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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Will Cuban Socialists Lead America to Freedom?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

I’d like to follow up on my blog post of yesterday about the Cuban government’s decision to lay off 500,000 government employees, given that Cuba’s socialist system has engendered a state of near-starvation poverty in the country.

Undoubtedly, there is consternation among those who are being laid off. For their entire lives, they have worked for the state — a guaranteed job, no risk of ever being fired, free health care, free education for their children, subsidized food and housing, and free retirement pay. No matter how old they might be, the state has truly been their parent since birth.

Now, all of a sudden half-a-million adult children of the state are being fired and thrown out into the private sector.

Self-doubt and fear will undoubtedly afflict many of them.

Would it be any different here in the United States if the U.S. government were to begin dismantling its welfare-warfare empire?

Of course not. In fact, the feeling of doubt and fear might be much greater than it is for those 500,000 Cubans who are now entering the private sector.

Consider Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. What is the standard response of the ordinary American when a libertarian calls for immediately repealing, not reforming, these socialist programs?

An extreme case of self-doubt and fear.

“If we repealed these programs, people would be dying in the streets from starvation and illness.”

“How could I survive without my dole? I’m too dependent on it.”

Is it any different with education?

Nope. Same thing. When a libertarian proposes an immediate end to all state involvement in education, including a dismantling of public (i.e., government) schooling, what is the response of the average American?

“Oh my gosh! If people weren’t forced to subject their children to a government-approved education, everyone would be dumber.”

Not surprisingly, free public schooling and free health care, along with social security, have also long been the pride and joy of socialist icon Fidel Castro.

Lots of Americans would even doubt the economic benefits of a huge layoff of federal employees. Suppose, for example, that the U.S. Empire immediately withdrew all troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, Korea, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the rest of the world.

Libertarians would say, “Discharge them! Put them all into the private sector.”

Statists, who generally have a woeful lack of understanding when it comes to economics, would say, “Oh, no! The private sector cannot handle an influx of hundreds of thousands of federal employees. There will be mass unemployment. We must keep them on the federal payroll for the indefinite future, even if they’re just sitting around.”

Nonsense. Laying off hundreds of thousands of welfare-state workers and warfare-state workers would produce an economic bonanza. That’s, in fact, what the Cuban authorities are banking on — that those 500,000 Cubans will begin producing wealth so that those still working in the parasitic sector can seize part of it to fund their operations.

Laying off all those bureaucrats would have a doubly positive effect. First, the newly privatized federal employees would now begin producing wealth instead of parasitically seizing wealth. Second, the private sector would no longer have the heavy tax burden of supporting the newly privatized workers. More savings, lower taxes, and more production mean more wealth and higher standards of living.

During America’s era of slavery, it was undoubtedly claimed by some that slavery should be gradually phased out rather than ended all at once. The slaves, it would have been argued, lacked the necessary skills to survive in the private sector. It would be cruel and inhumane to simply throw them off the plantation and into the free market. And think of the unemployment that would be produced with millions of newly freed slaves entering the free market all at once.

Yet, ironically, for the slave the best thing that could ever happen to him would be to be freed — that is, “fired” from the plantation life that guaranteed him a job and free health care and education and cast out into the free market where there were no guarantees at all.

To extricate themselves from the socialist morass and the mindset of self-doubt, fear, and dependency that it has been inculcated in so many Americans, it is necessary for the American people to recapture a belief in themselves, in others, in freedom, and free markets. Americans also need to abandon their long-held faith in the federal government to get them through the vicissitudes and hardships of life and replace it with a deep and abiding faith in God.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Cuban socialists, through their firing of those 500,000 government employees, helped pointed the way to economic liberty and free markets for Americans to follow?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Hornberger’s Blog Archives

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fidel Castro and American Statism
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Cuba’s president Fidel Castro is surely making American liberals extremely nervous. Mugged by reality, Castro is moving his country in a direction away from socialism, at the very same time that American liberals are trying their best to move the United States further in the direction of socialism.

