Friday, February 17, 2006

Capitalism or Save Your Butt-ski

Capitalism or Save Your Butt-ski?

by Richard E. Noble

The Russians are in big trouble - not only their economy, but the whole social structure has failed. Their leaders have decided that Capitalism is the cure. They are now out in the streets and in the villages trying to explain Capitalism to the workers and the peasants.

First the Kremlin’s right-hand man in Agriculture, Igor Topofthepileski heads out to one of his failing collective farms. He pulls the farm supervisor, Alexev Nobodyov over to the side.

“Alex, old pal, how would you like to buy this place?”

“Buy this place, Mr. Topofihepileski; but how could I do that sir? I have no money.”

“Don’t worry, don’t worry, Alex my friend, the Government is going to loan you the money.”

“The government?” Alex inquires, dubiously. You see, Alex is a little leery of the government. It wasn’t too long ago that the government came and took his granddaddy, shot him in the back of the head and pushed him - and a few thousand other peasants from the village - into a trench on the outskirts of town. Alex has also had cousins and relatives who vacationed in Siberia a few winters back. He has had friends who were executed for improperly counting potatoes and others who were arrested for stealing manure from government cows and smuggling it out onto their hidden vegetable gardens in a clearing in the woods. So, old Alex - who is a patriot, nonetheless, doesn’t get all teary-eyed and all choked up when they play the Russian National Anthem or when he hears the word government mentioned.

“Oh yes, yes Alex, my comrade good buddy, the government will loan you the money. We now have the KZB, much like American SBA. You get the money from the KZB and you buy the farm.”

“I buy zee farm with dee money from the KZB? And how do I pay this money back?”

“Alex, Alex. . . dat’s easy one; you grow potatoes and then you sell them. You make lots of money. You become rich, like American farmer. You buy Winabago and travel around all summer - see Stalingrad and Moscow.”

“I see, I see Mr. Topofthepileski, but who do I sell the potatoes to?”

“No problem Alex - you sell your potatoes to the government. We will buy all of your potatoes. You will make lots and lots of money.”

“Well, I don’t know; I don’t think so. What if the money that I owe to the government for buying the farm is more than the money that the government gives to me for the potatoes?”

“Alex, Alex - what a question! How silly. You will get plenty of money for your potatoes. You are the best potato grower in all of Russia. You and your wife are potato growing maniacs. You two know potatoes from K to Z. Soon there will be McGorbachev’s fast burgers all over Russia. They will sell tons of Russian fries.”

“Yes, that is true, but you see, it doesn’t matter how much I know about growing potatoes when the dirt is all used up. The last fourteen years, no matter what I do, all the potatoes turn out the size of Chinese ping-pong balls. You think that McGorbachev’s fast burgers will sell Chinese ping-pong fries?”

“Alex, my friend, you have ping-pong fries because you do not have good fertilizer. The government will sell you good American fertilizer. It is the best fertilizer ever made. It comes from only prize American Brahma bulls.”

“And I buy this fertilizer from the government?”

“That’s right!”

“This is first prize Brahma bull manure?”

“That’s right!”

“I don’t know? This sounds like a lot of buying to me, and not much selling. I buy farm; I buy American Brahma bull fertilizer. Look at this Mr. Topofthepileski - look at this equipment? Look at this old Boris-Darling tractor? This tractor is older than Russian peasant poverty. You see this potato sorter over here? It is a pile of junk. I’ve got it tied together with three miles of old concentration camp wire. I’ve got no wrenches, no tools - this whole farm is polack-rigged. Everything is falling apart. The Babushkas won’t even climb on to this potato sorter. I must drive the tractor myself. And fuel? - what about petrol for the tractors? What about the broken down old engines? Where do I get those things?”

“You buy it.”

“I buy it? For year after year after year, I ask you for fuel; you say that you have none. Now you loan me money and I buy it? You had it before when I needed it, and you wouldn’t give it to me? Now you have all that I need and I just buy it? How is this possible? What are you talking about?”

“Alex . . . calm down, calm down. Let’s go back to the house and have a Vodka, hey?”

“Sure. . . why not.”
(Back at the Farmhouse)

“Alex, look at this house. For years you live here, right?”

“All my life.”

“All your life . . . all your life you live right here, but this house belongs to the state.”

“That’s right. And if the state wants it back; they can have it. Look-a-here; you see these roof rafters? They are all about to crumble. This is a Khrushchev built house. The government had to prove to the people that it could build houses - they built ten thousand houses in one week. None of these houses are any good; not worth a plug ruble - junk - ten thousand piles of junk! So you want this house back? You take it. Me and the Mrs. will go live in a hole in the woods - that would be as good as this house.”

“No, no Alex, the state does not want this house back.”


“No. We are going to sell it to you.”

“You are going to sell it to me?”

“Correct-ski. . . my good buddy, Alex.”

“But I have no money.”

“We loan it to you.”



