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“SCOTUScare”: Supreme Court Guts Obamacare to Uphold Subsidies by Daniel Bier

The Supreme Court has voted 6-3 (with Chief Justice Roberts writing the majority opinion, joined by Justice Kennedy and the four liberal justices) to uphold the subsidies the IRS is distributing for health insurance plans purchased on the federal insurance exchange.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedent, and its reasoning is, as Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent, “quite absurd.”

There will no doubt be much written about the decision in the coming days, and almost all of it will mischaracterize the ruling as the Supreme Court “saving” the Affordable Care Act again.

This is a crucial error: The Court’s ruling guts the ACA and rewrites [it] in a way that is politically convenient for the president — again.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, the law was designed to work through a “cooperative federalism” approach. For example, the portion of the law expanding Medicaid, like the rest of Medicaid, would be a joint federal-state program, partly funded and regulated by the feds but administered by the states.

The part of the law meant to increase individually purchased insurance coverage was similarly designed to work through federal-state cooperation.

Each state would set up its own health insurance “exchange,” and the federal government would issue tax credits for qualified individuals who purchased policies on the state exchanges. The logic here is that the states are best suited to run exchanges for their residents, as they have particular and specialized knowledge about other state healthcare programs, state regulations on insurance, and their residents’ health needs.

But the law did not (and constitutionally could not) force state governments set up exchanges. So as a backstop, a separate section of the law allows the federal government to set up an exchange for residents in states that did not set up their own.

Here’s where it got problematic: The plain text of the law only authorizes tax credits for policies purchased on an “exchange established by the State.”

There’s no easy way around this fact. Nowhere does the ACA authorize subsidies for plans purchased on the federal exchange. None of this would have been an issue if every state had chosen to build an exchange, as the law’s authors anticipated.

But in reality, the ACA has been persistently unpopular, and only 14 states (and DC) had working exchanges. The details of the backstop provision suddenly became a lot more important as the residents of 36 states were cast onto the federal exchange.

Faced with uncooperative federalism, the Obama administration suddenly had a big political problem, and it would have been quite embarrassing for the law’s biggest benefit to evaporate just as the president was planning to run for reelection on it.

So 14 months after the bill was signed into law, the IRS issued a rule, by executive fiat, to issue subsidies on the federal exchange. Because the penalty for failing [to] purchase health insurance is based on the cost of insurance, including subsidies, relative to a person’s income, individuals and businesses in states without exchanges who would otherwise have been exempt from fines and mandates were now in violation.

Lawsuits followed, which argued the IRS’s decision to issue subsidies in states that had declined to create exchanges was against the law, and it had resulted in actual harm to them.

In one of the lower court rulings on this issue, the DC Circuit concluded that the law offered no clear basis for issuing subsidies through the federal exchange.

If Congress intended to issue subsidies through the federal exchange, it would have been perfectly easy for them to say so, in any number of sections. And if Congress intended to treat the federal exchange as though it were a State entity (as the ACA does with US territories’ exchanges), it knew how to do that too. Yet there is no section of the law that does this.

Some argued that this omission was a “drafting error,” a legislative slip-up. If so, it was one it made over and over again, in at least ten different sections. And, as Michael Cannon rather pointedly asks, if it was a drafting error, why didn’t the government make that case in court? Why didn’t the IRS make that claim when they issued the new rule?

The answer may be that the law meant what the law says. The scant legislative history on this question doesn’t show that Congress ever thought that subsidies were going to be disbursed through the federal exchanges. Perhaps the law’s authors simply didn’t think about it or did not consider the possibility that most states would refuse.

But, in fact, it is entirely plausible that the ACA’s authors intended to only offer subsidies to residents of states that created exchanges, as an incentive to states to build and run them.

The reasons why Congress wanted the states to run the exchanges are perfectly clear. But, apart from the possibility of losing the subsidies, there seems to be little reason for state governments to take the risk of building one of the notoriously dysfunctional exchanges if they could dump their citizens onto the federal exchange with no consequences.

Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist who was involved in the design of the health care law, explicitly claimed that the law’s authors did this on purpose:

If you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. … I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it.

