The U.S. and Russia Compete Again

Apparently, there’s not much difference between the way in which a democratic republic (the United States) and an oligarchy (Russia) handle “economic crisis”. According to an article in The Moscow Times:

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev accused the government on Friday of bailing out billionaires at taxpayers’ expense in a letter co-signed by four businessmen and economists.

Gorbachev has until now been supportive of the Kremlin, and by speaking out he has joined a small but growing chorus of influential Russians who say the government’s tight control of the economy and politics is making the slowdown worse.

“The Russian authorities have turned their back on structural reform and instead satisfied themselves with inventing a mythical model of an ‘energy superpower,’” said an open letter whose signatories included Gorbachev.

“Resources are directed not so much at protecting the interests of a majority of citizens as at saving the assets and property of a narrow circle of influential businessmen,” said the letter, which was published in Vedomosti.

Of course, bailing out wealthy businessmen and influential banks should sound familiar to all Americans by now as part of the new Washington consensus, a.k.a. “Throw-money-at-it”. But even the Russian government cannot match our socialist spending spree:

The government offered more than $200 billion in rescue measures for the economy last year, including as much as $50 billion to help some of the country’s richest businessman refinance foreign debt through Vneshekonombank.

On the other hand, the American government, eager to show its enthusiasm for bail-outs, already passed a $700 billion plan concentrated on banks alone. Incoming President Barack Obama plans to add to this sum with additional bailouts for manufacturers, homebuilders, and retailers. A few decades ago, we were racing the Russians to the moon. Now we are racing them towards nationalized banks, industry, and business. Let’s just hope that we aren’t victorious.

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