We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Compare and Contrast

“You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.”
— Bernie Sanders

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”
— Boris Yeltsin

Post inspired by reading the story of how Boris Yeltsin went grocery shopping in Clear Lake, Texas, and discovered that perhaps socialism wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

See also: the latest on the paradise that is Venezuela.

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53 comments to Compare and Contrast

  • Thailover

    Bernie Sanders suffers from a classic form of tribalist-think stupidity. He thinks that 23 kinds of underarm deoderant and 18 kinds of sneekers are foisted upon the collective, rather than those items are on the shelves ONLY because they’re in demand by persons who choose this one over that one, and another person chooses that one over this one. Unlike with socialism, virtually everything produced in a supply and demand market is being used. And if not, it’s financially “eaten” by the capitalists, coming out of their “evil” profits. Needless to say, profit seeking capitalists don’t make many things not in demand. If they do, they don’t do it very long before they’re no longer practicing capitalists.

    Why would 23 kinds of sneekers be waste when you still have the same number of feet to shoe? And isn’t it MY capital to invest and seek profit on? That potential waste is literally my business as a capitalist. It’s no cost to him or anyone else at all.

    But, as a socialist, he sees no difference between voluntary choice and gov coercion. No difference between my money and his money. How dare I invest my own earned income when he has global warming to cure with my money.

  • Surellin

    So Bernie gets to decide on what variety of deodorants and sneakers are desirable? And other products as well, I’m sure. He’ll be very tired, doing all that thinking for so many people. But they are poor dumb proles, and he has a Giant Socialist Brain, so I suppose that is how it will have to be.

  • Paul Marks

    It is a sad contrast.

    And I liked Yeltsin.

    He drank too much, he let Putin deceive him about the situation with the Chechins, and above all he did not understand banking.

    The vast credit-money bubble in Russia led to a terrible crash – it always does.

    Government must never give people the impression it stands behind the banking system – for, in the end, such a blank cheque is impossible.

    However, Yeltsin meant well – he really did. And he had guts – he was sober when he climbed aboard that tank.

    He understood that socialism, collectivism, does-not-work.

    The university crowd who cheered Obama and now cheer for “Bernie” do not understand that.

    And the media crowd do not understand it either.

    Better politicians will give “the people” everything they could desire.

    Only “the rich” and “big business” stand in the way.

    And this Hillary Clinton believes as much as the youngest Bernie fan.

    Yes she is cynical – but at her core (and she does have one) this is what she believes.

    And, sadly, many “conservatives” and “liberals” (step forward Economist magazine) around the world half believe this stuff also.

    “Capitalism” is bad (or at least half bad – it must be regulated by the state in every detail, so they believe) – the state must do more for “the people”.

    One can not compromise with such people – and they can not be appeased.

    Whether it is over a small things (such as a doctoral thesis at the University of York) or big things – such as the fate of nations.

    They must be fought, to the bitter end – if bitter it must be.

  • Thailover

    Consumerism: that evil that comes from the people having enough of what they desire. Both left and rightwing consider it evil. ‘Better to curb one’s desires, live in austerity and humbleness, in a primative “earth friendly” environment, or so they would suggest. The alternative is “selfish”, lol.

  • Richard Thomas

    It is easy to look at the “waste” that capitalism and competition produces (largely in terms of advertising and duplication of effort) and harder to see the economies it drives (if you are not efficient, you will go out of business).

  • staghounds

    It’s even easier to see how the proponents of the Sanders and Clintons and Gores of the world, being blessed with being able to choose how to live, choose to live. If austerity is so good, you first.

    On topic, we always used to take defectors shopping. Then never believed U. S. stores were real at first.

  • ams

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I value capitalism much much more than democracy. In democracy, you get to vote once every four years or so, to have 1/100,000,000th of a say in a collective decision which is forced on everyone – usually by voting for representatives that will ignore you and enrich themselves with crony deals and entrench the power of a political overclass despite your stated wishes.

    In capitalism, you get to choose individually what you want, from nigh unlimited choices. Everyone can walk into Wal-mart, make their disparate individual choices, and walk out with what they want. They can do so all 7 days of the week if they want to.

