Poverty in Cuba and the US

Tulio is profoundly upset at the notion that Cubans might be better off than Americans. In fact, the very notion makes him want to pull his hair out.

If that’s the case than that would mean Cuba has a lower poverty rate than the US, but nobody in their right mind would say we are worse off than them.

It depends on what you want. In the US, many have no medical insurance, so they cannot afford any medical care at all. If you live below the poverty line in the US, you can’t even afford to rent an apartment! You could pay for the apartment, but then you might only have $200 left over for the rest of the month. How can you possibly live on $200/month? Forget it. A lot of Americans can’t even afford utilities, even if they have an apartment. If you are a single person living below the poverty level, I don’t see how you could afford utilities and an apartment. Even if you could pay for utilities and an apartment, how could you afford food? I just don’t see it.

In Cuba, everyone can afford a place to live. Rent is set at 10% of your salary, so it’s affordable. Everyone has plenty of food to eat. The malnutrition level is the lowest in the Americas. I understand that many Americans go to bed hungry every night. In Cuba, everyone can afford utilities, electricity, gas and whatnot. Everyone has a radio and a TV. Everyone has access to cheap transportation to and from work or wherever you want to go. Everyone has enough money to afford nice, clean clothing. There is no one who doesn’t have enough money for whatever medical needs that they need. There are few to no homeless people in Cuba.

The problem with Communism is that while at best they did wipe out poverty, they were only able to be provide a low standard of living for their people.

So you are really arguing against apples and oranges here. Cuba, the USSR and the East Bloc made it top priority to wipe out poverty. Everyone agrees that they were successful at this. However, at least the USSR and the East Bloc failed at economic growth to the extent that the West surpassed them. This was an embarrassment, especially for the East Bloc when Western Europe started beating them badly in economic growth. This was the main reason that Communism collapsed in the East Bloc.

People wanted the higher economic growth that they saw in the socialist but social democratic West of Europe. This was really a competition between two different forms of socialism, and it’s clear that social democracy beat Communism. By the way, Western Europe still had significant poverty while the East Bloc wiped it out.

Moral to the story is that there is more to life than just wiping out poverty. Even if you wipe out poverty, if you can’t keep up with competing systems, people will tire of a mere poverty-less state and will wish that they had a state with higher economic growth.

Is Cuba better than the US, as tulio painfully suggest? Obviously, this notion is very painful for tulio to consider. Well, Cuba has wiped out homelessness and everyone has health care. Is anyone hungry in the US? If so, Cuba has us beat there too?

On the other hand, there is more to life than just food, shelter and health care. People want stuff. The US GDP per capita is 4.7 X the Cuban GDP. Cars are not common in Cuba and blackouts occur regularly. There are lots of problems with the system. We Americans have much more luxuries. I have a nice apartment, a computer, wide screen TV, a car and air conditioning that works. I doubt if I would have that in Cuba.

So your question does not really have an answer, whether Cuba or the US is better than the other. It depends on what you value in life. Depending on what you think is important, one or the other is better than the other one.

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