Tag Archives: communism

The moment Yeltsin became a capitalist

In 1989 Boris Yeltsin, member of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union and leader of one of what could be considered the equivalent of one of its mid-western states, visited Texas and toured the Johnson Space Center as well as a typical American supermarket. It was the grocery store that impressed him, not America’s space program.

He was dazzled by the fact that grocery stores were everywhere, and that they even offered free samples. A year or so later, a biographer wrote that on the plane ride from Texas to Florida, Yelstin couldn’t get the vision of the endless food supply out of his mind, and lamented how different things were for his own countrymen. According to wikipedia, Leon Aron, quoting a Yeltsin associate, wrote in his biography, “Yeltsin, A Revolutionary Life” (St. Martin’s Press, 2000): “For a long time, on the plane to Miami, he sat motionless, his head in his hands. ‘What have they done to our poor people?’ he said after a long silence.” He added, “On his return to Moscow, Yeltsin would confess the pain he had felt after the Houston excursion: the ‘pain for all of us, for our country so rich, so talented and so exhausted by incessant experiments.’”

He wrote that Mr. Yeltsin added, “I think we have committed a crime against our people by making their standard of living so incomparably lower than that of the Americans.”

And then, in his own autobiography, Yeltsin wrote about the experience at the grocery store himself, which reshaped his entire view on communism, ultimately leading to his leaving the Communist party. “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin wrote. “That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”

In writing Leaving Earth, I read all these same sources and was struck as well by how much this moment influenced Yeltsin. Very clearly, what Yeltsin saw that day led him to abandon communism.

If only more Americans could experience the same contrast he did, that of the shortages and poverty of top-down, command economies like socialism and communism vs the wealth and vibrancy and freedom of capitalism. I suspect unfortunately they will have to turn the U.S. into a new Soviet Union before they will realize how bankrupt such systems are.

The day frozen pudding-pops destroyed Boris Yeltsin’s faith in communism

Link here, with lots of photos of the event.

Yeltin also wrote about his visit to this American supermarket in his autobiography, which I describe as well in my book, Leaving Earth. It unquestionably shattered his belief in communism and led him to become the upstart revolutionary who helped bring the Soviet Union out of communism in the 1990s.

The last two satellites in Russia’s missile warning constellation have failed.

In January the last two satellites in Russia’s ballistic missile warning system shut down, with the first of the next generation replacement constellation not scheduled to launch until June.

“Oko-1 was part of Russia’s missile warning system. The system employed six satellites on geostationary and highly elliptical orbits. The last geostationary satellite got out of order in April last year. The two remaining satellites on highly elliptical orbits could operate only several hours a day. In the beginning of January, they also went out of order,” Kommersant said.

The new generation early warning satellite Tundra was planned to be launched in 2013. However, the launch was postponed several times as the apparatus was not ready to be put into operation, sources in the aerospace industry told the daily.

Increasingly I am reminded of the Cold War, when our competition was the bloated, inefficient, and poorly managed Soviet Union. The communist nation was definitely a threat, as they got a lot accomplished through sheer brute force and determination. Their long term problem was that it was an amazingly inefficient system, guaranteed to eventually fall apart.

New study devalues carbon dioxide again

The uncertainty of science: A new study now suggests that previous climate models significantly over-estimated the effect increased carbon dioxide has on the climate.

Lewis co-authored a report with science writer Marcel Crok earlier this year that found many climate models running hot and overestimating climate sensitivity by 40 to 50 percent. The paper also criticized the IPCC for trying to hide the climate’s weaker response to carbon dioxide in its 2013 report by not giving a central climate sensitivity estimate.

Judith Curry, one of the co-authors, was also very quick to note that this result is by far not the final word. “There remains considerable meta uncertainty in the determination of climate sensitivity, including how the problem is even framed.”

Of course, if you are a global warming activist and communist, none of these minor details matter. Revolution for the climate is a must!

Taking a close look at the political leanings of a global warming rally

Want to get a feel for the politics of the environmental movement? Take a gander at this detailed report, with numerous pictures, of a global warming rally that took place in San Francisco this weekend.

It was the same in New York at the People’s Climate Rally. Anyone who thinks it is the Earth these people want to save is incredibly naive. It is power they crave, and the ability to use it for their own ends.

Left wing activists demand but fail to prevent someone from videotaping an open public event they had scheduled at a college.

Fascists: Left wing activists demand but fail to prevent someone from videotaping an open public event they had scheduled at a college.

Watch the video below the fold. You will be amused when the leftists try to block the videographer’s camera and somehow think this prevents him from recording their actions. If anything, it allows him to document forcefully their lack of respect for free speech.
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Massachusetts has passed a law that places the state in control of every doctor and everything they do.

Coming soon to a country near you! In order to control the out-of-control costs of RomneyCare, Massachusetts has just passed a law that places the state in control of every doctor and everything they do in the practice of medicine.

It’s worse than you think:
» Read more

A graveyard of ships in the desert

A graveyard of ships — in the desert.

This environmental disaster in the Soviet Union was caused more by that failed country’s centralized state-run command society than the technological society they were trying to create. Though technology in any kind of society can certainly do harm to the environment, when all decisions are controlled by a single entity — in this case the communist Soviet government — it is practically impossible to adapt and adjust when things start going wrong.

In a free democracy, however, you have many safety valves. No project is ever so big that it effects everything, and if things start to go wrong the chaos of freedom will allow people to choose differently, correcting the problem more quickly.

Why Are Indian Reservations So Poor?

