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What is going on in Cuba?

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Those malcontent Cubans are at it again, protesting 62 years of food shortages, COVID-19 vaccine shortages, shortages of every kind. Yet, Bernie Sanders remains silent.

Lovers of socialism will say Cuba is not what they want, Cuba is full-blown communism. I have news for you: Socialism is the gateway to communism.

So, then, let’s talk about socialism. We’ll start with a couple of questions. Do you like it when monopolies set prices for what you pay for goods and services? Did you like it last year when certain items weren’t available on grocery shelves? If you love such conditions, you’ll love socialism.

In a capitalistic society, such as the one that is rapidly fading here in the United States, manufacturers determine what to make based on the demand and customers’ willingness to pay. In a socialist society, pricing is set by a central authority and has little to do with what it costs to make an item. Wages are set the same way.

We have some of this already. The price of gasoline, cigarettes and alcohol have prices loaded with taxes. In some cases, perhaps cigarettes, we can get near universal agreement today that this might be a good thing. How about health care, nearly 20% of the GNP in the U.S.? Regulations and a quasi-monopoly market make health care cost twice as much as it would in a free market.

Socialism works in another way, too. The $15 minimum wage – not yet a federal mandate – but existent in some states, is reducing job opportunities and/or driving employers to robots. A $70,000 robot with only a three-year life span knocks the socks off paying someone $15 an hour.

Socialism (and communism) are unnatural ways to run economies, for they are forcing manufacturers to make unprofitable items and individuals to receive a paycheck lacking incentive to do better. (If the government sets my wages, why would I ever want to improve my working skills?)

The unnatural nature of such economies is why the threat of jail and the point of a gun are so necessary in places like Cuba, Venezuela and China. Totalitarianism is the only way to make people participate.

And while we are at it, let’s talk about another – but related – subject for a minute. This subject is taxes on corporations. Politicians know that the majority of the public does not understand taxing corporations, and they also know that corporations are often viewed in low esteem by the citizenry. That is what makes this so easy for them.

The truth, though, is this: Only consumers pay taxes. If a corporation has a higher tax bill this year than last, there is only one place to collect the money to pay that tax. That is by raising prices, prices paid by you and me. We pay all the taxes, corporations are just a pass-through mechanism.

When I get into detailed conversations with people about the economy, pricing and so forth, it seems many share a false belief that there is something magic, that there is some special place the corporations or governments dip into to get the money needed to function.

The truth is their budgets are just like your home budget, only bigger in terms of revenues – and expenses. If they don’t currently have the money they need, they have to borrow it, if they are credit worthy. There is no magic anywhere.

After 62 oppressive years, perhaps Cubans are waking up to this fact.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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