- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Libertarian think tank=Oxymoron

Posted by: Asarualim on June 03, 1999 at 20:28:09:

In Reply to: Some observations on American and Cuban socialism. posted by borg on June 01, 1999 at 10:08:30:

: A trip to a purely socialist country might bring Americans a
: healthy dose of reality as to what actually constitutes capitalism
: and socialism. I'd recommend Cuba, which I recently visited to
: conduct an informal study of the socialist way of life.

I'd recommend Sweden or Norway but you know why not go to Cuba where everything is a lot shitier?

: Everyone would agree that Cuba ranks among the top five models of
: socialism in the world today. Even with "reforms" since Soviet
: subsidies were terminated, no one would accuse Cuba of being even
: "oriented" toward free enterprise. [That's arguable. -ed]
: If you want to see the essence
: of socialism, travel to Cuba (but don't spend money there because
: Congress has made it illegal to do that).

I'd rather read a book on socialism, its a lot better to understand the ideas first and then to look at the facts of the matter. That way you have some way of piecing causes to effects or merely correlations.

: For example, you might be surprised to find public schooling and
: national health care in Cuba. If you tried to convince the Cuban
: people that those government programs are actually characteristic
: of a system of free enterprise, rather than socialism, they would
: laugh. They would explain to you that public schooling and national
: health care are the elements of Cuban socialism that Fidel Castro
: is most proud of. They might even take you to see Cuba's Ministry
: of Education and Ministry of Health.

Yeah and their educational system and healthcare system kick some excellent ass! For a country that a few decades ago was agarian with the majority of the population illiterate with a significantly reduced life expectancy they have come a long way. Now they are a society that has a higher literacy rate than the US, not far behind in educational attainment (although probably on average of higher quality than US collegial education). They are also the only non first world nation with an ageing populace. Repeat: They are also the only non first world nation with an ageing populace. All this in the face of a strangling embargo and the lack of basic human rights.

The result is that socialim works, works a helluva lot better than capitalism.

: In socialist Cuba, you would also find public housing, public
: universities, and public libraries. Old-age assistance and
: subsidized food. A national highway system. A war on drugs. Gun
: control. Occupational licensure and economic regulations. Income
: taxation and income-tax returns.

Interesting line (or lack) of reasoning. Cuba is evil. Cuba has x,y,z. Ergo, x,y,z is evil. Nevermind if x,y,z work or if their are any merits to their existence; these facts are not mportant, of course.

: Even though I knew it was illegal to criticize Cuba's socialist
: system (a point that was being reinforced by the sedition trial
: of four dissidents while I was there), I was determined to deliver
: a presentation of libertarian principles in the middle of this
: socialist "paradise."

: I figured out a "safe" route to follow. This is what I said in a
: presentation to a research group at the University of Havana:

: "In the United States, the state runs our educational system, and
: it's a disaster. We libertarians challenge the state by asking:
: Why not let the free market provide education?

No, its only a disaster if your poor ir are a minority. Besides we don't fund schools enough in order to get a proper educetionand americans have traditionally never valued education for the sake of education. Also, the free market can not provide education because education is in many ways a public good and hence will not be made available in a sufficent amount. A sufficent amount is universal education; nothing less will sufice.

: "The state also runs a health-care system for the poor and the
: elderly called Medicare and Medicaid and an old-age retirement
: system called Social Security. They are bankrupt messes. We
: libertarians challenge the state by asking: Why shouldn't people
: be free to keep everything they earn and manage their own health
: care and retirement?

Because not everyone can. They are also not bankrupt messes, you can't bankrupt government programs. You simply issue bonds, take money from other programs, raise taxes, or cut benefits. Besides health care is also a public good and is underallocated in the market. Also, I think that health care should be universal. Finally, the profit motive may conflict with the desire to provide the highest qulaity and quantity of care, as is the current case with HMOs.

: "Our government wages a vicious war against drugs that is tearing
: apart the fabric of our society. We libertarians challenge the
: state by asking: Why shouldn't people be free to live their lives
: the way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful?

I concur. This is probably the one thing that I retain from my old libertarian days.

: "Our government wages a brutal war on immigrants along our southern
: border. We libertarians challenge the state by asking: Why shouldn't
: people be free to cross borders to seek a better way of life, to
: start their own businesses or work for others, and to accumulate
: wealth and decide what to do with it?"

Two words: popultion control.

: In just a few minutes, I had leveled a principled challenge against
: the core tenets of Cuban socialism, and I had used American
: socialism to do it.

Huh, American socialism? Talk about creatively redefining terms. This is an example of blatant ideological backflips that libertarians simply love to engage in.

: Goethe once pointed out that none are more hopelessly enslaved
: than those who falsely believe they are free. The Cuban people
: have suffered through decades of socialism, but at least they
: know what socialism is. Who is freer - those who know the truth
: or those who do not?

They suffer b/c they lack basic human rights that any liberal democracy would accord. Besides, socialism is pointless without the ability to enjoy its benefits i.e. human rights.

: Mr. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom
: Foundation, a libertarian think tank in Fairfax, Va. Visit:
: http://www.fff.org for more information.

Think tank ehh? Seems strangely oxymoronic.

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