On the other hand, the government argued (and Roberts accepted) that the text of the law is ambiguous, and ambiguous phrases should be interpreted “in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme,” the goal of which was to increase health insurance coverage.

Given that, Roberts concludes, we should construe “exchange established by the State” to mean any ACA exchange, whether Federal or State.

Roberts got to this reasoned, methodical, and preposterous conclusion by arguing that the plain meaning of the text would lead to “calamitous results” that Congress meant to avoid. To wit, that only allowing subsidies for plans purchased on state exchanges would cause a “death spiral” in the insurance market in states that refused to establish exchanges.

The ACA reform has three basic components: subsidies for insurance plans, the individual mandate to purchase insurance, and regulations requiring insurers to issue coverage to people with preexisting conditions (“guaranteed issue”) and banning them from charging higher premiums to sicker people (“community rating”).

The “death spiral” logic goes:

  • If states chose not to establish exchanges, their residents would not get subsidies;
  • If they couldn’t get subsidies, many people would be exempt from the insurance mandate;
  • If they were exempt, they could just wait until they got sick to buy insurance;
  • If they did that, insurers would have to accept them, under the guaranteed issue rule;
  • If that happened, the price of insurance would go up for everyone, under community rating;
  • If that happened, more healthy people would drop out of the insurance market, leaving insurers with a pool of ever sicker and more expensive patients (“adverse selection”), thus forcing insurers out of business and leaving even more people without insurance. And so on.

Hence, “death spiral.” In fact, this is exactly what happened in the 1990s in many states with guaranteed issue and community rating, before Massachusetts invented the mandate to force people to buy insurance and keep the pool of insured people relatively healthy.

But in the ACA, the mandate rests on the cost of insurance with subsidies, and (under the plain text of the law) the subsidies rest on the states establishing exchanges. If the subsidies go, fewer people will buy insurance, and the mandate crumbles, leading to a spiral of higher costs and fewer people insured.

Roberts concluded that this risk would have been unacceptable to Congress, arguing: “The combination of no tax credits and an ineffective coverage requirement could well push a State’s individual insurance market into a death spiral. It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner.”

This perceived implausibility, combined with the alleged ambiguity of the text, caused the Court to rule in favor of the subsidies:

Petitioners’ plain-meaning arguments are strong, but the Act’s context and structure compel the conclusion that Section 36B allows tax credits for insurance purchased on any Exchange created under the Act. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid.

The basic problem with Roberts’ decision is that the text isn’t ambiguous. It’s actually pretty clear, as he acknowledged. But the second issue is that Roberts has no strong basis for his speculations about what Congress thought was likely to happen with states or what risks it was willing tolerate.

If the ACA’s authors thought (as almost everyone did) that the states would get with the program and establish their own exchanges, there is no reason that they would have assumed a serious risk of a death spiral. In fact, Gruber suggested that was the plan all along: offer a carrot to the states (the subsidies) and a stick (the risk of screwing up their insurance market).

But more importantly, the “implausible” risk that Roberts bases his interpretation on is precisely what the ACA deliberately did to US territories by imposing guaranteed issue and community rating without an individual mandate.

The DC Circuit Court that ruled against the subsidies last year made exactly this point:

The supposedly unthinkable scenario … one in which insurers in states with federal Exchanges remain subject to the community rating and guaranteed issue requirements but lack a broad base of healthy customers to stabilize prices and avoid adverse selection — is exactly what the ACA enacts in such federal territories as the Northern Mariana Islands, where the Act imposes guaranteed issue and community rating requirements without an individual mandate.

This combination, predictably, has thrown individual insurance markets in the territories into turmoil. But HHS has nevertheless refused to exempt the territories from the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements, recognizing that, “[h]owever meritorious” the reasons for doing so might be, “HHS is not authorized to choose which provisions of the [ACA] might apply to the territories.”

But, it seems, the Supreme Court feels that is authorized to choose what provisions of the ACA should apply, on the grounds that doing so would make better policy, regardless of what the law actually requires.

This is essentially what Roberts did in the previous Obamacare ruling, in which he rewrote the individual mandate and the Medicaid portions of the law in order to make them pass constitutional muster.

