Cronkite, Castro and The Occupiers

In the memoirs of Walter Cronkite there is a story of a late night meeting with communist dictator Fidel Castro.  The comments of Castro provide some understanding as to the perspective of the recent Occupy Wall Street protesters then points out the flaw in their argument.

For months we heard that the demonstrators were upset with the inequality of wealth within this country.  They complained that capitalists neglect the needs of the common man.  The same refrain Castro used to explain why so many buildings in all communist countries quickly fell into disrepair and appeared dilapidated.

Castro said that when the communists won power the first need of the workers was adequate housing.  The new regime spent all of their limited resources on new apartments for the people.  There was little money left over for maintenance of older capitalist buildings.

Then in a moment of candor he explained why public housing has failed in communist countries and capitalist countries.  He summed up a major flaw in public housing.  The reason why public housing like Father Panik Village in Bridgeport and Cabrini Green in Chicago were so prone to problems was human nature.

Castro said, under communism, when people didn’t own things, they didn’t seem to take care of them.  To some this is just common sense, or common knowledge often learned in the real world of capitalist investments in rental housing.  To others so blinded by philosophy and naiveté that reality is foggy thinking this observation is utter nonsense.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are loud and their complaints loquacious but their logic lacks a basis in reality to provide a practical application for a workable solution in our society.  This country was not founded on the idea of overcoming man’s weakness in human nature with a benevolent dictator or government.  No, that would require total control by the government over the people, enslaved to receive equal remuneration for their given task.

The protestors can thank the founding fathers for providing a government based on individual freedom and opportunity.  A government that provides the people the right to free speech and public opinion and the freedom to pursue happiness even if that means financial gain.  They can thank Fidel Castro for pointing out a basic weakness in wealth redistribution and the value of a “free lunch”.

Castro’s message from the 1980’s was correct.  Human nature has not changed.  It is time we look at entitlement programs and reduce the culture of government dependence we have fostered in many families for generations.  A strong nation is built with strong families, individual freedom and equal opportunity.  The fabric of a nation is not found in the cloth of government dependency.

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