Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thoughts From a Russian Immigrant

What follows is an article I came across in a North Idaho newspaper.  The thoughts expressed where hauntingly sobering and eloquently stated.  It is something we all NEED to read.  The writing is on the wall, folks.  

I contacted the author, and with her permission, am posting this missive on these pages.  Listen to the voice of experience - she speaks the truth.


I was asked to write this column, and truthfully, I have been seeking a way to tell people my views before it is too late. So here it is - hopefully worth a little more than 2 cents.
These past 20 years in the United States proved that the fairy tale land I've heard about is still the land of opportunity. This is the country where everyone has a chance for a good living, if they work at it. In the country I came from we worked hard, but to no avail. The system did not reward the hard work, it favored those who sought well-being by becoming a part of the system, manipulating the system, or becoming Communist Party members.
When I came to the United States in 1991 I couldn't wait to get my "green card" to be able to start working. Neither my lacking English nor my inability to drive could stop me from getting a job. I walked! With my master's degree I was proud to get my first job in America at McDonald's. But this letter is not about me, it is about my concerns about the direction this country is heading.
Since most of my life I lived in a country where socialism was at a very mature stage of 70 years, I experienced, firsthand, the way of living under such a system. Young American people have no idea how unfair and inefficient it is. They hear these loud slogans of fairness and sharing, but they do not take time to learn why the idea DOES NOT work. I experienced it on my own skin for 26 years.
I am not here to talk about politics and advantages or disadvantages of one economic system over another. I just want to share some of my memories of growing up all the way to my adulthood in Russia.
Looking back through a prism of 20 years in the United States I am starting to understand the reasons why those colorless pictures with gloomy faces flash through my memory.
Working hard in Russia was a way of living; it was necessary for simple survival. There were no opportunities for government assistance unless one was totally disabled. Actually, it's not true. The whole country and every citizen was on a "welfare" hand-out, only we still had to work to get paid. The amount of our wages was just enough to barely make ends meet. We would not get paid, if we did not have a job. Obviously, all jobs were government jobs with standard low wages. One could achieve a slightly higher wage by obtaining some kind of higher education and hopefully getting a job as a manager somewhere. However, all good positions with "benefits" were taken by Communist Party members and people who knew people.
Important to understand that due to standard wages across the board as there was only one employer - the government - people usually tried to look for jobs with "benefits" to better their lives. Benefits in Russia implied opportunities to bring home something extra besides low wages, like a gallon of milk if you worked at a milk factory, or a loaf of bread if you worked at a bakery. So, when I was making my decision about my career, I chose to stay in the food industry and pursued a degree in Management of Public Catering.
My family lived in a small Siberian town, more like a village. Everyone in the village had to grow fields of potatoes and different vegetables that we preserved in large amounts for the winter. In the summer we also lived off the forest. I loved picking berries and hunting for mushrooms.
Twice a month, if we were lucky, a truck with supplies would reach our village. We always knew what everyone would have for dinner that night. Not many people owned a refrigerator those days. So, if the truck brought chicken, we had to enjoy it that night. Every family in the village had a fair share of the sausage, sugar, apples or popular condensed milk cans according to their family size. Often we had to give up our portion as we could not afford to buy it.
Other items we were looking forward to arrive were shampoo, socks and underwear. Yes, shampoo was in deficit. Not a certain type of a shampoo, but just a shampoo of any kind. As for socks, I learned to knit socks, when I was 12. Our old neighbor lady knew how to make yarn, so I groomed our fluffy dog and gave her the wool. I had socks for everybody in the family, but it did not work so well for us in the summer. Eventually I learned to knit almost anything. It was much harder to deal with the underwear situation, as we had no stretchy fabric to make it from.
The reason I share these memories with you is to show what kind of life can be, when government controls every aspect of your life. Since there was no competition to produce more or better, or less expensive goods, industries had little concern in producing quality or a variety of products. They had to produce quantity, however, to keep their workers somewhat in shape. When I first came to America I was overwhelmed to the point of frustration with selection of vegetable oil brands, for example. Later I understood why it is so great to be able to have a CHOICE.
When my father, at age of 36, had a stroke and after a few weeks in the hospital we were told that he needed to go home, as he was incurable, we were dumbstruck but had no choice, nor did we have the right to seek another opinion. We had to accept the fate, as we were assigned to the only clinic in the area according to our residence. After suffering for eight years, my father passed away at 44.
The socialistic regime did collapse, proving that it does not work. You might ask why people did not stand up for themselves sooner?
Well, first of all, they could not rebel due to the fact that Russian people have never had the right to bear arms and therefore they all were totally defenseless. All we could do is scream out our frustrations at a kitchen table.
The other reason is Russian propaganda machine was state of the art. People knew about the outside world only what they were supposed to know; they have been fed lies for 70 years and our children were raised by the government, brainwashed with images of baby Lenin since birth.
There was an important celebration in first grade, when each student was presented with a special star that had a face of Lenin when he was a child. We were proudly called "Oktjabrenok" after the October Revolution. At age 10 we all were honored with a red scarf that we could proudly wear from that point on and call ourselves "Pioner" (a pioneer). At age 14 we had a chance to become a Komsomol Party member, a necessary step, if you plan to become a Communist Party member later on. It was highly encouraged and presented as a high privilege to achieve it. Komsomol was the Communist Party's child.
If we continue the route set about four years ago, the life I briefly described above will be a reality in America. It won't happen very fast and won't be in such a severe form. The government in Russia had control over all industries right after the 1917 Revolution. Here, in the United States, the control will be taken peacefully through a number of steps, like raising taxes on businesses, implementing regulations to the point of making environment so unfriendly for businesses to exist, that people will stop any kind of entrepreneurship. They will be looking for government jobs. But the result will be the same - deterioration in each and every way of living.
It's heartbreaking to see how unaware people are willing to give their freedom away for government hand-outs, which lead to dependency, cripple people, kill their spirit of reaching for the stars and eventually annihilate the sense of responsibility for their own lives.
And the last point I need to make: There obviously is a need for some social programs in a society. Any civilized society needs to provide support for the less fortunate, like people with disabilities, who cannot provide for themselves. And this country has an abundance of such programs.
What is admirable about people in this country is how compassionate and giving Americans are. Not because they were told by the government to give, but because they want to help. How many nonprofit organizations, not subsidized by the government are in the United States? Think about it. And I am not saying that Russian people are not compassionate or not giving. It's not true. But when we are all equally poor, we have nothing to give.
Luba Wold is a Coeur d'Alene resident.