“And I pay you back from all the money I make selling ping-pong fries to McGorbachev’s fast burgers?”

“That’s right, Alex - now you are getting it.”

“What about all of the other workers on the farm? I can not grow even ping-pong fries without their help. How do they get paid?”

“You pay them.”

“I pay them?”

“That’s right.”

“And where do I get the money, from the KBZ?”

“No, no Alex. . . ha ha ha, you are getting confused. You will have lots of money
left over from selling potatoes.”

“Wait a minute . . . wait a minute here. The KBZ gives me the money because I have no money? I buy the farm? I buy the equipment? I buy the tools? I pay all the workers? I do all of this paying by selling potatoes - potatoes that I haven’t been able to grow for the last fourteen years - back to the state for McGorbachev’s fast burgers and Russian fries?”

“That’s right Alex, and you become rich like all American farmers.”

“Well, Mr. Topofthepileski, this is all very interesting, but, you know, I think that these American farmers are much smarter than I am. I’m only a simple Russian peasant. I do not understand all this American Capitalism. Maybe you send me over to America and I can talk with some of these American Capitalist farmers. Maybe they can teach me how to become rich American-type farmer?”

“Alex, Alex? You do not have to go to America. We will teach you right here in Russia.”

“No, I don’t think so. Maybe you go outside and allow me to talk this over with my wife.”

“Sure Alex, sure - take all the time you like.”
(Topofthepileski goes outside while Alex Nobodyov explains new American Capitalism to Nohavemopka, his wife.)

“I don’t understand, Alex, what is this new Russian Capitalism?”

“Well, Nohavemopka, the state, which consists of Mr. Topofthepileski, comrade Betteroff and all the Welloffskies have destroyed all the land; they have let all of the equipment, barns and farmhouses run down to the point where nothing works and everything is worthless. They have taken all of the profits over the last hundred years and built themselves Dachas in the suburbs, and put all of their gold into foreign bank accounts; they have exploited all of the mines and factories, and worked all of the people to skin and bone; while they have all grown fat, we have all been forced to steal ping-pong potatoes for our borscht; their friends at the bomb and bullet factories have made so many bombs and bullets they have run out of places to store them; in the last war more Russians wouldn’t fight, than would fight - if no Russians will fight for Topofthepileski’s Dachas in the suburbs how will they make room for more bombs. They can’t sell the old bombs because everybody wants the new bombs from America, They spent all of the peoples money on all these stupid bombs. Now, they can’t pay anybody wages; they can’t feed anybody. They know that it is only a matter of time before the people rise up and their heads will be on the chopping block. So instead they are going to give you and me a bunch of worthless rubles. They are going to sell me this worthless pile of junk that they call a farm. If, by some miracle, I am able to grow potatoes, they will pay me what they have always paid me - nothing! But, if I fail, and I grow no potatoes or I grow another crop of worthless ping-pong fries; then when the people have no money and no food; then when the people go to Moscow and to the homes of Mr. Betteroff and Mr. Topofthepileski; all of them, including the Welloffskis, will point their fingers at Alex and Nohavemopka and tell all the enraged people: “Don’t blame us for your lack of food. We do not own the farms. It is people like Alexev Nobodyoff and his wife Nohavemopka who own all the farms. They must be hiding all of your potatoes under the farm house and stealing the money. If you want to chop off anyone’s head, you should chop off Alex’s and Nohavemopka’s heads - not ours!

“This man is crazy, Nohavemopka. He thinks that we are stupid. As it is now we have a roof over our heads and each week potatoes or no potatoes, we get our check. We have nothing but we pay nothing to nobody. Instead of living in this dumpled down house for free, they want to sell it to us. Then we must work even harder to pay them the money. They call that America-style mortgage. They sell us the land and if potatoes don’t grow, you and I and all the other workers still starve to death, but Mr. Topofthepileski and his friends will not be blamed. They know that I can not grow potatoes on this ruined land with all this junk equipment. Potatoes? Fourteen years we have Chinese ping-pong potatoes. Now they are going to sell me special first prize American Brahma Bull Manure - sounds like same old Russian bullshit to me.”
(They go back outside and join Topofthepileski in the front yard.)

“Mr. Topofthepileski’? Nohavemopka and I have decided that we do not want to buy the farm - free KBZ money or not. You sell it to another sucker. . . I mean peasant, okayski?”

“You don’t know what you are missing, Alex. This could be the chance of a lifetime for you. You could become multi-rubleaire. Boris Halfassski has already told me that he would like to buy this farm. You will be working for him one day, maybe, if you don’t jump on this opportunity?”

“That is good; that is good. I like Boris Halfassski - but in the mean time, Thursday, I get my check, right?”

“Oh yes! Oh yes, don’t worry. Your money is safe with us. As good as being in American 401K or Savings and Loan ... It is as good as TWA pension plan; No sweatski, Alex baby, your check is in the mail.”

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