Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Translation: Cooperative bakeries debate continued

Before translating some materials on the November 10 housing reform that allows people to buy and sell their own homes, I though I’d share with readers this further contribution to the debate in the letters pages of Granma about whether or not local bakeries should be transformed from state enterprises into cooperatively managed enterprises.

This week the government published a decree law handing over the management of small barber and beautician salons with one to three seats to their workers, who will lease the premises from the municipal government. The workers will charge whatever the market will bear and pay taxes, retirement pension contributions and utility bills and be responsible for the upkeep of the premises. This follows a successful trial of the new approach in selected salons. I’ll post more details soon.

We have to make changes and not only in bakeries

By N. Paez del Amo, Granma letter to the editor, November 4, 2011

Translation: Marce Cameron

Regarding the possible leasing of the bakeries, opinions are expressed that reject change on the basis of conservatism and the die-hard attachment to centralised schemas of management.

Let’s begin by clarifying that the cooperative forms of production and services are fully compatible with the socialist distribution principle “from each according to their ability, to each according to their work”, nor is the concept of private property in and of itself at odds with the building of a more just world. The enormous difference between capitalism and socialism [i.e. the socialist-oriented society – translator’s note] lies not so much in the type of property but in who holds power, in whose hands are the fundamental means of production, as well as in the equality of opportunities and the more equitable distribution of wealth that this allows, which is the basis of its greater fairness.

I really cannot imagine workers stealing from themselves with impunity, as happens in the centralised system, in which many collude to swindle the socialist state and enrich themselves though the diversion of raw materials and other inputs that this state makes available to them. A large proportion of these materials and inputs end up on the black market to the detriment of the product on offer or the service provided. Often they end up in the hands of the self-employed who, in the absence of a wholesale supplies system, supply themselves through these “vendors”.

If all these bakeries (as well as retail trade in general) had to purchase in stores the raw materials and the goods they sell, create a product or provide a service of high quality that is capable of being sold in a competitive market governed by supply and demand (an economic law that is fully applicable under socialism despite our desires to the contrary) – as well as covering costs and paying state taxes, after which the earnings would be shared – I don’t believe any worker would be permitted to appropriate for their own personal benefit or waste what actually belongs, and not in an indirect form, to the whole collective. And if through their efforts they’re able to create wellbeing for others and also earn money through efficient management, such earnings that are the fruit of work and the satisfaction of the needs of the population would be welcome.

The Communist Party and the proletarian state, with their infrastructure and socialist institutions, will be there to protect the system and the people against all wrongdoing.

At the present level of social development, workers need the fruits of their effort and work to result in wellbeing for themselves and their family, which continues to be the basic unit of society. The population must see their daily labour translated into the satisfaction of their growing needs. This is the fundamental principle of socialism.

With paternalistic and egalitarian practices and the demonisation of mechanisms of proven effectiveness, we will not be able to break the inertia nor put an end to foot-dragging and bureaucracy, which like an invisible brake stops us advancing along the path set out by the Sixth Communist Party Congress and its Guidelines.

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