Good News From Cuba

Cuba has instituted two important market reforms. One new law allows increased foreign ownership of land, while the other allows citizens to grow and sell their own farm produce:

The decree allowing expanded sale of farm products, meanwhile, could have far greater impact on ordinary Cubans. It authorizes them to produce their own agricultural goods — from melons to milk — and sell them from home or in kiosks. They must pay taxes on any earnings.

The decree is the first major expansion of self-employment rules since Castro said in an address before parliament Aug. 1 that the government would reduce state controls on small businesses — a big deal in a country where about 95 percent of people work for the state.

[Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa] Chepe, who was jailed for his political beliefs in 2003 but later paroled for health reasons, said the decree would stamp out inefficiencies that plague the state farming system, calling it an "intelligent move."

"In Cuba, the problem has not only been production, but also distribution," he said.

Cubans already sell fruits, pork, cheese and other items on the sides of highways, fleeing into the bushes when the police happen past. Friday's measure would legalize such practices, while ensuring the state takes a cut of the profits.

The foreign-ownership law is expected to increase the number of golf courses in the Workers' Paradise. People's golf courses, we can only hope.

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  • mofo||

    When I saw the headline "good news from Cuba" I so wanted it to be Castro finally dying off.

  • ||

    Exactly so.

    Better news would have been his dying against the wall.

  • Chad||

    mofo, don't EVEN joke about that.

  • Brian E||

    That would have been nice. I'd have taken the end of the idiotic embargo, too.

  • bags||

    yes

  • BakedPenguin||

    People's golf courses, we can only hope.

    Hasta la birdie siempre.

  • Extended Warren T||

    Now that Raul has opened this crack I hope that very soon, the Cuban people jam a fucking crowbar in there and totally undermine that nasty shithole government they've suffered under.

    ...and the collectivshits will be foaming at the mouth as to how this ruined their little red-tinged, blood-spattered paradise.

  • ||

    That last part is a given.

    Even after Conquest's The Great Terror and Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago were proved true in every important aspect, one still runs across apologists for the Soviet Union in most universities. "Stalin saved Russia From the Horrors of Capitalism" is a common theme.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Or a variation on that - Stalin wasn't a communist, he was a "state capitalist".

    They can't really use that one with Pol Pot, though.

  • Choam Nomsky||

    He was just an agrarian reformer!!

  • Extended Warren T||

    Yeah, his "Turn people into fertilizer" campaign was highly successful.

    It was a three-fer.

  • MNG||

    Bullshit. I went to college for many a year and never ran into a Soviet or Stalinist apologist, not one.

  • Spiny Norman||

    I went to college for many a year and ran into quite a few (though not for Stalin specifically).

    Perhaps there are regional differences in colleges.

  • ||

    Perhaps there are regional differences in colleges.

    Or the department.

    I studied biology and as far as I know none were Stalin apologists...

    I did run into a eugenics apologist though...but he was a student.

    Also i think it might be when you went to school. During the cold war they were probably thicker then after it came down.

    graduating in 1985 vs 1995 makes a difference i think.

  • Brian E||

    I haven't met a Stalin apologist in academia either. All the pinko professors I had were bona fide Trotskyists.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So, MNG, that means there are no Soviet or Stalinist apologists, anywhere... right?

  • Jeffersonian||

    Couldn't swing a dead cat at mine without hitting one. The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade was front and center there, too.

  • Plate-O||

    There weren't any defenders of Soviet Commmunism at my college. (Though I did spot an old USSR flag hanging in an economics prof's office--irony perhaps?) However, there were a hell of a lot of apologists for Cuba.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Apologizing for Cuba = smaller-scale apologizing for the former Soviet Union.

  • ||

    It could be irony...but the most popular economics prof at my college was a huge soviet apologist, so not out of the realm of possibility.

  • Plate-O||

    Isn't having a Marxist economist like having a phrenologist in the psychological department or a young Earther in the geography faculty?

  • cornholio||

    That's probably because you didn't go to college in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, when Stalinism was all the rage among the American intellectuals. It became less popular Krunschev (no great friend of the US) basically admitted what an asshole Stalin was.

  • cornholio||

    The 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s were more the age of Mao apologists in the universities. That's also sort of died out, as the Chinese authorities have implicitly, at least in some areas of the economy (the parts that are now prospering), rejected Maoism.

  • cornholio||

    "less popular when Krunschev..."
    I really need to double check before posting.

  • ||

    you just didn't go to college in the right decade

  • ||

    oops, someone beat me to it.

  • ||

    Better death than the cheap bourgeois thrill of too many choices.

  • Jeffersonian||

    There's going to be some ass-kicking good baseball talent coming out of Gulla-Gulla Gulag when the Castro clique kicks the bucket.

  • Apogee||

    Maybe not. Any success in the Cuban economy will be attributed to leftist economic policy.

    What, did you think the left hasn't had enough evidence of the failure of their ideas?

    It doesn't work because it's not supposed to work.

    It's a obvious scam, sold to the retarded who never seem to catch on.

  • TallDave||

    Farms today, factories tomorrow, freedom the Tuesday after next.

  • ||

    Cubans already sell fruits, pork, cheese and other items on the sides of highways, fleeing into the bushes when the police happen past. Friday's measure would legalize such practices, while ensuring the state takes a cut of the profits.

    And hopefully, California will follow Cuba's lead and pass Prop 19.

  • Plate-O||

    In related Cuba news...

