Posted 09/13/2010 07:00 PM ET
Socialism: Dictator Fidel Castro's frantic bid to walk back his
statement about the failure of communism in Cuba was laughable, given
the state of his worker's para dise. What will show it best now are the
big layoffs ahead.
In a remark that stunned everyone, Cuba's aging despot last week
admitted to a writer from the Atlantic that "The Cuban model doesn't
even work for Cuba anymore."
Such words would be unimaginable from an authentic leader, such as Lee
Kuan Yew of Singapore or Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, who really did
transform their countries for the better.
But for Castro, the truth slipped out. Never one to stand by his word,
Castro now claims he was quoted out of context, and it was capitalism
that didn't work. That's about par for a leader who's ruined his
country. Dictators, after all, can say anything they like.
In concrete terms, the failure of "the Cuban model" is getting pretty
obvious. On Monday, the Cuban government announced it would lay off
500,000 government workers by March, an implicit admission that it was
deadweight all along.
Out of Cuba's work force of 5.1 million, 83% work directly for the
state. That means 12% of Cuban workers will be out of a job in two
years. Unlike in the U.S., they'll get no unemployment benefits.
It sounds like a necessary bow to fiscal reality in a state that
produces nothing of value. But the incredible thing is, the cutbacks
will barely begin to address the government's issues.
Sixty percent of the Cuban work force is completely unproductive,
according to a U.S. State Department report.
So a 12% layoff of the work force would leave about half of the state's
remaining work force still standing around on work sites with nothing to
do but collect paychecks.
The Castro brothers are trying to sugarcoat these layoffs as "reforms"
to the system — offering to increase private business licenses for tiny
outfits such as nail salons, taxis and auto mechanics, as if they would
willingly permit a small window of capitalism.
But even that's unlikely. Only 200,000 extra permits will be issued,
leaving most laid-off workers out in the cold. Getting a business permit
will soon be a major source of corruption in an already-corrupt state.
What's more, once these new businesses get profitable, the state will
step in to confiscate their "excessive" earnings, negating the entire
point of private enterprise — as they did a decade ago.
All this shows is how the ruling Castro oligarchy works. It's a master
at creating a crisis, mitigating it for a time, consolidating its power,
then cracking down anew. If that's not failure, what is?