Soviet and US Economy

michael perelman michael at
Sat Jul 18 08:55:14 PDT 1998

I am going to make a few comments on jame heartfield's response to me note:

> In arguing that the Soviet Economy was less efficient than the American
> I am not arguing that the American was efficient, only that the Soviet
> was grotesquely inefficient.

Both are/were grotesquely inefficient in their own way.

> Was the Soviet economy weighed down by its generous welfare provisions?
> It seems unlikely. After all the US economy dedicates more of its GNP to
> health care than any other developed economy.

Our health care represents a high share in part because of the huge profit margins and the concentration of health resources in the last weeks of a person's life and on the needs of the well to do.

> In truth the final denouement of the USSR
> was precisely in the failure to develop a consumer goods sector.

There was dissatisfaction with the consumer goods relative to those of the U.S. on the part of elites. A professor or a bureaucrat made much less than a comparable person in the U.S. A farm worker much more.

> The tragedy is
> that it was not just propaganda: the Soviet economy really did fail to
> meet the most basic needs of its people.

I don't believe this for a minute, but perhaps James has a better understanding of the inner workings of the minds of the people of that part of the world.

It is easy to trash the excesses of Stalinism. That approach minimizes the comparable crimes of the capitalist nations. I see no good in following that line of thought. -- Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321 E-Mail michael at

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list