Cuba`s Cartoon Economy
June 02, 2008, 02:59 PM
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Since Cuba barely exports anything, its currency`s exchange rate is practically below zero. The Miami Herald reports:

Decades of measly salaries and vast government subsidies have kept many young people off the labor rolls because it`s more lucrative to hustle on the street. Others live comfortably enough off remittances from Miami and elsewhere.

Loraicys passes on neighborhood janitor positions in hopes of higher-paying work at nearby resort hotels, where she also would have a chance of earning tips in dollars.

``I am not going to tell you something different: there are jobs here in Cárdenas where I live. Doing what? Cleaning hospitals for 150 pesos ($7) a month,`` said Loraicys, a single mom. ``For 150 pesos, I would rather stay home with my kid. I am willing to work really hard, but not for nothing in return.``

While Cuba struggles to increase productivity, it must also find a way to entice hundreds of thousands of people to get a job. The dilemma is one of the profound systemic difficulties Castro faces as he tries to create a so-called modern socialist economy.

The government says there are plenty of jobs—just low-paying ones Cubans won`t take. Even educated professionals would rather work in the tourist industry as waiters or taxi drivers, which earn far more money than state jobs that usually offer about $10 a month.

Ten dollars a month? That`s what the pay would be for a job that Porky Pig applies for in a 1941 Warner Bros. cartoon.

Cubans in Miami probably put all their pennies in a big jar and every January ship it to Havana for their relatives to live off for the whole year.

Cuba has 2000 miles of coastline, and there`s nothing golfers like more than playing alongside the ocean, but only one golf course has been built in the country since the Revolution. The smaller, formerly more-backward Dominican Republic has 22 golf courses, and its famous ocean-front Teeth of the Dog course charges outside players $225 per round, which is twice what a Cuban makes in a year.