WikiLeaks – Cuba Banned ‘Sicko’ Due to Mythical Depiction of its Health Care System

Not that this should be a surprise to anyone, but those who still for some reason confuse the emotional and biased hogwash that Michael Moore has been coming up with lately with journalism, might want to consider what Cubans have to say about his depictions of Cuba’s oh so wonderful health care system:

Castro’s government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it “knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them.”

(…)

The cable describes a visit made by the FSHP to the Hermanos Ameijeiras hospital in October 2007. Built in 1982, the newly renovated hospital was used in Michael Moore’s film as evidence of the high-quality of healthcare available to all Cubans.

But according to the FSHP, the only way a Cuban can get access to the hospital is through a bribe or contacts inside the hospital administration. “Cubans are reportedly very resentful that the best hospital in Havana is ‘off-limits’ to them,” the memo reveals.

According to the FSHP, a more “accurate” view of the healthcare experience of Cubans can be seen at the Calixto Garcia Hospital. “FSHP believes that if Michael Moore really wanted the ‘same care as local Cubans’, this is where he should have gone,” the cable states.

A 2007 visit by the FSHP to this “dilapidated” hospital, built in the 1800s, was “reminiscent of a scene from some of the poorest countries in the world,” the cable adds.

The memo points out that even the Cuban ruling elite leave Cuba when they need medical care. Fidel Castro, for example, brought in a Spanish doctor during his health crisis in 2006. The vice-minister of health, Abelardo Ramirez, went to France for gastric cancer surgery. The neurosurgeon whoheads CIMEQ [Centro de Investigaciones Médico-Quirúrgicas] hospital – widely regarded as one of the best in Cuba – came to England for eye surgery, returning periodically for checkups.

“After living in Cuba for two and a half years, treating numerous Cuban employees at USINT, and interacting with many other Cubans, the FSHP believes … preventive medicine in Cuba is a by-gone ideal, rather than the standard practice of care,” the memo concludes.

In a system of central planning with no recognition of property rights where bureaucracy reigns supreme, misallocations always and inevitably lead to shortages. And shortages always necessitate compulsory rationing and bribery.

This is, by the way, exactly the direction that health care in the US has been taking for the past decades and continues to accelerate towards full throttle.

It takes the delusion of bigoted socialist ideology to look past such simple and obvious realities.

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The Next Failed Socialist Experiment – Cuba to Lay Off 1,000,000 Government Workers

Historically, I would say this will certainly be remembered as a memorable event.

BBC reports Cuba to cut one million public sector jobs:

Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country’s struggling economy.

The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs – half of them by March next year.

Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.

Analysts say it is biggest private sector shift since the 1959 revolution.

Cuba’s communist government currently controls almost all aspects of the country’s economy and employs about 85% of the official workforce, which is put at 5.1 million people.

As many as one-in-five of all workers could lose their jobs.

Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities, services and budgeted sectors with bloated payrolls and losses that hurt the economy,” the labour federation said in a statement.

“Job options will be increased and broadened with new forms of non-state employment, among them leasing land, co-operatives, and self-employment, absorbing hundreds of thousands of workers in the coming years,” the statement added.

Free enterprise?

To create jobs for the redundant workers, strict rules limiting private enterprise will be relaxed and many more licenses will be issued for people to become self-employed.

Private businesses will be allowed to employ staff for the first time.

The self-employed will have access to social security and will be able to open bank accounts and even borrow money to expand their businesses.

They will also have to pay tax on their profits and for each person they employ, something which could dramatically boost the government’s income.

And they will be able to negotiate contracts to provide services to government departments.

A minority of Cuban workers already work for themselves, for example as hairdressers and taxi-drivers, or running small family restaurants.

There is also a thriving black economy, with many people working independently without proper permission from the state.

The BBC’s Fernando Ravsberg in Havana says salaries in Cuba’s state sector are so low that many employees could be better off working for themselves.

But he says not everyone has the skills and initiative necessary to be self-employed.

He adds that the government plan does not foresee any kind of advice being offered to people seeking to set up their own businesses.

Economic crisis

President Raul Castro outlined some of the changes in a speech in August, saying the state’s role in the economy had to be reduced.

We have to end forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where you can live without working,” he said.

Cuba’s state-run economy has been gripped by a severe crisis in the past two years that has forced it to cut imports.

It has suffered from a fall in the price for its main export, nickel, as well as a decline in tourism.

Growth has also been hampered by the 48-year US trade embargo.

Mr Castro became Cuba’s leader when his brother, Fidel Castro, stepped aside because of ill-health in 2006.

Almost 100 years ago, Ludwig von Mises already explained with precise and uncompromising rigor why Socialism is flawed and will never work. It is due to socialism’s inherent inability to allow for accurate prices to emerge in order to optimize the allocation of factors of production.

Is this a sudden enlightenment on the part of Cuban officials? An epiphany that government intervention is immoral, always and everywhere? Hardly so … But what is going on is that Cuban leaders are realizing that there will be a lot more to loot via taxation if you leave people a little bit more freedom.

