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Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Capitalism Will Free Cuba

Capitalism Will Free Cuba

Ron Hart is a syndicated columnist and humorist.

In one of his few good decisions (and desperately in search of a positive legacy item), President Obama announced his plan to normalize relations with Cuba. It is a smart gesture of reconciliation that, coupled with free trade, will make a friend of an enemy 90 miles to our south.

We won this -- not because of the embargo (they could always get any goods they wanted from the same places we get ours: Mexico, Vietnam, China), but because it highlighted that socialism does not work for the people. However, it worked for the Castros, whose net worth tops $1 billion. Just imagine how much they would have if they were not government workers and "share the wealth" socialists.

This is a good sign and a clear repudiation of the flawed, corrupt and unsustainable socialist ideology. A stark rejection of socialist ideas has happened twice in two months, if you count our mid-term elections.

Fifty years of centralized, command-and-control government rule of the economy, supposedly "free" health care, and Soviet-style repression have devastated Cuba's economy. Maybe the best thing that can happen here is that Obama will realize his policies are sending America that way. If our kids ever needed a test case of socialism and its devastating effects on a once vibrant nation, they need look no further than Cuba. Point made.

Fidel Castro's policies are similar to Obama's: He nationalized healthcare. He put severe regulations on his people (czars, EPA, etc.). He used government to go after his political enemies (IRS and Lois Lerner). He blamed his own failings on others, circumventing their free speech (imprisoning a filmmaker after blaming him for Benghazi) and arresting them. He took over large pieces of the economy (ObamaCare commandeered 1/7th of the U.S. economy). Fidel spied on and intimidated journalists (Fox News' James Rosen and others wiretapped). Both have scores of untried prisoners rotting away in Cuban jails (Gitmo). Both vilified capitalists and took their property to give to their cronies (Chrysler bail-out putting unions ahead of secured creditors).

Perhaps out of his personal respect for their work, Obama risks legitimizing the Castro brothers. Instead, Mr. Obama must highlight why Cuba failed: socialism doesn't work. Capitalism, entrepreneurship, minimal government, freedom, property rights, free trade and the rule of law must exist for a society to prosper.

Fidel, the founder of the regime, and his younger brother Raul (which is Spanish for "Jeb") can claim victory. But to those paying attention, socialism and its derivative communism have failed the citizens every time they have been tried. It is an easy sale: I will take from the "rich" 49% and give to the "less fortunate" 51%. What happens is the 49% leave or stop working as hard to support the 51%. Cronyism takes over and runs the economy into the ground. Obama and Democrats, please take notice.

Normalization began with negotiations to free an American government worker sent to Cuba to install the Internet for the Jewish community there. Obama traded several Cubans held in America for Alan Gross and three middle infielders. The State Department is still waiting for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's approval of the deal, but it seems all but done. Out of habit, the Yankees signed the 65 year-old Alan Gross to a three year, $20 mil deal.

Trying to bring the Internet to Cuba was brilliant. If anything would sound the call for freedom, it would be the introduction of online shopping and porn. They have porn in Russia, but every video stars Vladimir Putin.

Many in the GOP will oppose "normalizing" relations with Cuba, as some Hispanic Democrat politicians already have. I respect that, but they are living a grudge from the past. Obama and Senators Rand Paul and Jeff Flake are right; we should try something new.

Obama's MO in these situations is becoming clear. He sends Jay-Z and Beyoncé to Cuba to soften things up and sends Dennis Rodman to North Korea. He also had the Pope for cover. Pope Benedict went to Cuba three years ago to begin the detente between our nations. You know you are being treated badly by your government when a charismatic German's arrival is considered liberating.

It was important to the scared and weak Obama administration, along with his friends in Hollywood, that they befriend the Castro brothers now. It was imperative for their safety that he act -- before James Franco and Seth Rogan play Fidel and Raul in an upcoming movie.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator. Email Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com

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