    In a democracy, you have “rights”. How do you know you have rights? If you get arrested and have major portions of your assets seized, you get to appear before a judge, and sometimes, when they feel like it, a jury. These guys will decide if they like you enough to follow the constitution and the laws, or if you need to go to jail, perform forced labor, and pay outrageous fines to the state. Conviction rates are somewhere north of 95%, so you have a better chance of having rights that day than winning the lottery, but do you want to bet on it?

    In capitalism, you have a bank account. You can do whatever the hell you want with your account. If one firm isn’t meeting your needs, you can go to another firm. People are generally interested in obtaining your money, so they’ll tend to clamp down on their baser impulses and try to meet your needs.

    Unfortunately, democracy is everywhere, but capitalism is vanishing from the face of the Earth.

  • lucklucky

    The most relevant part is this:

    “I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.”

    What does he think media are?

  • Darin

    See also: the latest on the paradise that is Venezuela.

    See also the paradise that was Russia under Yeltsin’s rule. But he mastered the true ideology and had the best intentions, and this counts.

  • Darin

    And I liked Yeltsin.

    Some people admire Castro, some Mao, some Chavez, some Jack the Ripper. To each his own.

    But be careful when you mention your taste of leaders to any non-oligarch Russian who remembers Yelzins democracy.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Darrin: Yeltsin was not in charge at the point where those curves go into free fall, and indeed, he only became President of Russia in late 1991 near the point where the curves stop quickly dropping, so I don’t see how you can blame him for it. I’m also not sure the data from the Soviet period was accurate to begin with.

    Regardless, the point remains the same: average Russians faced empty stores under Soviet rule. This posting was not about Yeltsin, but about socialism, and forgetting what socialism means to the lives of its victims.

  • Roue le Jour

    Explain how reducing my choice of footwear alleviates hunger. Show your workings.

  • Darin

    True, someone even more ideologically pure than Yeltsin could come to power at the time. But the fact is that the democracy of 90’s was time of absolute hell on earth for 99+% of ppl of Russia and most of former USSR.

    This is the reason for Putin’s approval rate. This is the reason why “democracy” is dirty word in Russia.
    Until the West grasps this, it has no chance to prevail in “second cold war”.

    Here are some experiences of ordinary Russians from the 90’s, more info available on request.

    What were the 90’s like?

    90’s Russia

  • RRS

    From Richard T. :

    It is easy to look at the “waste” that capitalism and competition produces (largely in terms of advertising and duplication of effort) and harder to see the economies it drives (if you are not efficient, you will go out of business).

    Not to be critical –

    Neither “capitalism” nor “competition” produce “waste.”

    The methods and modes humans use in seeking their objectives, the relationships they establish, the varying actions they take (or fail to take) produce varying results under varying conditions. Some of those forms of results are labeled capitalism.

    If people want and make automobiles, scrap will be produced. The allocations of resources for the manufacture will involve competition for the use of resources. That competition produces “loss” of resources to the extent that the allocations are not optimum.

    There is nothing unique about the factors that result in the condition labeled capitalism being factors that produce scrap or less than optimally allocate resources.

    It’s just what humans do – and the ways they do it.

  • RRS

    It is almost pointless to listen to, let alone read anything from people like Sanders (and many others with more exalted certifications) – except – to be reminded, at base, there are those who would say how we all should live (some claiming personal exemptions), to what we should all aspire, set the bona fides of all desires, the means of seeking all objectives.

    That, not economics, not social order, or liberty, but “what life should be,” is what they are about.

  • JohnK

    Darin:

    No-one is claiming that life in Russia in the 1990s was a bed of roses. However, if you are saying that its problems were caused by “capitalism”, I might have to disagree with you, and point you rather to the legacy of a failed 70 year experiment with something called “socialism”.

  • John Mann

    I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Bernie Sanders actually dislikes the fact that there are 23 different deodorants. I get the impression that he thinks that this is, in some way, decadent – that Americans have too much choice and too much money.

    If this is indeed the case, the implication is that Bernie is a secret fan of austerity.

  • Mr Ed

    Darin, you come close to trolling here. Whatever the ills of the Yeltsin era, they arise in the context of over 75 years of war, famine and terror, and it would be at best lazy to blame Yeltsin for the entirety of the situation.

  • James Strong

    ‘And I liked Yeltsin.’.

