(Editor’s note: Guest editorial writer Pat Keogh is an entrepreneur, businessman, lawyer and investor who owns restaurants and other properties in Fernandina Beach and Nassau County. He recently returned from a trip to Cuba and shares his views of what he saw there that Democrat Party Socialists now enthusiastically want to foist onto the American public. Mr. Keogh left Fernandina Beach in 2016 for Austin, Texas. He has since purchased another home on Amelia Island, while intentionally avoiding buying within the Fernandina Beach city limits due to its “outrageous city fees, taxes and bureaucracy.” )
On a day-long tour of Havana my mind kept turning to Taglit-Birthright Israel. Taglit means “discover” in Hebrew and Jews have this thing about sending their youngsters to Israel to better understand their heritage.
In Cuba I had this overwhelming sense that we Americans need to send the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and the growing numbers of our socialist leaning young folks to Cuba.
Maybe Bernardito Sanders would chaperone the tour. In Havana it looks like all progress stopped in 1959 and nothing has worked since. The signs of Cuba’s pre-revolution wealth are apparent in its grand but now badly deteriorating monumental structures.
Everything in Cuba is controlled by the government. Our tour guide was a government employee and the restaurant we had lunch in is owned by the government, and the entertainment was a four piece government-provided salsa band.
“From each according to their ability and to each according to their need”. That is the definition of socialism as I learned it in school. Sounds good. Our guide proudly told us health care is free and the largest industry in Cuba. In fact, the government mandates one doctor per 160 citizens. But in a country where doctors earn about $85 per month and tourists are advised to bring their own toilet paper would you have confidence in anything?
Cuba is a bring-your-own-toilet-paper country 90 miles from Florida!
It’s not all bad news. There are some green shoots of private enterprise and property rights in Cuba. For example, our tour guide noted the problem with the city’s overflowing trash cans. It seems the trash people are assigned trash trucks that frequently don’t work. The operators then take it on themselves to fix the trucks often with parts from relatives in places like the Bronx. Search as you might there do not seem to be many O’Reillys Auto Parts in this tropical revolutionary paradise.
Having restored trucks to operating condition the employees then think of them as “their” vehicles. With that sense of private property they apparently feel emboldened to use the trucks for family trips to the countryside and beach thereby neglecting their trash collecting duties.
Why do their state employers put up with this neglect of duty? Apparently any attempt to separate the employee from “his” truck is met with threats to remove “his” parts and in so doing remanding said trash truck to their previously inoperable state. Our guide presented all this in a reasoned way as though explaining some interesting cultural adaptation.
If ever there was a place to prove that you do not make the poor rich by making the rich poor it has to be Cuba. Ms AOC’s “tippy top” wealthy class are nowhere to be found. The revolution took care of that in creating a truly egalitarian system for the country. Everyone seems equally miserable in their poverty.
But if you are a real estate guy like me everywhere you look there is enormous opportunity. These fabulous heritage buildings desperately need to be repurposed and renovated and idle labor seems to be abundant. Mostly what is needed is capital and a rule of law to safeguard property rights. But who in their right mind would invest in a communist system?
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union Cuba lost its “big brother”. Our guide suggested that the only remaining source of credit is China. No surprise there.
Returning from Cuba I have an even deeper regard for our Founding generation. The likes of Washington, Jefferson and Adams; now those fellows knew how to do revolution. They created our constitutional form of government, our rule of law and an economic system that is the foundation for our enormous prosperity.
Each of us has a responsibility to preserve those things and pass them on to those who come after us. Need inspiration? Visit Cuba and bring a couple of our young socialists with you.
There were a couple of truly positive features to the trip. Everywhere we went we felt safe. There apparently is very little crime and the people genuinely seem to like gringos. It might have something to do with remittances being the third largest contributor to their economy.
SOC It To Me: Last week while spouting off against the city’s irresponsible attempt to boot the Historic Fernandina Business Association’s (HFBA) Sounds on Centre (SOC) concert series out of its current 12-year downtown location I said that those behind such dim decision making lack business empathy because none of them have ever owned or operated a brick and mortar enterprise.
Doctor Chip Ross, a Fernandina Beach City Commissioner, wrote to correct me, saying that he was one of the founders and principle partners in a primary care medical practice for approximately 10 years. He didn’t say where, but I’m assuming it was in Maryland, where he lived prior to moving here. “If my memory is correct,” he wrote, “when I left to pursue work in the Emergency Department, the group had approximately 10 doctors and greater than 30 employees.”
In that case, I stand corrected. However, as essential as medical practices are to a community, they’re not enterprises that lend themselves to browsing and shopping during an event like a street concert. For example, I can’t picture a wife peering into a doctor’s office window during Sounds on Centre and saying to her husband: “Oh, honey they’re having a sale on colonoscopies, let’s get two.”
Did You Know? The term “Buying the Farm” that is synonymous with dying, originated during WW1 when soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm then so if you died you “bought the farm” for your survivors.
Where’d The Gals Go? I was looking forward to another Amelia Island Women’s Protest March this year as the last one was so much fun. If another one did take place locally the organizers didn’t do a very good job of publicizing it as I missed it.
This year the gal’s Washington D.C. event fizzled with the ladies there spending most of their time screaming at each other over who could made the most anti-Semitic comments and finger wagging at those who snuggled up to extremist white-hater and anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan, radical head of Nation of Islam.
The one in Eureka, California was cancelled because they said too many white women might attend. Organizers there proclaimed: “Participants have been overwhelmingly white and lack diversity.” The population of Eureka is 74 percent white and the organizers pooh-poohed critics of their decision as being victims of something called “white fragility.”
Despite all that silliness I miss the local protesting gals as they were a delightful source of harmless outdoor entertainment. Instead of a snarling group of fouled mouthed contrarians in silly hats protesting, I witnessed a Keystoneish Kop caravan of ladies who appeared puzzled as to why they were there, but tried to make the best of their outing.
The warm weather encouraged a couple of the gals to scrawl messages — punctuated by pasties — on their bare chests, others held signs proclaiming “I’m With Her” — whoever she was — and many seemed happy to just get out of the house and take advantage of the balmy weather and chat with their apparently-not-so-disgruntled sisters. If they had a specific goal or message it evaded me, and if they were able to translate their indignation into some sort of effective action, I don’t know what it was.
Maybe the gals in D.C. and Eureka can learn from Amelia Island’s more civil and classy ladies and get back to meaningless protest marching as it’s great fun to watch.
Hey, ladies, let me know if you’re planning on protesting anything hereabouts anytime soon. I’ll bring beer.
Common Sense Dept: “The federal debt did not climb by nearly a trillion dollars a year under a Republican-controlled House because the government did not tax enough. It climbed because the government spent too much.” – source: Terence Jeffrey via Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
This Car’s A Lemon Department: The Associated Press recently reported the mother of all car-lemon complaints writing that Jerry Seinfeld has been sued by a company claiming it bought the comedian’s 1958 Porsche for $1.5 million at an auction at the 2016 Amelia Concours D’Elegance only to discover it was a fake. Fica Frio Limited’s lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court against the comedian known for his love of vintage cars. The lawsuit said Fica Frio’s representatives paid $1.54 million which included a 10 percent auction house commission. I haven’t heard of a resolution to this transaction yet.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms.” — Alan Coren
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: The local 13th Annual Chili Cook-Off will be held next Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., February 23 in downtown Fernandina Beach, on Centre and 2nd Streets. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. In addition to lots of chili, there’ll be live music, a kid’s zone, and arts and crafts vendors. Be sure to stop and taste the winning “e-bowl-a” chili that’s being cooked up by me and Pajamadave Voorhees at the stand directly in front of PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden 12 South 2nd Street joint and sponsored by the News Wrecker, PJD’s and Mac Graphics Printing. Once you’ve voted for our award winning bowl of red, you can move on to taste the inferior entries thus verifying your “e-bowl-a” vote. I’m not sure if it’s too late to enter if you want to see if you can come in second, but you can find out by calling 904/261-6610 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds of the event go to Amelia Island Montessori School. A number of local eateries featured Valentine’s Day dinners last night, Thursday, February 14, and Linda and I checked out Sandbar Restaurant & Kitchen at Main Beach. We’re glad we did as it featured Piano man John Springer, drummer Rob Taylor, and a couple of reasonably priced seafood specials by Chef Mike and his recently acquired homemade pasta-making machine that we thoroughly enjoyed. It was a packed house with a lot of friendly faces, fun music and good food.