Feb 16, 2007

Is Russia Becoming America?

They certainly are lazy enough...(Ern)

Excerpts from the NY Times, "Will Russia Bet on Its People or Its Oil Wells?", by Thomas Friedman

The Moscow Times recently reported that only two Russian colleges — Moscow State and St. Petersburg State — are listed among the world's top 500 universities.

Noting that Russia today spends far less of its G.D.P. on higher education than Europe or America, Sergei Guriyev, rector of Russia's New Economic School, wrote in The Moscow Times, "Russians simply are not prepared to pay the taxes that would be necessary to finance science and education at Soviet-era levels, and no incentives have been created to attract more private funding."

So here's my prediction: You tell me the price of oil, and I'll tell you what kind of Russia you'll have. If the price stays at $60 a barrel, it's going to be more like Venezuela, because its leaders will have plenty of money to indulge their worst instincts, with too few checks and balances. If the price falls to $30, it will be more like Norway. If the price falls to $15 a barrel, it could become more like America — with just enough money to provide a social safety net for its older generation, but with too little money to avoid developing the leaders and institutions to nurture the brainpower of its younger generation.

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