Mit dem Kopf voran

31.08.2006 um 13:27 Uhr

Hinter den Kulissen des Karibik-Paradises

Die australische Journalistin Caroline Overington über ihre ernüchternden Erfahrungen im Land von Rum und Rumba:

Two years ago, I was given what quickly became an awful assignment. I was told to visit Cuba. Oh sure, like everybody I thought: dark rum, hot nights, fat cigars, the rumba.

The reality was very different. Cuba was wretched. Every day the photographer and I encountered distressing scenes of women, children and ageing Cubans living in terrible poverty.


Elsewhere, we found barefoot children searching through rubbish bins for food. There is a large black population in Cuba - many of them are descendants of sugar-cane cutters - and there were many blacks among the beggars. Women with babies at the breast tugged at our clothes, begging for pennies.

In the Western-style bars, beautiful Cuban girls hung off the arms of Western men.

We drove into the countryside and found people living with open sewers and dirt floors, with no food, no coffee, no rum, no pork, no music, none of the things a Cuban needs to thrive.


It was a terrible shock because, like many people, I'd believed the hype about Cuba: that it was a socialist paradise; that Castro was a visionary leader; that the Cuban people were happy communists. In fact, Castro is a gutless dictator who has never been brave enough to hold a presidential election. Yet across the West he continues to be celebrated as some grand, visionary leader, instead of being derided as a lunatic on his last legs. (Link)


31.08.2006 um 00:50 Uhr

Europas mentale Blockade?

Der Harvard-Ökonom Alberto Alesina beschreibt in seinem Beitrag "Europe" in der diesjährigen Sommerausgabe des NBER-Reporter die Ursachen der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklungsdefizite Europas gegenüber den USA und geht dabei vor allem auf die wichtigsten Problembereiche Arbeitsmarktregulierung, Steuerpolitik, Überzentralisierung innerhalb der EU und die zwiespältige Wirkung der gemeinsamen europäischen Währung ein. Sein Fazit:

Europeans talk about a "European model," something that Germans refer to as a "social market economy," and they contrast it to the Anglo-American free market model. Unfortunately, much of this thinking about a "European model" is fuzzy and ends up facilitating political compromises with privileged insiders. Europe does not have to adopt the American model; it certainly can have something distinct from it, say a system of efficient competitive markets coupled with extensive but efficient redistributive programs and social protection. Northern European countries are moving in this direction, but the major European countries are far from it. In these countries, the combination of regulation, protectionism, high tax rates, and redistributive programs end up creating unnecessary distortion and often directing flows of resources not to the truly needy but to politically powerful categories. Measure of effectiveness of welfare states in moving in the desired direction for income flows from rich to poor vary dramatically across European countries; northern European countries do relatively well, Mediterranean countries are the worst. Lack of swift reforms in many European countries does not depend only on the inability of their leaders. Europeans themselves remain very suspicious of market liberalization. An interesting case in this respect is Germany. This country has received recently the "political shock" due to the assimilation of former East Germans. Evidence shows that their Communist experience has accustomed them to extensive government intervention and, as a result, they have moved the preference of the average German in this direction.(7) Europe faces great challenges in the near future. The need for reforms is clear; the political will is lacking.

Via Economist's View .