Tag Archives: Communism

Communist Cuba’s violent suppression of dissenters under Fidel Castro

Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating
Communism in action: Cuban government arrests dissenter after a beating

My mother was watching CNN on Saturday, and she called to tell me that Sanjay Gupta was talking about the great healthcare in Cuba. Now, I know that CNN hires a lot of Marxists like Gupta and Zakaria, but many people may not realize how far left they are, and how that bias affects what they say on air. Let’s see what Cuba is really like using some evidence for a change.

The Daily Signal has the numbers on Cuba’s treatment of dissidents from a respected source:

As for the dissidents, the Obama administration has abandoned them. Many have told me they feel betrayed by our president, and by extension, by the United States. Guillermo Fariñas, especially, has a reason to feel betrayed, as Obama promised him personally at a meeting in 2013 that he would take no step toward re-establishing relations with Cuba without prior consultations with the opposition. This did not happen.

And dissidents have suffered the consequences. Political arrests have intensified since December of 2014. Throughout 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba.

And in 2016? There already had been over 8,505 political arrests during the first eight months, and they are expected to top 10,000. This represents the highest rate of political arrests in decades and nearly quadruples the tally of political arrests throughout all of 2010 (2,074), early in Obama’s presidency.

These figures come from the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is recognized by Amnesty International, Freedom House, and other major human rights groups.

Shutting down communication with the outside world to cover up the arrests, the torture, the human rights abuses, the poverty, and the horribly ineffective health care:

And because Cuba’s communist leaders cannot allow Cubans to be in free contact with the outside world, internet connectivity has dropped. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has something called the Measuring the Information Society Report, which is the world’s most reliable source of data and analysis on global access to information and communication.

Last year, the International Telecommunication Union dropped Cuba’s ranking to 129 from 119. This means that Cuba actually has lower internet connectivity than some of the world’s most infamous suppressors of the internet, including Zimbabwe (which is 127), Syria (which is 117), Iran (91), China (82), and Venezuela (72).

What about Cuba’s health care system and economy? Didn’t Castro’s communist reforms make that better?

Investors Business Daily explains:

Before the revolution, Cuba had the 13th-lowest infant mortality rate in the world. It was lower than France, Belgium and West Germany. Today, it ranks about 40th. That still looks respectable, until you consider how it was accomplished: Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. At the first sign of any trouble when a woman is carrying a baby, it is aborted — regardless of the parents’ wishes.

That’s why their infant mortality rate isn’t even worse.

But surely health care for all is a major accomplishment, right?

No. As has been noted in many other places, Cuba has three separate health care systems. One for paying customers from places like the U.S., who go to Cuba for discount treatments of cosmetic surgery and the like.

There’s another for Cuba’s ruling Communist elite, also a good system. This is the health care system visiting journalists are taken to see, and that they later glowingly report on.

But there’s still another system for the rest — the average Cubans. It is abysmal, and even that might understate how bad it is.

“Cubans are not even allowed to visit those (elite) facilities,” according to the Web site The Real Cuba. “Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals, that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients.”

It goes on: “In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids.”

As for doctors, well, they make an average of about $25 to $35 a month. Many have to work second jobs to make ends meet, using substandard equipment. Drug shortages are rife. As a result, one of Cuba’s ongoing problems is that doctors leave as soon as they can for other countries, where they can make a decent living.

The country has over 30,000 doctors working overseas officially. Why? Out of kindness? No. The Castro regime earns an estimated $2.5 billion a year in hard currency from doctors working elsewhere, which means Cuba’s poor must go without decent care or access to doctors.

As for “universal literacy,” please. Primary and secondary schools are little more than Marxist indoctrination centers, where students are taught only what the state wants them to know. That’s how they keep people quiet.

Then there’s  Cuba’s higher education, in which “universities are training centers for bureaucrats, totally disconnected from the needs of today’s world. To enter the best careers and the best universities, people must be related to the bureaucratic elites, and also demonstrate a deep ideological conviction,” notes Colombian journalist Vanesa Vallejo, of the PanAm Post, a Latin American news site.

