruption. Castro's state
wiped much of that out.

In 1775 to 1783, America staged a revolution, asserting independence against
being a colony of the British Empire. Cuba did the same when I was born,
asserting its independence from America. Since the country really did
improve, it is difficult to see what the intellectual fuss is all about
among Americans who have a spine and an historical memory. They ought to be
glad that Cuba became independent and pursued its own destiny in the world.

I suppose you could also argue, that because of ideological rigidity (an
unctious Marxism-Leninism fetish or bureaucratized hyperpoliticization,
getting in the way of sensible policy), things which should have been done
ten or twenty years ago - such as the agricultural reform and experimenting
with different possible ownership rights - were not yet done in Cuba, and
are only being done now. But the US is just as ideologically rigid - it's a
country governed by a plutocracy which in reality largely serves the
wealthy, rather than the whole people of the nation - the ideology is out of
touch with what the nation requires.

If you cut out a Western newspaper article about Cuba and replaced "Cuba"
with "United States", and altered just a few bits, you would have a more
credible article. People like to project their own problems on others,
rather than work out their own. But it has little to do with objectivity.


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Received on Wed Sep 15 16:25:14 2010

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