President Raul Castro expanded self-employment fields on Sunday, ahead of looming government plans to slash as many as one million jobs -- 20 percent of communist Cuba's work force -- from state payrolls.
The economy, 95 percent of which is currently in state hands, does not have the ability to absorb such vast numbers of jobless. Castro's move aims to try to reduce the socioeconomic fallout, but it will be an uphill battle.
The Council of Ministers "agreed to expand the range of self-employment jobs, and their use as another alternative for workers who lose their jobs," Castro said as he gave a closing address at one of two annual sessions of the National Assembly.
After the crash of the former Soviet bloc, Cuba's cash-strapped government in the 1990s approved a wide range of self-employment. Positions such as beauticians, dog groomers, small restaurant owners and even lighter refillers were legalized as long as workers got licenses and paid taxes.
But social resentment emerged as an issue when some workers, particularly in small private restaurants, achieved dramatic levels of success.
The government began increasing taxation and regulation, and decreasing license-granting, until the self-employed sector was largely rendered paralyzed, like the rest of the economy.
Or is it merely jumping it, again?
From the Pilgrims abandoning a collectivist impulse to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, it keeps dawning on us, over and over, that socialism is an unsustainable economic model... yet free market capitalism which generates the inevitable unequal outcomes is viewed as unseemly as the italicized paragraph indicates.
Not because of actual results or empirical data has collectivism survived through the centuries but rather has envy, one of the seven deadly sins, been the life blood of a model and philosophy that never seems to go gently into that good night.
What all this appears to indicate is that as fallible humans, we will probably never completely rid ourselves of collectivism, be it straight-up socialism that we see abroad or the crony capitalism as practiced here in America, currently.
What would be nice, however, is we reach a point where free-market capitalism becomes the coin of the realm, so to speak, rather than the reactionary oh crap, everything else has failed - let's give that capitalism thing a tryM.O..
Being resentful and envious is no way to go through life.