History has shown always and everywhere that when the government shrinks, the economy thrives, more valuable goods are produced and services provided, people have more disposable income, and thus more money to get ripped off from them.

There is a reason why farmers prefer free range cattle farming to locking their animals up in a small box. There is a reason why slave masters made it a point to convince slaves that they are where they belong and should police themselves. The lower the cost of ownership, the easier it is to rule over people.

Cuba has a perfect example of such an interventionist experiment right next door in the US. And it has indeed bestowed upon its politically connected people enormous riches in a relatively shielded and domestically peaceful environment. That experiment is coming to an end and the country is headed for the inevitable and slowly creeping culmination of interventionism: A complete collectivization of the economy, viz. socialism … Ironically, the exact opposite of what’s now happening in Cuba.

To be sure, such a system of interventionism, too, will not last forever. It will fail. But for as long as it’s in place, it allows the ruling class a lot more riches, comfort, and pseudo moral justification than the overt all round management and controls of socialism.

Two little references that I always like to remind people of:

Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged in 1957:

“Politicians invariably respond to crises — that in most cases they themselves created — by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.”

Ludwig von Mises wrote in his analysis Interventionism in 1940:

The various measures, by which interventionism tries to direct business, cannot achieve the aims its honest advocates are seeking by their application. Interventionist measures lead to conditions which, from the standpoint of those who recommend them, are actually less desirable than those they are designed to alleviate. They create unemployment, depression, monopoly, dis­tress. They may make a few people richer, but they make all others poorer and less satisfied. If governments do not give them up and return to the unhampered market economy, if they stubbornly persist in the attempt to compensate by further interventions for the short­comings of earlier interventions, they will find eventually that they have adopted socialism.

On a sidenote: Observe how many socialists will immediately tell you how Cuba was not a socialist experiment, and how they completely misinterpreted true communism/socialism/collectivism. And then ask to what extent they are, in their rigorous and relentless fight for logical consistency and evidence, giving the ideas of capitalism that same benefit of the “misinterpretation tale” :)

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Opening Up to Cuba – A Step in the Right Direction

A major change in US foreign relations is approaching, as the AP writes in Obama to allow travel, money transfers to Cuba:

President Barack Obama directed his administration Monday to allow unlimited travel and money transfers by Cuban Americans to family in Cuba, and to take other steps to ease U.S. restrictions on the island, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.

The formal announcement was being made at the White House Monday afternoon, during presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs’ daily briefing with reporters. The official spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upstage the president’s announcement.

With the changes, Obama aims to lessen Cubans’ dependence on the Castro regime, hoping that will lead them to demand progress on political freedoms, the official said. About 1.5 million Americans have relatives in Cuba.

Obama had promised to take these steps as a presidential candidate. It has been known for over a week that he would announce them in advance of his attended this weekend of a Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

“There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans,” Obama said in a campaign speech last May in Miami, the heart of the U.S. Cuban-American community. “It’s time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers. It’s time to let Cuban American money make their families less dependent upon the Castro regime.”

Other steps taken Monday include expanding the things allowed in gift parcels being sent to Cuba, such as clothes, personal hygiene items, seeds, fishing gear and other personal necessities.

The administration also will begin issuing licenses to allow telecommunications and other companies to provide cell and television services to people on the island, and to allow family members to pay for relatives on Cuba to get those services, the official said.

Sending money to senior government officials and Communist Party members remains prohibited. Restrictions imposed by the Bush administration had limited Cuban travel by Americans to just two weeks every three years. Visits also were confined to immediate family members.

Also in that Miami speech nearly a year ago, Obama promised to depart from what he said had been the path of previous politicians on Cuba policy — “they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington, and nothing changes in Cuba.”

“Never, in my lifetime, have the people of Cuba known freedom. Never, in the lives of two generations of Cubans, have the people of Cuba known democracy,” he said then. “This is the terrible and tragic status quo that we have known for half a century — of elections that are anything but free or fair; of dissidents locked away in dark prison cells for the crime of speaking the truth. I won’t stand for this injustice, you won’t stand for this injustice, and together we will stand up for freedom in Cuba.”

He also promised to engage in direct diplomacy with Cuba, “without preconditions” but with “careful preparation” and “a clear agenda.”

Some lawmakers, backed by business and farm groups seeing new opportunities in Cuba, are advocating wider revisions in the trade and travel bans imposed after Fidel Castro took power in Havana in 1959.

But Obama is keeping the decades-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in place, arguing that that policy provides leverage to pressure the regime to free all political prisoners as one step toward normalized relations with the U.S

The trade embargo, too, should be scrapped sooner or later. Opening up to Cuba will be the best means to putting an end to the opressive communist regime on the island. Ron Paul has been advocating the same policy for a long time. Last year he was booed in a debate where the issue came up:

Global free trade is virtually non-existent at this point. There are more trade embargoes, import taxes, protectionist measures than ever in world history. But the irrefutable concept of comparative advantage has shown us long ago that everyone benefits from free trade.

It is refreshing to see common sense prevail every once in a while.

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