Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Wayne Grudem debates Richard Glover on economics and the Bible

A great episode of the Unbelievable podcast. This is a great debate. I really enjoyed it. All three speakers were excellent putting forward their points. It’s nice to hear an American voice, a British voice and an Australian voice debating an important issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Details:

Wayne Grudem is a theologian known for his conservative approach to both doctrine and economics. His new book “The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution” (co-authored with economist Barry Asmus) makes the case that pouring aid into developing countries is a failed strategy. Grudem debates whether the Bible supports free market, capitalist economics with Australian economist and theologian Richard Glover who wrote a critique of the book for the Australian Bible Society.

 The MP3 file is here.

Summary:

Grudem:

  • The Bible speaks to all of life, including economics, stewardship, government
  • The study of economics helps us to understand how to take care of the poor
  • My job is to apply the teachings of the Bible to all of life

Brierley:

  • What’s your thesis in the book?

Grudem:

  • A good system is one where the poor have the opportunity to earn and save from their labor
  • Book is a response to a Kenyan couple Grudem met at a London conference on business and Christianity
  • Book is not concerned with how individuals and groups can do charity to help the poor
  • Our church already does that and we support individuals and groups doing charity
  • The book is concerned with how should nations be transformed in order to grow economically
  • What should the laws, policies and cultural beliefs of a nation be in order for it to not be poor?
  • The book lists factors that have moved nations from poverty to prosperity in different times and places
  • The thesis of the book is this: government should set their people free to be able to produce more
  • We advocate freedom in economics: freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to start businesses
  • We believe that this free enterprise view is consistent with the Bible in a number of places
  • E.g. – private property is good for prosperity (thou shall not steal) but forbidden by communism

Brierley:

  • What about the church sharing in communities in Acts 2 and Acts 4?

Grudem:

  • That is not redistribution of wealth among individuals and businesses by a secular government
  • Those passages showed that there was voluntary sharing among Christians, which is not communism

Brierley:

  • What’s wrong with Grudem’s book?

Glover:

  • The book emphasizes the Bible and the goal is to help the poor in poor countries
  • Criticism 1: the book doesn’t engage with non-free-market perspectives on economics
  • Criticism 2: the book doesn’t survey all that the Bible says about economics

Brierly:

  • For 1) what is one of the views that is not considered?

Glover:

  • Jeffrey Sachs says that nations need a leg up before they can grow economically
  • Ha-Joon Chang says that free enterprise was not how the wealthy nations became wealthy

Grudem:

  • We do engage with other points of view, especially Jeffrey Sachs in the book
  • The trouble with leftist views on economic development is that it does not work in practice
  • NO COUNTRY has even been lifted out of poverty by foreign aid
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the wisdom literature: we have 64 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the gospels: we have 42 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the epistles: we cite 22 of 27 epistles in the index
  • Some economists won’t criticize cultural and moral values that hurt prosperity
  • As Christians, we think that moral and cultural values are part of the problem that needs solving

Brierley:

  • What about foreign aid?

Grudem:

  • Foreign aid doesn’t help: a lot of the money goes into government and rulers can be corrupt
  • Instead of encouraging people to start businesses, it tells people to go into government to get aid money
  • Economists (lists 3) are saying that foreign aid entrenches corrupt government in power, does no good

Brierley:

  • If it’s not working, should we keep doing it?

Glover:

  • When there is an immediate need, we should do it, even if it is not a long-term solution: we need both

Brierley:

  • Should we stop foreign aid completely?

Grudem:

  • Voluntary charitable giving from individuals and churches to help poor countries is good
  • Me and my co-author are both active on our church board that helps poor countries with urgent needs
  • Food and doctors are urgent needs, and we should help, but it doesn’t lift countries out of poverty
  • We need a long-term solution that helps poor countries produce their own food and doctors
  • We are criticizing 1) government to government aid and 2) IMF/World bank to government aid
  • We have had pushback because 500,000 people make a living from this foreign aid industry
  • No country has ever been lifted out of poverty into sustainable prosperity
  • That’s the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing that has never worked

Brierley:

  • Does the Bible support free enterprise as a way of creating sustainable prosperity?

