“My students next will read Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom, in which he argues that material goods are means to higher ends, namely freedoms. When I had the honor of meeting Amartya Sen in person, I asked him, “Do you think the Cuban economic model is a good one?”
Sen’s emphatic response was, “A system where nobody is allowed to read the newspaper cannot be a model for anything.”
Sen cut to the chase—he didn’t start off saying things many academics sympathetic with Cuba or socialism generally have told me, like, “Well, Cuba has good health care,” or “Cuba doesn’t have rich people who own everything.” For Sen, the truth or falsehood of those statements are overridden by the evident fact that Cubans aren’t free. They aren’t free to read the newspaper, they aren’t free to practice their religious faith, they aren’t free to critique their government, and they aren’t free to choose what they feel like buying with their meager salaries of under $20 a month.”
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