Tuesday, September 1, 2009
University Chronicle. Opinion by the student Valerie Steffl about energy policy of the cuban goverment and climatic change.
University Chronicle > Opinions
Cuba has the right idea, for now
Asst. News Editor
Published: Sunday, August 30, 2009
Updated: Sunday, August 30, 2009
Around the first of the month, I was reading the global news and stumbled upon what was a highly blogged and criticized article titled, “Cuba turns off air conditioners, shuts factories, shortens workdays to save money in recession.”
I read a bit into the article to find that workers went without their government-subsidized lunches, were forced to give up their hours and comfort of air conditioning, spare tires, and cups of yogurt, all in the name of saving energy.
Official Cuban newspapers said that the reason for this extreme energy conservation was to battle the “very serious” energy crisis on the island with hints that there may be more sacrifices on the way.
Reading the article, I picked up on the bias against the Communist Party and Cuba as the author stressed that the government is conserving this energy even though they receive free oil services from Venezuela. This sparked rumors that Cuba is selling President Hugo Chavez’s crude oil on the side to raise money.
At first, I thought, “Oh that sucks a lot, having to give up work, dairy products and electricity to save electricity for the government who could just be taking the savings for themselves.” But then I stepped back and thought that there could be another side to these cuts.
First of all, Cuba is currently experiencing the effects of the global recession on top of the fact that Cuba is also dealing with their own struggling economy as they are still rebuilding from last year’s hurricanes.
I’m going to take team Cuba on this one. Yes, I know realistically all of these government restrictions would suck. I have thought about the inconveniencies that would lead to conservation of oil and energy. On the other hand, wouldn’t stiffer restrictions other than paying a dollar more for a gallon of gas just make sense?
While both countries are battling to rebuild after natural disasters and stay afloat during the global recession, the United States keeps spending money that we don’t have while Cuba is conserving money and oil that they do have.
One point for Cuba.
Even if Cuba is selling their free oil from Venezuela for extra cash - granted it is spent on the country - it is one of the best times to do so, as opposed to the United States trying to refuel their economy by keeping gas prices unrealistically low and spending pretend money on the Cash for Clunkers program.
Point two for Cuba.
Cuba could be seen as the tortoise and the United States, the hare. While the United States looks to create more money at a faster rate, which also could run out faster and lead us to more national debt, Cuba conserves to control their national debt and actually find a way out of it while saving unused oil while prices are still relatively low.
Even though the United States may be a much bigger force than the little island of Cuba, like the slow tortoise, Cuba has the potential to pull ahead in the race out of the recession.
I’m not saying the US government is stupid, just unrealistic.
I know Cuba has gained wisdom from their recent times of depression. These cuts that Cuba recently made are small in comparison to when Cubans were nearly starved after subsidies dried up with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the blackouts they experienced in 2004 when they experienced technical problems at power plants which left the island dark for hours on end.
This translated into idled fans and water pumps and electrical surges that damaged refrigerators and spoiled food and milk.
Even though Cuba isn’t in dire need of conserving this very moment, they should not be criticized for it because it is better to be safe than sorry.
I’m thinking that the restrictions Cuba is placing on their citizens, even though they may seem totalitarian and extreme, may provide a lesson to the United States.
Hopefully, the United States can acknowledge the wisdom of Aesop’s Fables and emulate more of the tortoise’s humble strategies.
Comment on this article.
A few weeks ago I went on holiday to Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. and in my journey through the city does not observe blackouts, sometimes just lack of water in some neighborhoods. As it was carnival time, thousands of people were in the area of party eating, drinking and dancing for more than a week and although the air conditioners are not running government offices, those in the private home if they work, usually at night . All households have installed energy saving light bulbs and natural areas devastated by hurricanes have been almost completely restored in full. The complaints of the population are directed to a half-century problems with corrupt state bureaucracy and in the service sector, food production, Trasnportation, high food prices hitting mainly to retirees and low income people and the sector of the culture as well as the impossibility saving in the bank for a worker who is paid with a soft currency of very low purchasing power. Public health and education work almost perfectly, much better than in the U.S. and Canada, with a very low rate of malapractice,one of the highest clinical medicine school of the world, with excellent results even with small budgets, neither international credit to this sector and so short hospital supplies due U.S. embargo of almost half a century against the island free and universal health system.(Ref.: Latest United Nation and International Amnesty report about U.S. embargo and Cuban Health System)
During the ten days I spent in Cuba I ready see a lot of supply of food and drinks even though Cuba imports billions of dollars on food that is incapable to produce based on strategic mistakes of the inept and corrupt state bureaucracy in the economic sector, no only for US embargo...
