Russian’s non-Putin President Dmitry Medvedev (aka President Placeholder) met with a group of small-businessmen in Moscow over the summer to discuss their challenges. One can only imagine where to start. So Medvedev, according to state news agency RIA Novosti, offered some direction: “The youth believe that [the civil service] is an example of how to be successful quickly without the need to apply any effort.” He suggested that a bureaucratic career could lead to the kind of corrupt mentality that would lead to kids looking to score a quick and easy ruble.
“And this is not because I dislike civil servants,” Medvedev added. “On the contrary, their work is helpful for any state. Is this a prestigious profession? Not really. Is it well-paid? Well, [it pays] very badly.”
What does Medvedev think he’s doing? Having the populace employed by the state has traditionally been an effective way for Communist governments to secure their control over a people. Granted, driving kids away from the civil service toward the private sector within a Communist structure only shifts government expenditures from one pocket to the other. The Russian government still owns the large private companies. So then what’s the difference to them? Why is Medvedev bothering to symbolically make this distinction in denouncing the federal bureaucracy? The answer to this question is highly instructive to those of us in the Western world, particularly as we implode economically under the weight of public-sector costs, among other things.
Even in a Communist system, there is a difference between a civil-service payroll and a state-owned business payroll. That difference is productivity. The Russian civil service and desk-jockey brigade aren’t selling or exporting anything. The public sector isn’t creating any value or wealth. By contrast, Russian state-owned businesses are producing things and selling them in the international marketplace. Kremlin-funded oligarchs are tasked with investing the profits derived from the riches of these companies in various Western interests, thereby profiting from our capitalist system. In essence, if you look at it this way, Western capitalism drives the Russian economy, and productive wealth-creation is not accomplished by public-sector bureaucrats. Even in a Communist state, they have figured out which pocket constantly needs replenishing by the other. The more workers they can have creating wealth, the better off they’ll all be.