Hart: Cuba is an untaught lesson on perils of socialism

FILE - In this April 11, 2015, file photo, Cuban President Raul Castro, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama meet at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama, Saturday. The United States and Cuba publicly say they’re delighted with the state of diplomatic relations a year after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared the end to more than 50 years of official hostility. The two countries have reopened embassies in Havana and Washington; agreed to a pilot program restarting direct mail service; signed two deals on environmental protection; and launched talks on issues from human rights to compensation for U.S. properties confiscated by Cuba’s revolution. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

I'm just back from Cuba, where I observed that, while Cubans are realizing the futility of central command-and-control government, we are embracing it. Cuba and the U.S. are like ships passing in the night.

Desperate for a positive legacy item, Obama set about normalizing relations with Cuba. In that island nation, Obama is more popular than Castro - but so is loading your family members onto a Styrofoam cooler and floating them to Florida.

photo Ron Hart

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We knew Obama was embracing Cuba when, at a summit last April, he shook Raul Castro's hand. Republicans were outraged to have to watch the biggest communist dictator in the world shaking hands with Castro.

My main takeaway: Cuba is a political and economics lesson not taught well enough to our schoolchildren. With the rise in popularity of Bernie Sanders, who walloped Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, it's clear that Americans do not understand the dire lessons of socialism's poisonous ideology and the devastation it brings to every country that has fallen prey to its hollow temptations. In a Pew Research Center survey, 43 percent of 18-29-year-olds had a positive reaction to the word "socialism."

U.S. teachers, who generally lean left, romanticize Marxist revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Castro. Kids today wear iconic Che T-shirts, unaware of the 3,000 political murders and economic devastation he caused.

My trip was educational, and Cuba remains a story educators should teach kids. Yet they don't. I asked five twentysomethings what they knew about Cuba; had they been taught the economic lessons of the devastation wrought by communism? All said "no." It is not a story the Left wants to tell since its narrative promises free stuff for everyone that nobody has to pay for.

Like Obama, Fidel Castro holds grudges. A Yale professor on our trip was denied his visa at the last minute because he once wrote that Fidel overstated his baseball prowess.

Just to summarize, Fidel Castro took over this once-economically vibrant island in 1959 and pretended to be selflessly for the people just like Democrats and those ambulance-chasing lawyers who advertise on buses. It turns out they are just out for themselves. Fidel decided later that socialism/communism was the way to go; that way he'd be in power forever. He seized assets from landowners, corporations and Mafia casino operators.

After 55 years of rule and a personal net worth stolen from the Cubans of more than $1 billion, he felt like, at 85, he had enough money to get him to the barn.

Fidel Castro realized he was not going to live forever; he's not Larry King. So he appointed his brother Raul to rule. Raul is Cuban for "Jeb." Fidel said that he was retiring to spend more time repressing his family.

The timing was right to normalize relations. Obama felt that Castro had become the type of weakened strongman dictator that Sony Pictures could make a comedy about without Castro getting all bent out of shape.

After the pope's visit, Castro told his countrymen - and women - to have more children because Cuba has the lowest birth rate in Latin America. Nothing gets oppressed citizens in an amorous mood like a command from a nearly 90-year-old communist dictator.

Obama then lifted our embargo on certain Cuban goods, including cigars - yet another confirmation that Obama is still smoking.

Fifty years of Cuban socialist rule have turned a prosperous country into an impoverished one. Cubans earn $20 a month, but everything is free! It is just that there is none of it. Store shelves are empty; even toilet paper is scarce. All the "evil" businesses were run out of Cuba, and 70 percent of the people work for the government, so there is no one left to tax.

Havana airport officials are mostly women in short skirts and fishnet stockings; one can only imagine what it takes to get and hold those jobs under Castro. When I left, I asked them to frisk me to make sure I wasn't smuggling out baseball players.

Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.