In Cuba, taxi drivers earn far more than doctors, raking in more money in one day than a doctor will make in an entire month.
The reason? Unlike most of the Cuban economy, taxi licenses are privately held and wages are not set by the state.
Johnny Harris explains:
Although Cuba offers few opportunities for private enterprise — outside of its sprawling black market, that is — the number of self-employed workers has slowly grown in recent years. Seven years after Raul Castro took over, 20% of the economy is now private.
While we should cheer at these slow reforms toward privatization, they only make the larger economic picture more tragic. Indeed, the successes of the cherry-picked industries of the politburo are only proving socialism’s deleterious effects, which permeate the country.
The Cuban people have a wide range of gifts and skills and knowledge, and the government is prohibiting them from applying these to the fullest. The result is an upside-down economy devoid of wealth and stability, where the creative power of exchange is ignored and the gift-giving nature of work is an afterthought.
As Harris explains elsewhere:
I go to places and ask the bottom-of-the-totem-pole workers if they’ve “been working in this for a long time.” Some had. Others would recount their past life as a highly skilled tradesperson who left that life for a higher salary doing remedial entry-level work. Eduardo used to be a mechanical engineer; now he cooks at one of Havana’s few private restaurants. Lazaro used to be an information scientist and now illegally serves ice cream in the street. Carlos used to be an elementary school teacher and now waits tables at a tourist restaurant in Central Havana. And Graciela was a professor of technical sciences for the military academy and now walks the streets illegally selling faded copies of the Cuban constitution. This is how you survive “a lo Cubano.”
This is a system that fundamentally fails its people. Cubans are not being empowered to achieve the fullest of their God-given potential. They are not being allowed to freely steward what God has put into their hearts and hands. Instead, they are being incentivized to serve the select industries that the government deems worthwhile (e.g. taxis and tourism).
God has given each of us unique gifts, tasks, and destinies. If these purposes are mysterious to us, the Cuban government has its work cut out for it.