Glover:

  • When I said the Bible was absent from his book, absent was a bad choice of words
  • But the hundreds of references he listed were not dealth with *in depth*
  • In the Scriptures, God is the one who provides (e.g. – in Ephesians, Sermon on the Mount)
  • The Bible is less focused on his people making money, and more focus on sharing basics, like food
  • Secular governments should just take it from people who have food and give it to hungry people
  • In 2 Cor 8-9, Paul talks about voluntary sharing so everyone will be equal

Brierley:

  • Does 2 Cor 8-9 undermine the free enterprise system you champion in the book?

Grudem:

  • The sharing in the Bible solves cases of urgent need, it does not lift countries from poverty to sustainable prosperity
  • Some older translations say “equality” in 2 Cor 8:13-14, but newer translations (e.g. – ESV) say “fairness”
  • The Greek word is translated as “fairly” the only other place it appears in the NT (Col 4:1), in every translation
  • God uses the means of human work and productivity to provide (daily bread is baked, doesn’t just fall from Heaven)
  • In general, there’s no provision in Scripture for a person to be dependent on donations for their entire lives
  • God promises Israel fields and mountains to tend and mine, but prosperity is from work, not depending on others

Brierley:

  • Does the Bible support this focus on work?

Grudem:

  • Working is highly praised in Scripture, (lists Bible passages that favor work over dependency)
  • Countries that were exposed to this notion of work and productivity have been more prosperous

Glover:

  • Jeffrey Sachs and other development economists don’t say you can be prosperous through dependence
  • They say that it is a necessary part of leading to nations out of poverty into poverty

Grudem:

  • It’s never worked. What nation has become prosperous through foreign aid?

Glover:

  • There are lots of nations, especially in Africa, where foreign aid has helped lift them out of poverty

Grudem:

  • Name one country in Africa where foreign aud has lifted them out of poverty into sustainable prosperity

Glover:

  • I can’t think of one right now.

Grudem:

  • Our book contains a map of Africa and we looked at every nation’s per capita income
  • No nation has been able to rise out of poverty through dependence on foreign aid
  • The only close one is Botswana, but they have abundant freedoms, Christian morals, less corrupt government
  • So Botswana is the best case and they became prosperous through becoming productive, not foreign aid

Brierley:

  • Is he right to say that charity is a short-term solution, but that it’s not good long-term for prosperity?

Glover:

  • Yes, and work is a very important focus in the Scriptures as he says.
  • But since the Fall work has been much harder, and may not have the outcomes that we would like

Grudem:

  • I also believe in emergency aid for when catastrophies happen, like floods and famines
  • But dependence on foreign aid enriches corrupt rulers and does not create the productivity that leads to sustained prosperity

Brierley:

  • Can foreign aid be used to give poor nations a leg up on becoming prosperous?

Grudem:

  • Dambisa Moyo, Oxford-educated economist from Zambia, says stop the aid, it’s doing more harm than good
  • Jeffrey Sachs’ view is that foreign aid hasn’t worked yet, but just keep trying a bit more
  • What works: limited government, rule of law, fair courts, documented property rights, low taxes, stable currency
  • People are creative and want to work, we just have to get government out of the way and let people work, earn and save

Brierley:

  • Is this free enterprise system supported by the Bible?

Glover:

  • The wealthy nations of the world did not become wealthy through productive work and free enterprise policies
  • Ha-Joon Chang: free enterprise policies have never brought a country from poverty to wealth
  • E.g. – wealth is created through tariffs (not by innovating and by economic freedom?)

Grudem:

  • I’ve read Ha-Joon Chang’s book, and his examples are very selective and limited
  • Index of Economic Freedom: the freest countries are the most prosperous, the least free countries are the most poor
  • When you look at macro data, instead of very selective examples, the free enterprise system is best for prosperity

Glover:

  • The book doesn’t do enough to engage with leftist economists (he doesn’t say which ones)
  • Just because nations who are free are rich, doesn’t mean freedom causes productivity
  • There are parts of the Bible that doesn’t support the free enterprise system (he names none)

Grudem:

  • The Bible is focused on work not dependency, and charity not government redistribution
  • The best way to help the poor in other countries is by encouraging work and productivity

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should blacks vote for Democrats? Do liberal policies help young black men?

