Inglés

EDITORIAL 66: WAGES, CORRUPTION AND QUALITY OF LIFE

16 Diciembre, 2018

Human labor, honest and worthy, is a source of personal and social development. It is the origin of prosperity, progress and the quality of life of the citizen and the nation. Jesus Christ tells us in the Bible: “the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). Therefore there is a close relationship among work, wages and human development.

In Cuba, however, there is a huge gap between honest work and the salary it earns. The insuficciency of salaries in relationship to the high cost of living is increasingly worsening. The duality of having two currencies in circulation adds to the breakdown in social justice which is, by constitutional definition, the model that we shoud be aspiring to. There is no social justice without a just and sufficient wage.

Something is wrong in a country when wages are payed in one currency while goods and services are bought in another, 25 times greater in value. And this situation is not the responsibility of the citizenry but rather of the economic model imposed by the State: a model that doesn’t work, nor has it worked for 60 years, which is a lifetime. To persevere in this error is worse than to have fallen for it. To relapse into this economic model as a new Constitution for the Republic is being drafted is to directly go against social justice, prosperity and sustainability, which the proposed text itself defines as the conception for the Republic.

Economics is a social science which should be placed at the service of the people, and not to use them as objects to prove or disprove models. One should not experiment with human beings. One cannot subordinate quality of life, personal progress and the passage of time, which is limited for each individual, to the maintenance of a model to shield a political system which is supposed to promote happiness and the people’s progress.

Wages and social deterioration

Wages in Cuba are insufficient and unjust. It is argued correctly that one cannot increase salaries without a corresponding increase in productivity. Wealth cannot be redistributed, nor can labor be rewarded as the model of state ownership and centralized economy neither creates wealth nor frees up the productive forces of the country. These active forces are chained by a list of Medieval jobs that need to disappear, which makes it impossible to practice any civil or honest profession. Additionally, this triggers a massive exodus of professionals towards menial jobs or towards an unstoppable migration. What the new constitutional text proposes, as it relates to the economic model, does not liberate these productive forces, it does not lead to freedom of enterprise, nor to an efficient model, or to the creation of wealth and work positions that can sustain even a modest level of social justice.

The increasing and spiraling social deterioration, visible to everyone, is a sign of this undeniable reality. The rhetoric goes one way and the reality another. Plans and aspirations, conceptualizations and visions do not correspond to the reforms that need to be made.

Corruption, the black market, the daily stealing called “resolver” or “making do” are additional visible signs of the failure of the economic model, of the undervaluing of work and of the radical insufficiency of wages. The history of humanity and our own national experience show prominently that these blemishes and social vices cannot be erradicated deeply with pre-notified inspections, with planned controls or cosmetic visits. All is being prepared like for a theatrical play, the root of the problem is not reformed and it is the responsibilty of the same people that visit, control and direct the inspection. To plug so many leaks without installing new pipes to make a new “hydraulic distribution system” is, at least, to delay the seriousness of the problem.

Corruption and stealing are also not solved by punitive measures. At this stage of the struggle for subsistence, moral deterioration and the lack of ethical and civic education, mean that by way of punishments we would need to fire or jail half the people, to use a conservative figure. Turning in your neighbor, the fear of being “caught”, the threats and the campaigns of punishment are only but old patches for old issues located deep in the model itself.

Then, where are the solutions and efficient and durable proposals?

In our opinion, taking into account the experiences of many other countries, very different from ours, to solve at the root corruption, the black market, hoarding, queues and its vices, it is necessary to structurally change the economic model, and the signs that would validate these changes are, among others:

  • Freeing up productive forces eliminating all the impediments, lists and unnecessary prohibitions that block the initiative of the Cuban people who have a marked entrepreneurial character.
  • True establishment of private property and a proportional and fair tax system.
  • Legalization of freedom of commerce, freedom to invest and freedom to import-export for all Cubans.
  • Respect for market laws and the subsidirary establishment of social regulations that guarantee social justice and security for the more vulnerable sectors.
  • Foment all initiatives by citizens and institutions that offer ethical and civil education to families, schools, churches and civil society.
  • Include in our Constitution workers’ rights and duties, as internationally recognized by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
  • Establishment of a minimum wage that is sufficient, just, and proportional to the levels of productivity and the cost of living.

It is not simple, but the paths are known to move forward quickly and deeply towards a greater dignity of work, towards a greater and sustainable productivity, which will take us to the possibility of receiving wages sufficient and proportional to the job, and therefore to an honorable, prosperous and happy lifestyle.

This is the time to do it, when we are in the midst of a public debate about the drafting of a new constitutional text which is supposed to be a model for the Republic we wish to be and make.

Later it will be too late.

Pinar del Río, November 10, 2018.