One more step in the right direction: Cuba

Even though it was a Democrat (Kennedy) who put in the Cuban Embargo Act, it has been a Republican supported issue. The embargo is not gone but President Obama has taken a step into the right direction. He has lifted restrictions of travel. This from the Financial Times:

“President Barack Obama on Monday took a big step towards relaxing sanctions on Cuba, lifting all travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban-Americans and permitting US telecoms companies to offer services directly to the island.

The end of the restrictions, which Mr Obama promised during his campaign, means Cuban-Americans will be able to travel to the island state when they like, as opposed to once a year, and send as much money as they want to relatives, as opposed to $75 a month. Mr Obama also said he would permit Cuban-Americans to pay for US-provided telecoms services to relatives living in Cuba.

“Clearly, the Obama administration is re-examining US policy towards Cuba,” said Peter DeSchavo, analyst at the Centre for Strategic International Studies. “It would be an understatement to say that the embargo has not achieved what it was supposed to achieve.”

It is good that we are finally recognizing that it is free trade and not embargos that actually further freedom and liberty. Trade restrictions have done nothing but give Castro a reason to blame us for their economic woes. This blog hopes that even though Obama believes that Socialism is the best course for us that he will recognize trade is the best course for them (to become less socialist).

The rest is here.



Cuba’s Revolutionary Task

Today marked the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro taking power and turning Cuba upside down. Since then the United States has had an embargo on Cuban goods. Some, like yours truely, argue that it has done nothing to bring down Castro. With the new administration, we can hope that there will be a change in policy towards the Cuban nation. This is so that we can put tourists and investment in this country, lifting people out of poverty and showing them what Capitalism is all about. Of course, many Cubans already know as many flee here all the time. This from the International Herald Tribune, which is a good story to sum up the last 50 years.

“Four months after they appeared in the waters between Havana and Miami, the four dead men remain nameless. At a morgue in the Florida Keys, they lie on stretchers stacked like bunk beds, their bodies chewed by sharks, their faces too putrified to be recognized.

The police suspect they were Cuban rafters. Nilda García thinks one of them might be her son – and the thought makes her weep. Fourteen years after she left Cuba on her own makeshift boat, she finds herself wondering once again: When will it end?

“How many mothers are going through this?” García said in an interview at her daughter’s apartment here as she awaited DNA results on the bodies. “How many more are crying for their losses? How many young people have drowned in this sea? How many?”

Fifty years ago on Thursday, many Cubans cheered when Fidel Castro seized power in Havana, and even now, the revolution attracts many fans – as evidenced by a Canadian tour agency advertising trips “to celebrate five decades of resilience.”

But the bodies speak to a different legacy. Here in South Florida, where roughly 850,000 Cubans have settled over the years, repeated waves of painful exile and family separation define the Castro era.”

We as Americans get too used to our living standard and government. These people fight and risk their lives for freedom, while we continue to elect those who move us closer and closer to socialism.


Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Marxist of the Week: Steven Soderbergh, Director of New Che Guevara

Most people have seen a teenager or college student wearing a t-shirt with the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. This blog recently put up a video on about this situation. I was ever more intrigued so I looked into the Che moving and found an interview with its director Steven Soderbergh on Politico. This is what I would like to direct your attention to:

Why make “Che”? What relevance does it have to 2008?

“We’re certainly seeing the result of what happens when you make profit the point of everything, where money that’s being earned doesn’t represent any particular product or labor on anybody’s part. That can’t sustain, because it’s magical thinking. It can’t go on indefinitely, because eventually it crashes. Che’s dream of a classless society, a society that isn’t built on the profit motive, is still relevant. The arguments still going on are about his methodology. “

This coming from a director who is trying to make money on this movie and has made lots of money on many other movies. The very next question is this:

What do you think the Obama administration will do about Cuba?

“What they ought to do is really obvious. Whether they’ll do it is one of these questions in which you have a lot of people with certain beliefs controlling the dialogue, and therefore the problem is not getting solved. How many years are you supposed to give a bad idea? Would you stay married for 45 years to someone you hated? It’s obvious what we’re doing isn’t working. The answer is: Lift the embargo, and flood that place with tourists, put the onus on them and call their bluff. The people of the U.S. are the best advertisement for its ideals. Not its government.”

Did he just say lift the embargo and flood that place with tourists? At the same time rails against making a profit off of everything? Profits are what companies need to be reinvested into their companies for research and development. The wages are what people make for their labor. Sure, some people find executive in companies wages outrageous but they make that much money because they earn lots of money for their investors. Investors as we can see with the financial sector investors are very important. Without these investors you can not expand because there is no one to fund their ideas. They attract investors by being good at things.