In his scathing dissent, Justice Scalia noted,

Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.”

This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

… This Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence.

This decision is not disastrous because it “saved” Obamacare — it did no such thing: The Court gutted the law and let the Obama administration stuff it with whatever policy it thought best.

No, the ruling is a catastrophe because it establishes the principle that the president can unilaterally override the plain meaning of the law whenever he or she thinks that doing so will lead to a better outcome, one more in keeping with his or her policy goals.

As is often the case with elaborate government programs, things didn’t turn out the way that the planners expected. And, once again, the Supreme Court allowed the government to skate around both the Affordable Care Act and the law of unintended consequences.

This decision sanctifies the administration’s decision to defy Congress, circumvent the states, and flout the law. And as the authors of Obamacare knew, if you subsidize something, you’ll get more of it. Expect this ruling to stimulate more sloppy legislation, executive overreach, and subversion of the rule of law.


Daniel Bier

Daniel Bier is the editor of Anything Peaceful. He writes on issues relating to science, civil liberties, and economic freedom.

Texas Will Stop Putting Kids in Prison for Skipping School by Jason Bedrick

The AP reports some good news out of Texas over the weekend:

A long-standing Texas law that has sent about 100,000 students a year to criminal court – and some to jail – for missing school is off the books, though a Justice Department investigation into one county’s truancy courts continues.

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures. It will take effect Sept. 1.

Reform advocates say the threat of a heavy fine – up to $500 plus court costs – and a criminal record wasn’t keeping children in school and was sending those who couldn’t pay into a criminal justice system spiral.

Under the old law, students as young as 12 could be ordered to court for three unexcused absences in four weeks. Schools were required to file a misdemeanor failure to attend school charge against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months. And unpaid fines landed some students behind bars when they turned 17.

Unsurprisingly, the truancy law had negatively impacted low-income and minority students the most.

In the wake of the arrest of a Georgia mother whose honor role student accumulated three unexcused absences more than the law allowed, Walter Olson noted that several states still have compulsory school attendance laws that carry criminal penalties:

Texas not only criminalized truancy but has provided for young offenders to be tried in adult courts, leading to extraordinarily harsh results especially for poorer families.

But truancy-law horror stories now come in regularly from all over the country, from Virginia to California. In Pennsylvania a woman died in jail after failing to pay truancy fines; “More than 1,600 people have been jailed in Berks County alone — where Reading is the county seat — over truancy fines since 2000.”)

The criminal penalties, combined with the serious consequences that can follow non-payment of civil penalties, are now an important component of what has been called carceral liberalism: we’re finding ever more ways to menace you with imprisonment, but don’t worry, it’s for your own good.

Yet jailing parents hardly seems a promising way to stabilize the lives of wavering students.

And as Colorado state Sen. Chris Holbert, sponsor of a decriminalization bill, has said, “Sending kids to jail — juvenile detention — for nothing more than truancy just didn’t make sense. When a student is referred to juvenile detention, he or she is co-mingling with criminals — juveniles who’ve committed theft or assault or drug dealing.”

It’s encouraging to see movement away from criminalized truancy, but it’s not enough. As Neal McCluskey has noted, compulsory government schooling is as American as Bavarian cream pie.

We shouldn’t be surprised when the one-size-fits-some district schools don’t work out for some of the students assigned to them. Instead, states should empower parents to choose the education that meets their child’s individual needs.


Jason Bedrick

Jason Bedrick is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

EDITORS NOTE: This post first appeared at Cato.org.

“The President that Couldn’t”: Why Obama’s Agenda Failed by Thomas A. Firey

With time running out on his administration, President Obama has embarked on a sort of “apology tour” to disillusioned supporters. They are frustrated that he hasn’t delivered on many of their favored policies, from gun control to single-payer health care to carbon controls.

With candidates queuing up to replace him — many with very different policy goals than his — he apparently feels the need to rally the disaffected behind a successor who would carry on his agenda.