Castro has a much firmer grip on reality than American liberals. Castro fully understands that Cuba has a socialist economic system, and he is starting to understand that it is that socialist system that is the principal cause of Cuba’s economic woes. American statists, on the other hand, think that the United States has a free-enterprise system and that that system is the cause of America’s economic woes. Thus, it makes sense that while Castro is moving away from socialism, American statists are moving toward it.

Consider the following statement of fact about the situation in Cuba from an article in the New York Times, among the paragons of liberal media in America: “Cubans have access to free health care, education and subsidized food and housing.” The article should have also mentioned that Cubans have long had a comprehensive system of social security.

Now, everyone acknowledges that Cuba has a socialist economic system, right? No one disputes that.

But I’ll bet that when some Americans read that statement from the New York Times, their immediate reaction is, “Why, I’ll be darned. Cuba has a free-enterprise economic system, not a socialist one.”

Why do I say that?

Because those programs are ones that are inherent to America’s economic system, one that every school kid in America is taught is a free-enterprise system. Thus, given that such things as free health care (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid), education (i.e., public schooling), subsidized food and housing (i.e., agricultural subsidies and food stamps; FHA), and Social Security are core elements of America’s “free-enterprise” system, the fact that they are also core elements of Cuba’s economic system must mean, in the minds of some Americans, that Cuba’s economic system must be “free-enterprise” also.

Not so, as we libertarians have been pointing out for decades. These are all socialist programs. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they have been the pride and joy of Fidel Castro and other Cuban statists. The programs also show how far Americans have traveled down the road to socialism and away from a genuine free-market system.

In Cuba almost everyone works for the government. Why? Because this gives people a sense of security. The government is providing for them, taking care of them, ensuring that they don’t face the risk of being laid off. There’s no risk of capitalist exploitation.

Isn’t that how American statists view the federal government — as their provider and protector — as their daddy or their mommy? Don’t they look to the federal government to take care of them and protect them from the vicissitudes and hardships of life? Don’t American statists believe in the equalization of wealth, taking from the rich to give to the poor? Cuba simply carried these principles to their logical conclusion, taking everything from the rich and letting most everyone work for the state.

There’s one big problem, however, with socialism — massive poverty. The state doesn’t produce wealth. Instead, it survives by extracting wealth from the private sector, much as a parasite does to a host. The reason there is mass poverty in Cuba is because the percentage of people permitted to be in the private sector is extremely small — only 5 percent of the population. That small private sector of 5 percent is insufficient to sustain the 95 percent parasitic sector.

Isn’t that the problem facing the United States today? Doesn’t the parasitic sector, including both the welfare state and the warfare state, continue growing bigger and bigger, while the private sector teeters under the weight of it all?

Castro has finally realized the nature of the problem. So, he just announced a layoff of half-a-million public-sector employees, with the aim of providing a bigger private-sector base to sustain the parasitic sector.

Isn’t this in principle what American statists hope to do with their stimulus plans — get more people hired in the private sector to prevent layoffs in the public sector?

Not surprisingly, Castro is keeping a tight leash on these newly discharged workers. He’s making them get government licenses as a condition to run private-sector businesses.

In other words, like American statists Castro views economic activity as a privilege bestowed by the state, one that the state can license, control, and regulate. Like American statists, he does not view economic liberty as a fundamental, natural, God-given right with which no government can legitimately interfere.

What is happening in Cuba provides valuable lessons for Americans. First, it causes them to confront the real nature of such socialist programs as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, subsidies, welfare, and occupational licensure, thereby providing them with a clue as to why the United States is mired in economic difficulty.

Second, and more important, it helps them to understand and appreciate the wise words of the great German thinker Johann von Goethe: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Hornberger’s Blog Archives

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About DD for Liberty

We render unto Caesar, but we write Caesar's laws.
We should write and uphold laws that go no further than protecting your God given right to life, liberty and property, the pursuit of happiness.
I am a wife and mother that wants the best for her family. The best as I see it is for Government to get out of the way.
God is our protector and has equipped us with all the faculties and means necessary for a productive and free life and I need no man to tell my family what is best for them.
I am a Patriot and Libertarian.
I am a fan of the greatest Peacemaker Jesus.
Taxation is theft.
If you seek security over liberty you deserve neither.
My favorite quote:

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”~Samuel Adams

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