Demography and democracy in Russian
Earlier, we discussed demographic problems and forecasts of a decrease in the population of Russia in general and a decrease in Russians in particular. But, as is clear, in the end, an increase in the birth rate is inextricably linked with an increase in living standards and an increase in the well-being of the country's citizens.
Rosstat estimated the level of poverty in Russia in January-September 2022. According to statistical estimates, 17,2 million people in the country live with incomes below the subsistence level. And they are unlikely to want to have many children or even one child.
But the improvement of well-being is not only the growth of wages and pensions, it is also a good system of healthcare and education, improvement of living conditions, universal gasification of the country... We will talk about this later. In the meantime, we note that the President of the Russian Federation understands the problem. Thus, Vladimir Putin set the task of achieving in 2023 an increase in real wages, a reduction in poverty, as well as an increase in the birth rate and life expectancy.
This is stated in the list of instructions to the government of the Russian Federation, published on the Kremlin website on January 26 this year. Instructions from the head of state were given following the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, held on December 15, 2022. And on December 19, the head of state signed a federal law that establishes a minimum wage of 2023 rubles for 16.
As reported, the law will increase the salaries of about 3,5 million public sector employees. Recall that the fight against poverty as a task for the state was named in the Address of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly back in January 2020. By the way, the poverty line is now considered in a new way. They decided to introduce a new indicator due to the fact that since 2021 a new model for calculating the living wage and the minimum wage (SMIC) has been used.
Their calculation is now based on the average per capita median income and median wages (previously - the food basket). And as you may have guessed, as a result of the new methodology, "life has become better, life has become more fun."
But to understand the situation with poverty, a little theory.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in Russia, as you know, the ideas of building a market economy triumphed. And our new managers began to say that the poor in Russia are those who simply did not fit into the market. It's a pity of course. But nothing can be done!
Here is an excerpt from the treatise of the still young Chubais (dated March 30, 1990):
“The immediate social consequences of accelerated market reform include: a general decline in living standards; growth of differentiation of prices and incomes of the population; the emergence of mass unemployment ... "
Chairman of the State Committee for State Property Management and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation (1994–1995) Vladimir Polevanov recalled:
“When I came to the State Property Committee and tried to change the privatization strategy, Chubais told me openly: “Why are you worried about these people? Well, thirty million will die. They didn't fit into the market. Don't think about it - new ones will grow."
What is this if not "ordinary fascism"?
But at the same time, no one tried Chubais, he continued to hold high positions in Russia, he was given the leadership of Rosnano. During the years when he ruled it, a lot of money fell into his pocket and the pockets of his friends. Until one day he just ran away from Russia. But his students, the Chubais, remained. And they still live in Russia, sucking money out of it. And not only money.
Remembering the Union
It is no coincidence that today many citizens of the USSR recall socialism with nostalgia. Let me just remind you that the basic economic law of socialism was that
"The goal of the socialist economy is to ensure the well-being and comprehensive development of all members of society through the most complete satisfaction of their constantly growing material and cultural needs, achieved through the continuous growth and improvement of socialist production on the basis of scientific and technological progress."
Exactly this was written down in the Program of the CPSU.
At the same time, the basic economic law of capitalism was and remains the law of surplus value. Not surprisingly, Marx wrote:
“The production of surplus value or profit is the absolute law of this mode of production.”
But in Russia now just capitalism.
The charter said: it is necessary!
In Europe, back in 1996, the "European Social Charter" was adopted. The State Duma of the Russian Federation ratified this Charter in 2009. The then Minister of Health and Social Development Tatyana Golikova, who presented the document, said that the articles and clauses of the Charter signed on behalf of the Russian Federation in Strasbourg on September 14, 2000, proposed for ratification,
"do not contain rules other than those provided for by the legislation of the Russian Federation."
She particularly emphasized that
"their implementation will not entail additional budgetary expenditures."
In addition, the Charter does not require the immediate adoption of all articles. Only 9 articles out of 31 are mandatory.
And Russia is ready to accept obligations in relation to 19 articles. Of the mandatory, 6 articles will be recognized: on the right to work, the right to association, the right to collective bargaining, the right of children and young people to protection, the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection, the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in employment and professional activities without discrimination on the basis of sex…
Like this. You see, these articles of the Charter did not require additional budget funding!
During the discussion of the bill, Deputy Nikolai Kolomeytsev (KPRF) asked whether the ratification of the Charter would increase the retirement age. T. Golikova noted that the Charter was ratified by 40 European states and in all these states the retirement age is different. The minister assured the deputies that "in the near and medium term" an increase in the retirement age is not expected.
But, as we can see, after 10 years in Russia, a gradual increase in the retirement age began. By the way, almost all factions supported the ratification. Only Zhirinovsky spoke out against, saying that the provisions of the Charter "are not feasible." And right-wing Russian Alexander Lomakin-Rumyantsev noted that the provisions on the social integration of disabled people, on the right to housing, to medical care, the right of the elderly to social protection, and the right to protection from poverty should also be ratified.
But these words of the deputy remained just a wish.
We also note that in Article 75.5. The Constitution of the Russian Federation states that
“The Russian Federation respects the work of citizens and ensures the protection of their rights. The state guarantees a minimum wage not less than the subsistence minimum for the able-bodied population as a whole in the Russian Federation.
Compare with the Program of the CPSU, in which it was written that the task of the party is "increasing welfare, improving working and living conditions of Soviet people". Of course, after the collapse of the USSR, all this simply remained in stories.
But, we note that today medicine is becoming more and more paid, as well as a good education. And now one can only dream of free vouchers to pioneer camps and rest homes. But in the USSR they were really free.
About other features of poverty statistics - in my next note.