The "suffering and distressed people of Cuba," according to the version of some in Miami who refuse to face the reality of the facts, step over a week carnival, dancing, enjoying 24 hours by hundred of thousands, despite high prices, in non-stop consuming food and beverages of all kinds in thousands of kiosks and shops in the city of Santiago de Cuba. It is remarkable the degree of health an low rate of violence in the population during the carnival due to my visit to emergency rooms and waiting hall at hospitals in the city that I found half empty, so passing in the halls of patients, somewhat curious, in Cuba during the carnival patients do not appear while phisician wait for them.
The number of smokers has fallen dramatically in the past fifteen years, most Cuban no less than forty years are not smokers in any time of his life, in part by the goverment policy of taxes, and active work of public health prevention at the level of school, community, policlinal, hospital and primary phisicians.
People is living in Cuba very happy, in a very relaxed family and educated and cultural urban enviroment, without tensions,(The life is so slow...) most of the seniors, even very old, are strong and without sign of dementia in his behavior and have clear speech, although, to the housing crisis requires that families have to live together in the same dwelling launching them, mostly, to the emigration to Europe or United States, but, anyway, under the rate of CentroAmerica or Mexico, Cuba have one of the lower rates of emigration in Latinamerica despite the propaganda in the international media. (Ref: United Nation demography tables about emigration)
One factor in the emigration of young people is the high level and score education reached by the productive forces and the failure of government and state to give a thorough job this workforce a task that matched with this potential then they so many sees the state bureaucracy as an obstacle to their aspirations and high goals, the other issue is the embargo and propaganda that America is a kind of paradise on earth, it makes even wealthy families in Cuba to migrate anyway attracted by the siren song of a luxuri consumer society.
Cuba presents great contrasts because it has the highest rates of welfare, benefies, social security and safesty of the population against climatic change of the whole population, without any exceptions inside the population rate of demography tables as it happen in another latinoamerican countries, on the one hand ,and, on the other, a very so, so... slow domestic economy, too much ideological paranoid state control in the infrastructure of services to the population, transportation, food production and tourism that for its inefficiency and corruption, under the table, raises costs of production and services, reducing profit margins, more develop of education, health system and culture, and forcing the government to major investments and importations that otherwise would be absolutely unnecessary for a poor developing country of the Caribbean area. Another aspect is the lack of critical depth in the media completely controlled by the state largely due to the impunity of many bureaucrats with no capacity for the job. In Cuba the population called these officials with no competition for the job, "sacred cows" in reference to the practice followed in India to worship these animals as sacred, out of any law or regulation.
Of course, these "ideological" errors or "politically correct or not behavior" in an inefficient and corrupt state bureaucracy affecting the economy of a country are not unique to Cuba or socialist society, the problem we're experiencing here in the U.S. now in full capitalist democracy slow down the life of millions of american families, many of them handled like a trash of the american society.
For an economy has collapsed as large and as rich as the U.S. in the extent to which he has fallen today we can assumes that american bureaucrats would be need decades of nepotisme, corruption and incapable for the job to build up this economy crisis hitting, actually, the market around the world in a bigger scale than cuban socialist society mistakes that is helping the economy and society of 144 countries, today despite U.S embargo.
I think the root is inside a technical problem of the modern state regardless of their political orientation: The position of women in management levels of government, a problem still not resolved, either in Cuba or in United States where the margin has great leeway, but still, with a desperately poor participation in the Congress, the Senate and the White House both in Cuba, for example, the U.S. Army staffs are composed of men, almost in its entirety.
Gualterio Nunez Estrada, Sarasota, Florida, 34,233.