    Leaving aside that he rose to prominence as Mayor of Moscow under the Soviet system, and therefore could not have been a lover of freedom or he wouldn’t have risen, he was a drunk weilding power. Never admirable and usually,if not always, dangerous.

    ‘Yeltsin meant well- he really did.’

    That could go in as a Samidata quote of the day, provided it was attached to a large, upper-case ‘FFS’.

    Good intentions are valueless, more usually they are dangerous.

  • Mr Ed

    James S: would you care to venture a hypothesis as to how Yeltsin might have done what he did had he been, say, a librarian in Ekaterinburg in the late 1980s rather than a politician who had risen in the system?

  • Greytop

    I would be astonished if Sanders is right about the number of deodorants available. Twenty three doesn’t seem like very many at all, but it troubles me not if there are 123 varieties. That is how the system works: choice is offered, people choose. Of their own free will if they have the money (and frankly, there are always cut-price deodorants available for those who think spending a little is better than spending a lot.)

    Once more this is just another example of a vague figure plucked out of thin air and waved about by a limited-thinking socialist to make some equally vague point. And therein lies the whole problem with sanders’ political ideology : the true facts would be so much more useful but how much better to make rude noises than actually check reality.

  • Thailover

    RSS, actually I would suggest that capitalism is much more efficient/less wastefull than any alternative. If you’re in america and in an industry where a process generates scrap sheet aluminum, you either find a use for it or you sell it to soda can factories, whereas the socialist version would simply throw the scap away. They’ve done what they were told to do, they’ve met their mandated quota. Why would they look for MORE work to do with no reward for doing so?

  • Jake Haye

    To paraphrase Bernie Sanders: “Bernie Sanders is a despicable piece of shit.”

  • Thailover

    Roue le Jour said, “Explain how reducing my choice of footwear alleviates hunger. Show your workings.”

    Indeed, it makes no sense. I’m guessing that Sanders is thinking that 18 kinds of sneakers requires more factories than one kind of sneaker, which it could but probably wouldn’t. We are, after all, talking about cladding the same number of feet. And I’m also guessing that he’s thinking that more factories = more pollution, which it wouldn’t. And as to the “nation’s wealth” or the “nation’s resources”, he, being a true blue socialist, wouldn’t understand that my earned wealth doesn’t belong to the nation, and that other factory would be built using capital from capital investors. ‘Money’s which used making shoes is not moneys taken from someone else, or moneys taken from some other social service.

  • Thailover

    John Mann wrote,

    “If this is indeed the case, the implication is that Bernie is a secret fan of austerity.”

    What I call, tribal primitivism. “Decadent” is the perfect description of their views of capitalism.

  • Thailover

    ams, capitalism IS democracy in the sense that I vote with my wallet. Leftists are disgruntled because economic democracy is much harder to rig and control than politial democracy in the west.

  • Cristina

    “But the fact is that the democracy of 90’s was time of absolute hell on earth for 99+% of ppl of Russia and most of former USSR.”
    Very true.
    “This is the reason for Putin’s approval rate. This is the reason why “democracy” is dirty word in Russia.”
    Not just that. The propaganda machine working overtime deserves its credit here. Also the meticulous elimination of opposition voices by Putin has helped him a world.

  • Cristina

    “I may be wrong, but it seems to me that Bernie Sanders actually dislikes the fact that there are 23 different deodorants”
    He doesn’t like 23 types of deodorants, John Mann. For a socialist all humans are equal, with few exceptions (he and his pals) hence, no need for more than one deodorant, if any. After all, they tend to be reputed for the opposite of a nice smell.

  • CaptDMO

    Award winning Political Scientist and Economist Bernie Sanders….
    Time to leave copies of “We the Living” lying around the coffee shops and student “unions” in the State of Vermont (US).
    From Bennington to Burlington.
    I KNOW the Governor there has at LEAST been exposed to “Russian literature”, the kind thinly veiled to avoid samizdat “status”.

  • CaptDMO

    Poop. In hindsight….
    Award nominated Political Scientist and Economist…

  • Stonyground

    Saying that having too much choice is a bad thing is perverse anyway but when it comes to claiming that too much choice is unnecessary, shoes really are the wrong target. Runners are forever searching for the perfect shoe and if they find one that comes somewhere near, they buy up all of the existing stock before the manufacturer changes the design. The problem is that every runner has different shaped feet and a different gait and having the wrong shoes causes all kinds of painful niggles and sometimes injuries that stop runners from running. Triathletes have the same kind of issues when it comes to wetsuits and bicycles. I’m pretty sure that lots of people here have a hobby or profession where having lots of choice is an absolute blessing.