His message to the disheartened supporters is simple: The political failures aren’t his fault. He’s tried hard to deliver, but “Congress doesn’t work” and American government “is broken.” According to Obama:

As mightily as I have struggled against that… it still is broken. … When I ran in 2008, I, in fact, did not say I would fix it. I said we could fix it. I didn’t say, “Yes, I can”; I said — what? … “Yes, we can.”

Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza, writing about the apology tour, throws some shade at the president, claiming that he did in fact promise to change policy. But ultimately Cillizza agrees with Obama, writing that the American “political system is … more broken than any one person — no matter who that person is or the circumstances that surround that person’s election — could hope to solve.”

But both the president and Cillizza are completely wrong; the American political system assuredly is not broken. The system was designed — and we should all be very grateful that it was designed — to not allow the radical change that Obama’s supporters — or supporters of other politicians across the political spectrum — want.

It is the rare times when such change does occur — think Franklin Roosevelt’s expansion of national government or George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism initiatives and war in Iraq — that American governance had failed and very bad things happen.

Today the United States is a nation of more than 320 million remarkably different people, living in unique situations, having highly individual concerns, desires, and risk preferences, and holding a wide variety of mostly noble values. They each operate in a world of uncertainty and limited resources. Given those dramatically varied circumstances, any national policymaking is likely to harm and anger tens of millions of people.

For that reason, the Framers (who likewise lived in an incredibly diverse nation for their era) designed American government to elevate private action and decentralize governance while limiting national policy to matters of broad consensus and compromise.

Because few of the policy goals advocated by President Obama and his “progressive” supporters have such support or allow for serious compromise (even the signature item that he did manage to enact), it shouldn’t be surprising that few of those goals have been achieved. That doesn’t mean American government is broken — quite the opposite! — but rather that Obama’s conception of governance is.

Perhaps the next president will better appreciate the genius of American government’s design and work within that design for policy change that he or she believes is important. But it’s clear from President Obama’s comments that he is not up to that task.

For the reason, we should all be very grateful that, no, he couldn’t.

Thomas A. Firey

Thomas A. Firey is a Maryland Public Policy Institute senior fellow, and also is managing editor of Regulation magazine, the Cato Institute’s quarterly review of business in government.

EDITORS NOTE: This first appeared at MDpolicy.org.

Nudging Voters to Make the Right Decisions by Julian Adorney

In politics, as in commerce, consumers cannot always be trusted. Sometimes they’re duped, or foolish, or just make decisions for the wrong reasons. That’s when we need government to step in and take the decision out of their hands.

I propose the passage of the Control and Help Upgrade the Market in Politics (CHUMP) Act to eliminate the inherent flaws in the political market.

A little nudge

Many intellectuals realize that consumers need to be nudged toward certain decisions.

This idea, called “libertarian paternalism,” consists of bureaucrats “self-consciously attempting to move people in directions that will make their lives better.”

Take cigarettes, for example. Consumers aren’t rational enough to research the dangers of cigarettes on their own, so governments insist that tobacco companies include graphic warnings to “nudge” people away from buying them. This light touch retains for users the option to buy cigarettes but gently moves them toward a wiser decision.

We need to move this idea into the political marketplace. Under the CHUMP Act, government will be empowered to nudge voters by asking them to read a few positive facts about certain candidates before they vote. Like cigarette buyers, voters will still be free to choose their candidate. We’ll just be offering a little guidance.

MoveOn.org recently put this idea into practice, releasing a poll with positive statements about Elizabeth Warren (and no statements about any other candidate). Warren won the poll by several points. That’s the political market at its best.

Subsidizing good ideas

We have long realized that unregulated markets produce the wrong distribution of resources. As Senator Bernie Sanders recently argued, why should we have 23 brands of deodorant when we can’t feed our children? Or, to put it another way, why does Kim Kardashian always have a show while NPR struggles to make ends meet? The market may reflect the desires of consumers, but it leads to the wrong outcomes.

We deal with this market failure by subsidizing NPR. But we don’t just need better shows; we need better politics, too.

For that reason, the CHUMP Act will subsidize some political groups. Judging by Sanders’s poll numbers, many Americans don’t care for big-government rhetoric. But so what? All that means is that there’s insufficient demand for his views. Some ideas, like NPR’s brand of reporting, are downright unpopular in the market. But we need them. What’s wrong with helping them along?

