"...Make Brave Reading"
Martin Luther on his sick bed managed to write the following between his groans: “These pains and trouble here are like the type which the printers set; as they look now, we have to read them backwards, and they seem to have no sense or meaning in them; but up yonder, when the Lord God prints us off in the life to come, we shall find they make brave reading.”
Ken’s economic students have answered a simple question for him when he asks: “What have your parents told you about life under the communist system?” The students’ answers are sobering:
Kamila wrote from her mother’s perspective: “USSR was a closed country, so there were almost no imports or exports. People got goods by special tickets, so my parents and many other stood up at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning not to be without products. I don’t like this time, I think it wasn’t fair, because some people work hard, and some didn’t do anything, but the result was equal.”
Elena wrote much about views on consumer/seller relationships in USSR: “…to be honest my parents and grandparents do not really like to discuss that period of time. The only words which are heard very often tell about the “great” deficit. Though my father has some kind of nostalgic, because he remembers that people had a job, stable workplace. I came to an idea that for him it was not a problem to be in the long lists, waiting for flat, for beds, for sofas and all necessary everyday things. Many things were very cheap, such as ice cream, bread, milk, and available in the shops.
There was an advantage, of course, because people with good working experience and many years of working got everything first of all. And also there was some kind of corruption. My Mom’s uncle was a director at the factory and could get many things from abroad through his friends. I especially remember the story about red shoes on the high heels. Also, many products were available with a coupon.In the offices for lunch break and at the end of the day, the bell rang to let people know they were free.My father’s family worked on the ground. In the middle of spring they left homes for summer and some part of autumn to grow many fruits, vegetables and then sell them. Coming back they could buy a car (Moskvich) and were counted as kings and very wealthy people. Through agriculture, people who worked for themselves, selling products to neighbors, also could earn good money.”
Dauren wrote a kind of irony about conditions from the past compared to now: “If we comparing Soviet Union and our days we can say that in Soviet Union there was money, but they don’t have products. Nowadays we have everything, but we don’t have money. (joke)”
Gulshat wrote what she knew about USSR economy: “Too many attention was given to special products, and some product and service were out of consideration. For example, in 1950s they grew virgin soil. They used entire part of Kazakhstani land. They didn’t consider demand for wheat, just continued to produce to match certain plan that was set by Moskow. They used wrong tools of seeding, after what a lot of fat [fertile] land became infertile. It was too harmful in the long run.” Yerik wrote: “My parents said that in Soviet time was deficit of meat, sugar, cigarettes…we are KAZAKH, and can you imagine Kazakh without meat??? It’s like Russian without vodka, I mean “suhoi zakon.”
Chingiz wrote about his father: “…worked as chief accountant on car repair factory (which was a very prestigious and “benefitial”), he was able to purchase new car “Volga” which used to be quite reare and prestigious at those times. And almost only care of such “rank” at neighborhood.”