Monday, October 12, 2009

A Small Step for Cubans?

The other evening, watching television, an item on the news caught my attention. Apparently, a group of Cuban farmers had been given permission from the Raul Castro government to produce lettuces for private.

This permission seemed to have shown early results, mainly in the form of more lettuces for people who wanted to buy them, in itself an unexceptional outcome to those among us who appreciate how markets work, but for those sceptics, living in the richest economies on the globe, whose impatience with markets leads to their condemnation of them (because they don’t solve all the problems they imagine that they should solve), the new Castro experiment is the thin of end of the wedge to perdition.

Now I have no illusions about Raul Castro, or his brother for that matter, nor for any of the Chinese communist leadership experimenting with capitalist incentives, nor their Vietnamese neighbours, but I do recognise sensible pragmatists who have realised at last that their idealist systems do not work.

Their ideological certainties may make them, and what Lenin< called their “useful idiots” overseas, feel superior to “bourgeois lackeys” like we classical economists, but the realities show them to be utterly wrong about doing away with markets.

The short film clip showed two brothers loading their lettuce harvest onto a waggon, already bursting at the edges with lovely, green lettuces destined for market (or government warehouses – it wasn’t clear which). The sudden rise in production looked phenomenal. Marxists can argue against markets but nobody can argue with an empty market stall under their system and a full one under the “permission” to produce for reward.

I have to say that I watched the changes before me – the brothers were laughing with pride – and I thought of Adam Smith describing how markets worked in Book I and II of Wealth Of Nations and their morality in Moral Sentiments. Instead of their sisters and daughters prostituting themselves to cater for sex tourism, they can work voluntarily in food production or whatever for the benefit of themselves and their customers, if only Castro’s bureaucrats – never short of lettuce under the socialist system – would only get out of the way.



Blogger wulfmankarl said...

How Adam Smith proposes we fight the rise of the oligarchy.

9:45 pm  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thanks wulfmankarl for a clip presenting ideas from Ayn Rand. I am not at vall sure that I recognise the world as you describe it.

However, it's view othere might share with you.


6:40 am  
Blogger entech said...

Fascinating to follow through on the link and the joeypantoshow, a minor problem most of the authors of the videos are not available to confirm their viewpoints; Hayek, Smith, Jefferson even Rand herself?
Although it is hard not to agree with most of their thoughts on freedom of association, of speech etc. and that liberty and open markets offer the best results. The logical development of these libertarians would not lead in the direction of liberty but the likes of Blackwater for national defence and Union Carbide for public health. The large monopolies, dominant corporations and other special interest groups have more than enough influence through lobbyists.
If some of the captains of industry were to be given a free hand it may be difficult to distinguish them from the commissars.

12:13 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Thanks for your comments.

Commercial society was always divided between simple markets and lobbyist incited market evntures from the top, going right back to Elizabethan times (Lord Cecil's schemes) using Royal patronage and charters.

Mercantile political economy was about the alliance of patents and licences, charters and joint state-private enterprises, not all that different (except in sheer scale) from today's lobbyist promoted state-capitalist corporations.

Legislators and those who influence them were prominent in Smith's day and are still prominent today. Calling them 'oligarchies' does not clarify the problem. Nothing is that simple.


5:49 am  

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