Certain policies, or rather the candidates who endorse them, should be subsidized. Each candidate should be rated on a scale of 1 to 100 (or from Ted Cruz to Bernie Sanders) and receive funding equal to $5,000 multiplied by their score. Hillary Clinton might score a 55, and receive $275,000 in subsidies for her presidential campaign. Sanders, who might score a solid 100, would receive $500,000. Who can say that money wouldn’t be put to good use educating Americans on the benefits of bigger government?

Cruz, as the scale suggests, would score 0 and receive no funding. Some ideas just shouldn’t be encouraged.

Banning bad politics

We need more than subsidies for good ideas: we need to protect people from themselves. Again, the blueprint lies in commerce, where wise bureaucrats protect people from businesses like Lyft, Airbnb, or Tesla. No matter how much people may say they like these companies, some products and services are just bad all around. I don’t care if you want to take an Uber. It’s too expensive, it’s disruptive, and its rating system is deeply flawed. If your city has banned ride-sharing services, it’s doubtless for your own good.

In the same vein, why should the government stand idly by while underinformed voters succumb to the rhetoric of extremist malcontents? We need to step in to save these misguided folks from themselves. They may say they want lower taxes or fewer regulations, but that’s only because they don’t understand the long-term consequences of casting their votes for smaller government.

But what about freedom?

Now, some naysayers may claim that political and commercial markets are different, that we should subsidize companies but not ideas. They claim that political freedom, the ability to choose freely between competing political ideas, is sacrosanct.

But a century ago, during the dark ages of the Lochner era, we said the same thing about economic freedom: “freedom of contract” was a right enshrined by the Supreme Court. Can you imagine if we still lived in an era where economic freedom was recognized as inviolable? It would be a nightmare of worker exploitation, child labor, and Kardashian shows. The Supreme Court struck down this freedom for the good of us all.

Right now, this “libertarian moment” we’re in is as dangerous as the Industrial Revolution was before reformers curbed its excesses. We no longer have child labor, but we do have people who want to eliminate welfare. We have reduced exploitation, but we still have extremists claiming that health care is not a right.

These residual reactionary views remain with us because we still believe that the political consumer’s choices are sacred. But that belief allows demagogues to be elected with no thought to the consequences.

Like toddlers who refuse to eat their veggies, some people just don’t know what’s good for them. We need to help them make the right choices. Political freedom is no more sacred than economic freedom — and should be dispensed with as easily, for the good of us all.


Julian Adorney

Julian Adorney is Director of Marketing at Peacekeeper, a free app that offers an alternative to 911. He’s also an economic historian, focusing on Austrian economics. He has written for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Townhall, and The Hill.

By the Power Vested in Us: Confessions of a freedom bride by ALYSON HUDNALL

My fiancé is white. I’m not. We plan to jump the broom this summer, to honor my heritage and the hardships of couples like us. The tradition was born under anti-miscegenation laws that forbade blacks from marrying. And signing an official state marriage license feels inappropriate, considering the racist history behind it.

Anti-miscegenation laws had been a part of US history since colonial America. In the late 1700s, states began increasing their control over marriage by requiring a license. By the 1920s, 30 states had enacted laws that further prevented interracial marriage, including my home state, Virginia, with the Racial Integrity Act of 1924. It wasn’t until 1968 that banning interracial marriage was declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia.

Had my partner and I been engaged only 50 years ago, our application for a marriage license would have been rejected. Our only choice would’ve been to jump the broom. Theoretically, our marriage license still could be rejected, because it’s an application process, and all it takes is one bigoted judge to turn it down. And it isn’t just blacks or interracial couples who have been targeted by these invasive institutions.

Opening briefs for same-sex marriage arguments have already been filed with the Supreme Court. For gay rights supporters, the hope is that bans on same-sex marriage will be declared unconstitutional. If this hope is realized, then every state will be forced to recognize heterosexual and homosexual couples equally. However, I’m not convinced this is a step in the right direction.