  1. Throughout history, people have always needed a place to go when things got too bad at home...our next place to go is off the planet(to quote Yakko and Wakko Warner, "It's a Great, Big Universe"). We should have already been doing this. There's no technological reason not to have colonies in space or on the Moon or Mars.
    If I had the chance to go to a lunar or Martian colony, all I would ask is when are we leaving..

  2. In 1972 my boos was a Ukranian immigrant who's parents went through the holodmor. Thanks to prescience and planning on the part of his parents they lived and he was born a couple of years later. His stories of sufferring and hard work to survive stays with me today. His parents distrusted the Soviet government and choose to hide some of their food. His parents, grandparents and siblings live in a tiny home with a basement and a root cellar in the back. Normally they would store the crop, mostly root vegetables, in the root cellar with a small amount in the cellar for easy access. But before the holodomor his parents began a process of storing a percentage of their crop buried in small caches in the nearby forest. They would dig a hole, line it with straw and after covering the vegetables in straw they would cover that with two feet of dirt. To do this effectively they would grow more vegetables then they needed so when the troops came to take their food it was a believable amount of food and they weren't tortured to reveal where they hid their food. He also said one of the reasons this worked is that after the troops took the food they disappeared. The Russians wanted to let the long winter do their dirty work in secret so they disappeared until spring. He told me that years later the discussion around the dinner table was how everyone grew sick of turnips and beets over that winter. Thankfully something like that could never happen here. . .

  3. Beautiful, and "hauntingly sobering and eloquent" indeed. Nothing like a first person telling of the truth to get the message across. I am sharing this on Facebook, so more will see it and share it, so we can get the word out that socialism is not the great gift that some are believing. Thank you for posting this.

  4. Where I am most having a problem with this is simply that every place socialism of whatever stripe has run its course it has never worked and the people have suffered. Not once has it worked. Ever! Anywhere!

    And yet this is the direction most folks seem to go. Why????

    Is it as simple as greed run amok? I have enough turns to Gimmee turns to take from everyone else until all are finally reduced to the lowest possible common denominator.

    Lady Liberty still shines her beacon, but only a few will now listen.


  5. if we the people are not watchful and careful we will find ourselves going down the rabbit hole with everyone else. we must do all we can to keep our liberty and our freedom that we have enjoyed and not let socialism and communism to creep into our lives no matter what the temptations may be.

  6. An excellent post. Thank you!
    In that same vein, here is another person, from similar circumstances doing something about it with his own new found wealth:

    Be sure to read his brief bio on the youtube page

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I lived in post-Soviet Ukraine for several years; my conversations with those living and working there were very similar to this. It makes my heart sad that we cannot recognize where history is repeating itself; and all the more reason why we must take care of our own! Thank you.

