First the Drainage / Miguel Iturria Savón

While Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other multimillionaires develop a campaign to donate at least 50% of their fortunes to social sectors, the government of General Castro accelerates the end of the benefits granted to the Cuban people during half a century of promises and State domination.

To the extent that the ship of totalitarianism wobbles, the promise of giving is substituted by the one of taking away. In the end, the “gratuidades” (free services), “precios subvencionados”(subsidized prices) and subsidies for the elderly and disabled can be spared. However, the ideological battles, the apocalyptic prophecies of the former ruling chatterbox and the catalog of prohibitions that prevent citizens from unleashing their own initiatives and living from their own efforts without governmental guardianship, remain.

Yes, it is time to put an end to the egalitarian illusion; we have had our fill of utopias, offerings, miseries and disinformation. But it is also time to eliminate the state monopoly over the means of production, commerce, agriculture, transportation, fishing and other areas of the economy and society, which are blocked by the concentration of power in the one party and its chieftains who hold on to power.

Whose idea was it to regulate individual consumption of food, the clothes we wore, the toys that our children could receive, or to let a ministry decide the prices of articles? How is it possible that a network of government officials imposes the will of a uniformed chieftain on millions of people, or that the parliament unanimously approves “the leader’s proposals”?

If the methods of distribution are no longer sustainable and it is necessary to drain the swamp, we have to clear the obstructed flows and normalize relations between those who create wealth and those who administer it. The law that favors one side only will not solve the problems. If the obsolete productive and commercial structures in the hands of Father State are not privatized, we will continue to be bogged down.

Now there is talk of eliminating the subsidized cigarettes we have had since 1971, but let us remember that someone raised prices from 5 and 10 cents per pack to 8 and 10 pesos. Maybe it was the same people who raised the prices of rice, beans, chicken, pork and other staples included in the ridiculous Ration Book, which is in the same process of extinction as the regime that instituted it.

The end of subsidies should not imply an increase in poverty. People work because of their needs, not because of slogans. If the monopolizing state lacks the raw materials to produce and cannot – or doesn’t want to – pay workers what is necessary to live on, it will have to steer the situation through decentralizing changes and maneuvers. To pay with the devalued national currency and sell in foreign currency is equivalent to taking people for fools.

It is not a question of offering people a “Dinner for Idiots” nor of excluding those who need protection. Let the waters flow to drain the swamp. The rest will come little by little.

September 2, 2010