Where Did President Obama Stay in Cuba?

CascadeNewLogoBy Steve Buckstein

Last week, Barack Obama became the first U.S. President in nearly 90 years to visit the country of Cuba. While security concerns may have prevented him staying in a private home rented through Airbnb, he would have had some 2,700 such homes to choose from in Havana alone.

The amazing thing is that Cuba is a communist country, yet it allows short-term room rental services to operate, while some major American cities such as Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles do not.

While the American President likely rode through the streets of Havana in his own armored limousine, he apparently could have ridden in one of those iconic 57 Chevys if the driver had one of the still rare and expensive Cuban email accounts. Such ride-sharing services are also allowed in Havana, while Uber and Lyft are still fighting powerful taxi monopolies in some American cities.

We can have legitimate disagreements about normalizing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba; but we should applaud the movement toward private home ownership and use, and the entrepreneurial opportunities its communist government now allows.

It will be ironic if Cuba comes into the modern free-market era at the same time that some American politicians try to impose more government restrictions on the very economic freedoms that many Cuban refugees risked their lives to achieve by coming here.

Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Cuba, Economy, Foreign Relations, Government reform, Political Correctness, President Obama, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • thevillageidiot

    AirBNB is amazing until you think about the rest of the world was allowed to travel freely to Cuba. This probably allows the government to tax someone in order to maintain the limited government programs. I agree with you in the last statement. It too is amazing that there are truly free markets within the US. look at the farmer markets. the people who sell raw milk and grass fed beef, fresh fruits and vegetables in spite of the government regulations and competition from the commercial farms.

  • DavidAppell

    “The amazing thing is that Cuba is a communist country, yet it allows short-term room rental services to operate, while some major American cities such as Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles do not.”

    Amazing — Steve can’t even see through his own arguments.

    If Cuba allows short-term room rentals — as it has for years (my sister and her husband stayed in a few living rooms there about 15 years ago), then perhaps the “communist” label is not accurate.

    And if some American cities do not allow this, perhaps American is not as capitalistic as you prefer to think. (In fact, a great deal of socialism takes place in the US each and every day.)

  • DavidAppell

    Steve wrote:
    “It will be ironic if Cuba comes into the modern free-market era at the same time that some American politicians try to impose more government restrictions on the very economic freedoms that many Cuban refugees risked their lives to achieve by coming here.”

    There are no free markets except when government decides there should be.

    It is impossible (thank heavens) to remove government from the equation.

    • “There are no free markets except when government decides there should be.” – David Appell

      Government decides? Really? I’m sure that will be well received by the Castro brothers. Americans understand, or should, that in a free society government is instituted to protect our rights, not grant them.

      • DavidAppell

        Yes, government decides when there will be free markets, or how much regulation they will undergo.

        If you disagree, show me an exception to this claim.

      • DavidAppell

        “Americans understand, or should, that in a free society government is instituted to protect our rights, not grant them.”

        Wrong, and also naive. All the properious countries of the world — all of them — have muscular governments that regulate markets, both domestic and international.

        If you disagree, show me just one exception.

        • I don’t necessarily disagree that all prosperous countries have, as you call them, muscular governments that regulate markets. I’m saying that is not the same as your claim that governments have the right to say whether those markets exist or not. Might does not make right.

          • DavidAppell

            Governments have the final regulationary say over markets. And I think they SHOULD have the final say — until you can prove that an unregulated (so-called) ‘free” market is always beneficial. But I don’t think you can prove anything at all like that….

            From what I can see, so-called “free” markets are often full of corruption….

          • While there is corruption in markets, there is also corruption in government. For example, do you think that trade deals like NAFTA and TPP are purely good government regulations rectifying corrupt markets?

          • DavidAppell

            “For example, do you think that trade deals like NAFTA and TPP are purely good government regulations rectifying corrupt markets?”

            Nothing is “purely” anything, good or bad.

            You’re trying to take a complex question and shove an answer into your ideological hole.

          • Pardon me for using the word “purely.” Take it out of the question if you wish.

          • DavidAppell

            OK, so you wrote, “For example, do you think that trade deals like NAFTA and TPP are purely…government regulations rectifying corrupt markets?””

            No, not at all. These are complicated treaties with many complicated parts, and I’m not an expert in any of them. But I don’t think a “free market” is unalloyed good and I don’t think a government regulated market is unalloyed bad.

            In fact, looking at the things Wall Street did to cause the Great Recession convinces me those markets should be more regulated, not less.

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