I want to quote from two black economists – my two favorite economists – to answer some questions.

First, Thomas Sowell.

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Is minimum wage good for young blacks?

He writes:

Low-income minorities are often hardest-hit by the unemployment that follows in the wake of minimum wage laws. The last year when the black unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate was 1930, the year before there was a federal minimum wage law.

The following year, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 was passed, requiring minimum wages in the construction industry. This was in response to complaints that construction companies with non-union black construction workers were able to underbid construction companies with unionized white workers (whose unions would not admit blacks).

Looking back over my own life, I realize now how lucky I was when I left home in 1948, at the age of 17, to become self-supporting. The unemployment rate for 16- and 17-year-old blacks at that time was under 10%. Inflation had made the minimum wage law, passed 10 years earlier, irrelevant.

But it was only a matter of time before liberal compassion led to repeated increases in the minimum wage to keep up with inflation. The annual unemployment rate for black teenagers has never been less than 20% in the past 50 years, and has ranged as high as over 50%.

You can check these numbers in a table of official government statistics on page 42 of professor Walter Williams’ book “Race and Economics.”

Incidentally, the black-white gap in unemployment rates for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds was virtually nonexistent back in 1948. But the black teenage unemployment rate has been more than double that for white teenagers for every year since 1971.

Second, Walter Williams.

Economist Walter Williams

Economist Walter Williams

Is voting for black leaders good for blacks?

He writes:

Black leaders stress the importance of political power and getting out the vote, but we might ask how important political power is to the ordinary black person. As a start toward answering that question, we might examine black life in cities where blacks hold considerable political power.

Detroit is the nation’s most dangerous city. Rounding out Forbes magazine’s 2013 list of the 10 most dangerous cities are Oakland, Calif.; St. Louis; Memphis, Tenn.; Stockton, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; Baltimore; Cleveland; Atlanta; and Milwaukee.

According to a recent American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 10 poorest cities with populations of more than 250,000 are Detroit, with 33% of its residents below the poverty line; Buffalo, N.Y., 30%; Cincinnati, 28%; Cleveland, 27%; Miami, 27%; St. Louis, 27%; El Paso, Texas, 26%; Milwaukee, 26%; Philadelphia, 25%; and Newark, N.J., 24%.

In addition to poverty, there is grossly inferior education and high welfare dependency in these cities.

The most common feature of these cities is that for decades, all of them have had Democratic administrations. Some cities — such as Detroit, Buffalo, Newark and Philadelphia — haven’t elected a Republican mayor for more than a half-century.

What’s more is that in most of these cities, blacks have been mayors, chiefs of police, school superintendents and principals, and have dominated city councils.

[…]Let’s be clear about what I am saying and not saying. I am not suggesting that there’s a causal relationship between crime, poverty and squalor on the one hand and Democratic and black political power on the other. Nor am I suggesting that blacks ought to vote Republican.

What I am saying is that if one is strategizing on how to improve the lives of ordinary — and particularly the poorest — black people, he wants to leave off his high-priority to-do list the election of Democrats and black politicians. Also to be left off the to-do list is a civil rights agenda.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock to finding solutions is the widely held vision that the major problem confronting blacks is discrimination. I am not arguing that every vestige of discrimination has been eliminated. I am arguing that the devastating problems facing a large proportion of the black community are not civil rights problems. The solutions will not be found in the political or civil rights arena.

And third, more Walter Williams.

Is focusing on the few cases where a white police officer shoots a black man good for blacks?

He writes:

Excerpt:

Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Using the 94-percent figure means that 262,621 were murdered by other blacks.

Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites.

Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are most of the victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault and robbery.

The magnitude of this tragic mayhem can be viewed in another light. According to a Tuskegee Institute study, between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched at the hands of whites. Black fatalities during the Korean War (3,075), Vietnam War (7,243) and all wars since 1980 (8,197) come to 18,515, a number that pales in comparison with black loss of life at home.

It’s a tragic commentary to be able to say that young black males have a greater chance of reaching maturity on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan than on the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Newark and other cities.

