This is a great point by Matt Welch… what is the point of being able to read if it is against the law to read most books, like, 1984? Here is a comment from my posting the below audio on my LiveLeak account:
Hey… Cuba’s a free country… Cubans are free to read anything they want as long as it’s Castro’s autobiography or the Communist Manifesto.
…And that got me thinking, what is the relationship between literacy and life expectancy on the one hand, and democracy and dictatorship on the other hand? In 2012, the last year for which Human Progress has data on Cuban literacy, 40 out of 73 countries and territories surveyed by UNESCO had literacy rates among adults higher than 90 percent. With 99.75 percent, Cuba came in second place—after Azerbaijan. According to Freedom House, out of the 40 countries and territories in the top decile, 35 percent were politically free, 35 percent were partly free and 27.5 percent were unfree (the rest had no Freedom House score).
The contrast between free and unfree countries is much starker when it comes to life expectancy. In 2014, out of 198 countries and territories surveyed by the World Bank, 35 had a life expectancy over 80 years. With 79.39 years, Cuba was not one of them. It ranked in the 38th place globally. With 78.94 years, the United States came in 43rd place. Thus, while Cuba has edged out the United States, it is not in any way remarkable by global standards. In fact, out of the 35 countries and territories with life expectancy over 80 years, 83 percent were free and 6 percent were partly free (the rest had no Freedom House score). Not one unfree country had a life expectancy over 80 years!
What are we to make of this? It may well be that a literate population is relatively highly valued by both dictatorial and democratic government. When newspapers are tightly controlled by the government, having the populace read the government propaganda seem like a good thing. But when it comes to life expectancy—an excellent proxy for the standard of living in general and health of the populace in particular—dictatorships can’t hold a candle to democracies.
Have fun reading these materials meant to brainwash (click to enlarge):