The Foolishness of Tyler Cowen

Tyler Cowen has a post up arguing that Cuba could be the next Singapore. I used to be a regular at his site, but then I made Alex Tabarrok cry and he asked me not to post there anymore. My pointing out that he has arranged his life in such a way that he avoid all contact with minorities was a bridge too far. I still read the site once a week, looking for material, but that’s it. Libertarian economics are a bit silly for an adult my age.

I’m not one of those who thinks Cuba is the next Singapore or even the next Puerto Rico.  Why not?

I’m willing to assume that the end of the American embargo will mean some kind of economic liberalization over the next ten years.  But how much good will that bring?

We could start by looking for relevant comparisons.  We could ask how well have non-British-ruled, non-Dutch-ruled, non-American-ruled Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands done?  There is a fairly clear example of such a country with some ethnic, cultural, historic, and linguistic similarities to Cuba, namely the Dominican Republic.  For non-PPP-adjusted gdp per capita, the D.R. clocks in at about $5800 per year.  And that is about where I think Cuba will end up, after a good bit of turmoil.

He goes on to list a bunch of things that probably have nothing to do with what comes next for Cuba. I like how he skirts around the biological aspects and simply makes a rosy comparison to nearby Dominican Republic. The reason a guy like Steve Sailer is not allowed out in public is he would simply say Cuba is not going to do well because it is full of Cubans.

I’ll go further and and say it is full of the worst Cubans. The best Cubans got the hell out of Cuba when Castro took power. Those who hung around hoping the terror would pass found a raft eventually and took their chances with the sharks, on their way to Miami. All the smart, industrious Cubans are in Miami now, living the middle-class American dream. The same thing happened in Lebanon, which is why that country never got off the mat.
That’s the central defect of liberals and libertarians. They never bother to stop and wonder why things are the way they are now. They just seem to assume the facts of life were placed around so they can change them. In this case, Cuba has been a totalitarian police state for fifty years for no particular reason. The fact that there are no riots in the streets or populist protests against the status quo does not turn on any lights for these folks. Nope, Cuba is now a blank slate on which they can draw their utopian future.
Cuba is the way it is because the Cubans living there prefer it that way. Not all Cubans everywhere, but a majority of the ones living in Cuba. Most of the dissenters now live abroad. Those remaining are small in number and are easily suppressed. The idea that they will create a Singapore is so laughably ridiculous you have to wonder if Tyler is not sniffing glue in his office.
That’s another thing libertarians have in common with liberals. No, not glue sniffing, although that is a problem. No, both cults look at people as things, in the same way a socio-path looks at people. People are just bits of machinery to be arranged in whatever way suits the ruler. Culture and biology are looked upon as obstacles that can be yanked from the garden like weeds. Of course, if that means yanking out a few people along the way, so be it.
I think if Cuba joins the rest of the world they will probably continue to be Cubans. That means a country somewhere between Haiti and Puerto Rico. The things that will change are the cars. American collectors will swoop in and buy the old relics on the Cuban roads and sell them our old jalopies. Global tourism will snap up the prime real estate for the global ruling class. Otherwise, Cuba will continue to be Cuba.

5 thoughts on “The Foolishness of Tyler Cowen

  1. Yes, the monied elites will snap up the prime real estate, and the Cuban rulers will be their Mafia partners. The Cuban rulers must be perfectly aware of the KGB model to economic success in Russia.

    The racial composition is similar to Puerto Rico. Cuba is 65% white, and although they are a dumbed down and emasculated white, they may have an advantage or two in evolving into something much better, while Puerto Rico is thoroughly trapped in the welfare mindset of the USA and going no where. The Utopians are indeed rubbing their hands over Cuba, but developments will likely get completely away from them.

    Froude visited Cuba in 1882 and gave this report–
    The political future is dark; the government is unimaginably corrupt–so corrupt that change is inevitable, though what change it would be idle to prophesy. The Americans looked at the island which lay so temptingly near them, but they were wise in their generation. They reflected that to introduce into an Anglo-Saxon republic so insoluble an element as a million Spanish Roman Catholics alien in blood and creed, with half a million blacks to swell the dusky flood which runs too full among them already, would be to invite an indigestion of serious consequence. A few years since the Cubans born were on the eve of achieving their independence like their brothers in Mexico and South America. Perhaps they will yet succeed. Spanish, at any rate, they are to the bone and marrow, and Spanish they will continue.

  2. Gosh, maybe there’ll be a whole new “health tourism” industry, if one is to buy Mr. Moore’s “insight”.
    I’d hate to think that any new investment “unexpectedly” be deemed worthy of Communist “nationalization”, yet AGAIN!
    Dominican Cigars, (Hispanolian, if you will-and THAT island OWES us actual taxPAYERS, and “charitable” donors, big time) in a natural Virginia wrapper, are just fine thank you very much!
    You want an Embassy there? There’s already a prime piece of US real estate there that has been developed at an ASTONISHING expense!

  3. Looks to me like you misunderstood Tyler Cowan’s post – exactly 180° off.

    Looks to me like he is saying pretty much the same thing you are – but without your insights regarding liberals andlibertarians.

    • I don’t know, RedFred. He makes this point:

      5. I don’t in general buy “brain drain” arguments, but they do sometimes apply to islands and for historical reasons they are especially likely to apply to Cuba. Many of the most talented Cubans were encouraged to leave, or managed to leave, and staying in Miami will be better than going back for a long time to come.

      Maybe I’m reading that in the context of the general Tyler Cowen oeuvre, but it seems to me that he is signalling that he really does not think the lack of bright ambitious Cubans in Cuba is an issue. I could be wrong. Read literally, he may be saying Cuba is an exception to his religious beliefs about talent drains.

      It does raise another point about open borders fanatics like Cowen. They look away from the realities of immigration, like we saw with Cuba. They have to, otherwise they have to address a lot of uncomfortable truths. One is that not humans have the same economic and cultural value. They know this is true, but they have to pretend otherwise for obvious reasons.

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