Not everyone who runs around crying “racism, racism” is interested in helping blacks to do as well as other racial groups.

Blacks will do well, just as they used to do, when the political parties in power embrace free-market capitalist policies, such as lowering the minimum wage, or scrapping it entirely. Blacks will do well, just as they used to do, when we strengthen and subsidize natural marriage – by repealing no-fault divorce and reforming welfare for single mothers. Blacks will do well, just as they used to do, when we make public schools more responsive to parents, and less responsive to teacher unions. And so on.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why do liberals constantly talk about sexism, racism, homophobia and so on?

Here is a must-read post from Lindsay, writing at her Lindsay’s Logic blog.

She writes:

Many people don’t notice this, but liberals always speak of people by the group they belong to – African Americans, gays, whites, Hispanics, women, poor people, etc. They talk about the rights of people as a function of belonging to a group – gay rights, women’s rights, etc. They don’t speak of people as just people in general. The liberals are not color blind. Far from it. They are keenly aware of race and gender and other group statuses because they are the ones promoting separate factions and pitting groups against each other for their own ends. If you don’t believe me, just listen to them sometime. They can hardly talk about anything without making it all about special groups. And in the irony of ironies, they have somehow managed to convince a lot of people that it’s the conservatives who are racist and sexist.

Liberals don’t really care about gays or women or children or poor people. They just want votes and to be thought inclusive and tolerant. It’s all part of their image. But they don’t actually want to help anyone or stop hatred. In fact, they’re very good at promoting hatred (especially against Christianity and conservatism) and drumming it up where it doesn’t exist. They survive on the hatred and misunderstanding between groups. They want the country splintered into different groups that all have grudges against each other. That way, they can pretend to commiserate with all the separate groups and promise them help in exchange for votes and money. They need people to be riled up and upset so that they can swoop down with their promises of change and trade people a “government solution” in exchange for their freedom.

How do we know liberals don’t really want to help? Because they don’t actually help. Liberal policies don’t produce good results. They don’t cure poverty or stop racism or protect rights. Their policies are carefully crafted to look good on the surface, but not stop the evils of society, because it is the existence of those evils that keeps everyone coming back to liberals for “solutions.” To cover this failure of their policies, liberals are very good at turning the conversation away from the actual results of their policies and talking instead about all their good motives.

I recommend reading the rest, there’s more nutritious wisdom there.

But I wanted to talk about one of the ways that liberal policies hurt the poor, so we have a concrete example of what she is talking about.

Black marriage rates from 1970

Black marriage rates from 1970

This is a study from the National Center for Policy Analysis. (PDF)

Democrat president Lyndon B. Johson passed a massive program of wealth redistribution in 1964.

Here’s what happened:

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964 and followed up a year later with an avalanche of domestic social and antipoverty programs known collectively as the Great Society. Johnson persuaded Congress to support his welfare agenda — sending him more than 80 pieces of legislation to sign in a short period of time. Among the plethora of poverty-alleviating Great Society programs were food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, federal educational funding, housing assistance, increased welfare spending and other income transfer programs. The Great Society was intended not only to reduce poverty, but also to better peoples’ lives across the board. Ironically, the Great Society legislation seemed to simultaneously both ignore — and hinder — the most effective antipoverty program: marriage.

Indeed, this “War on Marriage” is a major reason for the lack of progress on poverty over the past 50 years!

[…]And President Obama’s signature piece of legislation — the Affordable Care Act — has only exacerbated federal marriage penalties. The Great Society without Marriage. Marriage has been on the decline for decades.

According to the Pew Research Center:

  • Around 1970, about 84 percent of native-born 30-to-44-year-old adults were married.
  • By 2007, this proportion had fallen by nearly one-third to 60 percent.
  • The marriage rate is even lower for men and women who lack a college degree (56 percent in 2007).

And the marriage rate is even lower still for some racial demographics.

According to Pew:

  • Only one-third of black women ages 30 to 44 were married in 2007, compared to 62 percent in 1970.
  • For black men, the corresponding rates are 44 percent (2007), down from 74 percent in 1970.

