Russian Poverty

poor_childIn the USA, a person earning $930 or less per month is deemed to fall below the “poverty” level and is considered poor.

In Russia, the figure is $200 per month.

So the poverty income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly 5:1.

An average American earns about $3,600 per month (about $22.50/hour). The average Russian earns about $770 per month (about $4.80/hour).

So the ordinary income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly the same as the poverty ratio, 5:1.  The average American poor person has about five times more income than the average Russian poor person, and the average American also has about five times more income.

Of course, nobody in their right mind would suggest that the cost of living in Russia is five times lower than in the United States. In fact, the giant Russian city of Moscow, for example, is routinely ranked as one of the most expensive places to live on the entire planet. Sony TVs, Levi’s jeans, Big Macs, VWs, they all cost pretty much the same no matter where you go.

So, to the extent that the cost of living in the USA isn’t five times higher than Russia, the Russian definition of “poverty” is much too miserly compared to that of the USA.  Of course, by defining poverty in a miserly way, the Russian government gets to claim that fewer Russians are living in poverty than there actually are, making itself look better.

And in fact, most reasonable people accept that the Kremlin sets the “poverty” level artificially — indeed, ludicrously — low in order to make itself look good, by magically erasing the number of poor people, with the stroke of a pen.

But even by miserly Russian standards, Moscow Times reporter Howard Amos reports that the condition of poverty in Russia is worsening. Statistics show that there are now 400,000 more Russians living in poverty, as the Kremlin defines it, than there were in 2007.  There has been no decline in “poverty” as the Kremlin defines it in more than five years.  As has been pointed out, three times more Russians live on less than $7 per day than have ever traveled abroad.

Russia is a poor country, and getting poorer. No amount of Kremlin sleight of hand can change that. And the day of reckoning is coming fast and soon.

The Horror of “Life” in Putin’s Russia Exposed

According to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, if you live in Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities, and have an income of $250 per month (that’s less than $10 per day), you are NOT living in poverty, but are well above that level.

According to Putin, if you are a Russian your income must be below 6,369 rubles (i.e., about $200) per month in order to claim poverty.

Putin claims that since the number of “poor” people has fallen from roughly 40 million to roughly 20 million since he took power, he is entitled to credit as a economic genius.  There are four gigantic problems with this “logic.”

First, the poverty data is being reported by Putin’s own government. Could they be trusted to report facts that were adverse to Putin? Unlikely.

Second, nobody can live on $200 per month in Moscow or any other cosmopolitan area of Russia, it’s an absurd and bizarre fantasy to suggest that someone who earns $210 per month is “not poor.”

Third, any changes in Russia during the Putin years are due to just one factor:  The rising price of crude oil.  Were it not for this factor, over which Putin has no control whatsoever, Russia would be in stasis.  If anything, Putin’s lack of experience with economics and business has only meant that Russia has reaped far fewer benefits from the rising price of oil than it would have if it had been led by a more competent ruler.

And fourth, most importantly, the notion that someone who moves from $190 per month to $210 per month has now experienced a life-changing alteration of living conditions is literally insane.  The fact that 20 million people have done this in Putin’s Russia, even if true, means absolutely nothing.

As has always been the case in Russia, because the people of the country demand nothing more, the Kremlin prefers to spew forth lies and disinformation rather than to pursue real reform that would actually make Russia a better country.