The Moscow Times reported last week that salaries in Russia’s far-Eastern Primorye region are currently averaging 9,700 rubles ($270) per month. For a forty-hour work week, that means an hourly wage of $1.70.
The MT also reports that a round-trip plane ticket from Vladivostok in Primorye to Moscow currently costs $1,120. That is four months wages.
The Kremlin is responding to this problem with a well-known Russian “solution” — communism.
It is going to directly subsidize one-half the fare for anyone aged 12 to 23 or over 60 and available from May to September, so that they can visit their relatives back West during the summer holidays.
It is, of course, predictable nonsense. Is paying two months’ wages,rather than four, for a plane ticket for travel within your own country really affordable? Are college students and pensioners even earning the average salary? It seems unlikely. Even if they were, hasn’t Russia already tried this obscene and absurd sort of wealth redistribution scheme, and seen it come to nothing but catastrophic failure?
It seems that by taking this action the Kremlin is admitting that it can’t raise salaries high enough to make air travel affordable — so much for Putin’s so-called “resurgent” economy. Instead, Putin has decided to revert to his communist past and simply reorder the economy at his whim. First he simply ordered the banks to stop selling rubles, and now he decides how much people have to pay for air travel. How long will it be before he realizes that this technique will not make travel affordable, and decides to tell the airlines how much they can charge?