The parable of the blind men and the elephant, each describing the part of the elephant he feels and drawing a conclusion, warns us failing to see the whole would lead us to a false assumption. If you feel just one part of that animal, no matter how impressive it might seem (think the trunk) it would never give a true description of the whole. For this reason we ask our readers to look at the 10 actions in our “Now they expect More” post 12/26/15 to create “More” as a whole. Doing one without the others likely would fail to produce sustained increase in “More.” Take the first education. We have been endlessly told that education is the path to having “More.” The idea of one magic bullet bringing untold “More” is a fantasy. Even education fails to do the job alone.
We realize there is a large constituency believes it would. Provide everyone a free education from preschool through graduate school and the horn of plenty will be there for everyone. Sounds good but the facts simply fail to agree. Don’t believe us, let’s look at a test case. We could use several nations but only 90 miles away, Cuba is the closest and most people know where it is. After the Castro Revolution, education was guaranteed to all through graduate school and the island claims 100% literacy. Now literacy at 76% wasn’t a huge problem before the revolution. In fact Cuba before the revolution wasn’t a basket case. Cuba ranked 5th in the hemisphere in per capita income, 3rd in life expectancy, 2nd in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, and 1st in the number of television sets per inhabitant. With its expanded educational opportunities one would expect Cuba to at least maintain its economic position, but Cuba now ranks 30th among western hemisphere countries in per capita GDP. How could this be? We think it is because it does the opposite of our other 9 actions. A near perfect lab test. Well at least those cars are still there. In fact they’re the same cars.
Education involves the transfer of knowledge, but Cuba greatly inhibits that transfer and even what is acceptable knowledge. One could argue education under those circumstances is deeply flawed. In any case knowledge doesn’t get you very far without mobility of person and ideas, access to capital and protection of person and property. These things are taken into consideration in construction of the Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Index of Economic Freedom. Cuba comes in the World Rankings at #177. At least that’s better than North Korea at #178.
There are, of course, those that claim that Cuba is at least a fairer society and point to the income disparity before the 1959 revolution though even in that respect Cuba compared favorably with the rest of Latin America. Basically it was between urban and countryside as in any society transitioning from an agrarian to an industrial society. In any case what we see today is the elites represented by the party and those favored by the party having a much bigger hunk of the reduced “More” than the rest. Even if this wasn’t true, should the shared misery of reduced “More” be the objective? We think not. Remember our last action, you can’t distribute what hasn’t been created. If you do the result ultimately will be less not “More.” No capital to seed the future but worse little to maintain what you have. Every business knows they have to provide for depreciation simply because stuff wears out. Cuba has been crumbling for decades. They took the capital goods that existed and put nothing back.
It is well to remember that the Castro revolution seized most of the islands assets without ever paying a dime. Where did it all go? 10% of the island’s population fled, most with only what they could carry. Amazingly they came to a place where our 10 actions were more acceptable and they created “More” than the 90% that remained.
That’s our point, we need to see how all 10 actions work together to produce “More.” In future posts on “More” we will look at each of our 10 actions but never forgetting that they only work together. We really don’t want to be another Cuba. After all, it is about the elephant.