Nor is it “free.” In fact, those who graduate from college must work for a number of years for the government at a substandard wage of $9 a month. They are in effect slave labor. As with most “free” things the socialists offer, the price is very high and nonnegotiable.

In sum, Castro took a healthy country and made it sick. Those who glorify him deserve the scorn they get for propagating such a longstanding lie.

Regarding health care in Cuba, here are a couple of videos that were smuggled out of the actual health care system used by  ordinary Cubas:

And:

So, that’s the truth about Cuba – very different from what the regime itself and its wealthy supporters in Hollywood and the far left mainstream media want you to believe.

I’d really like to read what Mary Anastasia O’Grady has to say about the death of Castro in the Wall Street Journal, and I hope she writes about this story soon. UPDATE: Here it is, finally.

Venezuela solves hunger by banning bread lines, and solves crime by banning self-defense

Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez
Two socialists shake hands: Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez

First, let’s review who has been running Venezuela, and what they’ve been doing in the last few decades.

Here is an article from March 2013 from the radically leftist Slate. The headline is “Hugo Chavez’s economic miracle: The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains”. The author is “a senior writer for the International Business Times”.

He writes:

Chavez became the bugaboo of American politics because his full-throated advocacy of socialism and redistributionism at once represented a fundamental critique of neoliberal economics, and also delivered some indisputably positive results. Indeed, as shown by some of the most significant indicators, Chavez racked up an economic record that a legacy-obsessed American president could only dream of achieving.

What did Chavez do, precisely, that caused the Venezuelan economic to boom? Well, he nationalized private industry and redistributed wealth from job creators and entrepreneurs to the poor.

As The Week correctly put it, while “Chavez’s policies of redistribution and nationalization of oil assets endeared him to Venezuela’s working class” and produced many laudable results, the country’s “oil-centric economy has taken away resources from other areas that are badly in need of development.”

It’s a miracle! Yay for socialism! Well, that’s what leftists thought – this time, for sure, the laws of economics would be suspended and unicorns would fly.

Reason.com reports on what happened next:

The tragedy of Venezuela continues unabated, but that doesn’t mean the government of President Nicolás Maduro has stopped trying to fix problems like the devastating scarcity of food which has led to malnutrition, riots, food truck hijackings, vigilante lynchings of petty thieves, and the starvation of zoo animals.

No, Maduro hasn’t admitted the failure of Chavismo — the brand of Bolivarian socialism imposed on the oil-rich country by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez — instead, Venezuela’s embattled leader has launched a war on “anxiety.”

The National Superintendency of Fair Prices has reportedly instituted a policy of fining bakeries that allow lines to stretch out their front doors, according to PanAmPost. The head of this particular bureaucracy, William Contreras, claims the lines aren’t a true indicator of a severe shortage of bread, but rather, a political “strategy of generating anxiety.”

[…][T]his is indicative of the magical thinking of Venezuela’s socialist government: the breakdown of the economy couldn’t possibly because of failed economic policy, and scarcity must be the result of a greater conspiracy.

Fine, so they solved the problem of not enough bread by banning line-ups for bread. Great. But what about Venezuela’s astronomically high murder rate? What will they ban to solve that?

Easy, peasy: by seizing the guns of law-abiding people, just like Hillary Clinton wants to do.

Daily Wire reports:

Venezuela is descending further into the misery of socialism, as their government confiscated 2,000 pistols, shotguns and other firearms on Wednesday.

Reuters reports that the firearms were “crushed and chopped up” at a square in Caracas and ammunition was registered through laser technology as part of Interior Minister Nestor Reverol’s recent initiatives to further disarm the Venezuelan citizenry.

“We are going to bring disarmament and peace,” Reverol declared.