    Could it be that since socialism is such a failed ideology, proponents have to invent imaginary reasons to be in favour of it?

  • RRS

    Thailover notes:

    RSS, actually I would suggest that capitalism is much more efficient/less wastefull than any alternative.

    At the risk of grating on Laird with my repetitions;

    It is not the resulting condition we label “Capitalism” which is “more efficient/less wasteful.” It is rather those processes; relationships, selections of circumstances, modes of determinations of those factors (especially the degrees of unimpeded choices and responses) in which the widely dispersed information in a society is deployed that yields more optimum ends for more people – materially. In and from that same course of human conduct and processes there appears the resulting condition -Capitalism; the creation of and retention surpluses.

  • RRS

    Thailover notes:

    ams, capitalism IS democracy in the sense that I vote with my wallet. Leftists are disgruntled because economic democracy is much harder to rig and control than politial democracy in the west.

    If you accept that “democracy” is the label for those processes by which “the people” express their power over their circumstances, the power over what they buy or the costs they accept, and the exchanges they expect, then the condition of “capitalism” provides means for the expression of some degree of that power.

    However, we are witnessing the “political” reallocation of costs and burdens, the assignments of obligations which impair that particular power.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The story at “the latest on the paradise that is Venezuela” illustrates exactly my reaction to the Quelles horreur! C’est un crime terrible! statements of both sides in the 1990 episode built around the black-marketeers.

    I would never quote myself, but recently I posted my gut reaction: I thought they were doing a public service!

    . . .

    Meanwhile, I wish I could send this entire discussion to my classmate the Librul SJW, who says Bernie really is just your standard European-style Democratic Socialist, and clearly (1) Anti-trust grew out of a genuine need, and (2) this growing Income Inequality is Dreadful Just Dreadful. (I’m not getting into the weeds of the differences if any between Dem. Socs. and Social Democrats.) –Well, of course I could send it, but he wouldn’t read it, and if he did his own malformed mental relief-map of the world would never be able to readjust itself in such a way as to try this one on to see if it fits better.

    . . .

    Good posting, P.M.

  • Chester Draws

    And yet when a capitalist firm does in fact find the “one true product” that is so much better than the competition that it almost forces them from the market (Microsoft Office for while, Google search now) the likes of Sanders complain vociferously about “monopolist” capitalism.

    So which is it Bernie? Do you want an open market place with lots of variety, or one where only a few companies sell the product? He will, reluctantly, be forced to admit that many varieties of sneaker is a sign that things are well, not bad. So he’s a prick for making the complaint in the first place.

    Also, is it just me, or do these guys not actually understand what economic “growth” is? They seem to assume that “growth” means more growth, stuck in a Soviet-style paradigm of steel and tractors. Google adds tons of growth to the economy and barely uses any resources at all. Expensive bespoke furniture remade from recycled timber is more expensive that mass-produced, say, but doesn’t reduce “growth”.

    So there is no reason at all why we can’t have endless growth. Provided we know that we mean growth as measured by economists.

  • staghounds

    Show your work?

    First, show me all these hungry children.

  • Mr Ed

    Well Mr Saunders, why don’t you make that one deoodorant to outsell them all, forever?

    One deodorant to rule them all,
    One deodorant to find them,
    One deodorant to bring them all,
    And in your armpit bind them.

    In the Land of Mordor, where the Smelliies Lie.

  • Fred the Fourth

    Chester,
    I suppose one does not (generally) get to be, and stay, Senator without being able to argue around that point (about monopolies). He’s merely going to say: Here, in this particular niche, we (i.e. people like me who are smarter than you, though he won’t come right out and say that) see that capitalism and a free market is producing suboptimal results. The obvious, culturally accepted solution is if to apply whatever regulation and coercion is necessary to optimize the results, just as all civilized countries do. Also obvious and accepted is that the regs and coercion can (and indeed must) only be done by a legitimate government agency, which is, after all, subject to democratic control, and therefore trustworthy. So what are you complaining about?

