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April 1995
Volume 13, Number4


Sugar-Sweet Development
Mark Thornton

Americans are rightfully skeptical of "economic development." From India to Egypt to Brazil, it has meant Aswan Dam-size government projects that have failed to raise living standards while generating pollution and cultural instability. 

Free-market economic development is entirely different. Real development occurs when people break down government barriers and remove government from their lives. This process is occurring around the world and will soon take place on America's doorstep. The eradication of Communism in Cuba will illustrate the vigor of the free market and the natural defects of government control. 

Of course, the early days of freedom will reveal to Americans the economic toxicity of complete government control in Cuba. As in Russia, socialism will die a death of its own making. Once subsidies to socialist countries are cut off, their irrational ideologies have little chance. 

Americans are currently prohibited from traveling to Cuba (by our own government!), but once freedom sets in, both governments will be forced to lift their irrational restrictions. Trade and travel will begin and flourish. Cuba will once again become a favorite tourist destination. The strip of government tourist hotels, now carefully isolated by the Castro regime, will expand (with jobs) to all of the white sand beaches and beyond. 

The biggest economic boon for average Americans and Cubans will be the reopening of the sugar trade, if the U.S. removes its restrictions. Cubans will then be able to sell sugar to their natural customers in America, and get a good price for their efforts. Americans now pay several times the world price for sugar because of our import barriers. 

Gone will be the days of corn syrup candy bars. Americans will pay less for candy, soda, baked goods, and a horde of other food products that will also taste better as a result. Certain American-made products will be better able to compete overseas and against foreign-made sweets in the states. 

Another benefit of freedom will be our ability to sell our goods and services in Cuba. Cubans are a productive people and once they reestablish their ability to produce, they will surely be in the market for American goods. Their few remaining automobiles are American-made cars from the 1950s. Unfortunately, anti-free trade regulations on American companies by our own government are giving our European competitors a leg up in establishing an economic beachhead in Cuba. 

Castro's rule over Cuba is already coming to an end. He has been forced to allow street markets and Cubans are getting first-hand experience with the power of the price system to put food on the shelves where a ruthless and all-powerful government failed. 

The fall of Communism in Cuba is only a matter of time. Economic reality will succeed where U.S. policy failed.


Mark Thornton is the O.P. Alford scholar for the Mises Institute and teaches Economics at Columbus State College


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