Venezuela currently has the second highest murder rate in the world, and Caracas is the most violent city in the world. In 2012, dictator Hugo Chavez completely banned private gun ownership, and yet crime rose.

Naturally, taking away the guns of law abiding people increases the rate of violent crime. In the UK, where the ban on handguns resulted in the doubling of violent crime in the four years after the ban. This is known by anyone who has spent more than two minutes studying the history of these laws in other times or places.

In my last post, I reported about how Venezuela had resorted to forced labor (slavery) to grow more food.

Here’s what CNBC reported:

The government of Venezuela has issued a decree that “effectively amounts to forced labor” in an attempt to fix a spiraling food crisis, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

A Venezuelan ministry last week announced Resolution No. 9855, which calls for the establishment of a “transitory labor regime” in order to relaunch the agricultural and food sector. The decree says that the government must do what is “necessary to achieve strategic levels of self-sufficiency,” and states that workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.

It’s so bad that Venezuelans are breaking into zoos to kill and eat the animals. Now that’s real progressive animal rights for you. But they can solve this by banning the eating of meat.

Slavery, food lines, lousy health care, crime sprees, confiscating guns from law abiding citizens. All to be expected when Democrat party policies go into effect. If Democrats wins the House, Senate and Presidency, we’ll see the same here – we’re not any better than any other country. Nothing magic about the United States, if we get away from our Constitution.

Related posts

Is Obamacare a spectacular failure because of incompetence, or by design?

Private insurer participation in Obamacare exchanges, 2015-2016
Private insurer participation in Obamacare exchanges, 2015-2016

First, let’s establish that Obamacare really is a failed policy.

One of my favorite health policy experts Sally C. Pipes reports for CNBC (H/T Bree) on how private insurers are reversing their decision to sell customers Obamacare policies.

Excerpt:

Aetna the nation’s fourth-largest health insurer, just decided to stop offering plans on Obamacare’s exchanges in all but four states in 2017. The firm says that it was losing roughly $300 million per year on these policies. And it projected that its losses would only increase, since the share of covered individuals “in need of high-cost care” was growing, according to CEO Mark Bertolini.

Aetna isn’t the only insurer giving up on Obamacare. UnitedHealth, America’s biggest insurer, will sell plans in just three states next year, down from 34 this year. Humana will offer coverage in just 156 counties in 2017, 88 percent fewer than this year.

In other words, the insurance “death spiral” has arrived. Obamacare’s critics have long predicted that exchange plans’ high premiums and deductibles would keep all but the sickest Americans from enrolling. These people would need so much medical care that insurers would lose money no matter how much they raised premiums. Eventually, insurers would have no choice but to pull out.

[…]Insurers that haven’t pulled out of Obamacare are requesting premium hikes averaging 24 percent next year. And some states have it far worse. Many Georgians could see a hike of 65 percent. The 600,000 Texans enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield may face a 59 percent premium increase.

I must have blogged about 50 posts on Obamacare, and why it would fail, before the 2012 election. I even had podcasts and articles by Sally C. Pipes! She predicted all of this long ago. The 2012 election was our last chance to stop it, and we failed.

Obamacare premium growth, 2015-2016
Obamacare premium growth, 2015-2016

I always like to think about the future so I can prepare for it. Investors Business Daily thinks that if Hillary is elected, she will use this crisis to push for single payer health care. Single payer basically means that you pay into the government based on what you earn, and the sickest / least responsible people get a deal because they get “free” care. It’s a terrible deal for healthy, fit single men who never use health care. We have to pay about $10,000 a year in taxes, and never use it.

Investors Business Daily explains:

So what’s Hillary Clinton’s answer to the failing private exchanges? Get more people on government insurance through what she calls the “public option.” This would be a government-run health care plan offered in ObamaCare exchanges across the country.

“The public option, Clinton says, “will strengthen competition and reduce costs.”

But wait a minute. The “public option” was pushed by liberal Democrats in 2009 when ObamaCare was being built, and it was rejected by centrists in the party because it looked too much like a steppingstone to single payer.