    Fidel Castro says al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is a bought-and-paid-for CIA agent who always popped up when former President George W. Bush needed to scare the world, arguing that documents recently posted on the Internet prove it.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38882311/ns/world_news-americas/

  • ||

    Why am I not surprised that that doddering old bag of communist shit would be a 9/11 Truther?

  • Van Jones||

    Hey! I'm not old!

  • cmace||

    Illuminati

  • Tom Vilsack||

    It authorizes them to produce their own agricultural goods — from melons to milk — and sell them from home or in kiosks.

    That milk had jolly well better be pasteurized.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Once a commie admits even the slightest failure of his ideology, once he loosens his grip in the least, it marks the beginning of the end. Soon they will be making Tetris youtube videos on Kooba's transition to free market (and then, alas, to crony capitalism).

  • ||

    So it's the beginning of the end for Communist China?

    It's a continuum, with more freedom well correlated with prosperity.

  • Tncm||

    Having been to China before, and talking about such an issue with people who have spent entire years of their lives living in the People's Republic, the average Chinese person is in no rush for a democratic government. This is especially true among people living in cities; after all, who would want some stupid farmer casting a vote that directs the course of the entire country? Most people simply believe that government handles government, and people handle people.

  • TDL||

    Why are we confusing capitalism with democracy?

    Regards,
    TDL

  • ||

    That's only going to last as long as the country is growing economically. People with full stomachs are happy enough not worrying about politics and screwing up a good thing. Consider how apolitical the mid/late 90s were compared to now or the 1970s.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So it's the beginning of the end for Communist China?

    "Communist" China. The name is retained for nostalgia's sake.

  • Hu Jintao||

    Nostargia ain't what it used to be.

  • cornholio||

    China's already at the crony capitalism stage. What they have is a rawer version of Japan's economic model: Protect and subsidize some favored industries, and screw everyone else.

  • machio||

    I'm pretty sure they'll skip the free market stage and jump right in with both feet to crony capitalism

  • Tncm||

    So, can we now officially say that both the Communist Party of Cuba and the Worker's Party of Korea understand economics better than our current administration?

  • Anonymous||

    It's a long way to Sinuiju.

  • TDL||

    Who gives a damn about golf courses, the real victory (if we even want to call it that) is that these people can start grow and selling their own food.

    Regards,
    TDL

  • Paul||

    Michael Parenti is weeping.

  • jerseys||

    so big it is.

  • DJF||

    This has happened in Cuba several times already

    They had farmers selling food until it got too popular and it was shut down

    They sold land to foreigners and then confiscated it or put so many restrictions on it that the “owners” had no rights.

  • Ron L||

    For the risks involved dealing with the Cuban government, the green-fees will have to be $1500/round.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Yeah, but that includes a 15 year-old hooker on the back nine.

  • Frank||

    Even in a facebook game, you have to bribe the government every time you do a mission....

  • Colin||

    Michael Moore's head is spinning right now.

    He might even have to film a documentary exposing the evil that is Cuba.

  • cornholio||

    Or maybe he'll buy some tainted milk, lose 50 pounds from food poisoning, and then proclaim that their healthcare system has gotten even more awesome than before.

  • ||

    DJF is corrrect. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

  • ||

    Cubans allowed to grow and sell their own produce. Clearly the Cuban government is not listening to the FDA. Don't they understand how dangerous this is?

    Give Obama and the democrats a few more years, and Cuba will be in many ways more free than the US, if it is not already.

  • ||

    It is not already, John. Let's not go all hyperbola-like.

  • ||

    I said "in many ways" not in absoulte terms. I just think it is pathetic that you can sell your own food easier in Cuba than you can here.

  • Jeffersonian||

    After Wickard, the only reason the government doesn't fuck with farmers more is because it doesn't want to.

  • Cytotoxic||

    They are freerer than we are in in Canada with regards to milk and chicken. These items are under 'supply management' rules where you need government permission to make them, or the police will bust your farm. For serial.

  • Anonymous||

    I heard that in Canada milk comes in bags.

    What's up with that?

  • cornholio||

    They're Canadians, dude. No further explanation is needed.

  • Edwin||

    Am I the only one wondering what the hell fruit that is in the picture? They look like mangos, but they're too big.

    What the hell are they?

  • Jerry||

    My guess is that they are papayas.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Yep, papayas. Though I did see mangoes that big in Brazil.

  • ||

    Friday's measure would legalize such practices, while ensuring the state takes a cut of the profits.

    The ol' "legalize and tax" gambit.

    Ralph understands the black market better than Barry; what a surprise.

  • California Dope Dispenser||

    Please tax my dope! I'm begging you!

  • ||

    Let's be real here. "Legalize me and tax the shit out of me" is about 10,000 times better than going to jail for selling a plant.

  • Cali Pot Botique||

    Really, it is more than 10,000 times better. But will you weep for me, City of Angels, when they regulate me out of business?

  • Brick in a washer||

    "about 95 percent of people work for the state." I wonder if the Cuban SEIU Local has bargained for American-size benefits and pensions. And would they be insured by PBGC?

  • ||

    Its always nice to see something good for Cuba!

    ou
    www.online-privacy.it.tc

  • geomark||

    From the original article "...allow foreign investors to lease government land for up to 99 years." A lease is NOT ownership. Foreigners are not allowed to own land.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Cuba jails dissident economists?

    Jesus, don't let Janet Napolitano in on that one.

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