Back in 1998, Your Blog spent several weeks in Moscow on business. A decade and a half or so after Ronald Reagan and the fall of the USSR, it was clear to me that capitalism had won. Moscow was a free market free-for-all. Reagan didn't end communism in Russia. McDonald's, Levi's, M&M/Mars and Dr. Pepper ended communism in Russia.
And even though I am not an economist... (and in 1998, I understood economics a lot less than I do today...) I recognized that the Russian economy was heading for disaster. Post commie Russia looked, to me, like a gemsbok calf, born in captivity, then released into the wild with no survival skills. Doomed to be eaten by the first predator to come along.
In Russia's case, that predator was unfettered Capitalism adopted by the Russian Mafia.
1998 Russia was Al Capone's Chicago and present day Tijuana blended into one big John Galt smoothie.
The Blog's Mom, who grew up during WWII, educated the young Bloggling about the events in Germany that led up to Hitler's rise to power.
"The economy in Germany had gotten so bad," she used to say, "that you needed a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread."
For most of my young life, I thought that that had to be an exaggeration.
My brief time spent in Russia showed me that it was not.
Wheelbarrows were not used, but Russian paper currency sported an insane number of zeroes.
A rock slab in St. Peter's Square that was once the site of beheadings, (when it was known as "Red Square,") is now the Moscow equivalent of a wishing well. Piles of coins accumulate, tossed by tourists and unmolested by the locals. The coins are safe from theft, because, Russian coins, representing single and double digit values in rubles, were worth slightly less than sand.
I purchased some postcards and stamps from the lobby of the hotel I was staying at.
When the woman at the counter gave me a handful of coins of various values amounting to about 90 rubles, in change. I asked, (thinking myself witty...)
"So, what am I supposed to do with these?"
She replied, (read this in your best Natasha Fatale voice...)
So... shit... What was I talking about?
"Tyake home to Amyerica as syouvenir."
Fast forward to the year 2000/2001.
Russia suffered an economic disaster, the likes of which wouldn't be seen again, until George W. Bush's 2008 America.
That collapse opened the door to the return of Vladimir Putin and the Capitalist, fascist, tyrannical mess that is today's Russia.
Or, as "The Daily Show" puts it...
Russia's "Conservative Utopia."
I know, I know.
Guns and Christianists.
Probably tomorrow night.