Power of Memory

The interesting thing about US in regards of current economic conditions is most people seems not to remember any big crisis.  So there is belief some events simply can’t happen.

I find being very grateful for my childhood memory in  Soviet Union and Russia which show some things you think could never change collapsing in a few short years.

My first memories go back to early 90s when I was a child myself.  I remember the empty shelfs and having hard time to buy anything changed with great selection at very unaffordable prices as the prices were let go.   Inflation made life savings of most of people worthless.  The only thing which remained for most of people was their flats.

What I find interesting is how this later was described by the government as necessary  (and I think they had the point) – There was imbalance between income and  production but as prices were fixed  you simply had very hard time getting anything at these prices.  Of course there was black market for many goods but most people just preferred to save money and wait their turn to purchase things at official prices.

As inflation happened not only savings but also state pensions were affected and a lot of  older people had to get back to work to make their living or relay on their children.   For years I would see typically older women  moping floors at school and other locations.

In Russia the elder generation gave up its rights.  Not prepared for battle with single party system they always fallen for the tricks and brought to the power the party which had had mainly youth interests in mind.

Visiting Sweden around 92  I remember I was shocked seeing people in their 70s just starting to live – visiting restaurants, traveling, being well dressed etc.  In Russia most of eldery people at that time would have very modest life style spending mainly on food and medications.

As I see in US the situation is different, probably because of Baby Boomers which are large in numbers as well as because of senior people experienced in politics.   The interest of eldery is maintained with Social Security and Medicare kept intact with little idea how it is paid in the future or notorious proposition 13 in California.

From my opinion situation is somewhat similar  between Russia of early 90s and USA.  In both cases there were significant  promises made to people – in terms of Savings in Russia and in terms of promises of Social Security, Medicare, 401K and other equity in USA,  while the production – the ability to deliver on these promises  is impaired.

In case of Russia this was long stagnation followed by large economic collapse in USA it is very marginal growth in the last 10 years and now aging population reducing amount of people who can produce.

Things are significantly different too. In Russia Government owned everything and there was very little of personal dept which allowed the clean start, on other hand transformation to previously non existing market economy was a very big change.

I’m not expecting developments in US to take the same development as In Russia I just remember the things which you think were impossible actually taking place.

One thought on “Power of Memory

  1. Istvan Podor

    Hey Peter,

    I have to say, you are getting old 🙂 But don’t worry I’m younger and I feel the same even here in Hungary/Europe. As I’m sure you know we were in the former CCCP and it’s just 20 years back in time. I don’t remember for things like the empty shelfs but I heard so many stories. I even saw a video where a guy filmed a simple grocery store. Not monuments or museums but the grocery store 🙂

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