By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — What the Cuban government is doing by handing out bills to citizens for their doctor’s visits is shameful. This is a country where the State retains the most of Cuban workers’ net wages, rewarding them with poor salaries plus “free” health and education.
Everybody knows that these services haven’t been created out of thin air because the State doesn’t produce anything; it rather comes from the sweat and super-exploitation of salaried Cubans by the so-called “socialist” State.
Although, in reality, socialism doesn’t have anything to do with wage slavery: “The working class should fight to abolish salaried work and free association laborers will make up the new society.” That’s what a man called Karl Marx once wrote, but because the “Marxists” in Cuba have never read this part, well we can’t ask them to understand what the relationship between production, distribution and consumption is, outside of the State-owned framework.
So we will explain this in the most mundane of terms. Quantifying the exploitation of salaried workers working by the State is hard to calculate because, the truth is, there is no way to know how much their labor costs, nor what surplus value these salaried Cubans produce. However, we can clearly identify how much the State retains from their wages, which varies between 70 and 90% from the wages foreign governments pay to “contracted” internationalist doctors, workers at Mariel Port and on what is left from what foreign governments pay to Cuban employees hired through the State.
Therefore, we can calculate that they also pocket 70-90%, more or less, of the rest of the wages the State pays its employees. Would anyone like to or be able to do the math of just how much money the Cuban State takes from its direct salaried workers, not taking into account those above mentioned? How much is really used to satisfy the upper echelons of bureaucracy’s narrow interests? How much is used to increase business output? How much is lost in the centrifuge from the high to low levels of bureaucracy?
Where else in the world do workers have to pay for a health and education system for life, which costs them at least 50% of their salary, considering the fact that the other 20-40% (to reach the 70-90%) is used for other expenses? The answer is obvious.
These are the hidden faces of the medical “bill”, a receipt of nothing, and another attempt to blackmail Cubans who are already waking up from the “long stupefying dream” of State socialism and they want us to believe that we are looking at the most humane and sensitive country in the history of humanity because it gives its citizens “free comprehensive medical care.” Who is going to believe this fairy tale in this day and age?
But let’s look at “the other hidden side of the moon”, the one which even the “magicians” who invented these sums can’t imagine. The less visible side of things which they didn’t put on the “bill” and that’s the meaning that this attempt to blackmail the population with this “bill” has, whose figures must be sketchy, like everything monopoly State capitalism offers, disguised as socialism to its paid workers.
Right, so like everything that this cumbersome State does, this “giving out medical bills” could end up as a boomerang. It’s simple: Now people will start asking themselves: And where is the State getting money from to pay for this? And why at this price and not other prices? Are these really the right prices, with the low salaries they pay doctors, even though these are the highest State paid jobs?
Has the salary for medical professionals been well-thought out? What about when we have to take sheets and food to the sick at our hospitals because of the poor quality of services. Do we still have to keep on paying for the cost of hospital sheets and food? Will we stop needing to give doctors snacks and presents, because their fees are included on the bill?
What do they want to do with these bills? Are they paving the way to start charging for healthcare? How can we think otherwise if they are taxing the poor salaries many worker’s receive? What do doctor’s think about this new initiative? And where will the State get money from to pay for these pieces of paper? Are they also going to charge for the cost of these bills (paper, ink, employees)?
Will they start charging the self-employed for healthcare? Will they start giving us bills for education services too? Or for the subsidies we receive with the rations book?
In short, this will only lead to many questions and the Cuban people’s concerns can already be heard on the street. Another stupid thing from the “historic leadership” which will make people ask themselves in the end: And why are the services we receive so poor if this is how much they cost? And what bill will we workers give to the government for robbing from our salaries for so many years in the name of the Revolution, Socialism, healthcare and education? And so on…
They could have only done this after raising wages, eliminating the double currency in Cuba, freeing the national market, self-employment, partnerships, cooperatives and facilitating investment from Cubans abroad and foreign investment.
But that would be a lot to ask for. Forget it, the boomerang is coming back to inevitably hit them in the face. Apart from disregarding and underestimating the Cuban people’s productive capacity, they are plain stupid.