August 8, 2004 by AK

Random Russian maxims, part 1. The hopeless State and Rent-seeking

1. Almost all Russians expect their government to provide certain services. The scope depends on one’s politics, but the majority want law and order, education and health care from the state.

2. The government consistently fails to meet the people’s expectations.

3. The people are constantly dissatisfied with the government; they deeply dislike and distrust it. However, they would not abandon the notion that the state should provide those services. On the one hand, they do not trust the private sector to solve the problem; on the other, they know socialized medicine in Sweden or Canada, whatever its shortcomings, is superior to Russian health care.

4. Russians’ suspicion towards private enterprise in certain sectors has to do with an ethical code that discourages excessive profit-making, inevitable in the early stages of transition to free markets. Self-selection ensured that a large number of new capitalists share a rather un-Protestant ethic. Similarly, most decent Russians are skeptical about personal participation in politics; thus, the Russian political class is corrupt.

5. Business persons in competitive sectors get far more sympathy than those in high-rent extractive industries.


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