Sunday, February 04, 2007

Health Care and Education do not a government make

On Thursday I wrote this post that mentioned the doble moral (two-faced behavior) that Cubans in Cuba have to engage in to survive: the public statements they make and the often contradictory private thoughts. The reason I brought the subject up was because a man interviewed by an American journalist in Cuba said, "I really don’t have a problem with the government, but this economy has got to go." I was wondering whether this was going to be the new line that Cubans were being programmed with or programming themselves with. Attacking the policies but not the personalities. Well in response to the post I received this comment:

Hmm, interesting take. I don't see this as something having to do with morals. More like separate positions on the economy and the government in general.

I was looking at a 2004 study by Andy Gomez, where he interviews recently arrived Cubans in Miami. He finds that many of those favors a free market system. This is also supported by many other sources that say that Cubans on the island also favor economic changes and look to China and Brazil as good examples.

But, in the Gomez study, he finds that more than 80% of those interviewed found Cuba's education and health care system as good and average, and more than 90% said that they wouldn't change those systems.

It's clear that many do not want change in certain sectors of life, while in others they do.
If you re-read my post you will see that I never mentioned health care or education. The reader who left the comment made a leap from the quoted man's use of the word "the government" to education and health care. Logic dictates that a government is much more than the health care and education systems that it implements.

I want to discuss the study that the reader is referring to. The study was published by Dr. Andy S. Gomez and Dr. Eugenio M. Rothe of the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. It was was a survey of 171 Cubans that had been in the US for less than 6 months.

The reader's comment is accurate inasmuch as 82% of the people surveyed rated the Cuban educational system as "good" or "average" (they don't break down the numbers to show how many said "good" and how many said "average"). Still an overwhelming 96% said they would not change the Cuban educational system.

The survey also does validate the reader's point about the Cuban health care system. 81% said it was "good" or "average" and 94% said they would not change it.

I was not surprised at the high percentages of Cubans that approve of the Cuban health and education systems. The reason I wasn't surprised is that these are areas in which Cuba has spent a considerable amount of time, money and energy propagandizing (probably the reason why the reader latched on it as some sort of evidence that Cubans don't disaprove of everything their government does).

Cubans have been conditioned to believe that although Cuba "is a third world country" that they "enjoy enjoy world-class health and education systems". Put plain and simply it's what the government hangs its hat on and Cuban are very nationalistic people. The individuals surveyed have spent their entire lives in Cuba hearing these claims and it shouldn't be surprising that they still believe them after less than six months in a new country (hell, we have plenty of Americans in the US with no personal experience on the matter that believe the same things).

In less than six months it's difficult to know how much exposure to US health and educational institutions the survey respondents may have had and some of these respondents may have been here considerably less than six months. Why is this important? Well obviously because it's hard to make a judgment on whether something is "good" or "average" if you have nothing to compare it to.

These respondents, despite the fact that they have very favorable opinions about Cuban health care and education decided to abandon their country. Other factors outweighed health care and education. Fortunately the study gives us some insight into what these factors were.

The questionnaire asked respondents to indicate which were the three most difficult issues they encountered while living in Cuba. The answers are below:

Unable to Express One's True Thoughts and Opinions - 78%
Having Limited Options for the Future - 52%
The Lack of Food and Other Essentials - 50%
The "Double Morality" - Hypocrisy - of Everyday Life - 35%
Repression of a Different Nature - 35%
The Level of Corruption in Society - 11%
Problems Associated to Religion - 4%

It should come as no surprise to any observer of Cuban issues that the top difficulty Cubans claim they faced was the inability to express one's true thoughts and opinions. The same government that gave these Cubans "good" or "average" health care and education also restricted their most basic of human rights: freedom of speech. What good is it to be healthy and literate when you are not a free person, when you are unallowed to express your thoughts and opinions freely?

The respondents were asked "If Cuba’s political system changed, which three things would you most want to see changed?" The responses are below.

Everything - 45%
The Economy - 35%
The Laws - 28%
The Electoral System - 24%
Housing - 18%
Transportation - 16%
The Constitution - 12%
The National Currency - 8%
The Media - 6%
Education - 3%

So even though health care and education are presumably part of "everything" those aspects of the Cuban system apparently aren't important enough to prevent the respondents from saying they would want to see "everything" changed.

The point is, that even if I were to concede that the Cuban health and education systems were "good" or "average" (which I don't), the survey responses hardly prove that Cubans are fine with the government in all its other non-economic aspects.

Not only that, but the recently arrived Cubans are so dissatisfied with Cuba on the whole that 74% said they would NOT return to Cuba even if the political and economic system changed!

Imagine the level of dissatisfaction that that would entail. All of this despite the fact that they think Cuba has "good" or "average" health care and education. It's quite an indictment of the current government that it has left such a bad taste in the respondents mouths that they wouldn't return even if the problems in Cuba were fixed and tells me that, to these Cubans, health care and education don't mean shit.

Only when people stop believing that Cubans have voluntarily traded away their human and civil rights in exchange for the false promise of education and health care security will they see the truly insidious and evil aspects of the castro regime. Unfortunately there are people out there that for whatever reason still feel the need to parrot the castro party line.

1 comment:

Robert said...

And those same useful idiots (UI) are the ones who love to take any opportunity to trash Cuban-Americans as intransigent, one-sided, intolerant, etc and ad nauseum.

Thanks to the blogosphere and sound analysis of the data which you've presented, these UIs can no longer get away with spewing their BS without presenting supporting arguments in their favor.

Of course, that's the last thing they want to do.