Jots with dots 12/17

I have an oil, North Dakota, Russia nexus going on in my head. Earworm – Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones is one of my favorite songs. It’s nominally about the fall of the Berlin Wall, came out in 1990, shortly after the fall. I don’t think I got that at the time, and I don’t think this became one of my favorite songs immediately thereafter. I have a great grasp of history, was always good at it, and felt empathic about the depression and the wars. But for some reason the weight of the Berlin Wall’s fall totally escaped me in 1989. Just did not get it. What can I say, I was not yet 21, and dumb.

Was revisiting this last night on Wikipedia. Now, with my grasp of history I had mastered enough schoolwork to understand the iron curtain better than a layman, and specifically that it was never all peaches and cream for the Soviets. Their subordinate states could be rebellious at times, noteworthy among them Hungary and Czechoslovakia. But to the extent they could be rebellious, the Soviets could tank-quash them like they did in 1956 and 1968.

But in the 80’s, the Soviet economy was under acute pressures as the oil spigots were open in Saudi Arabia, undermine the price of oil, on which so many finances in Moscow were dependent.

Yeah, there was Perestroika, which was say a cause and effect itself. But thing is, if Soviet satellite states wanted to get rebellious, Moscow couldn’t afford to send the Red Army in and stamp it out.

Hungary opened their border with Austria in the spring of 1989, and there was nothing Moscow could do about it. And it was like an open wound, of particular use for East Germans who wished to defect to the west. By November, the East Germans had to open the gates, and the Soviets couldn’t do anything about that either.

So, I have an incomplete thought here, but it is…. People got to get paid. And you can be the biggest dictator or king or police state or whatever, and your commerce can be oil or whatever…. But if you can’t pay your minions for their work and time, no one will do your bidding and soon you will not be in charge.

The environment is ripe for that again over there. So there, brilliant, deep thought of the day, of Machiavellian quality insight amirite.

Ninnies We got a bunch of ninnies worrying about cheap oil, and the Dow. Blah, blah, blah.

Here’s a thing, sayeth me who is not schooled in economics. The price of inputs going down = productivity going up. And figure, if ‘everyone’ except Continental Resources and Exxon experiences a productivity gain, ‘everyones’ economic benefits are going to exponentially dwarf the damage to a few oil companies. Net benefit. Besides, universal truth… there’s equilibrium, and we’ll reach it or the oil companies will reach it. They’ll figure out how to do business under the circumstances.

Government is just things we do together / claims of IRS misconduct is BS–but-says-they-can-take-it-back-whenever-they-want!

Relations: I think this is fine, its time


One thought on “Jots with dots 12/17

  1. pm1956

    The old USSR joke was “they pretend to pay us, we pretend to work”.

    USSR economy was an actual improvement, for a while, over the old Tsarist one (you know, serfs and feudalism..). They were able to mobilize people for war production during the 1930’s and 40’s, and able to make progress in agricultural productivity and then shift resources (people) to industrial production. Lots of technological catching up as well. And output rose, impressively, at least through the 1950’s. And then things began to stall. Sort of a classic guns and butter situation–and the Politburo was more concerned about keeping the populace satisfied (which is hard when the store shelves are bare) and were also unwilling to cut spending on “allies” (Viet Nam, Africa, etc.) and wars (Afghanistan). Probably only E Germany was able to pay for itself.

    By early 1980’s specialists in US started to feel that the USSR was more of a paper tiger–I remember seeing unclassified stuff from the CIA looking at rates of alcoholism in USSR (high and rising) and labor productivity (very low and falling). But the public perception was still that they were the huge danger/bad guys. Of course, they did have nuclear weapons….

    Bottom line: the USSR was a brittle state. this is a good article on the topic:


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