Justice and Punishment

Eugene Leitl (eugene@liposome.genebee.msu.su)
Sat, 4 Apr 1998 13:53:35 +0400 (MSD)

John K Clark writes:

> >Centralized systems are not inherently bad
> Tell that to the impoverished people of the former USSR.

The worst thing, a fair fraction of them are still not getting it --
there is a significant (and growing) support for the communist party.
The things have not improved as rapidly as promised/people would like
to have it, and they are getting impatient. Also, most of them are
depressed and cynical, many are looking to make an escape into the
west. Men being alcoholics is axiomatic. Health care system is down,
pensions often hardly sufficient to keep people alive. Otoh,
especially among older people a touchingly naive faith in
the government is widespread I don't know what the average youth is
thinking, but girls are purported to find prostitution an attractive
career. Unemployment, especially hidden unemployment are
dramatic. Black economy eclipses the official budget by an order of magnitude.
Ecological situation is a desaster. Bad as the situation in Moscow and
Leningrad is, the periphery is way worse. Wages are not paid for
months there. People are gone into minifarming to not to
starve. Sachalin's fisher fleet won't function because there is not
enough money for fuel. Youth criminality is very high
generally, the streets are not safe at night. Infrastructure is in
a terrible state, attempts of maintanance are slovenly. The streets
belong to the dirt, and the street dogs. Kamikaze car drivers with
bogus licenses run over people frequently. The new russians often even
do not stop after an accident -- they can always get away by bribes.
Tendency for improvement is purported to be there, yet it is slow
enough not be perceptable by yours truly on the scale of a few months.

The centralism has not decreased imo: merely people in leading
positions grabbed the resources which suddenly become available. Of
course, to be in leading positions these people had to be Communists.
The tax system is a bad joke. Mid-range businessmen are drained both
by the mafia and ridiculous taxation. There is money out there, but it is
concentrated enormously. The newest of the new russians have current
or past criminal affiliations. The most basic issues as
e.g. privatization of the ground are still being debated about, after
a decade of 'reforms'. For all practical purposes industry is down.
As is science (20% of MSU's staff have leaved the country, most of
them permanently. Of course these are the best 20%). The mafia and
the government are indistinguishable. The police is corrupt, and
harasses and waylays people (you can be easily beaten up and robbed,
legal methods to combat this are useless -- in fact worse than
useless -- police casualties are thus very high). Mafia and business
are indistinguishable. During 'rasborki', as they call it, mafia gang
members and businessmen are killed routinely.

There's centralism for you.