Thursday, November 17, 2011

Photo of the Day: Life in the Soviet Union

Consumers had to wait in really long lines for everything so the "time cost" was really, really high, but hey, at least the "money cost" was really low.

15 Comments:

At 11/18/2011 12:17 AM, Blogger Jimi said...

Photo circa 1990.

A result of Gorbachev's Perestroika that many years ago. A point when state assets were being scooped up by the Communist Party political elite. Privitized if you'd like. Who paid the price and who made out like princes? Guess who stood in line for staples - the folks in the picture.

 
At 11/18/2011 5:24 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Jimi; shortages and long queues for basic necessities were ubiquitous in the USSR long before Gorbachev. There are plenty of books about life in the USSR that describe this.

 
At 11/18/2011 5:46 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

I remember in the early 1970's waiting in a queue forever to finally get the chance to purchase a few half rotted potatoes, practically thrown in our face by a rude sales clerk.

The only plentiful things were shortages and rudeness. People could spend an entire day criss-crossing Moscow and leaning on connections just to obtain a portion of the basic necessities of life.

 
At 11/18/2011 6:02 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Jimi,

Privatization didn't happen during Perestroika. It happened after the USSR disintegrated in 1991.

Gorbachev's answer to Soviet economic woes was to roll out some hackneyed tripe about "market socialism" and rail against the Soviet public, calling the population lazy, stupid and drunk.

For decades, the only place Russians could hope to get some of their basic needs met was in the black market. Gorbachev viciously attacked this last bastion of free trade, significantly worsening life for the average person.

As for privatization, what does it mean when the state owns the means of production? Since the state is a fictitious entity, What it means is that proprietary control was in the hands of nomenklatura, the comrades. It was they who, in effect, owned the means of production.

When Western advisers suggested Russia privatize its economy, this was understood by those close to power as making explicit that which was previously implicit. In the mix there were a few businesses that were either started by individuals or some assets that were purchased by foreign firms who resuscitated them and made them productive. When that happened, the mafia of former Soviet elites ensured that their property was quickly expropriated.

 
At 11/18/2011 7:02 AM, Blogger DadIsInTheHouse said...

That photo reminds me of the lines at my local Wal-Mart.

There are many similarities.

 
At 11/18/2011 7:41 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Qoute from DadIsInTheHouse: "That photo reminds me of the lines at my local Wal-Mart. There are many similarities."

You mean like being able to go next door to a different store selling the exact same product for a higher price and not having to wait in a line?

Those people in the picture were waiting in line because that was the only place with anything. Yes, that's very similar to what we find in the US today.

 
At 11/18/2011 7:58 AM, Blogger Finbar said...

This reminds me of the old joke about two women waiting in line to buy bread during the Soviet era.

One woman voiced her irritation: "It's an outrage that we should have to queue for bread!"

Her friend corrected her sharply, saying "It's not! It's a privilege! Do you realize, in the West, the government doesn't even MAKE bread?"

.

 
At 11/18/2011 9:49 AM, Blogger KPres said...

LOL @ Jimi

Gorbachev's Perestroika raised per capita GDP from a basically stagnant ~$3,000/year to ~6,000/ year in a matter of 5 years. The fact that those small market based reforms were such a success is a large reason the communist system collapsed a few years later.

 
At 11/18/2011 12:42 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

finbar-

i was always a fan of this one:

"An old guy's wife tells him to go to the butcher shop and get some meat. He goes to the butcher shop and stands in line for hours. Finally the butcher says, "We're out of meat." The old guy blows his top. He yells, "I am a worker! I am a proletarian! I am a veteran of the Great Patriotic War! I have fought for socialism all my life, and now you tell me you're out of meat! What kind of a system is this?! You are fools! You are thieves! . . . " A big man in a trench coat comes up to the old guy and says, "Comrade, Comrade, not so loud. In the old days you know what they would do if you said such things." The big man in the trench coat makes a pistol motion with his hand. He says to the old guy, "Calm down and go home." The old guy shrugs and leaves. He comes back empty-handed, and his wife says, "What's the matter, are they out of meat?" "Worse than that," says the old guy, "they're out of bullets."

 
At 11/18/2011 1:05 PM, Blogger cliffwarren said...

I fear that the OWS crowd is too young to remember this.

 
At 11/18/2011 1:10 PM, Blogger Paul said...

I wonder why Jon isnt commenting here to tell us how fantastic this was.

 
At 11/18/2011 1:21 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

A result of Gorbachev's Perestroika that many years ago. A point when state assets were being scooped up by the Communist Party political elite. Privitized if you'd like. Who paid the price and who made out like princes? Guess who stood in line for staples - the folks in the picture.

LOL. This was common long before Gorbachev, not just in the USSR but everywhere behind the Iron Curtain. I remember when our government controlled media tried to show how bad things were by showing striking workers fighting with police. While the government censors saw discontent we saw supposedly oppressed workers who lived better than 99% of our population. They actually could afford jeans, nice watches that worked, and their own cars.

 
At 11/18/2011 2:31 PM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

My favorite was a Ronald Reagan story:

A man calls the service repairman for the heater in his apartment and is told that he can come to repair it three years from today. Then man then asks: "Morning or afternoon?" The repairman responds, "What does it matter? It is three years from today." The man replies: "The TV repairman is coming that morning."

 
At 11/18/2011 2:43 PM, Blogger cluemeister said...

Russia 1990
Venezuela 2011
Obamaville (if reelected) 2015

 
At 11/19/2011 7:44 AM, Blogger Manuel said...

Russia's Natural State of Corruption. Vladimir Putin holds his country back. Ronald Bailey: http://manuelalvarezlopez.blogspot.com/2011/10/russias-natural-state-of-corruption.html


Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong. Leon Aron: http://manuelalvarezlopez.blogspot.com/2011/11/everything-you-think-you-know-about.html

 

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