Why are Indian reservations so poor? (Link fixed. Sorry.)

The vast majority of land on reservations is held communally. That means residents can’t get clear title to the land where their home sits, one reason for the abundance of mobile homes on reservations. This makes it hard for Native Americans to establish credit and borrow money to improve their homes because they can’t use the land as collateral–and investing in something you don’t own makes little sense, anyway.

“Markets haven’t been allowed to operate in reserve lands,” says [Manny Jules, a former chief of the Kamloops Indian band in British Columbia]. “We’ve been legislated out of the economy. When you don’t have individual property rights, you can’t build, you can’t be bonded, you can’t pass on wealth. A lot of small businesses never get started because people can’t leverage property [to raise funds].

Hat tip Ace of Spades.

A college mate of Obama describes the President’s political beliefs

A college mate of Obama finally gives us a peek into the President’s political beliefs at that time.

Drew: I’m the only person in Obama’s extended circle of friends who is willing to speak out and verify that he was a Marxist-Leninist in his sophomore year of college from 1980 to 1981. I met him because I graduated from Occidental College in 1979, and I was back at Occidental visiting a girlfriend.

Kengor: Was Occidental known for radical-left politics? Would that have been an attraction to Obama?

Drew: It was considered the Moscow of southern California when I was there. There were a lot of Marxist professors, many of whom I got to know pretty well. … What I know absolutely for sure — and this is where I really sought you out and I really wanted to be helpful in terms of the historic record — was to verify that Barack Obama was definitely a Marxist and that it was very unusual for a sophomore at Occidental to be as radical or as ideologically attuned as young Barack Obama was.

The article as well as this one discuss thoughtfully whether Obama still holds to these beliefs.

While I’m not sure if this guy is telling us the truth, it seems to me that everything that Obama has done fits into this mindset quite nicely.

The draft treaty being proposed in Durban

Some of the madness contained in the draft treaty being proposed in Durban, as reported by Lord Christopher Monckton:

  • A new International Climate Court will have the power to compel Western nations to pay ever-larger sums to third-world countries in the name of making reparation for supposed “climate debt”. The Court will have no power over third-world countries. Here and throughout the draft, the West is the sole target. “The process” is now irredeemably anti-Western.
  • “Rights of Mother Earth”: The draft, which seems to have been written by feeble-minded green activists and environmental extremists, talks of “The recognition and defence of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony between humanity and nature”. Also, “there will be no commodification [whatever that may be: it is not in the dictionary and does not deserve to be] of the functions of nature, therefore no carbon market will be developed with that purpose”.
  • War and the maintenance of defence forces and equipment are to cease – just like that – because they contribute to climate change. There are other reasons why war ought to cease, but the draft does not mention them.

There’s more stupidity detailed by Monckton at the link.

All in all, this treaty draft once again reveals these activists for what they are: power-hungry socialists whose real goal isn’t to save the Earth but to take from some to enrich themselves and others. I pray the Obama administration and Congress refuse to go along.

They should Occupy Prison

They should Occupy Prison.

I haven’t commented much on the Occupy Wall Street movement, mostly because I’ve been too busy moving. However, though I fully support their right to demonstrate and protest, I find the contrasts between these protests and the Tea Party protests to be striking. The differences are even highlighted in their names. “Occupy Wall Street” implies a right to impose its will on others, to take over without permission other people’s property. “The Tea Party,” though inspired by an equally illegal act of stealing British tea and destroying it, now implies the much more benign activity of a gathering to express one’s opinion. And the Tea Party protests proved this by the fact that to this date no tea party protester has been arrested, and no laws broken. In fact, the only documented violence at any tea party event that I have found was committed by opponents of that movement.

As to what these movements believe in, I readily admit that I am in agreement with the Tea Party ideas of smaller government and fiscal responsibility. I will also say that I oppose the calls for socialism and even communism from some Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Nonetheless, there are many in this latter movement who are expressing the same kind of rage and frustration at the recent partnership between big business and big government that led to bad policy, unaffordable bailouts, a collapsing housing market, and a suffocating economy that have been similarly expressed by many Tea Party protesters.

The protests of both groups are merely a reflection of the anger that ordinary people feel about the failure of both government and business to act responsibly and with some common sense in these last years.

Remembering Boris Yeltsin

A monument to Boris Yeltsin was unveiled today in his hometown on the 80th anniversary of his birth.

In this week of memorials to American space tragedies, this event in Russia brings to mind the far more important and significant events, affecting millions of people worldwide, that unfolded in the Soviet Union during the late 1980s and mid-1990s. The communist superpower was collapsing, and there was the real possibility that that collapse could lead to worldwide war and violence.

Yeltsin, far more than any other man, helped shepherd the former Soviet Union out of that chaos, and he did it as a civilized man, with relatively little bloodshed. As he shouted defiantly as he stood on a tank in front of the Russian parliament building on the day of the August coup, “Terror and dictatorship . . . must not be allowed to bring eternal night!”

Unlike many former communist leaders, Yeltsin had the openness of mind to recognize that the state-run centralized command society that he had grown up in and had helped run for years simply did not work. “We have oppressed the human spirit,” he noted sadly during a press conference shortly after the coup. More importantly, he also had the courage to take action on this realization, and force the painful changes that were necessary to save his country.

Yeltsin was no saint, and the Russian transition from dictatorship to freedom was far from perfect. No one even knows if that transition is going to hold, today, twenty years later. Nonetheless, the world should remember Yeltsin for his success, and honor that memory.