"Strong Incentives to Comply" in Cuba Fridge Swap
Cuba is "encouraging" its citizens to dump antique American refrigerators in favor of newer, smaller models from China, Simon Romero reported from Havana for Sunday's Week in Review story, "In Cuba, a Politically Incorrect Love of the Frigidaire."
"Cubans do not have to switch to Chinese refrigerators, but there are strong incentives to comply. When the exchange program is offered to a town or neighborhood, it is presented as the apple of Fidel's eye, and as an opportunity to show one's patriotism while lowering one's electricity bill."
What exactly qualify as "strong incentives" in a Communist dictatorship? Romero doesn't seem concerned.
There's also the usual easy talk about "free" health care and education in a Communist country. "But unlike education and health care in Cuba, refrigerators are not free. A concern for Cubans is the cost of the new Chinese models: about $200, a small fortune in a country where the average monthly wage is about $15."
David Bernstein writes at the Volokh Conspiracy that Romero made "no mention of 'socialism,' "collectivism," or 'Communism,' as having any effect on Cuba's economy. Nor is there any mention of Cuba's notorious (but apparently not notorious enough) 'Neighborhood Committees for the Defense of the Revolution,' nor, relatedly, what, the ahem, disincentives might be for failing to 'show one's patriotism.'"