September 22, 2009

How to Fundamentally Transform a Nation

Here are the things one must do to fundamentally transform a Nation. A portrait of a TRUE nation transformer:
Born as the the eldest of five children he,very early on in life developed an "affinity for the poor". Growing up in a family with leftist leanings, he excelled as an athlete, enjoying swimming, soccer, golf, and shooting; while also becoming an "untiring" cyclist. His schoolmates also nicknamed him "pig", because he rarely bathed, and proudly wore a "weekly shirt." He learned chess from his father and began participating in local tournaments by age 12. During adolescence and throughout his life he was passionate about poetry, He could also recite Rudyard Kipling's "If" (funny so can I, it is one of the guiding influences of my life) from memory. He was an enthusiastic and eclectic reader. His favorite subjects in school included philosophy, mathematics, engineering, political science, sociology, history and archaeology.
Years later, declassified CIA 'biographical and personality report' would make note that he had wide range of academic interests and intellect, describing him as "quite well read" … He began to study medicine in college but soon dropped out and took a year off from studies to embark on a trip traveling about by motorcycle while traveling he was struck by the crushing poverty of the remote rural areas, where peasant farmers worked small plots of land owned by wealthy landlords. By trip's end, he came to view the land not as collection of separate nations, but as a single entity requiring a continent-wide liberation strategy. His conception of a borderless, united region sharing a common heritage was a theme that prominently recurred during his later revolutionary activities. Upon returning home he completed his studies and received his medical degree. It was his experiences while traveling which he cited as convincing him that in order to "help these people", he needed to leave the realm of medicine, and consider the political arena of armed struggle
Not long after this he sent an update to his Aunt in which he speaks of being convinced him "how terrible" the "Capitalist octopuses" were. This affirmed indignation carried the "head hunting tone" that he adopted in order to frighten his more Conservative relatives, and ends with him swearing on an image of the then recently deceased Josef Stalin, not to rest until these "octopuses have been vanquished." He had a conviction that Marxism achieved through armed struggle and defended by an armed populace was the only way to rectify such conditions as he had seen. During this time he renewed his friendship with some exiles whom he had met and was soon introduced to two brothers who had similar ideas as he did and were plotting to overthrow the dictatorship of their home country. During a long conversation with the brothers, he concluded that this was the cause he had been searching for. Although he planned to be the group's combat medic, he participated in the military training with the members of the Movement. At the end of his training, he was called "the best guerrilla of them all" by his instructor.

