Russia’s 2011 Report Card
Using the typical scale for applying letter grades to students (90-100% correct is an “A” and 80-89% correct is a “B” and 70-79% correct is a “C” and 60-69% correct is a “D” and anything below 60% correct is failing), we have once again prepared Russia’s national report card based on an array of international tests and evaluations imposed over the last twelve months.
The tests come from a stunning array of international experts, ranging from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation to the ultra-liberal New Economics Foundation, and everything in between from the Committee to Protect Journalists to Transparency International. No matter who does the scoring, Russia doesn’t receive one single grade as high as a C minus. In fact, Russia’s highest grade is D-, and in 13 tries it only managed one of those. One D and twelve Fs, more than half of which reflect a score of less than 25%, meaning that three-quarters or more of world nations are better than Russia. Russia only makes the top half of the world in a measely two categories. Time for the dunce cap, Russia!
Here are the results beginning with Russia’s best results and scrolling down to its very worst (with the letter grade after each subject, followed by Russia’s “percent correct” — i.e., the percentage of countries that Russia’s score was better than — and its class rank):
Human Development: D- (62% – #65/169)
Travel & Tourism: F+ (58% — #59/139)
Economic Competitiveness: F (54% — #63/137)
Personal Wealth: F (43% — #63/110)
Rule of Law: F (35% – #43/66)
Life Expectancy: F (31% – #135/194)
Personal Well-Being: F ( 24% — 108/143)
Press Freedom: F (21% – 140/178)
Economic Freedom: F (20% — 143/179)
Ethics: F (14% — 154/178)
Security: F (12% – #154/175)
Road Construction: F (8% — #124/139)
2009 Economic Growth: F (3% — #206/213)
Other observations could be made as well, for instance: Russia also ranks #4 in the world in murders of journalists and dead last (literally) in fatalities due to smoking. Russians spend more time waiting in lines than the people of any other country in Europe, and they have the worst performance on human rights of any nation in the former USSR. Only five of 43 “more developed” nations on the planet have a more harsh environment for mothers. And so on, and so on.
Who can review these grades and be anything but horrified, except one eager to see Russia destroy itself?
What we find most telling is that Russia’s score for personal freedom, from the arch-conservatives at the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, is almost precisely identical to its score for press freedom from the arch liberals at the Committee to Protect Journalists. There is simply no way that anyone can suggest these two entities are somehow in cahoots, yet their surveys of almost identical groups of nations produce exactly the same results: Russia ranks in the bottom 20% of the world for freedom. Four out of five countries on the planet offer their citizens more freedom than Russia does.
When one then considers that Russia’s score for security is also utterly dismal, then one sees the point we have been making for years now here on this blog: That Russians are getting the worst of all possible worlds. They were supposed to be giving up freedom by handing power to a proud KGB spy who would then reward them with much better security. Yet Russia still has an obscenely high crime and corruption rate and it is still lethal to walk down Russia’s streets. The crackdown on freedom has been devastatingly effective, however, and we have seen the obliteration of opposition political parties and independent media.
Even if Russia had managed to get several scores into the “C” grade range of 70% — meaning that “only” 30% of world nations were better than Russia — this would still be abject failure for a country that insist on being treated as a world leader in forums like the G-8 and the UN Security Council.
Russia’s “Rule of Law” grade is handed out by the World Justice Project. Here Russia received its fifth highest grade. But if you look deeper, you learn that the WJP rated Russia #55 out of 66 countries it studied across the globe when judging the country’s ability to preserve the integrity of the individual branches of government — the fundamental principle of the rule of law. This places Russia in the bottom 18% of all world nations, a truly stunning commentary on the backwards state of Russian political development. Russia manages a higher score in rule of law only because its score for criminal justice — meaning the rate at which it incarcerates those accused of crimes — is astronomically high. That’s hardly a badge of honor for a country with a horrifying totalitarian past like Russia.
Russia’s lowest score is equally telling. The vaunted Putin economy suffered far more than almost any other country from the global economic crisis, and its ability to rebound from it has been among the weakest. That’s because there is no “Putin economy,” there is just the price of crude oil upon which Russia depends for survival. Despite 12 years of power, Putin has not even begun to develop a diversified economy that can withstand the vagaries of the business cycle.
All responsible Russian citizens should look at their national report card and be appalled. As the presidential election cycle begins in Russia, they should be looking for new leaders who can do something about all this failure.