Ships that pass in the night

The 50-year-old Cuban dictatorship of the Castro brothers announced Monday it would lay off “at least” half a million state workers over the next six months and simultaneously allow more jobs to be created in the private sector “as the socialist economy struggles to get back on its feet,” curiously optimistic CNN reports.

“Gets back on its feet”? Right along with the Soviet Union and the Austro-Hungarian Empire?

The plan announced in state media confirms that President Raul Castro is following through on his pledge to shed some 1 million state jobs — but in a shorter time frame than initially anticipated.

“Our state cannot and should not continue maintaining companies, productive entities and services with inflated payrolls and losses that damage our economy … create bad habits and distort workers’ conduct,” the CTC, Cuba’s government-run labor union, said.

That means just under 5 percent of Cuba’s total population and 10 percent of the work force will be out a of a job.

Like two ships passing in the night, Barack Obama insists “the wealthy” must be taxed out of existence in America, while the Castros now hope to heck someone remembers how to create a “private sector” to save their butts.

Cubans “are hopeful” this means they will have more freedom to set prices and earn more than the average state wage of $20 a month — a state of equal economic distribution that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Washington’s Democrats can only fondly dream of.

In Cuba, “The state currently controls more than 90 percent of the economy, running everything from ice cream parlors and gas stations to factories and scientific laboratories,” CNN reminds us. “Traditionally independent professions, such as carpenters, plumbers and shoe repairmen, are also employed by the state.

But Raul Castro has launched a few, tentative free-market reforms since taking over from his brother Fidel in 2006. “In April, for example, barbershops were handed over to employees, who pay rent and taxes but charge what they want. Licenses have also been granted to private taxis. For a couple of years, fallow land in the countryside has been turned over to private farmers. The more they produce, the more they earn.”

Wow! “Merit pay”? And allowing those who work harder to keep more of what they produce? Let’s hope the teacher unions and their captive government agency in Washington — the 33-year-old Department of Education that Harry Reid says is so vital for us to retain, even though student test scores have fallen like a rock since the year it was created — don’t get wind of that.

Like two ships passing in the night, a bankrupt Cuba finally embraces increasing levels of capitalism and the free market out of sheer desperation. Must America sink so far before we, too, can turn back in the direction of freedom?

Maybe Americans will have something to say about that on Nov. 2.

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