Archive for March 2, 2008

“Torture Machine Out of a Simple Procedure”

 Ken’s economic students (around 300) of them answered the simple question: “What did your parents tell you about consumer/seller relationship in the former Soviet Union?”  The students’ answers are unvarnished and authentic:

Dinara: “As it was said by my parents:  In Soviet Union there was a statement that all people must be equal in everything.  It is called communism.”

 Ainur:  What my parents told me that there was a deficit, but as my parents work in a Trade Union, most of goods were available for them, especially food.  There was a case, for example, they wanted to buy a car.  They had to wait for a couple of years, but if you want it faster you should give a bribe for people who are dealing with.

However, my dad said that there was a plenty of production, plants and factories, the reason of deficit is because government wanted to do so.  My dad thinks that Mr. Gorbachev made this in order to destroy the communism.  It was made intentionally.

 S.A. “[ ** ] damn socialism! It made torture machine out of a simple procedure.”

 Anisa:  It was a time when people had not so much money and not so much variability of products.  Everything was standard and mostly it was a shortage of these standard products.  Most of the people bought clothes and other stuff on the black market more expensive that it was.

 Julia:  My dad told me that when he was twelve, there were no jeans.  All wear only few kind of trousers.  He said that sometimes they really look like in incubator.  Then my father’s uncle was in Germany and brought him one pair of jeans.  After that my father was like “a really cool guy” in his school.  We still have this pair of jeans and he really don’t want to get rid of them.  He says that this is like a “history.”

 Altynai:  The first thing they told me was “shortages on everything”  Everyone has money, but not always opportunity to buy something.  For example, while robbery or thief gains but didn’t took money.

 Aldiyar:  Shopping in USSR was complicated especially in small cities (not in Moscow).  As they lived in Moscow they could get rare things, and almost everything that they needed, but their friends and relatives living in Almaty could not get as much as they could.  They could get product of local manufacturing area.  However, Moscow had everything from all areas of USSR, and even could get such things as records (tapes) of Western musical orchestras, bands, etc.  Also, market access was relaxed to position of people (not financial, but hierarchical, social, political)

 Saltanat:  My parents told me about shopping in the USSR in the 1980s and early 1990s.  That it was not interesting at all as there were not enough products.  During the card system existed they didn’t like it to stand in queues and they felt themselves kind of ashamed.

 Dina:  My parents say that inspite of food and clothes deficit, they loved the country and was very patriotic.  They believed that in other countries people have worse life.

 Aiganym:  There were no opportunity to choose because of lack of variety (e.x. only 1 model of shoes in the store).  So, the truth was:  “If you want to be original and good looking, the way is to start to sew the clothes by yourself.”  My mother told me about interesting place called “Salon of Just Married” where young couple came, showed the documents proving their marriage and received some “tolons” where were written things you can buy on it in this store.

 Lyudmila:  They said that it began from ban of alcohol (second part of 1980s).  It caused great deficit of sugar, and then it was like chain reaction.  People began to buy everything.  Demand was much more than supply.  And because of supply was provided by government it couldn’t be increased.  So almost all population of USSR was in long lines in shops.   This situation continued to 1990s years.  Even after collapse of USSR awful situation with deficit of all goods was.

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