  8. Enola,


    I do not think that what happened in Russia in October, 1917 would take hold here in the United States.
    Russians have lived under Czars, warlords and other totalarian leaders for thousands of years and its happening now with the "Oligarchs" and "Vladimir Putin"
    There is a social cultural history in Russia that allows for this to happened. If you want to chart where a country is going, you may want to look at the cultural DNA of that people.
    Individuals like "Peter the Great, and Joseph Stalin" are allowed to come to power and the people of Russia endure it, century after century.

    The social cultural DNA of the Uniited States goes back to the colonies, war of independence, the founders. We as a people strove to carve out a nation through westward expansion, manifest destiny and capitolism. The United States welcomed for centuries all the garbage the rest of the world through out. The Irish, former African Slaves, Russian Jews, Italian emmigrants and other misfits and oddballs. We welcomed any dirtbag that could run, jump, swim and hop or a ship to 'Ellis Island"

    Thease throwaway rejects (with little help from God) turned the United States into a powerhouse that changed history. We as a people led the west of the world away from Barbarism, Racism, and Darkness into a new "Renaisance Age"

    Now we are now under threat from within from those who wish to change the Constitution and change our very core of this nation. We have to fight them in the courts and in voting booths on election day.

    In the worst case scenario the Markism that ruined Russia for 70 years will never fully take hold in the United States. Texas and the American Redoubt states will never fully succomb to true oppression. I think many other states, more than most people will realize will stand up against Markism and oppression. Now other forms of barbersim will emerge, a national socailism or (Nazi Party) "may take root as a weed and as form of goverment in some states" after total anarchy prevailed for a period of time. Thank God we Americans own weed eaters for weeds like that. Im pretty sure that with a little work the nation and "the Constution" could be restored after a societal meltdown. Its all up to the people, they have to want it bad enough like the founders and the people of this nation did after we ran the british off (I am using lower case on purpose when I wrote 'the british)

    Thanks for giving us a sounding board Enola. I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to say and I hope others enjoy it.

    (I dont mean to sound arrogent, but the second and third paragraph was pretty good, I John Jacod Schmitt over at "Radio Free Redoubt" sees this, he can borrow it for his radio show if he wants it, I listen every week)


  9. Captain: To allow Socialism or communism to seep in all that is required is to make the people suffer such that they want an alternative leadership so badly they will vote for it. We don't need a history of Czars or any special DNA we are no better and no worse then any other peoples.

    I believe the idea of Texas and the redoubt states seceding from the union is wishful thinking at best and the route to disaster at worst. Would you be better off if the U.S. was embroiled in a civil war? Would our enemies choose to leave us alone to sort out our problems if we got involved in a civil war? How is any answer to these questions comforting?

    I have never been a fan of the concept of restoring our constitutional government after a collapse. Our world is a dangerous place and our constitutional republic is a fragile thing in the greater scheme of things. Sooner or later like every culture, every government, every country in history we will cease to exist. There aren't going to be second chances. We better make this work. America is unique in history and was the result of a few great men and unusual circumstances. If we lose this it may never happen again.

  10. Anon,


    You made some interesting and articulate points. I have to respectfully disagree with you on most of what you wrote.

    Many Americans will vote for Socailsim and Communism when they are suffering, but I still believe that "the majority" would wake up and vote against Socialism and Communism knowing full well what has transpired in history with thease forms of goverment.

    The idea of states seceeding from the Union is one I believe would the the last resort and only after the central goverment has completly collapsed and their is quite litteraly "no one at the helm of the ship" or if murdurous thugs usurped the goverment and are building Nazi style death camps then those may be the only options availible. Trust me when I say, I dont want to get to that point and I hope and pray none of this happens.

    On the last paragragh I have to add that If we as people do not attempt to restore a legitimate goverment based on American values and the Constitution, than whats the point of evan surviving after a mass calamitiy. If we dont strive for better for our families, businesses, and all other aspects of life, than this country deserves to sink into the cesspool of history.

    I was never blessed to have any children. A few months ago a best friend of mine and his wife had two twins (a boy and girl) Last week I fed the girl for the first time and she started to melt some of the ice around my heart. A short time later I was holding her brother and he fell asleep in my arms for about an hour. I never had anything like that happen to me before. That eight week old boy finally melted away what ice was left. Untill now, I only thought the heart was for pumping blood.

    I never had any 'skin in the game before" now I feel as If I actually have something or someone to lose if everything falls apart.

    I refuse to accept a defetist attitude. I will storm the gates of hell to give those twins a future in the America I grew up in. The era of running to another country, to a better land overflowing with milk and honey is over with.
    This is all we got people, we better damn sure make it work, one way or another.


  11. Yes, this is all we've got. We WILL make it work. We WILL and ARE defending it. God in Christ Jesus will see us through and give us victory over those that seek to destroy us. It only takes a handful of committed people to save a nation. God speed everyone.