Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Revolution And Toilet Paper

The sons and daughters of the revolution are running out of toilet paper in Cuba, according to a Reuters report.

“Cuba's financial reserves have been depleted by increased spending for imports and reduced export income, which has forced the communist-led government to take extraordinary measures to keep the economy afloat.

"’The corporation has taken all the steps so that at the end of the year there will be an important importation of toilet paper,’ an official with state conglomerate Cimex said on state-run Radio Rebelde.

“The shipment will enable the state-run company ‘to supply this demand that today is presenting problems,’ he said.”

Why, it may be asked, don’t the sons and daughters of the revolution make their own toilet paper, thus lowering the price that Cubans pay for more expensive imports?

Cash poor Cuba, under the enlightened administration of the Castro brothers, does make some toilet paper. However, it does not have the cash to purchase the raw material to produce the product in large enough quantities.

And so, the brights in Cuba have hit upon a solution: cut other imports by 20%.

Cuba imports 60% of its food.

But won’t the reduction in imports create more scarcity elsewhere in Cuba’s command economy?

Yes and no.

“Despite the shortages,” Reuters tells us, “prices will be cut between 5 percent and 27 percent for some food, drugs and personal hygiene products, officials said.”

The perfect solution; wish away the problem.

Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, current president for life in Cuba, has been complaining lately that Cubans are not as productive as they might be, and he has hit upon a novel solution. According to the Reuters report, “He has taken various steps to boost output, including putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be based on productivity.”

This may sound like creeping capitalism to his brother Cubans in Miami, where there are no shortages of toilet paper.
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