One of the most useful things I’ve learned about communication is the importance of stating things plainly and concretely.* But thinking about that lesson frequently makes politics maddening.
Euphemisms are the health of politics. If a government really wants to get away with murder, even secrecy can be less useful than making that particular murder sound unremarkable, justifiable, sensible, or even dutiful.
You’re probably looking at the title and if you’re familiar with the story wondering why I announced it like that.
The story, if you’re not familiar with it, was reported today by AP in a story entitled “Cuba legalizes sale, purchase of private property”.
After the description of what Cuba will now allow, you run across this within the story:
"This is a very big step forward. With this action the state is granting property rights that didn’t exist before," said Philip J. Peters, a Cuba analyst at the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
Have you picked yourself up off the floor yet? That’s the most ridiculous statement you’re likely to see in some time (which is a bit surprising coming from someone at the Lexington Institute).
Let’s make something perfectly clear – property rights existed prior to and during the communist regime’s takeover. What the communists did was prevent the exercise of the right through the use of force. That’s entirely different than what Peters contends. In fact, the AP title comes closer to the truth than Peters. The communist regime had simply made the exercise of the right “illegal” and had used force to prevent the people of Cuba from exercising that right. The right didn’t go away, just the ability to exercise it.
Now, surprise surprise, the communist regime has all but admitted it was a foolish thing to do and has again made the right “legal”. Or said another way, they will no longer use the force of the state to prevent people from exercising their inherent right to property.
Oh, and as a bonus for the income equality crowd? If you want income equality, Cuba is your place. Everyone makes about the same there. Check it out.