The profit motive in fact allows Mr. Soderbergh to idolize Communists in movies because there is a demand for these movies. This is the same irony that is built into the Che t-shirts. Mr. Soderbergh along with Che are against making everything a profit motive. It is the fact that there is a profit motive that people remember Che through t-shirts and the fact people will come watch this four and a half hour movie. Mr. Soderbergh suggesting that we should allow tourist to go to Cuba to further American ideas, is showing his faith in the free market and profit motive. He is making the correlation himself! So is he a bipolar communist? Or is the real answer to the first question “because I wanted to make money off of the t-shirt market that has blown up?”


Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 2:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Economic Development Problems: Crime in Mexico

First this from the International Herald Tribune:

“MEXICO CITY: When José hops into his Ferrari, presses his Ferragamo loafer to the floor and fills the night air with a deep roar, his bodyguards hustle into a black sport utility vehicle with their weapons at the ready, tailing their fast-moving boss through the streets.

José, a business magnate in his 30s who said he was afraid to have his full name published, makes sure his two children get the same protection. Bodyguards pick them up from school and escort them even to friends’ birthday parties — where the bodyguards meet other bodyguards, because many of the children’s classmates have similar protection.

With drug-related violence spinning out of control and kidnappings a proven money-maker for criminal gangs, members of Mexico’s upper class find themselves juggling the spoils of their status with the fear of being killed.”

Most people look at this and say “Glad I don’t live there…” but there is more to this story then just that. This is the story of developing countries. The fear of criminal action can be very burdensome on a country that is trying to develop. Mexico, where many of the cops are in the drug cartel’s pockets, there has been an increase demand for bodyguards.

These are funds that would be spent somewhere else, like we do in the United States. In the U.S., there is only a need for bodyguards for celebrities and state heads. This is because we are relatively safe and the gap between rich and poor are much smaller. If a country continually has to deal with strife and fighting, it will have a very hard time growing. People will leave the country and there will be a brain drain.

So there is more to this than just “Glad I don’t live there…” This is a developmental problem. The solution to this is possibly allowing private companies to provide security instead of police. This will get rid of the taxes in which the people are already paying and it will get rid of corruption. That is how the free market would work but other than that this is a very hard situation. It could also be a solution for countries to allow drugs to be made legally. This would get rid of the income source of these criminals because if it was legalized tomorrow it would be heavily regulated. Legitimate businessmen could then start to grow it on their own. Thus pushing the criminals out or at least making them have to work hard, which we could imagine would reduce other criminal activities.

The rest is here.


Wall-Street’s effect on Developing Economies

This is a great article from the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Bill Easterly. Easterly, has written some great books on development that I regrettably haven’t read but are sitting on my shelf. One is “The White Man’s Burden.” Here he explains how the current events in America is effecting the developing world. Here is what he has to say:

“Financial meltdown will not cause the U.S. to abandon democratic capitalism, but the outcome is less clear for countries deciding whether capitalism is the best system. In many of these countries the choice is not between light and heavy financial regulation, but between relying on creative individuals or government planners to escape poverty.

Some countries are already taking the wrong prescriptions from recent events. Honduran President Manuel Zelaya told the U.N. General Assembly last month that the lesson of the crash was “the market’s laws were demonic, satisfying only the few.” Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo said the “market mechanism” and “immoral speculation” were a mistake. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Lula added that speculators have “spawned the anguish of entire peoples” and Brazilians needed “indispensable interventions by state authorities.”

The government will never blame themselves for this mess, they will only blame capitalism. They make you believe it is this mysterious thing that they must try to wrangle. They, of course, are only trying to blame something that they know is hard to wrangle. If they could wrangle it then you would be able to see that it works. Not only do the home government that caused the problem, blame this all on capitalism but so do the rest of the world.

As it is not as critical for us to be as free market as we should, it is very critical for these developing economies. Millions of people have died at the hands of dictators and central planning bureaucrats. The developing world is no different.

The rest of this great article is here.


Hugo Chavez = George W. Bush?

That is what Hugo Chavez said himself:

“BEIJING (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke into an unlikely snippet of song for bitter ideological foe George W. Bush on Thursday, trilling “you are so like me” about the man he has called a donkey and the devil.

“Socialism is the only route to the salvation of the world.”

Outspoken Chavez says Venezuela’s socialist economic system, based around state-owned national champions, has protected it from the worst of the turmoil now roiling global markets.”

So does = ?


Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 6:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Free Cuba’s Car Market!

People often see pictures of Cuba pre-Castro and see a booming economy and a Las Vegas-like appeal. One of the reminders of this are the cars. The Economist states that Cubans have not been allowed to buy cars freely that were made after 1959 also known as the time of Castro’s revolt. This has nothing to do with the fact that Cubans like antique cars.

