Talking Russian Turkey
Our lead editorial today contains a horrifying litany of failure by the Putin regime in Russia and suffering resulting on the part of the people of Russia. Our second editorial adds even more disturbing data. Sometimes such reporting can overwhelm the senses. Let’s counterbalance it with a very simple real-world example.
Suppose that you were a Russian in the summer of 2008 earning the average national wage of 100 rubles per hour. You’d be paid in rubles, of course, the tidy sum of roughly 4,000 rubles per week for a full-time job.
Now suppose you’d like to buy a nice new television. It wouldn’t be a Russian model, of course, because Russians don’t make TVs, or much of anything else for that matter in the way of fun or interesting or pleasurable or useful consumer products. Milk, bread, and some really lame toiletries are about the best Russians can manage. Let’s say you wanted a nice Japanese model, a Sony for example, and it would set you back 6,000 rubles, or a week and a half’s wages. And you planned, in a responsible manner, to set aside 1,000 rubles per month, 250 per week, for the next six months until you’ve saved up enough for the set.
And then last month, having dutifully squirreled away your kopecks through the long cold winter, you hopped over to your local electronics shop with 6,000 rubles burning a whole in your pocket, full of pride and happy thoughts of all the pleasure you’d have watching your new TV. Well, you imagined you’d have pleasure, anyway, because not having had a TV before you weren’t full aware of what an absurd pile of unwatchable dreck lies in store for you on state-controlled Russian TV. Still though, there’s always DVDs and maybe, if you save a few more years, satellite.
But when you enter the shop, you are shocked to find that the price of the TV you had your heart set on is now 9,400 rubles because the conversion factor on rubles to foreign currency has gone from 24 when you started saving to 36 at the moment of intended purchase and on top of that Russia sports 13% annual consumer price inflation. This means it will take you four more months of saving in order to get your TV — that is unless by that time the ruble has fallen to 40 to the dollar (or even lower, Russia’s FOREX reserves having become unexpectedly exhausted and hence unable to continue supporting the ruble at a false value) and inflation has soared even higher, in which case you’d have to start all over yet again, ad infinitum.
Assuming you are lucky enough to keep your job that long, of course, and with unemployment skyrocketing that is certainly a risky proposition at best. And that you didn’t get sick and need to blow all your savings bribing doctors so they won’t kill you in your hospital bed.
Knowing that Russia is one of the most corrupt societies on the planet as you undoubtedly do, loyal LR reader that you are, perhaps you can now see how theft becomes a rather attractive and even practical option in the view of many Russians.