As a matter of fact, that was the idea behind the “public option” in the first place.

As Mark Schmitt explained in the liberal American Prospect, “The public option was part of a carefully thought out and deliberately funded effort (to convince the single-payer crowd) they could live with the public option as a kind of stealth single-payer.” The idea was that the public option would be able to undercut private plans, driving them all out of the exchanges.

But all those centrists Democrats who opposed the public option are gone from the Senate, and if Hillary Clinton gets elected with a more liberal Senate majority, the public option will likely be top of her agenda.

With the vast Medicaid expansion, and the public option (as well as Clinton’s proposal to expand Medicare), it’s not far-fetched to say that soon the only people covered by private insurance will be the diminishing number who get it through work. (ObamaCare was also designed to shrink employer-based health.)

I guess my solution to this is to hang on to my employer-subsidized plan for as long as I can, and then if single-payer becomes the law, then I’ll just ease back my working. Maybe work part-time in a less demanding job. I don’t want to get up and go to work to pay for strangers, especially if their “health care” is just abortions, in vitro fertilization, drug addiction therapy, breast enlargements and sex changes – which is what happens in countries where the government does run health care. They just use it as a way to buy votes.

As Christianity declines in Europe, churches are put up for sale

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

This sad story is from the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Two dozen scruffy skateboarders launched perilous jumps in a soaring old church building here on a recent night, watched over by a mosaic likeness of Jesus and a solemn array of stone saints.

This is the Arnhem Skate Hall, an uneasy reincarnation of the Church of St. Joseph, which once rang with the prayers of nearly 1,000 worshipers.

It is one of hundreds of churches, closed or threatened by plunging membership, that pose a question for communities, and even governments, across Western Europe: What to do with once-holy, now-empty buildings that increasingly mark the countryside from Britain to Denmark?

[…]The closing of Europe’s churches reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe, a phenomenon that is painful to both worshipers and others who see religion as a unifying factor in a disparate society.

[…]The Church of England closes about 20 churches a year. Roughly 200 Danish churches have been deemed nonviable or underused. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has shut about 515 churches in the past decade.

But it is in the Netherlands where the trend appears to be most advanced. The country’s Roman Catholic leaders estimate that two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be out of commission in a decade, and 700 of Holland’s Protestant churches are expected to close within four years.

[…]As communities struggle to reinvent their old churches, some solutions are less dignified than others. In Holland, one ex-church has become a supermarket, another is a florist, a third is a bookstore and a fourth is a gym. In Arnhem, a fashionable store called Humanoid occupies a church building dating to 1889, with racks of stylish women’s clothing arrayed under stained-glass windows.

In Bristol, England, the former St. Paul’s church has become the Circomedia circus training school. Operators say the high ceilings are perfect for aerial equipment like trapezes.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, a Lutheran church has become a Frankenstein-themed bar, featuring bubbling test tubes, lasers and a life-size Frankenstein’s monster descending from the ceiling at midnight.

Jason MacDonald, a supervisor at the pub, says he has never heard complaints about the reuse. “It’s for one simple reason: There are hundreds and hundreds of old churches and no one to go to them,” Mr. MacDonald said. “If they weren’t repurposed, they would just lie empty.”

Many churches, especially smaller ones, are becoming homes, and that has spawned an entire industry to connect would-be buyers with old churches.

The churches of England and Scotland list available properties online, with descriptions worthy of a realty firm. St. John’s church in Bacup, England, for example, is said to feature “a lofty nave as well as basement rooms with stone-vaulted ceilings,” and can be had for about $160,000.

There are many reasons why Christianity has declined in Europe, but surely the widespread embrace of left-wing economic policies – even by evangelical Christians – is one of the largest.

Here’s a fairly recent paper (PDF) that explains it:

What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending and provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending and religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization.

