Posted July 20, 2021
By Sean Ring
Tomato, To-mah-to; Cuba, Kerala
Happy Hump Day!
Im getting to the end of my sessions with one of the banks, so Im more awake now than Ive 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 couldnt 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... its London East. my good friend, the Duke of Omata, once said. Hes not wrong.
The booze, girls, and partying are second to none. Theres 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 UKs filthy socialist paws off Hong Kongs 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 Kongs 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 didnt 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, thats allowed in HK and makes an enormous difference, as rent is expensive.
Nearly 20 years of socking away piles of cash thanks to HKs 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 Gods 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 Ive been to India nearly a dozen times, Ive unfortunately never been there.
But friends who have raved about it.
Heres 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 doesnt fence in its citizens, they leave for greener pastures. Then they send money home because the communist economy cant sustain the population.
That makes much more sense.
As workers go, one million two hundred thousand is no small number, even in Indias context. (Indias population is over 1.3 billion as of 2019.)
Keralas 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 didnt work well either.
But at least they dont 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 cant 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
Theres 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.
Cubas State and its useful idiots both at home and abroad laud Cuban literacy rates and healthcare. I dont know why youd shout about literacy in the 21st century. And their healthcare claims have been thoroughly discredited.
But whats been hilarious over the past week or so has been the claim that America is responsible for Cubas economic misfortune.
Dont 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 lefts argument is twofold and contradictory:
- Capitalists exploit poor countries.
- Capitalists wont trade with us. Thats why Cuba is poor.