Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Prime Example of Stupidity

This is my latest shoe purchase from Costco.

It's a pretty simple walking/running shoe. They run about $15 at Costco. They're pretty cheaply made, but they are comfortable and ususally fit pretty well. They usually last about a year before something causes a seam to pop somewhere, and a hole develops. At that point, I get a new pair. The old pair becomes my "grass-mowing shoes". I wear them while...mowing grass, naturally.

But that's not really my point. My point is this:

See that "Made in" label?

More than 60 years ago, President Kennedy signed a trade embargo against Cuba--an island 90 miles off the coast of Florida--because it had become a Communist dictatorship. A few years later, America engaged in a bloody and prolonged war with another Communist dictatorship halfway around the world: The People's Republic of North Vietnam. It was a war that we eventually lost. Vietnam was completely taken over by Communists. It remains so to this day, more or less.

Vietnam is halfway around the world. Although some democratic reforms have happened, it is an inescapable fact that it is a single-party Socialist state, not unlike Cuba.

And yet today, Vietnam is a valued trading partner of the U.S. (see above picture if you have any doubts). It is a popular tourist destination. Direct flights from the U.S. are available. Veterans of the war travel there to visit places where they fought. Some of them even crawl through tunnels where their enemies hid. I would remind you again that Vietnam is on the opposite side of the world.

Meanwhile, Cuba still suffers under the U.S. trade embargo. No direct flights are available.

The reason is simple. The Cuban-American community in Florida excercises an enormous amount of political clout, mostly because they have a lot of money. And every time someone even dares to suggest weakening the embargo, a tremendous outcry arises from that community. An outcry heard--and obeyed--by Florida's representatives. And most of the rest of the political community. Particularly the Republicans

You have to realize that this country has a long history of forming powerful trade alliances with its former enemies. England, Canada, Japan, Spain, Germany, and Mexico, among others, are all countries that we have fought wars with, sometimes more than once. Today, many of them are some of our strongest allies. We somehow learned that it's more profitable to be friends with them than enemies.

Cuba, however, gets the short end of the stick. We have never fought a war with Cuba. American troops actually liberated Cuba from Spanish rule during the Spanish-American war. However, thanks to the whims of a few embittered expatriates who have never learned how to let go of a grudge, the embargo remains.
With any luck, within a few years what remains of the Cuban-American old guard will no longer be in control of policies towards Cuba. But it is shameful that such a small minority has had so much power for so long. Stupidity personified.

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