How do Cuba and the USA compare?

All comparisons unfairly select topics to further a point of view or an ideal.

That said, a comparison of Cuba and the USA might note the following:

They have the same infant mortality rate. This despite the embargo on medicines affecting Cuba. Cuba does have universal health care. See Michael Moore’s DVD, Sicko, for more on that.

Cuba exports doctors (mostly to Venezuela) and imports oil. The USA exports complex financial derivatives and imports oil.

Cuba could be in for a leadership crisis. The Castro’s have no clear successor. The USA is in a leadership crisis: Obama believes in cooperation even when he clearly isn’t going to get any.

Cuba is more or less self-sufficient, with some help from Venezuela. The USA finds itself on the wrong end of debt and trade deficits. If foreign central banks stop buying US paper, the dependency will become glaringly obvious. The USA is not self-sufficient. Some cities, and some states, are effectively bankrupt in their own right.

In some places in the USA democracy has taken over with a vengeance. The state of California cannot now impose additional taxes without a referendum. In some few areas in Cuba traces of free enterprise are now being encouraged. By and large, however, the central government has controlled everything it could reasonably be expected to be able to exert power over.

In the USA, cars are manufactured by domestic and foreign companies, and some are imported, also from domestic and foreign companies. In Cuba very old American cars are still visible. No new cars come from the USA, however. They come from Europe and Asia. The old American cars, and motorcycles, are maintained by ingenious workarounds due to the lack of spare parts.

In America, a major storm created a panic and there was, regrettably, some loss of life. People were told to evacuate, but there was no clear storm shelter. In Cuba, hurricanes can pretty much go over the whole island. However, it is rare to have loss of life during hurricanes: someone might be unlucky and step on a downed live wire, for example. Everyone in Havana knows where the nearest storm shelter is, and they practice getting to them.

Cubans were, the times I was there, rather helpful. We wanted stamps for a collector and they opened the book and let us choose. We wanted coins for a collector, and they swapped for American (it was briefly usable there) and helped us get quite a variety. The owner of an unusual, open-top sports car lifted the hood for my camera, and showed me the owner’s manual, so I could tell folks at home what it was. This without asking.Try any of this in New York, where we actually speak the local language.

Some citizens flee Cuba on makeshift floating lash-ups, trying to get to the United States. Conversely most US citizens cannot get to Cuba legally either. I am not aware of any invasion of the USA by Cuba, but there was of course the Bay of Pigs attempt. Castro’s coup was against a leader installed by the USA. Cuba did give Che to South America.

Cuba does not try to influence Canadian policy much. Enough said.

In the USA, a top lawyer probably makes more than a good doctor who makes more than a teacher. In Cuba they all have similar earning power.

In the USA, high tuition keeps the non-elite out of the top schools, universities, and colleges. In Cuba, everyone can go as far in any course as their ability to learn it will carry them, for free. In the USA, a doctor graduates with a debt and moves to the best practice he can get. In Cuba, a new doctor is given a clinic and a home, but probably in some small village, where he practices for two or three years before being allowed to move, should he (or she) then choose to.

In the USA, the prescriptions are for depression and cholesterol. In Cuba the medicines are often herbal. Remember that the infant mortality rates are very similar.

Americans try to live their lives as best they can, within a regime where the middle class (and below) are relatively powerless. Cubans try to live their lives as best they can, are relatively powerless, and are pretty much all middle class.

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