Why do more low-to-moderate income couples skip the wedding bells? The reasons are partially economic: Financial penalties in the tax code kick in when couples get married. According to research from the Brookings-Urban Institute Tax Policy Center, the combined marriage penalty is signi?cant for families earning less than $40,000.

The method used to calculate income eligibility and antipoverty programs is the primary culprit: the so-called federal poverty level (FPL). The FPL’s income thresholds are for individuals or families of various sizes, and those with incomes below the FPL are by definition in poverty. The FPL is used to determine both eligibility and the amount of benefits for many different programs.

That’s how the left “helps” the poor, by making it worse, by blaming conservatives, and by demanding higher taxes and more power to redistribute wealth.

This is not even controversial – think tanks on both sides of the political spectrum (e. g. – Brookings Institute, the Heritage Foundation) agree. Marriage is essential to stopping poverty. Period. And the left killed it by taxing it and giving welfare to single mothers by choice, as well as by passing laws like no-fault divorce, which discourage men from marrying because of the punishment they take if there is a frivolous divorce.

Advice for Christians on economics

You can’t be a Christian and just leave your Christianity at the level of Bible study, A. W. Tozer, early Church Fathers, and other spiritual stuff. A person who reads the Bible and focuses on having a “heart for God” and being “godly” and spending all their time reading devotions and doing Bible study is not going to be able to do what the Bible says. To do what the Bible says means to achieve the aims of the God of the Bible. We are supposed to care about the poor. But in order to know what to do to be obedient to that command, we have to go outside the Bible for the method – we have to study economics and understand how to achieve the good results.

I would recommend that we not be overly impressed by people who focus more on spirituality and Bible study and church over practical concerns like actually making sound financial decisions so that they can help others (charity) and not be a burden on others. The goal of a Christian is not to know the truth and feel good. The goal of the Christian is to know the truth and do good.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

Study: creating jobs in poor countries doesn’t reduce terrorism

He's better at golf than foreign policy

He’s better at golf than foreign policy

Remember last week when the Obama administration told us that terrorism is caused by poverty and joblessness?

Let’s take a look at the research and see if this is true.

Here’s the working paper, authored by a Harvard University scholar from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

And here’s the abstract:

This article provides an empirical investigation of the determinants of terrorism at the country level. In contrast with the previous literature on this subject, which focuses on transnational terrorism only, I use a new measure of terrorism that encompasses both domestic and transnational terrorism. In line with the results of some recent studies, this article shows that terrorist risk is not significantly higher for poorer countries, once the effects of other country-specific characteristics such as the level of political freedom are taken into account. Political freedom is shown to explain terrorism, but it does so in a non-monotonic way: countries in some intermediate range of political freedom are shown to be more prone to terrorism than countries with high levels of political freedom or countries with highly authoritarian regimes. This result suggests that, as experienced recently in Iraq and previously in Spain and Russia, transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism. Finally, the results suggest that geographic factors are important to sustain terrorist activities.

More from the body:

However, recent empirical studies have challenged the view that poverty creates terrorism. Using U.S. State Department data on transnational terrorist attacks, Krueger and Laitin (2003) and Piazza (2004) find no evidence suggesting that poverty may generate terrorism. In particular, the results in Krueger and Laitin (2003) suggest that among countries with similar levels of civil liberties, poor countries do not generate more terrorism than rich countries. Conversely, among countries with similar levels of civil liberties, richer countries seem to be preferred targets for transnational terrorist attacks.

I know this is shocking – this the same administration that told us that insuring more people for more stuff would lower health care premiums… and that anyone who though that Russia was a threat was crazy… and that pulling out of Iraq would stabilize the region… could they be wrong about this Jobs for Terrorists program, too? The study seems to say they are wrong again.

But wait, there’s more. We actually know about some terrorists from their terrorist attacks, and we can see if they were as poor and uneducated as the Obama administration tells us they are.

This article is from The Stream.

It says:

According to scholar Scott Atran, a research director in Paris who is part of a NATO group studying suicide terrorism, there is no link between poverty and terrorism. Forensic psychiatrist and former foreign service officer Marc Sageman studied 172 participants in jihad for his book, Understanding Terror Networks, and came to the same conclusion. Princeton economist Claude Berrebi found that members of Palestinian terrorist organizations were frequently better educated and better off economically than the Palestinian Arab population as a whole.

