Tomato, To-mah-to; Cuba, Kerala

Happy Hump Day!

I’m getting to the end of my sessions with one of the banks, so I’m more awake now than I’ve been for days.

I was fondly remembering my time in Hong Kong and thought about one of my more misguided colleagues.  A bright woman, she nevertheless couldn’t grasp the circumstances of her prosperity and drunkenly proclaimed herself a “Marxist.”

How does this relate to Cuba?

Let me count the ways.

The “Fragrant Harbour” Smells of Capitalism

“Hong Kong… it’s London East.” my good friend, the Duke of Omata, once said.  He’s not wrong.

The booze, girls, and partying are second to none.  There’s always something to do and somewhere to grab a pint.

The Hong Kongers never really minded colonialism at all, much like the Singaporeans.

Why was that?

Because the Governor of Hong Kong had just one job: to keep the UK’s filthy socialist paws off Hong Kong’s dazzlingly full treasury.

The UK got a naval base in return, leaving the prosperity of Hong Kong in peace.  That deal worked for over 150 years.

Democracy had nothing to do with Hong Kong’s prosperity.

First, and this may be tough to swallow: never confuse democracy with freedom.

As Hans-Hermann Hoppe once said:

Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Democracy is a soft variant of communism, and rarely in the history of ideas has it been taken for anything else.

Second, freedom – laisse-faire capitalism in extremis, one might call it – is what gave Hong Kong its rightful title of the bastion of capitalism on earth.

As long as you didn’t harm anyone else, you could be, have, do, or sell anything you wanted.

Imagine that, just for a minute.  Ahh….

Hong Kong Phooey

As I was drinking with this other friend, she was telling me how great communism is.  

This, from a woman who had lived in Hong Kong for nearly 20 years.

Nearly 20 years of paying little tax.

Nearly 20 years of using rent as a tax deduction.  Yes, that’s allowed in HK and makes an enormous difference, as rent is expensive.

Nearly 20 years of socking away piles of cash thanks to HK’s virtually invisible regulatory structure.

It was tough not to roll my eyes.  But then came the kicker.

“Kerala in India takes pride in being a highly successful communist state.”

What fresh nonsense was this?

Kerala: not successful, not really communist

Kerala is what many Indians – and what many tourists – have called “God’s Own Country.”

Covered in natural beauty, Kerala is located at the southwestern tip of India.  Kozhikode, a city in Kerala formerly known as Calicut (not the same city as Calcutta), is where Vasco de Gama first landed in Asia.  

Though I’ve been to India nearly a dozen times, I’ve unfortunately never been there.

But friends who have raved about it.

Here’s the not-so-attractive part from Wikipedia:

A Communist-led government under E. M. S. Namboodiripad resulted from the first elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1957. It was one of the earliest elected Communist governments anywhere. His government implemented land and educational reforms.

Well, the demos voted directly for communism.

But has that made Kerala genuinely successful?

Of course not.

The May 14, 2021 headline reads:

“Kerala hit hard by drop in remittances as 1.2 mn workers return: World Bank.”

What happens is this: communism takes hold.

As India doesn’t fence in its citizens, they leave for greener pastures.  Then they send money home because the communist economy can’t sustain the population.

That makes much more sense.

As workers go, one million two hundred thousand is no small number, even in India’s context.  (India’s population is over 1.3 billion as of 2019.)

Kerala’s population is just under 35 million.  That means roughly 3.4% of the population must leave to find work.

Not very successful.  But better than economic autarky, which didn’t work well either.

But at least they don’t have to take piecemeal rafts across the sea to Dubai.

The problem now is the UAE economy is suffering from the Kung Flu lockdown mightily.  So it can’t afford to employ all these native Keralites.

Luckily for them, many of those UAE remittances have been replaced by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The question for me is this: can you claim to be a communist state if your economic prosperity depends on a richer master?

And that leads me to Cuba.

Cognitive Dissonance Over Cuba

There’s no doubt Cuba is communist.  Its government has never claimed to be anything else.

The government holds its citizens hostage, making piecemeal rafts the only transportation to greener pastures across dangerous, shark-infested waters.

Cuba’s State and its useful idiots both at home and abroad laud Cuban literacy rates and healthcare.  I don’t know why you’d shout about literacy in the 21st century.  And their healthcare claims have been thoroughly discredited.

But what’s been hilarious over the past week or so has been the claim that America is responsible for Cuba’s economic misfortune.

Don’t get me wrong.

The Bay of Pigs and exploding cigars are still worthy of ridicule.  The CIA and NSA have been feckless in the face of a nation whose military budget is $682 billion less than its own country.

But the left’s argument is twofold and contradictory:

    1. Capitalists exploit poor countries.
    2. Capitalists won’t trade with us.  That’s why Cuba is poor.

Pick a lane, will you?

To me, one thing is certain.  Communist countries and states cannot sustain themselves without the help of capitalist economies and remittances from them.

History is pretty clear on that front.

Even the mighty Soviet Union eventually fell.  It simply couldn’t keep up with the spending power of the United States and the rest of the West.

The real issue nowadays is not whether socialism will work or not.  We know it doesn’t work without massive injections from elsewhere.

For instance, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Western Europe can only afford their welfare states because the US taxpayer picks up the military tab.

Margaret Thatcher put it best: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

The goal of socialism is communism, according to Lenin.  So thinking “Democratic Socialism” is a soft variant of socialism or communism is lunacy.

You can link democracy, socialism, and communism.  They all lead down the same road.

So whether it’s Cuba or Kerala, or any other country with socialist aspirations, they walk into the morass of trying to find financing for a futile enterprise.

Better to just start with free enterprise instead.

Have a great day!

All the best,

Sean

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