Friday, February 19, 2010

Equality and Cuban plates

One of the key selling points behind socialism is that it alleges to offer equal living conditions, equal access to all public resources, equal care for everyone’s needs, and equal class status enjoyed by all citizens.

That last point has been emphasized a great deal in recent years because of its appeal to those embracing the contemporary push to protect self esteem: we can all be equal therefore we can all feel good about ourselves. In such nations the people are truly free because they are able to live their lives unencumbered by materialism as well as the indignity of class envy it inevitably creates.

For many of us who prefer life in a free-market society and the liberties our Founding Fathers sought to preserve for the generations to follow, our counter arguments to that idea tend to be based on little more than anecdotal evidence and older pop-culture depictions of life in former Soviet Bloc nations.

But, the Associated Press article below – written by Will Weissert and first published on February 10 – offers a glimpse as to how false the promises of Marxism truly are. Here are paragraphs 2 through 7:

A rainbow of colors and an alphabet soup of codes tell the discerning eye how important you are in the egalitarian revolution as you whiz by – your nationality, what you do for a living and often how high you rank at work.

"The kind of car you drive says something," says Norberto Leon, a retiree who collects pocket change for watching parked cars. "The license plate, it says more."

Cuba's painstaking color-coding of license plates – a system copied from the former Soviet Union – is one way authorities have kept tabs on people and their vehicles for decades.

The government owns most cars. They have blue plates with letters and numbers that indicate when and where the vehicle can operate and whether the driver can use it for personal as well as professional reasons.

Inspectors wait along highways out of town and other high-traffic areas, stopping official cars to check their route sheets and to make sure they aren't being used for a jaunt to the beach.

Executives at government-run firms – who get caramel-colored plates – have more leeway. But even they may only be allowed to use their cars to get to and from work.

"It's a form of control," said Weichel Guera, a National Office of Statistics chauffeur who is assigned a government sedan that he can use only to ferry top officials during business hours. He and his Lada spend most of their time parked outside the statistics building.

As evidenced by Weissert’s article, people are still marked by their station in society and level of importance in their respective industry or field. Only in Cuba, it’s achieved by dictating the type of vehicle they are allowed to possess and more exactly by the license plate issued with the vehicle.

What also is very telling about life in Cuba is the degree of micromanagement exerted over such a mundane aspect of everyday life as to where you can drive your car on a given day.

(As is customary for me – stating the obvious) I have to say I fail to see the appeal. Anyone who supports industry and the right to work for a livable wage can’t possibly endorse such an economic system anymore than someone who would view themselves as a civil libertarian.

Yet, the unwavering governmental controls over every component of society and life within it supposedly go against all the sensibilities of those who seemingly support socialism’s top public advocates. Either you believe in the rights of workers or you believe in dictatorial control over the conditions of their employment and work environment. Either you believe in unlimited personal freedom or you agree with the idea that government should be able to nose around your personal affairs at will. There can be no middle ground on these issues.

Somehow the lie that freedom and government oversight of people’s lives can be balanced is perpetuated. Cuba’s version of DMV policies serves as one way to verify that concept to be the hoax it truly is.

If more of this truth can reach the light of day, Michael Moore and other Hollywood elites will not be amused.

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