Donald Trump

Trump Should Embrace Free Trade With Cuba

Socialists are economically clueless. But conservative embargo advocates are just as bad.

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While self-proclaimed "democratic socialists" win Democratic primaries in America, actual socialists in Cuba are finally backing away from some of the ideas that kept Cubans poor.

Sunday, Cuba's National Assembly approved a draft of a new constitution that recognizes a right to own private property. That's progress. Would Senator Bernie Sanders and celebrity-of-the-moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez approve? I'm not sure.

Instead of saying that "communism" is the purpose of the state, Cuba will now say that "socialism" is the basis of the economy.

That's an ambiguous difference, but "socialism" tends to mean a larger private sector.

Cuba's new leaders also say they welcome foreign investment. Maybe this will bring some prosperity to the long-suffering Cuban population.

It may bring more freedom, too. The new draft says a criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That's progress. It also sets term limits on presidents—no more than two consecutive five-year terms. Fidel Castro ruled for 50 years.

The new Cuba may also permit gay marriage. The draft defines marriage as being between two individuals, not necessarily a man and a woman. That's a big step for a country that recently locked gay people up in "work" camps.

On the other hand, the state-run newspaper says Cuba "will never return to capitalism." And while some open speech is permitted, crackdowns against dissidents, even ones who just sing angry rock songs, continue.

Still, the U.S. should be happy about the changes, and the last thing we should do when we want to encourage free market changes in a country is slap an embargo on it.

Yet some conservatives want to do that, and President Trump reversed some of President Obama's "Cuba opening."

This is a bad idea. Nothing gets a population accustomed to decentralized, nongovernmental commercial activity like commercial activity.

The more we restrict trade, the more we drive a country's population into the hands of the state.

If you can't sell your products to American customers, you might just work for your country's corrupt state-run enterprises. Instead of having casual contact with customers who live outside your country's political system, that system becomes all you know. Your idea of what's possible shrinks.

Embargoes favored by the right are just one wrong approach. The left does everyone an injustice by praising Cuban communism. I live in New York, where my socialist-leaning mayor, Bill de Blasio, was so enamored of Cuba that he honeymooned there.

Bernie Sanders acknowledges that the Cuban economy is "a disaster" but says at least they have health care and education—as if we don't.

American socialists are economically clueless. But conservative embargo advocates are just as bad.

Democratic congressional candidate David Richardson of Florida, who plans to visit Havana as part of his campaign, has the right idea.

"A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society…. Rolling back travel and trade restrictions has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped private Cuban entrepreneurs, and strengthened the connection between the residents of Little Havana and Havana."

That's a good thing.

Embargoes are not only bad for Cuba, they are bad for Americans who are less free to pick which people and companies to work with.

Partial embargoes in the form of tariffs are also bad. Adding tariffs is like imposing an embargo on ourselves.

Trump defenders argue that his tariffs are a short-term tactic meant to shock other countries into lowering their own trade barriers.

The ideal is "no (trade) barriers … no subsidies," said Trump. "Ultimately, that's what you want." I hope he succeeds, but I'm skeptical. So far, his tariffs have just brought nasty retaliation.

Not everyone agrees that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Great Depression, but tariffs have awful economic consequences. Smoot-Hawley certainly prolonged the Depression and made it worse.

Less trade means less prosperity. It doesn't matter whether trade restrictions are imposed by conservatives or by communists.

Let goods flow.

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  1. The thing dictators fear most is their people having contact with foreigners and their independent ideas of their society.

    The surest and fastest way to topple a dictator is by providing that which he fears the most.

    The surest way to keep a dictator in power is to help him keep his people from interacting with foreigners and their ideas, and by providing a real bogey man for him to use in convincing his people that foreigners are evil and trying to hurt them.

    1. Pretty sure most other countries in the world trade with and allow travel to Cuba.

      1. Those wreckers are the reason our isolation efforts have failed!

      2. That is true. And how much freer has that made Cuba? Not a lot that I can see. So, I don’t see any reason why us doing the same will have any different result.

      3. Pretty sure the US embargo is one of the Cuban dictators’ favorite propaganda points. We are also their closest and most natural trading partner, so boosting the cost of their trade doesn’t help them.

    1. The Party secretary,Yanet Padr?n Naya, was just imprisoned for prostitution. Well, she does smoke cigarettes. That’s suspicious enough, I guess.

      1. MCGA. Cigars, hookers, blow, gambling.

      2. The Party secretary,Yanet Padr?n Naya, was just imprisoned for prostitution.

        So you’re saying she’s got more libertarian cred than Bill Weld.

        1. GJ liked Weld because Weld could bring rich donors to the table. Is that different somehow?

  2. “Libertopia needs more sex tourism with socialist slave state”

    1. Havana good time, wish you were here.

      Or

      Che love you long time.

  3. “While self-proclaimed “democratic socialists” win Democratic primaries in America, actual socialists in Cuba…”

    “Democratic socialists ARE actual socialists.

    There is no distinction. All socialists are totalitarians who want use force to impose their preferences on everyone else.

  4. I have a sneaking suspicion that the fair distribution of private property in Cuba will be a lot like the fair distribution of the seized white-owned farms in Zimbabwe.

    1. I think they already fairly distributed all the private property back during the revolution: all of it was parceled out to high-ranking Party members, with the lion’s share of course reserved for the leaders. Everyone else got equality, which is to equal poverty. In that way, it was just like every other Marxist revolution everywhere.

      1. all of it was parceled out to high-ranking Party members, with the lion’s share of course reserved for the leaders. Everyone else got equality, which is to equal poverty.