Raul has brought some reforms to Cuba, since his take over. Those being:

  • Cubans are allowed to stay in hotels that were once only for tourists.
  • Cubans can rent their own cell phones.
  • Cubans can buy microwaves, DVDs, and Computers.

The question remains will Raul change the car market? Cars that are brought in after 1959 are state property and usually are only given to workers and higher ups in the Communist party.

I believe that anyone that would read this would support a Cuban being allowed to own their own car after 1959. It is obvious that the Cubans want this themselves, as there is a black market for other cars. A 1980s Mercedes goes for $35,000 on the black market.

Sure, most Cubans are poor and will not be able to afford cars, computers, and cell phones but this should not stop the government from deregulating the industry. I can not think of any advantage other than political handouts for this rule to stay in place.

So Raul free the car market!


Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 2:19 am  Comments (2)  
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The Last Natives Pt.2

Last time I discussed a few reasons why seemingly primitive, hunter-gatherer societies were actually not so bad. There is a very big reason why biologists actually propose that these older adaptations are actually better for us.

It turns out, that the more evolved a species becomes, the shorter its overall lifespan. Evolution is a short-term benefit for a long-term sacrifice. Another words, evolution is actually a bad trade off. Over the past few thousand years, we humans have had to adapt from more primitive societies to the world we have today. This was not done for fun, but because certain groups in certain areas needed to become more complicated in order to survive.

So, the less complicated, better adapted undiscovered tribes of Brazil have the potential to out live modern society. This is a great benefit for them, even if it seems very long-term.

Many people don’t realize this, because they are confused by history. Let’s consider the western colonization of North America and the decline of the Native Americans. People tend to think that the western civilization was better, and therefore the natives were assimilated into modern society. This is not true. The natives were actually far better adapted to their environment. The reason why disease killed so many of them was because of the fact that only westerners had evolved an immunity to those problems (there’s more to the situation as well).

And so back to the original question, what is the best thing to do with the un-contacted Brazilians? The two best solutions are to leave them alone completely or allow contact to be made freely and immediately. As for which one, what do you think?


Published in: on June 2, 2008 at 5:40 am  Leave a Comment  

The Last Natives

Recent figures from agencies and reports around the world suggest there are approximately 100 or so “un-contacted” native tribes remaining. This is very interesting, because only a decade ago we thought every remaining native person had been discovered. The National Indian Foundation is a Brazilian agency that searches and tracks un-discovered people, in hopes of saving them from encroachment. The agency recently found a new tribe in the midst of the rainforest, and photos can be seen here.

Lets consider a few things here. Most governments that believe they contain undiscovered people have some sort of protectionism in place. That means that no unauthorized person, business or whatever can simply drive out and interact with the tribe. This is justified as a means of protecting the tribe from disease, murder or other negative consequences. This sounds reasonable considering the history between modernized-westerners and contact with native Americans…

But it this really the best procedure? Who’s to say the government of Brazil will handle the situation best? Assuming the tribe will eventually contact modern folks, isn’t sooner better? It’s hard to say.

After decades or research we have come to find some interesting things about undiscovered people and their societies. Our species, homo-sapien, is biologically evolved to a hunter-gatherer stage. That means we are adapted for a hunter-gatherer society, rather than the complicated world we currently enjoy. These indigenous people are likely a latter-stage hunter gatherer society. So what are some benefits to living in such a society?

-Resource distribution is essentially equal for all members (compare to modern societies were this is the complete opposite)

-Virtually no disease or medical complications to teenagers and older

-Virtually the same life-expectancy as modern people (actually better than in the US)

-No taxes

I like pointing out these facts because everyone assumes that these societies are terrible to live in, and only consider characteristics that are actually false. In my opinion, these people have it pretty good. There is another BIG reason that primitive societies are good/better than modern ones, but that is for another post.


Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Many parties in Brazil

The Economist Reports:

“In a landmark judgement last month the supreme court upheld a ruling in March by the federal electoral tribunal which outlawed party switching.

Some 36% of members of the lower house have switched their loyalties over the past 16 years, some several times during a single term, according to Octavio Neto of the Fundacao Getulio Vargas, a business school.”

From what I understand they switch parties to gain votes in different election years. They get elected for being against the government but then change to a pro-government party so that they can get pet projects in their districts.

This is very rational if it works. The mobs and masses, just like here in the U.S., often don’t educate themselves well enough to understand what the party changing was meant for.

I wonder what the U.S. would do since we only have two parties and some people just vote party line. We did see a situation with Joe Liberman who was treated badly by the Democratic Party and switched to be an Independent. But he may have not had that same win if he switched to the Republican side.


Published in: on December 3, 2007 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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