If inequality is to be decried, there is plenty of it in the socialist utopia of Fidel Castro. (Putting aside the unintended hilarity of AP's headline writers):
Lack of customers dooms many Cuban businesses
"There's not enough money circulating in the economy in the hands of everyday people," said Ted Henken, a professor of Latin American studies at Baruch College in New York and author of an upcoming book on private enterprise in Cuba. "You're all competing for the same customers, most of whom are poor and have very limited disposable income."
Economists have criticized the Cuban government for a series of measures to crack down on what it sees as illegal activities — including banning private movie cinemas, taxing the import of hard-to-get products in travelers' luggage, and banning the sale of imported clothing. But on Saturday, Castro came down firmly in favor of increased regulation, sternly warning entrepreneurs that "those pressuring us to move faster are moving us toward failure."There's no shortage of money for anyone not subject to the Castro brothers' constraints;
Still, not every entrepreneur is struggling.
High-end bars and glamorous new restaurants have become common in Havana, with shiny state tour buses disgorging photo-snapping travelers to sample lobster tail and filet mignon at upward of $20 a plate. Private rooms and homes that rent to foreigners can go for $25-$100 a night, less than most tourist hotels. Cubans with the means, and the business sense, to tap into the gravy train can do very well.Cubans with official permission from the ruling class, that is. Too bad Fidel didn't spend even 45 minutes with Milton Friedman, in the 1970s. Cuba's ordinary people might be as prosperous as those who lived under Pinochet.