        Some animals are more equal than others

        1. Everyone should read Animal Farm at least once.

  5. We should declare victory and drop the embargo.

    Invade them with McDonald’s.

  6. Trump should embrace free trade period.
    Government meddling with the economy is always and invariably harmful.

  7. I thought Trump was supposed to be all tough on dictators or it was proof of treason. Chapman assured me of this.

  8. I saw some documentary about contemporary Cuba. They showed this woman who had built a good career as a manager in tourist resorts who wanted to remodel her bathroom at home, which dated from pre-Castro days.

    The government refused a renovation permit, because as long as the plumbing still works they won’t approve of any upgrades. So the lady got a black market bathroom reno, which is a popular thing over there.

    It blows my mind that anyone with half a brain can support such idiocy. If government deciding when you can fix up your bathroom isn’t enough to bring people around to questioning statism, I don’t know what can.

    1. These are the same people who think the government making it a crime to have a plastic straw is a good idea. And I am not exaggerating.

      https://reason.com/blog/2018/07…..aws-proscr

      1. And, to be fair, it’s not like we have some enviable culture of freedom from permit-pulling power-trippers dictating to us how what we may and may not do with our real property! That’s why I don’t think very highly of the standard libertarian two-step:

        Leftist: Socialism works! Just look at Scandinavia!
        Libertarian: That’s not socialism, you disingenuous cunt!

        Leftist: I just want America to be a civilized first-world country, with universal government health care, universal welfare, and so forth, all with a much larger tax burden and a public sector damn near as big as the private. Like in Scandinavia.
        Libertarian: That’s socialism, you disingenuous cunt!

        It really is true that all economies have been mixed to some degree. One of my favorite intro econ textbooks–I think it was Landsburg or Alchian–said it simply and best: “All government is socialist.” The key, of course, is to what degree; and the key lesson is whether it’s been the planning or the lack thereof, in whatever doses they might be manifest, that has been making poor peoples rich. And of course the evidence is overwhelming that it’s been the lack of it, wherever you go. What we should say of Scandinavia is that they had a liberal culture centuries in the making, culminating in a limited-government era in which they made nearly all their material gains, and to this day remain more enterprise-friendly in some important ways than the U.S. even as they are worse in others.

        1. Your point about the “libertarian two step” is well taken, especially in conjunction with your comment about “all government being socialism”. But in their context, neither statement is particularly unreasonable. Socialism “works” in Scandinavia precisely because they don’t fully implement it.

    2. Bathroom inequality is a great concern in capitalist societies.

      1. Check your privilege! I can’t stand it when they don’t put in the kid-height urinal; oughta be illegal.

  9. If we’re to normalize trade relations with Cuba so Americans can make money, or because it’s not the American government’s job or right to control who its citizens trade with or what goods flow in or out of its borders, then so be it. Just enough with this helping the Cuban people shit. The limiting factor on the pace of economic opening and development in Cuba will be determined by the policies of the Cuban Communist Party.

    It’ll be interesting to see to what degree and at what pace this completely symbolic Constitutional change signals a transition to a more Chinese/Vietnamese approach…

    1. …Also interesting is the gay thing, which I did not see coming. Apparently an additional statute will be required, but it’s easy to see which way the wind is blowing. The Czechs–a deeply irreligious people who have long had no interest at all in either persecuting or recognizing homosexuality–may be the first former Communist country to institute gay marriage; it would be a much bigger milestone if Cuba–in a region where homosexuality is mostly illegal–were the first extant one-party state (or even elected socialist government) to do so.

      The degree to which Cuba’s monstrous brutality has been specifically homophobic has been chronically exaggerated, as it is in this article. But this is still pretty remarkable. Perhaps Cuba, despite its uniquely old-fashioned unreconstructed nature, remains the best of all of them at taking the pulse of first-world bougie-left useful idiots. Take notes, Venezuelans Sandanistas and ZANU-PF!

  10. Trump should embrace free trade with anyone.

  11. Stossel is right for the wrong reasons. Embargoes are tools that we use to force certain behaviors. In Cuba’s case it just isn’t working. Stossel makes a stupid point about Sander’s comment about health and education. They have great health and education relative to their resources. In other words, they do way more with way less. In business terms it is called efficiency. It’s funny that the Socialists have to point this out to the so-called advocates of the free market.

  12. The best form of “free trade” is “reciprocal trade”:
    We will impose a tariff on your goods at the same level that you impose a tariff on our goods.
    Goose, meet Gander!

    1. No, the best form of free trade is free trade. Arguing that my government should screw me just because some other government chose to screw its citizens is lunacy. “My enemy has just punched himself in the nuts, therefore I should punch myself in the nuts!” Personally, I have no interest in trying to win a Punch Yourself in the Nuts contest.

  13. I don’t think it applies to this guy all that much, although he may be better than many… But the fact is the smartest guy in the room often isn’t the most charismatic. Unfortunately people tend to like the charismatic guy more, so they tend to win.

    We’ve usually ended up with people who were a reasonable combination of both. Not total idiots, but probably not usually the very smartest either. Trump definitely leans towards the charismatic side heavily, but even he isn’t an actual retard. He’s just brazen with some of his more out of the box ideas.

    Any which way, I think somebody with some balls is exactly what was called for now. I’d have preferred somebody more fiscally prudent who also had balls, but Trump is probably a lot better than any of the other schleps that tried for the R nomination. I guess I will have to keep waiting for my Trump/Ron Paul hybrid to come along and actually fix shit!

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