The Russian and His Gymnast

So I’m snoozing on the beach, right? And I hear a man’s voice that says in Russian, “Come on, girls, stop climbing the railing. What will people think? That everybody walks on the footpath like normal people, and only the Russians have to act all weird? Remember that people see us as representatives of our country abroad.”

Obviously, I was eager to see this defender of the image of Russians, so I opened my eyes. I saw a family: a man, a woman, and two precious little girls who were, indeed, trying to climb the railing. The man was a huge, burly Russian in minuscule shiny speedos that were smaller than even those worn by aging Italian gentlemen. He was also wearing a gold chain that was as thick as my finger. I have very small, dainty fingers, but still just imagine a chain like that.

Hanging from this chain there was a huge gold gymnast. A gymnast is a big golden cross that the Russian nouveau riche used to wear to show off their recently acquired wealth. A gymnast was a status symbol. the Russian bandits competed as to who could afford the biggest gymnast. I thought that this habit was a thing of the past but here was this Russian with a gymnast that was literally bigger than my head. Seriously, it was a humongous thing that looked especially bizarre against the background of his naked chest and tiny speedos.

I’m sure you can all guess why this golden cross is called “a gymnast”, right?

Thinking About the Economy: Is Raising the Minimum Wage a Good Idea?

I should stop reading the economy-related blogs, people, because they are confusing me. See the following post, for example:

In the midst of the Second Great Depression, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has introduced a bill increasing the minimum wage to $9.88 an hour.

“If my proposal went through, a $15,000 a year worker will make $20,000 a year,” he says. “You know $5,000 a year is significant to someone in that category. [It] may not get them out of poverty, but it makes life better.”

OK, we can all agree that $15K per year is abysmally low and nobody can live on that. An income of $20K per year, while still low, sounds much better.

What I don’t get, though, is how the conclusion is being drawn that raising the minimum wage would raise incomes from $15K to $20K. Wouldn’t the employers simply outsource the jobs overseas? And wouldn’t the rest of employers simply stop hiring new workers and, instead, burden the existing workers with even more job responsibilities?

It is probable that I’m not seeing something important here but such suggestions sound like nothing but pretty, self-consoling speechifying. If a politician proposes that the minimum wage be raised, that politician should either find the courage and make it clear that such measure needs to be accompanied by outlawing the outsourcing of jobs and introducing a very stringent regulation of the workplace, or stop blabbering on the subject irresponsibly.

Again, correct me if I’m wrong here, but it seems to me that the economy in this country suffers from being subjected to endless half-measures. It’s like nobody has the courage to select a course of action and follow it without vacillating, going two steps backwards for every step forward, and without actually moving in any direction.

Is it any wonder that we are stuck in a protracted period of economic stagnation at this moment?