The glories of Cuban socialism

For some it had the acrid smack of austerity, for others it was a delicious brew that tasted just right. Either way, coffee mixed with roasted peas is returning to Cuba.

As they note, this is because despite Cuba being able to grow coffee domestically the incentives of state owned agriculture are such that they can\’t grow enough.

And yes, I do know they\’ve got free health care. I\’ve just never understood why free health care means that everyone\’s got to have peas in their coffee.

We\’ve got health care free at the point of consumption too but we don\’t have to have peas in our coffee, do we?

5 thoughts on “The glories of Cuban socialism”

  1. One of the biggest problems of the USSR: they never allied with anyone who could produce decent coffee. The Soviet coffee was made from wheat, or something.

    Tim adds: Strangely, that’s not actually true. They allied with Vietnam, now one of the major coffee producers. They allied with Ethiopia, which is where coffee originally comes from. Nicaragua produces very good coffee, Cuba used to export vast volumes of it.

    It’s the Soviet style of agricultural organisation which makes coffee unproducible, not the lands where Soviet style agriculture was implemented.

  2. With Fairtrade insisting on co-operative coffee production rather than other (more productive) commercial models, we might all be enjoying peas in our coffee before long.

  3. Richard:

    I think it likely if adulteration becomes general,
    it’ll likely begin with those presently “fair trade.”

    “Fair trade” coffee is a corporate advertising gambit in which appeal is made to charitable impulse by levying a higher price, ostensibly to be used to improve the conditions of workers and growers otherwise marginal or nearly so.

    In doing so, “fair-traders” disrupt market process disadvantageously to the (normally) more profitable growers (and their workers) in order to subsidize the marginal. Their action has two obvious effects.

    First (ceteris paribus, of course), they diminish normal profitability of the more productive producers. (And, depending on circumstances, may cause some to become unprofitable and, thereby, qualified as recipients of their donor activity.

    The subsidy going to the marginal producers
    keeps market prices available to the more productive from advancing to their normal market-clearing level. Thus, one of the clear effects of the program is to subsidize the coffee-drinking habits of non-fair trade consumers
    at the added expense of their own customers.
    I don’t think they thought that through.

  4. Tim W: it’d probably be fair to compare Cuba’s standard of living with its colonialist-capitalist neighbours, no? 20 years ago, it was undeniably less rubbish than them; now, they’re starting to open up the gap.

    (by the way, when did British people stop mixing coffee with chicory because it was so scarce/rationed/both?)

    Tim N: what TW said. I’m slightly bemused how you can take a country which has Cuba (which has fucking excellent coffee) and Vietnam as client states, and make that statement.

    Gene: you’re overthinking this one. It’s a brand, that’s all. No “market process” is being disrupted, it’s all about the continued normal functioning of the market. Some dudes put a brand on what they do, so that it’ll sell for more than the stuff without a brand on it. This is laudable and excellent, just as it is when Cadbury or Maccas do it.

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