Fidel Castro, asked recently if the Cuban model is still worthy of exporting, had to admit it "doesn't even work for us anymore."
It's an amazing admission. We'd take issue with the "anymore" part, of course.
Sadly enough, though, we must conclude the same about the American model.
For wildly different reasons.
The Cuban model was a clunker all along, and wouldn't have survived this long without the patronage of the former Soviet Union. Now, with the sugar daddy gone and hard times getting even harder, it seems the Cuban government will be laying off some 1 million workers by next March. The government employs some 85 percent of the work force.
Cuban officials are encouraging laid-off workers to become self-employed -- in other words, start businesses.
Hmm. Sounds strangely like capitalism. Can it be?
Meanwhile, the American model worked well for more than 200 years, and led to the greatest nation on Earth. So we know the engine -- the Constitution -- purrs like a kitten. But due to operator error, the American model is in a ditch it may never get out of.
It's not as noticeable or as jarring as the Cuban pileup because America still has a sugar daddy: China.
Yet, what happens when, as Margaret Thatcher suggested of socialism, we "run out of other people's money"? That day may be coming, and soon -- unless we rebuild the country around the engine that got us here: the Constitution.
That principle, plain and simple, is what the Tea Party movement is all about, regardless of what elitist liberals in the media -- and race baiters from the NAACP wing of the Democratic Party -- want you to believe.
"I wish I could get involved in (the Tea Party) more," says Augusta school board candidate Bill Law, who happens to be black. "A lot of people would, but they don't understand it. It's been slandered.
"I think the Tea Party is doing this country a great justice."
Some, like the NAACP in a "report" last week, are intentionally trying to hurt the Tea Party movement by smearing it as racist in a transparent attempt to help Democratic candidates in the Nov. 2 election. Others simply don't get what's going on -- largely because a hostile national media haven't told the movement's story.
Seeds of the movement had been germinating for years, as Americans watched an out-of-control government take our freedoms bit by bit and our children's financial futures chunk by chunk. The movement sprouted after a famous and inspirational spontaneous rant on cable channel CNBC by Rick Santelli, in which he decried the government's bailouts and taking from productive members of society and called for a Boston-style tea party in Chicago. The video went viral on the Internet and galvanized what Peter Berkowitz of Stanford's Hoover Institution called "one of the most spectacular grass-roots political movements in American history."
Indeed, fans of the civil rights movement might appreciate that more than others.
Most tea partiers will tell you they're fed up with both political parties. They won't talk about race, either. But if you want to, we can: When the bill comes due for all the immoral spending in Washington, all our children will feel the pain -- but those who are already disadvantaged will feel it the most.
Tell that to the NAACP.
Some branches of the civil rights organization get it; in Rome, Ga., recently, the NAACP and Tea Party cooperated on a candidate's forum.
"It was a historic evening," wrote Doug Walker in the Rome News-Tribune . "America's largest and oldest civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), hosted a political forum in Rome, with cooperation from one of the youngest political movements in the country, the Tea Party. And the event went off without a hitch."
That's not supposed to happen, according to the national media. The NAACP and Tea Party are natural enemies, right?
The media wish! The truth -- which you aren't hearing in the national media -- is that African-American interests and the Tea Party's are quite the same: a more prosperous, free America.
Writes Berkowitz in The Wall Street Journal , Tea Party activists "and the sizeable swath of voters who sympathize with them want to reduce the massively ballooning national debt, cut runaway federal spending, keep taxes in check, reinvigorate the economy and block the expansion of the state into citizens' lives."
One reason the elite and their audiences don't understand all this, postulates Berkowitz, is that universities have stopped teaching the fundamental principles of constitutional government that lie at the heart of the Tea Party movement.
"Our universities have produced two generations of highly educated people who seem unable to recognize the spirited defense of fundamental American principles," he writes, "even when it takes place for more than a year and a half right in front of their noses."
If our system is starting to resemble Cuba's in effectiveness, that may be why.