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Old 08-12-2012, 12:28 AM
 
8,327 posts, read 22,531,475 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frostnip View Post
Maybe you are just a bad supervisor?

And how does turning my experience with a group of people into a personal attack advance your position as to the fall of the USSR?

Your description of people from the former USSR is not recognizable as 95% of the people I know from the RF and the former Soviet states.

I suggested that posting different experience with others might be interesting to read. I'm still waiting ....

Of course there are lazy former Soviets but I don't see it in greater percentage than the lazy birth Americans I know. Anyway, like I said, to judge peoples based on emigres is a bad idea. This is especially in the case of somewhere like the USSR where people who were permitted to emigrate were often the ones the government didn't want around.
Yes, it's so revealing that many people were desperate enough to try to leave the country that they risked their lives to do so ... and many died trying, didn't they? Were those all people that you can generalize were the ones that "the government didn't want around". The government certainly saw to it that they weren't ....

As well, I know several people who defected as the opportunities arose ... one fellow from an Olympic team. Near the top of his sport, it was his ticket to escape. He was a pretty sharp guy, got a scholarship to an engineering school here and went on to develop medical devices.

On the contray, "judge people based on emigres" can be a very good idea. Because it is highly revealing about their attitudes, their work ethics, their appreciation of the new opportunities, what they were trying to escape or leave behind, what they were seeking when they emigrated, etc. Personally, I found it especially revealing about the russians I met here that they were astounded by the ready avaialbility of consumer goods and food ... things which were terribly lacking for them back home.

While some others here on this thread assert that the arts community is a contributor to their society ... I am fairly well convinced that you can't eat music, dance, paintings, works of fiction, poetry, or other similar products. Nor will they shelter the population or provide medical services or transportation. In short, while the arts can make life more interesting and enjoyable ... they are a diversion, not an essential to survival.

Especially in light of the history of the USA, with a population of mostly of emigres and their stories of why they left their home countries, it's worth looking at all the stories.

Asserting that there's lazy native born USA folk doesn't establish why the USSR failed. In my experience, the culture of work to get ahead still prevailed in the USA, while in the USSR, there was no such comparable opportunity or paradigm. So laziness was a taught response for many to survive the drudgery of their lives, and only a select few were educated and advanced to higher jobs ....

I'm reminded of how so many command from the soviet driven businesses were operated. For example, one shoe manufacturing company was ordered to produce a certain number of shoes. The managers figured out how to make them from concrete. Of course, they didn't satisfy the population and didn't sell, but the managers were lauded for having made their assigned production quota. Similarly, a friend told me about a restaurant operation that he visited in Moscow, years ago when he was a US liason officer stationed there ... the restaurant was ordered to be open and available to serve a certain number of meals per day, and they had an operating budget to do so. They discovered that they could work hardly at all by serving food that was so poor in preparation and quality that they had no patrons. But they still drew their budget. So they were able to spend the money on personal items and didn't have to work very hard because nobody came to their place, even though they were fully staffed and prepared to deliver the number of meals as ordered by the central authorities. This type of fraud was pervasive throughout the society in almost all consumer goods according to my friend, stationed in the USSR during WW2, and then years later ... in the 1960's ... tasked to go back there due to his conversational and written fluency in Russian.

It's a falsehood to assert that a country that could manufacture high tech items for the military complex also was capable and delivered high qual stuff to the consumers. They didn't do it. An outstanding example would be to look at the automobile industry there of the era. Their cars were poorly built, even though some had origins in successful produced cars from outside the country. They were sold to the populace at high prices, so few people drove ... and the support system for them was almost nonexistent. My friend told me that people would remove wiper blades from their cars when they parked them so that they wouldn't get stolen ... that's how desperately inadequate the supply was of these items. Similarly, other transportation goods were poorly built, not very affordable, and in short supply ... even seen a russian home production motorcycle from that era? At the same time, even fairly impoverished Asia and India were putting their populations of millions of fuel miserly transportation .... some of which were developed into very good machines that sold in the rest of the world.

Last edited by sunsprit; 08-12-2012 at 12:57 AM..
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:30 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
33,534 posts, read 19,409,983 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RememberMee View Post
Wrong. It's not soviet economy was stagnating, it's consumer appetites of the younger Soviet citizenry were exploding beyond the wildest dreams of older generations and soviet planners. For a soviet youngster lack of a bubble gum was a tragedy you cannot imagine, for his parents ..., well, they simply could not understand those consumer sufferings and longings, they went through wars and horror and they didn't take food, clothing and shelter for granted
I understand all that, but the Brezhnev era was famously called the era of stagnation (Застой), and there was good reason for that. Again, with Russia's oil resources, and the price of oil sky-high globally, the economy should have been doing much better.
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Old 08-13-2012, 01:52 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
33,534 posts, read 19,409,983 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth-Kaunda View Post
Ok, just to change tack for a minute.

how do you think life was for the average citizen in say the 70's, 80's and 90's?

I mean, what were the wages like, and how about the healthcare, education, leisure, shopping, housing, crime , and general happiness of the people?

