Somos+, Kaned Garrido, 1 July 2015 — Before we talk about why things in Cuba do not work, we should first ask the following question: What should we do to to make things work? How can we achieve a higher standard of living for the average Cuban, one with reasonable prices and a fair wage?
We do not believe it is possible to do away with most of the Cuban bureaucracy. Red tape is necessary to preserve the regime, but it is an obstacle in people’s lives. So far, the best generator of wealth has been the free market. In capitalist countries there are many discussions about whether to impose or remove restrictions on the market. In U.S. election campaigns, Democratic and Republican candidates debate whether to expand it or intervene in it, but everyone agrees that a free market must serve as the foundation.
This is what history has shown us.
The market allows people and businesses to make their own decisions based on what they want and what they are able to produce. People buy what they need and businesses produce only what makes sense.
Although they enjoy a more efficient system than the socialism, capitalist countries do not have it all figured out. They still face challenges. Advertising shapes people’s decisions and irresponsible consumption leads people into debt.
There are what are known as “market failures,” such as when governments grant multi-national corporations special benefits or when some people have more rights than others. Inequality of opportunity is also a social failure.
These are problems that capitalism still confronts. However, the solution is not to ignore the basic rules of the market but rather to guarantee that the judicial system is fair and that there are advancement opportunities for the disadvantaged.
The first thing the free market needs is respect for its liberal traditions in order to make sure it does not produce inequalities. English-speaking democracies have historically shown an intense interest in preventing the rise of monopolies and in limiting the power of multi-national corporations.
A free market does not mean business has carte blanche; it means balancing opportunities in the game of economics. Every business that enters the marketplace must be able to do so on a level playing field, one which allows for competition, which leads to lower prices and benefits for the consumer.
This is why it is important to free producers from crushing tax burdens. When self-employed Cuban workers are subjected to such such levies, it limits any competitive advantage that might have led to lower prices. Current tax laws are like a virus overwhelming the body’s immune system.
But the most interesting thing is that lower taxes could generate more income for the state. If entrepreneurs were allowed to set up shop and to grow, they could contribute more to government coffers. The growth of private businesses and self-employment could end up providing more funds for education and health.
Social failures are remedied by providing a wealth of opportunities such as access to education, employment and development subsidies. A free market allows for the elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy, something Cuba’s socialist leaders have never been able to pull off. Instead, we conduct business “on the side” and worry about “getting caught” for things that are legal in most countries. Commerce and entrepreneurship are basic and beneficial assets for any country.
Salaries should be enough for people to be able to buy more and better quality products in stores, and to not have to continue relying on a ration book and and low quality soap. But let us always remember that the best guarantee for resolving problems is democracy. Whenever there is freedom of expression, there is the possibility for discussion and overcoming difficulties.