    See how easy that is?
    (My ex-UCB roommate used to idly speculate that people who insisted on the validity of arguments like the above, must have been subjected to a surgical procedure which removed the parts of their brains responsible for saying “wait, that doesn’t follow…”. He called it a “feedbackectomy”.)

  • bloke in spain

    Aren’t you conflating markets with capitalism? There’s nothing says one has to have capitalism to have markets. Not even sure it necessary to have markets to have capitalism.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Aren’t you conflating markets with capitalism?

    Definitional arguments are just about the lowest form of argumentation there is, and I think this counts.

    If you want to define “markets” and “capitalism” to mean unrelated things, well, fine, you are allowed to do that — you have freedom of speech and of thought.

    If, however, you want to do that and still carry on conversations with other people, or you want to insist there is a “true” meaning to a word which is not the commonly used meaning and insist that other people accepting this “true” meaning is a matter of vital importance, well, then you’re going to succeed only in confusing people and accomplishing nothing in particular of value.

    Sometimes it is important to clarify definitions so all people in a discussion are using words the same way. However, arguing about what definitions are “supposed” to be is a waste of time, and that goes double when you insist a word means something other than what almost everyone uses it for.

  • bloke in spain

    ” However, arguing about what definitions are “supposed” to be is a waste of time, and that goes double when you insist a word means something other than what almost everyone uses it for.”

    But doesn’t this go to the core of your post? You’re talking about choice & choice, we find, is best worked out through markets. And capitalism is the method we (currently) use to provide markets. The important thing’s the market, not what provides it. If we could get the same market choices by another method, what’d be the problem? Apart from a lot of unemployed bankers?
    The like’s of Bernie Sanders WILL conflate markets with capitalism. And use perceived imperfections with capitalism as a reason to deny markets. Deny choice. When there’s not the slightest connection.

  • bloke in spain

    Just to emphasise:
    A failure in capitalist markets (Lehman’s, 2008 etc etc etc) is not a failure in markets. It’s markets pointing out the failure in capitalism. Markets punish failure. They don’t care about the reasons for failure.

  • Mr Ed

    There are no market forces.

    There are market choices, and their consequences, but no forces.

  • Julie near Chicago

    In the matter of the usage of words: “He who controls the language controls the discourse,” saith Somebody. Or, to lift a comment made by the Sage of Kettering (different instance of same issue of usage) in response to a letter by Dr. Boudreaux addressed to the WaPo:

    http://cafehayek.com/2012/05/the-forgotten-person.html

    Paul Marks · Kettering, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom

    Of course Mencken was taking a line from the late Willam Graham Sumner – “The Forgotten Man” (the taxpayer). The New Dealers took the words and (to Mencken’s disgust) reversed their meaning (from taxpayer to taxeater). Just as the leftists in the 1960s took the 18th century term “Great Society” (meaning civil society), and changed the meaning to state – Welfare State. The left have a long tradition of stealing word and reverseing their meaning. They took the word “liberal” in 1920s America, and they are now trying to take the word “justice” (by the use of the term “social justice”). What the left call “justice” supporters of the traditional conception of justice call “theft” or “extortion”. Those people who think we can have a “conversation” with the left about this are just wrong.

    May 14, 2012 8:12am

    However, Perry M. is right insofar as it’s common to see discussions derailed because people get to making disagreements about proper usage the focus of discussion, instead of whatever the actual issue is.

    But if one is going to give in to vernacular misusage so as to get back to the business at hand, one risks appearing to endorse the other guy’s argument, and also risks being misquoted near and far, sometimes out of lazy reading by commentators and sometimes with malice aforethought.

    With all that as qualifier, I stick with What Paul (and Mr. Blair) Said.

  • Laird

    I find Perry M’s rebuke of BiS to be precisely the sort of discussion-derailing tactic he claims to oppose.

    BiS never used, or even implied, the word “supposed”. Perry M unilaterally inserted that into the comment and then used his own invention as the basis for his attack. BiS asked a very important question, and I think he’s right: capitalism and markets are entirely different things, and to use the word “capitalism” when one is really talking about “markets” is to play directly into the hands of the opponents of economic (and, thus, individual) freedom. Personally, I rarely use the word “capitalism” any more, as it has too much baggage attached to it.