I've found it very hard to find unbiased books, info on these things.
Comparing the 70's and the 90's is a real roller-coaster. As I posted earlier, in the 70's people had enough discretionary income to save to buy a car, that was the big prestige item. Wages, you have to understand, were a pittance compared to the West, because the "hidden tax" in the Soviet system that provided for all the freebies amounted to 80% or more of what a normal wage would be in that economy. (This came to light in the 90's, when the tax was no longer hidden. Wages went up, but 80% was deducted from them, so -- still basically a socialist system.) Utilities were paid for, rent was virtually free. So each citizen was basically given a small amount of discretionary income. In the 70's, apparently, this amount was enough for some people to buy cars, and for a few young people to actually have money to buy Beatles albums at black market prices (it still mystifies me how this was possible. Must've been children of the Nomenklatura...?)

The 90's, on the other hand, represent the decade of collapse. Instantly after the Soviet system unravelled and Yeltsin took over, all construction across the country ceased. Half-built apartment complexes still stand in outlying areas. The military-industrial complex closed entire factories, causing a mass exodus from cities/towns that depended on those factories for employment. People who didn't have the money to relocate, or didn't have relatives elsewhere in Russia to take them in were in really bad shape, though there was a minimal unemployment insurance type of arrangement. Wages were cut across the board for workers, including academics. A brain drain of highly-trained scientists ensued, as people desperately threw themselves on the West looking for jobs, or found work with Western companies working from home, via computer. As the crisis deepened in 1998, when Russia defaulted on IMF loans, wages were cut again! This, mind you, in a country that had remained on a war economy since WWII, with all citizens growing and canning their own food from their garden plots. Belts were tightened further and further. Currency inflation was so bad that every 2-3 years, new bills would be issued in ever-larger denominations, and the citizenry (and any foreigners in the country at the time) were required to turn in their old bills and get the new ones. With the collapse of 1998, petty crime skyrocketed, bread (the traditional staple) disappeared from stores and kiosks due to panic hoarding. Pensioners were reduced to near-begging in the streets, and the state pension fund went up in smoke.

I could go on, but you get the picture. With the chaos of the 90's, everyone looked back fondly on the 70's as a time of stability and relative prosperity (a VERY relative term in Russia!!). Then, when Putin came to power (end of 90's) , his Presidency happened to coincide with higher oil prices worldwide, so he was able to raise wages a little, and begin investing in infrastructure. Still, he never took an interest in light industry, which was going to be Medvedev's project, but oil prices collapsed just after he took office. So there's still high unemployment.
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:05 PM
 
Location: Chicagoland
263 posts, read 334,231 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
So there's still high unemployment.
Unemployment is only high relative to Soviet times, when everyone (officially) had a job. Currently it's at a post-Soviet low of about 6%.
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Old 08-13-2012, 04:43 PM
 
2,924 posts, read 1,066,290 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
I understand all that, but the Brezhnev era was famously called the era of stagnation (Застой), and there was good reason for that. Again, with Russia's oil resources, and the price of oil sky-high globally, the economy should have been doing much better.
I always wondered, what would happen if Khrushchev had a chance to run the country for 20 more years....
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:37 PM
 
6,219 posts, read 4,536,975 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
I always wondered, what would happen if Khrushchev had a chance to run the country for 20 more years....
Not much.
All the same, he'd still run the country into the ground.
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Old 08-13-2012, 08:43 PM
 
2,924 posts, read 1,066,290 times
Reputation: 600
[quote=Ruth4Truth;25616980]Comparing the 70's and the 90's is a real roller-coaster. As I posted earlier, in the 70's people had enough discretionary income to save to buy a car, that was the big prestige item. [ /QUOTE]

When was that when every or Russians could afford a car in the 70's?

No such thing.
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:10 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
33,534 posts, read 19,409,983 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
When was that when every or Russians could afford a car in the 70's?
I never said "every Russian".
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:36 AM
 
1,626 posts, read 446,835 times
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It was all very simple, actually: after Khrushev, conservatives defeated technocrats, and then entrenched at their oligarchial positions, and led the country to massive (by Soviet levels, not capitalist) corruption and inefficiency.

Then a populist president (Gorbachev) used his near-dictatorship power to destroy the government and the Union. A farmer turned a populist president...

The intention behind the destruction of USSR was to kick poor republics out of rich Russia. Economists cried, but couldn't do anything.

There was a large-scale pro-capitalism propaganda during Gorbachev's Perestroyka. The main theme was: "If we destroy the Union and adopt capitalism, we will all live as Americans". By that propaganda meant upper middle class and above Americans.

People followed this, and let the government (it was Eltsin, the president of Russian Republic, who managed to strip Gorbachev off power) do it's nasty job. Then Russia succumbed to Chicago's neoliberalism, and its economy collapsed.

Then there was a revolution, after people understood what's going on... but it was suppressed with tanks.

Today most people believe that Putin will bring USSR back, but without its shortcomings. I'd prefer them bet on commies - who look pretty idiotic, but still...
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:39 AM
 
1,626 posts, read 446,835 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel12 View Post
I always wondered, what would happen if Khrushchev had a chance to run the country for 20 more years....
Social-democratic country, only without the ultra-rich, I guess. I don't like Khrushev, but I like his successors a lot less.
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