All Cubans get Fed-Author James Patterson

James Patterson was interviewed by CBS This Morning while promoting his new documentary “Murder of a Small Town”. He seems to believe that Cuba takes care of the basics better than we do. All Cubans get fed, but not all Americans do, was the implication.

Cubans get fed. Havana, Cuba
The Malecon, Havana, Cuba

Quote: “This is what’s going on in this country. Once again you’ve got the richest country in the world unable to take care of basics. We were down in Cuba a couple of months ago, and there’s a lot of poverty, people don’t make a lot of money, but everybody gets fed, everybody gets health care, everybody gets educated. I think in this country we should at least take care of the basics. So we’re doing a bad job in that area. Really bad.”

Well, I too was in Cuba a few months ago. Everyone does get fed; but you would starve if that was all you got to eat, and you wouldn’t like what you did have every week.

Everyone does have a job, but it pays little. I was told while there that the average person gets about $40/month. What’s quoted most often though is $25/month. Even doctors get only $50/month. That is why even they drive taxis, raise pigs, or whatever it takes to earn enough money to live.

Everybody is educated. Yes, this is true and it is probably the best thing about their system. However, what can they do with the education? I met a tour guide who teaches at a major university in Cuba. He is a tour guide because it pays much more than being a professor. If you are educated, you get out of the country to make a decent living, or you do something in the tourist industry.
The iconic emblem of Havana is the Malecon. This is a dramatic strip of great, old buildings facing the sea. What makes it dramatic however is the fact that they are all decaying and falling apart. Giant ghosts standing against the forces of nature and neglect. I believe these will eventually return to their original glory, but it is not the socialist state that will make this happen.

I don’t feel good writing this. It is not meant to knock Cuba or it’s wonderful people.  I just puzzle over how the country operates with its autocratic rule; how people manage day to day. It truly is the biggest mystery I have ever seen. It certainly should not be an example of the best way to run a country.

So, our semi-capitalist may not be perfect, but I would not trade it for a system where everyone gets paid, everyone gets fed, and were are all equally miserable.

See the original James Patterson Interview here. My blog post on US/Cuba News is here.

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