I have many friends in the UK who classify themselves as evangelical Christians. They almost all embrace moderate to leftist economics, and they complain to me about why the church is in decline, why there is no interest in apologetics, why they can’t find Christian girlfriends, why they can’t get speaking engagements. The answer is, of course, that by majoring only in theology and apologetics, they have crafted the rope that their secular allies in government are using to hang them. Leftism is embraced by European Christians in part because they don’t want to be like those dastardly Americans with their free enterprise system and their rule of law and their private property and their law-abiding gun ownership.

It just goes to show you why Christianity suffers when we focus on piety at the expense of practicality. Too much A. W. Tozer, not enough F.A. Hayek. I doubt my well-meaning UK Christian friends – who are so proud of their laughable NHS health care – even know who F.A. Hayek is. To think that Lady Thatcher ones brandished “The Constitution of Liberty” by F.A. Hayek and declared “this is what we believe!”. But ordinary UK Christians do not believe what she believes, and now they must reap what they sowed with their knee-jerk rejection of the free enterprise system. Ignorance of economics killed Christianity in Europe, and pious, risk-averse Christians were willing participants in the murder.

If socialism is so great, why are people moving from blue California to red Texas?

Migration from California to other states
Migration from California to other states – top 3 states are conservative states

A lot of young people seem to be really excited about socialism, and they want the United States to give it a try. They don’t know where socialism has been tried, and they don’t know what happens with it is tried. It just sounds nice to them.

Well, if you were going to pick one of the most socialist states in the United States, no one would fault you for picking California, where Democrats are running everything, and have been for a long time.

The Washington Free Beacon explains what happened next:

The number of Californians leaving the state and moving to Texas is at its highest level in nearly a decade, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

According to IRS migration data, which uses individual income tax returns to record year-to-year address changes, over 250,000 California residents moved out of the state between 2013 and 2014, the latest period for which data was available. The tax returns reported more than $21 billion in adjusted gross income to the IRS.

Of the returns, 33,626 reported address changes from California to Texas, which has been the top destination for individuals leaving California since 2007. Californians who moved to Texas between 2013 and 2014 reported $2.19 billion in adjusted gross income.

[…]“California’s taxes and regulations are crushing businesses, and there are more opportunities in Texas for people to start new companies, get good jobs, and create better lives for their families,” said Nathan Nascimento, the director of state initiatives at Freedom Partners. “When tax and regulatory climates are bad, people will move to better economic environments—this phenomenon isn’t a mystery, it’s how marketplaces work. Not only should other state governments take note of this, but so should the federal government.”

According to Tom Gray of the Manhattan Institute, people may be leaving California for the employment opportunities, tax breaks, or less crowded living arrangements that other states offer.

“States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average,” Gray wrote. “Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs.”

“Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes,” Gray wrote. “States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that may cost drivers—taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs—are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.”

Just recently, I heard some of my Democrat co-workers laughing to each other about “trickle-down economics”, which is the “ridiculous” idea that if you allow businesses and workers to keep what they earn, then you’ll get more economic growth than if the government takes the money to study the drug use patterns of sex workers in the far East. Actually, we’ve been trying socialism-lite in this country for the past 7 years. How has it worked? Well, Obama has averaged 1.2% GDP growth through his presidency, far below average. And in order to get even that little growth, Obama will double the debt from 10 to 20 trillion in just 8 years.

Debt increase under Barack Obama
Debt increase under Barack Obama

But what about tax cuts? Do tax cuts create economic growth?

The conservative Heritage Foundation think tank describes the effects of the Bush tax cuts.

Excerpt:

President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.

At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.

It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.

[…]The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.

Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:

  • GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
  • The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
  • The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.

The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.

Regarding the “Clinton economic boom”, that was caused by supply-sider Newt Gingrich passing tax cuts through the House and Senate. Bill Clinton merely signed the bills into law.

Very important to compare times and places where socialism has been tried to times and places where free enterprise and limited government have been tried. We know what works. It may not be what makes us feel smug, but we know what works.