American Workers Are Big Losers in Cuba Thaw

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano
Lake Los Angeles, CA

Barack Obama tried to sound presidential in his remarks regarding the United States normalizing relations with Cuba. But the real impact to most Americans will be a whole new wave of outsourcing of U.S. jobs to another communist “worker’s paradise.” Compared to off-shoring jobs to China, Cuba is 96% closer, Chinese wages are 50% higher, and tens of millions more Americans speak Spanish than Chinese.

“I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people and our values through engagement,” Mr. Obama said in a speech from the White House covered by CSPAN. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.”

But what Obama didn’t say is that the biggest winners in this new “engagement” will be U.S. multi-national corporations cutting jobs and wages by moving to Cuba.

The average U.S. worker makes about $3,740 per month. But with the average Chinese worker making only $703 per month, about 10 million American jobs have been outsourced to China in the last decade of “engagement” with the communist nation.

That number would be much higher, except managing outsourced operations in China is expensive and burdensome. The distance from Los Angeles, California, to Shanghai, China, is 6,479 miles, and it takes 13 hours to fly there. Furthermore, only 2.9 million Americans, less than 1% of the U.S. population, speak Chinese. Consequently, it is difficult and expensive to find and retain an American manager who is fluent in Chinese and willing to suffer long separations from his or her family.

But the challenges of outsourcing would be substantially reduced if U.S. companies could outsource to Cuba. The distance from Miami, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, is only 231 miles, and the commuter flight time would be about 40 minutes. With the average Cuban wage of only $466 per month, Chinese workers also cost over 50% more. But the major attraction of Cuba will be the fact that of the 60.6 million people who spoke a language other than English in the U.S., 37.6 million spoke Spanish. With President Obama’s immigration amnesty, that number is expected to increase substantially.

In the CSPAN press conference on Wednesday afternoon following the President’s announcement, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) charged that “the White House has conceded everything but gained little,” with no commitment from Cuba to “even begin the semblance of a transition to democracy.” Rubio called Mr. Obama “the single worst negotiator we have had in the White House in my lifetime.”

For the average American worker, competition from communist Cuba is a loser. But if you are a crony capitalist looking to radically undercut U.S. domestic manufacturing costs, you probably think that Mr. Obama is the single best negotiator that the White House has had in your lifetime.