Islamic terrorists tend to come from cosmopolitan backgrounds, are fluent in multiple languages and have advanced computer skills. Their privileged status enables them to accomplish such horrific acts undercover, often without being detected.

Osama bin Laden was the son of a billionaire construction magnate, who had close ties to the Saudi royal family. The younger bin Laden inherited $25–30 million of his family’s wealth. He studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University.

Bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced him as the leader of al Qaeda, came from wealthy Egyptian parents. His father was a surgeon and medical professor, and his mother came from a politically active, financially successful clan. Al-Zawahiri also became a surgeon, even obtaining a master’s degree in surgery.

The leader of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammad Atta, studied architecture in Cairo, Egypt, then entered an urban planning graduate program at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg in Germany. His father was a lawyer and his mother came from a wealthy farming and trading family.

The “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker and businessman. His father was the chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and has been described by the UK paperThe Times as “one of the richest men in Africa.” Umar studied at several universities, including  University College London, where he studied Engineering and Business Finance and earned a degree in mechanical engineering.

One of the 2005 London bombers left an estate valued at over $150,000. Dawood Ibrahim, who coordinated the 1993 Mumbai bombings, is worth somewhere between $6 and $20 billion. Ibrahim despised his father’s successful banking profession, condemning it as “immoral” and “un-Islamic” for charging interest, and urged him to quit.

Now, my understanding is that when we elect politicians to run the economy, foreign affairs, etc. that we are picking people who understand the issues – not merely people who give speeches that sound nice. If I am hiring someone to fix my car, I don’t want to hear his pet theory about how gremlins are causing the leak. I want people who can see the world clearly, apart from any political correctness or anti-American bias, so that the problems get solved. I want the problems solved effectively and cheaply – that’s what I am used to in the private sector, where competence matters. It seems to me that the next time we have an election, we ought to elect someone who can do the work – not someone who just talks a lot of counter-factual nonsense.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Does foreign policy matter? Obama’s appeasement policy comes with a cost

Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro

Obama shakes hands with communist dictator Castro

Just a quick rundown of the foreign policy news that just ruined my day.

Investors Business Daily:

Just as its patron Venezuela hit the rocks, Cuba got a last-minute rescue from none other than President Obama, who announced a Santa Claus-like package of wish-list goodies for the Castro brothers. Why?

In many ways, President Obama’s announced plan to normalize relations with Cuba, lift the embargo, extend trade credits and remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terror list is about on par with the rest of his foreign policy.

It was done by executive order without consulting Congress, just like last month’s decision to temporarily legalize 5 million illegal immigrants.

It was justified by a claim the U.S. embargo was “not working,” comparable to Obama’s claim the U.S. immigration system is “broken.” In reality, the problem in both cases is that of a halfhearted willingness to enforce the law, rendering it full of holes.

As for the hostage swap in the bargain, that of U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan Gross and another U.S. agent for three professional Cuban intelligence officers linked to the murder of U.S. citizens in the 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown, it was a deal that gave far more than it got, just like the hostage swap with the Taliban of U.S. army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five terrorists.

[…]One is the strange timing of the announcement, coming just as Venezuela and other nations ruled by petrotyrants are on the verge of collapse.

Venezuela has played sugar daddy to Cuba for years, shipping 100,000 barrels of free oil to the communist state. It can no longer afford to. Rather than use that as leverage, Obama rescued Cuba despite its repressive human rights record. That’s one odd bailout.

And the bailout won’t be free for U.S. taxpayers.

Obama administration officials have said they are moving swiftly to extend trade credits to Cuba so the $483 million in American goods Cuba now pays for in cash can expand further, thanks to taxpayer-supported U.S. ExImBank trade credits.

In effect, we’ve handed the odious Castro brothers Uncle Sam’s credit card. Given that the Castroites have defaulted on all of their trading partners since 1961, to the tune of at least $70 billion, it’s assumed the Castros, having no sustainable economic model, will eventually default on us too.