As it stands, a marriage license is the most effective way for a couple to legally protect themselves. A license comes with over a thousand legal rights, including those relevant to medical emergencies, child custody, and inheritance. It’s important that those rights be respected by every state, but they should also be freely given to consenting adults without constraint. Marriage falls within our right of association, and the state should not be able hold it hostage while ordering you to submit to a blood test or pay a fee. No government agency should be able to reject you unless your marriage falls outside of two simple parameters: consensualand adult. The only “permission” to marry I should need is my partner’s. And now we’re left with an extremely difficult decision.

Do we reject the notion of state-regulated marriage and live as an unrecognized couple, or sign the license and perpetuate conventions we find wholly abhorrent? If we don’t sign the marriage license, we could end up paying lawyers hundreds of dollars to draw up contracts in an attempt to get some of the same rights and recognition as a legally married couple (“some” being the key word here). I don’t like to think about how it will feel to jump the broom in honor of my predecessors and then sign a piece of paper with a legacy of keeping couples like us apart.

ABOUT ALYSON HUDNALL

Alyson Hudnall is a Young Voices Advocate and the founder of Liberty in Color.

Mojitos in Havana?

Free movement of people and products will help liberate Cuba by ROBERT RAMSEY:

This entire policy shift … is based on an illusion, on a lie — the lie and illusion that more commerce, more access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people.” — Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

I don’t know as much about Cuba as Senator Rubio does.  I am sure that his hatred of the Castro regime there is justified; in their attempts to produce a perfect and harmonious society in Cuba, they have perpetrated countless crimes against humanity — and against members of his own family. Indeed, I would consider him to be an expert on the sentiments of those opposed to Castro’s regime and its policies. But he is wrong in his belief that trade of any kind will simply result in the Castro regime becoming stronger and more entrenched.

Our current policy towards Cuba is this: cut them off completely on their island, don’t let them have any imports, and wait for the Castros to die. Then, hopefully, the Cuban citizens will rise up against their communist overlords, see that we Americans have Duck Dynasty and Taco Bell, then beg for us to come set up a government for them, or something along those lines.

We’ve been doing this for decades. There is no evidence whatsoever that this policy is working. However, there are quite a few examples of anti-US countries catching the capitalist bug and mellowing their position considerably, as well as beginning to protect human rights.  The greatest example is probably Vietnam.

Life in Vietnam in the decade following the Vietnam War was, by all accounts, horrifying. It’s a classic tale of a communist regime killing hundreds of thousands of its own citizens in an attempt to make a perfect society. Millions were displaced, and innumerable others died at sea attempting to flee in makeshift rafts. By 1986, however, the original leaders of the regime had either died or been replaced by reformers who instituted a policy of Doi Moi (open door), which slowly began to introduce reforms friendly to markets. The results have been astounding.

A picture of modern Vietnam: consistent GDP growth of around 5.5 percent for the past decade (unlike many of its neighbors, whose growth bounces up and down with every year); unemployment around 2 percent; low inflation; and a rapidly growing financial sector. As of 2007, Vietnam is a member of the World Trade Organization, and entrepreneurs have become one of the most powerful forces within the country. Quality of life has increased dramatically, and all the trappings of a modern economy can be found throughout most of the country.

Relations with the United States have improved dramatically as well: the United States is its primary trading partner. Tourism has exploded: last year Vietnam saw 6.8 million visitors, and that number shows no signs of shrinking.

Civil rights have developed to a degree, and while the country is still run much as China is, with a single socialist party and the danger of being arrested if one speaks out too much, gone are the days of mass executions. Progress in this area is thus slow, but it’s steady.

There’s no guarantee the same thing will happen in Cuba, but a little capitalism goes a long way.  It won’t be long before American tourists flock to Cuba; it’s an hour’s flight from Miami and has been recognized by Americans for well over a century now as an island destination.

Fat American tourists bring fat American wallets, and whether the Castros like it or not, a thriving economy will spring up around tourism. Even if US policy liberalization stops with ending the ban on travel — even, that is, if the foolish embargo isn’t about to be lifted — change will come to Cuba. And a freer market is going to bring it.

ABOUT ROBERT RAMSEY

Robert Ramsey is the website curator at FEE. He loves cooking, writing, and hacking in his spare time.