RUSSIA: FIRST WORLD COMPLEXION, THIRD WORLD ATTITUDE | 2004-02-14
In 1776, Adam Smith noted that while China was poor, India was desperate.
Two hundred years later, India was the example people used when they talked about places that were desperately poor. With all the world to choose from, India is where Mother Theresa went to help the poorest of the poor.
But today Indian workers often get paid better than Russian workers.
Too many Russians steal. People I know who live there are afraid to use the mail because anything worth having will get stolen. No one gets fired for this.
The old Communist attitude is deeply burned into the modern Russian. He is poorly paid, so he says that is somebody else's fault. If you want something done in Russia, you have to know who to pay. So nothing gets done easily. A modern economy cannot run that way.
In the Soviet Union, each task belonged to some particular person. The buyer was the servant. The buyer waited for whoever was providing the service to show up at his own convenience, scowl at them, and do it if he felt like it.
That economy finally collapsed.
But that economy is still in Russia. In a bank, if the one person who handles a particular task is not there that day, someone else cannot do it.
A modern economy cannot function like that.
Russian attitudes are very much like the attitudes in the more stagnant Latin American countries.
Russia can change. Some of it has changed. The people whose attitudes have changed are getting rich. Russia in general is poor to an extent the average American, even in the ghetto, cannot imagine.