    And while I’m at it, I find Perry M’s comment “definitional arguments are just about the lowest form of argumentation there is” to be risible. If two people aren’t defining their terms in the same way then they usually end up arguing past each other. Agreeing on definitions is the foundation of meaningful debate.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Yes, Laird, exactly.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry
    > Definitional arguments are just about the lowest form of argumentation there is, and I think this counts.

    100% agree. However, choosing which word to use among a set of words that mostly mean the same is a valuable exercise, because words carry baggage. This is a perfect example. I really don’t like the word capitalism — and I try to avoid using it. For many people the idea of “capital” and “capitalist” goes with fat cats sitting on their big pile of money. To me the appeal of that philosophy has nothing to do with the productive use of capital. To me the important thing is freedom to choose, freedom to decide on your own what to sell, what to buy, how to adapt, what to charge, what to pay, who to associate with, who to shun.

    Freedom, to me, is the most important thing, and it is why I much prefer the phrase “free markets” to “capitalism.” Freedom is something that everyone gets the warm and fuzzies about (until they realize the freedom means letting me do stuff they don’t like, or their god or politician doesn’t like.) Capitalism, while a perfectly good word, has ugly cultural baggage, a nasty smell for those outside libertarian leaning people. So I would advocate against using it.

    As Mel Gibson yelled (as he advocated the subjection of the people to a different tyrannical overlord than their current one) — FREEDOM!!.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Fraser Orr writes:

    However, choosing which word to use among a set of words that mostly mean the same is a valuable exercise, because words carry baggage. This is a perfect example. I really don’t like the word capitalism — and I try to avoid using it.

    I accept the claim that there might be marketing reasons to use or not to use particular words. So long as one doesn’t confuse marketing choices with some sort of belief that there is some “true” definition somewhere that says “capitalism” doesn’t mean what libertarians think it means, there’s no problem. Marketing is a fine thing. Definitional arguments aren’t.

  • “But the fact is that the democracy of 90’s was time of absolute hell on earth for 99+% of ppl of Russia and most of former USSR.”

    …as opposed to the Workers’ Paradise which preceded it, presumably.

  • I always laugh at the Austerity Club when they make stupid comments like those of Socialist Bernie. What they fail to realize is that choice doesn’t mean waste — in the case of non-perishable consumer goods, the “excess” gets sold off to stores like BigLots or Poundland (at a steep discount), who then sell the goods (at a smaller, but still cumulatively impressive profit). In this scenario, THERE ARE NO LOSERS (except, perhaps, the originating store (who build overstocks into their margins anyway).

    The Socialists also forget the “extended” benefits of excess supply (which is understandable, because they’re economic morons). If there is excess supply at the original outlet, that excess has to be shipped to its next outlet (i.e. creating a job for a truck driver, to itemize just one) and merchandised in the discount outlet (shelf-packer, another job), an outlet which has leased property and buildings (real estate and construction jobs) and which advertises said merchandise (advertising/printing/TV jobs) to the public which will, ultimately save money. Merchandise which STILL isn’t sold (excessive excess?) gets donated (note, GIVEN) to outlets such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill charities, which then either sell or give the merchandise to underprivileged consumers.

    As I said before: THERE ARE NO LOSERS in a system which provides choice and (occasionally) excess. The only losers are idiots like Sanders who think they can plan supply to fit precisely an intangible like consumer demand.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “…as opposed to the Workers’ Paradise which preceded it, presumably.”

    I imagine the sudden availability of food, information about the outside world and consumer goods probably hurt a great many egos, especially ones that believed deeply in the evils of an open society. Luckily the current leadership is slowly repairing the “problem” — in another decade or so I suspect Russia may at last be restored to its former Soviet glory.

  • bloke in spain

    Might throw some light on this if you consider the Soviet Union as a capitalist-market economy. Because there’s nothing in the rules says you need money in an economy. The caopitalist-market economy, in the USSR, ran on & produced influence. Stores of influence were invested to produce more influence. There were even markets in influence, as those with the most influence to invest could gather the greatest spoils. You could start at the bottom, earn a little influence, trade it right up to the Supreme Soviet.
    Proving that markets always win, in the end. Even when the result was as seen. Under socialism, there can be no other result. People are people.