He joined in the groups first battle and wrote that it was during this bloody confrontation that he laid down his medical supplies and picked up a box of ammunition dropped by a fleeing comrade, finalizing his symbolic transition from physician to combatant. As the war continued, he became an integral part of the rebel army and "convinced his leader with competence, diplomacy and patience." at this point he was promoted to the commander of a second army column.
He became an extremely harsh disciplinarian who unhesitatingly shot defectors. Deserters were punished as traitors, and he was known to send execution squads to hunt down those seeking to go AWOL. As a result, he became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness. During the guerrilla campaign, he was also responsible for the execution, often summarily, of a number of men accused of being informers, deserters or spies. He also viewed his role of commander as one of a teacher, entertaining his men during breaks between engagements with readings and poetry performances. His commanding officer described him as intelligent, daring, and an exemplary leader who "had great moral authority over his troops." When the revolution began he distinguished himself as a bona fide war hero whose tactics were admired by the US Marine Corps.
To implement a portion of the plan to reform the country after the revolution his commander named him commandant of the a large prison. He was charged with purging the old army and consolidating victory by exacting "revolutionary justice" against those considered to be traitors. Serving in the post as commander he reviewed the appeals of those convicted during the revolutionary tribunal process.On some occasions the penalty delivered by the tribunal was death by firing squad. the newly empowered government carried out executions "without respect for due process." Although the exact numbers differ, it is estimated that several hundred people were executed during this time.
Some say he was delighted to officiate the executions at the prison. Some exiled opposition biographers report that he relished the rituals of the firing squad, and organized them with gusto. What is acknowledged by all sides is that he had become a "hardened" man, who had no qualms about the death penalty or summary and collective trials. If the only way to "defend the revolution was to execute its enemies, he would not be swayed by humanitarian or political arguments."
Along with ensuring "revolutionary justice", the other key early platform of the new Government was establishing agrarian land reform. Almost immediately after the success of the revolution he made one of his most significant speeches where he talked about "the social ideas of the rebel army." During this speech, he declared that the main concern of the new government was "the social justice that land redistribution brings about." (spreading the wealth around, eh?) A few months later on May 17 1959, the Agrarian Reform Law called on and crafted by our man went into effect, limiting the size of all farms to 1,000 acres. Any holdings over these limits were expropriated by the government and either redistributed to peasants in 67 acre parcels or held as state run communes. The law also stipulated that plantations could not be owned by foreigners. The government soon began land seizures included in the agrarian reform law, but was hedging on compensation offers to landowners, instead offering low interest "bonds", which put the U.S. on alert. To speed up the plan of redistribution, a new government agency the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) was established to administer the new Agrarian Reform law, and quickly became the most important governing body in the nation with our hero serving as its head as minister of industries. Under His command, INRA established its own 100,000 person militia, used first to help the government seize control of the expropriated land and supervise its distribution, and later to set up cooperative farms. The land confiscated included 480,000 acres owned by U.S. corporations. Months later as retaliation, other countries banned the importation of our hero’s main cash crop, thus leading our hero to address over 100,000 workers in front of the Presidential Palace at a rally called to denounce U.S. "economic aggression."
He was then appointed as President of the National Bank, which along with minister of industries, placed him at the zenith of his power, as the "virtual czar" of the whole country’s economy. His first desired goal was to see a diversification in the economy, as well as an elimination of material incentives in favor of moral ones. He viewed capitalism as a "contest among wolves" where "one can only win at the cost of others," and thus desired to see the creation of a "new man and woman". He continually stressed that a socialist economy in itself is not "worth the effort, sacrifice, and risks of war and destruction" if it ends up encouraging "greed and individual ambition at the expense collective spirit." In his view, the "new man" would be able to overcome the "egotism" and "selfishness" that he loathed and discerned was uniquely characteristic of individuals in capitalist societies. In describing this new method of "development", he stated:
"There is a great difference between free-enterprise development and revolutionary development. In one of them, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a fortunate few, the friends of the government, the best wheeler-dealers. In the other, wealth is the people’s patrimony."
A further integral part of fostering a sense of "unity between the individual and the mass", he believed, was volunteer work and will. To display this, he "led by example", working "endlessly at his ministry job, in construction, and even working in the fields on his day off. He was known for working 36 hours at a stretch, calling meetings after midnight, and eating on the run. Such behavior was befitting of the new program of moral incentives, where each worker was now required to meet a quota and produce a certain number of goods. However, as a replacement for the pay increases he abolished, workers who now exceeded their quota only received a certificate of commendation, while workers who failed to meet their quotas were given a pay cut. He unapologetically defended his personal philosophy towards motivation and work, stating:
"This is not a matter of how many pounds of meat one might be able to eat, or how many times a year someone can go to the beach, or how many ornaments from abroad one might be able to buy with his current salary. What really matters is that the individual feels more complete, with much more internal richness and much more responsibility."
Whatever the merits or demerits of his economic principles, his programs soon ended in failure. His program of "moral incentives" for workers caused a rapid drop in productivity and a rapid rise in absenteeism.
The revolution and the government it spawned lives on long after he was killed while calling for revolutions elsewhere, but his policies and legacies remain.
The Country still adheres to socialist principles in organizing its largely state-controlled planned economy. Most of the means of production are owned and run by the government and most of he labor force is employed by the state. Recent years have seen a trend towards more private sector employment. By the year 2006, public sector employment was 78% and private sector 22%, compared to 91.8% to 8.2% in 1981. Capital investment is restricted and requires approval by the government. The government sets most prices and rations goods. Moreover, any firm wishing to hire employees must pay the government, which in turn will pay the company's employee. Citizens can not change jobs without government permission. The average wage at the end of 2005 was $16.70 per month USD and the average pension was $9 per month.
Starting in the the late 1980s, the countries old trading partners started to dry up. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it depended on Moscow for sheltered markets for its exports and substantial aid. The removal of these subsidies sent the economy into a rapid depression known in as the “Special Period”. Soon our little country took limited free market-oriented measures to alleviate severe shortages of food, consumer goods, and services. These steps included allowing some self-employment in certain retail and light manufacturing sectors, the legalization of the use of the US dollar in business, and the encouragement of tourism. It has developed a unique urban farm system to compensate for the end of food imports from the Soviet Union. In recent years, it has rolled back some of the market oriented measures undertaken in the 1990s. In 2004 officials publicly backed the Euro as a "global counter-balance to the US dollar", and eliminated the US currency from circulation in its stores and businesses.
Tourism was initially restricted to enclave resorts where tourists would be segregated from the rest of society. Contacts between foreign visitors and ordinary Citizens were de facto illegal until 1997. In 1996 tourism surpassed the farm industry as the largest source of hard currency for the country. The communist agricultural production system was ridiculed by one of the leaders in 2008 as the country now imports up to 80% of its food. But, before 1959, the country boasted as many cattle as people.
For some time, the country has been experiencing a housing shortage because of the state's failure to keep pace with increasing demand.Moreover, the government instituted food rationing policies in 1962, which were exacerbated following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Studies have shown that, as late as 2001, the average standard of living was lower than before the downturn of the post-Soviet period. Paramount issues have been state salaries failing to meet personal needs under the state rationing system chronically plagued with shortages. As the variety and quantity of available rationed goods declined.
That is how to transform a vibrant nation with a booming economy and free peoples to a poverty stricken cesspool in less than 50 years. The nation, if any of you have not figured it out is Cuba, and the Hero of our story, none other than Che Guevara, hero to millions of idiotic upper middle class brats and old hippies. Someday soon unless things change someone somewhere else will write a similar story about this Nation and BHO.
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