Washington Post:

IN RECENT months, the outlook for the Castro regime in Cuba was growing steadily darker. The modest reforms it adopted in recent years to improve abysmal economic conditions had stalled, due to the regime’s refusal to allow Cubans greater freedoms. Worse, the acceleratingeconomic collapse of Venezuela meant that the huge subsidies that have kept the Castros afloat for the past decade were in peril. A growing number of Cubans were demanding basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly.

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regimeeverything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

[…]No wonder Yoani Sánchez, Cuba’s leading dissident blogger, concluded Wednesday that “Castroism has won” and predicted that for weeks Cubans will have to endure proclamations by the government that it is the “winner of its ultimate battle.”

[…]Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.

We lost our diplomatic leverage by propping up a communist regime.

But maybe communism is working well for the middle class and the poor in Cuba? Is it?

City Journal:

Marxists have ruled Cuba for more than a half-century now. Fidel Castro, Argentine guerrilla Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement forced Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959 and replaced his standard-issue authoritarian regime with a Communist one. The revolutionaries promised liberal democracy, but Castro secured absolute power and flattened the country with a Marxist-Leninist battering ram. The objectives were total equality and the abolition of money; the methods were total surveillance and political prisons. The state slogan, then and now, is “socialism or death.”

[…]Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get “free” health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, “All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks.”

[…]The police expend extraordinary manpower ensuring that everyone required to live miserably at the bottom actually does live miserably at the bottom. Dissident blogger and author Yoani Sánchez describes the harassment sarcastically in her book Havana Real: “Buses are stopped in the middle of the street and bags inspected to see if we are carrying some cheese, a lobster, or some dangerous shrimp hidden among our personal belongings.” Perhaps the saddest symptom of Cuba’s state-enforced poverty is the prostitution epidemic—a problem the government officially denies and even forbids foreign journalists based in Havana to mention. Some Cuban prostitutes are professionals, but many are average women—wives, girlfriends, sisters, mothers—who solicit johns once or twice a year for a little extra money to make ends meet.

[…]Citizens who take public transportation to work—which includes almost everyone, since Cuba hardly has any cars—must wait in lines for up to two hours each way to get on a bus. And commuters must pay for their ride out of their $20 a month. At least commuter buses are cheap. By contrast, a one-way ticket to the other side of the island costs several months’ pay; a round-trip costs almost an annual salary.

[…]As for the free health care, patients have to bring their own medicine, their own bedsheets, and even their own iodine to the hospital. Most of these items are available only on the illegal black market, moreover, and must be paid for in hard currency—and sometimes they’re not available at all. Cuba has sent so many doctors abroad—especially to Venezuela, in exchange for oil—that the island is now facing a personnel shortage.

[…][A]lmost everyone in Havana lives in a Detroit-style wreck, with caved-in roofs, peeling paint, and doors hanging on their hinges at odd angles.

[…]Even things as simple as cooking oil and soap are black-market goods. Individuals who, by some illegal means or another, manage to acquire such desirables will stand on street corners and whisper “cooking oil” or “sugar” to passersby, and then sell the product on the sly out of their living room. If they’re caught, both sellers and buyers will be arrested, of course, but the authorities can’t put the entire country in jail. “Everyone cheats,” says Eire. “One must in order to survive.

When Barack Obama uses American taxpayer money to prop up communism, he keeps this system going. The only solution is for the people to revolt against communism, but when he hands money to the government, they buy more guns and keep the people down in poverty and squalor while the rich communist elites rule over them. It’s evil.

Meanwhile, North Korea is able to attack our private industry without even a peep from cowardly Obama and his retreat from Iraq now allows Islamic State terrorists to execute 150 captured women, many of them pregnant, who refused to become “wives” to the terrorists. Any husbands they had would have been shot right in front of them. There is only one way to do something about these problems in the world and that’s with a strong U.S. military, strong sanctions and tough negotiations. Obama has failed these victims in every way because of his approval of the evildoers and his rejection of our democratic allies. We need to have more confidence in the goodness of American power and the American way of life.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 5,026,767 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,677 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,677 other followers

%d bloggers like this: