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Was North Korea Booked Solid?

By Greg L | 19 February 2013 | Local Economy, Prince William County | 3 Comments

You’d think that if you wanted to find an organization dedicated to free markets, free enterprise and the tremendous benefits of capitalism to a country and its people, your local Chamber of Commerce would be the place to look.  After all, the members of a local Chamber of Commerce simply wouldn’t exist without all of these things.  Hardly any other group has such a vested interest in defending and promoting these specific values and ideals.

I don’t think anyone could then blame me for the shock and surprise I felt when the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce started organizing trips to Cuba, of all places.  Not just a bunch of places including Cuba, but Cuba, exclusively.

The Prince William Chamber must have gone off the rails some time ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I began to take notice of how it, along with other local Chambers, started agitating in Richmond this session for a tax hike in order to pour more money into the state transportation budget.  Governor McDonnell’s budget proposal this year included a significant hike in sales taxes, which have a distinctly negative impact on retail sales, and retail sales comprise a disproportionately large sector of the economy in Prince William County.  If one would look objectively at the legislative initiatives the local Chamber was supporting this year you’d swear some decidedly anti-business entity was responsible for this utterly self-defeating effort.

So now we have the Chamber working at showcasing a place where private enterprise is against the law, the few markets that exist are entirely operated by the government with strict controls over who can participate, and the state owns nearly every business from the local coffee shop right up to the largest sugarcane plantations.  Until Castro stepped back due to health reasons in order to pass the baton to his brother in true Democratic fashion, people were not even allowed to have an ownership interest in the homes in which they lived, and housing assignments were handed out by the government.  Individuals are prohibited, under penalty of death, from participating in the economic activities that foreign tourists engage in, and strict controls govern who is legally allowed to leave the island gulag for any reason.

What a perfect place for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce to select as their sole vacation destination.  When I noted as much on twitter last week, saying “After pushing so hard to raise our taxes for transportation I guess it is no surprise @pwchamber is organizing vacations to communist Cuba” the response of the Chamber was to mark my tweet as a favorite.  I gather, given this response, that this observation doesn’t exactly make the leadership of the Prince William Chamber uncomfortable in any way.  At the same time, there is nothing on the Chamber’s page that actually seems to promote any Prince William County businesses to members of the public.  Local businesses, meh.  Communist Cuba, well Viva la Revolucion and let’s go spend some capitalist dollars there!

Are Chamber members comfortable with this leftward, and anti-business lurch from the local Chamber?  I suppose we’ll find out at some point.  They’ll either try to book North Korea as the next travel destination, or there’s going to be a different revolution in the Chamber that actually starts promoting the interests of local business instead of communist dictatorships, and advocating free enterprise rather than socialist ideologies.

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  1. Scout said on 20 Feb 2013 at 5:44 am:
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    I would think a trip to Cuba (or North Korea) would be a marvellous way to highlight the virtues of relatively free business environments. Those of us who went behind the Iron Curtain in the 60s and 70s virtually all came back dedicated champions of free enterprise. Cuba, and to a greater extent, North Korea, are about the only places left on earth where one can see an old-style, communist-inspired, central planning economy. As you note, Cuba has loosened up quite a bit and was never as bad as the Kims’ fiefdom. Besides, the beaches are nicer and the weather a bit more attractive. But I doubt if the purpose of the trips is to convert all these local businessmen to Che-inspired revolutionaries. Probably quite the opposite.

  2. Greg L said on 20 Feb 2013 at 5:54 pm:
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    Offering the opportunity to financially support these horrible regimes is morally indefensible, even if the State Department under this administration that it would not be illegal. Every dollar spent in Cuba goes directly to the Communist Party there.

  3. Scout said on 21 Feb 2013 at 9:54 pm:
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    I didn’t understand that the C of C was proposing direct investment in funding the Cuban Government. Not every dollar goes to the Communist Party - there is a thriving black market, increasingly tolerated under little brother Raul’s administration. I suspect we could completely undermine the communist regime there simply by opening the floodgates to contacts, commerce and exchanges with the US. I haven’t noticed that the embargo route has been particularly effective.

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