The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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Emotional Void

It was early in 1960, when I was a boy, that I recall studying the photographs in the now-defunct Life magazine about the dashing young lawyer named Fidel Castro, who ousted a corrupt dictator named Batista.  My father told me that the corrupt dictator was taking from the poor and giving to the rich.  In later years, as an economist, I learned that such a problem was called the unequal distribution of wealth.  Castro’s cure for this problem was not to redistribute wealth and/or opportunity.  His cure was to abolish wealth, which is what socialism does.

Two years later, I sat in class, looking out the window, toward the south, where I knew I’d see a mushroom cloud, as the missile crisis came to a head.  A decade later, there was even an intense military interest in Castro, and there were numerous assassination plots.   I was fully prepared to do my part.  It is fair to say we were obsessed with Castro.  However, as time passed, he faded into irrelevance.

When he died, I expected to feel some remorse — remorse that we never administered the fate he deserved.  To my surprise, I felt no emotion about his death — a typical existential reaction, I suppose.  For some reason, I feel obligated to despise the man but don’t have enough emotion to spare or even to care about him.

He was the illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher and could have benefited from a continued Batista rule.  It is still unclear whether he was a closet-communist when he took power, but he seemed to convert quickly and conveniently.  Whereas communist leaders worldwide eventually accepted the futility of communism, Castro didn’t.  This bright young lawyer became intellectually constipated after suppressing dissent and years of being surrounded by sycophantic yes-men.

Such a pity . . . what he could have done and what he did do to the people of Cuba!