Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ask a Russian! (part I)

I have had the pleasure of studying and working with many immigrants from the former Soviet Union. I encourage my progressive readers to chat with a Russian, many will offer you a unique perspective on social and economic life in United States that comes from being outsiders. Having lived in a society in which the state controlled economic and social life, few have a positive opinion about the path that we as a nation are headed down. What we call "change," is old and familiar to them.

Perspective Of A Russian Immigrant (No. 4)


Posted 12/08/2009

IBD Exclusive Series:

Perspectives of a Russian Immigrant

I look at the people who support the transformation of America in disbelief: They are destroying the very land that gave them so much opportunity.

Groomed, well-fed and educated, comfortably living in a prosperous society, they need a mission to give meaning to their lives. These "fighters for the less-fortunate among us" glaze over the fact that hundreds of millions of people from around the world desperately try to come to this country for all it offers, regardless of their economic status, race, class, or gender.

Immigrants rightly see this country as the best place to obtain a decent life for themselves and their families.

When I immigrated to America in 1980, I was overwhelmed with the amount of food and goods available at any store, at the numerous charitable organizations helping the needy, and even the government programs that helped people to obtain necessary skills to find a job.

Later, I realized that the country was in the midst of a deep recession. Compared to where I came from, it seemed like the pinnacle of prosperity.

As a secular Soviet Jew, my first Christmas in America was amazing. The proud display of religious symbols was a celebration not only of the holiday, but of a population free to express their beliefs without fear of oppression.

I understand why at the beginning of the 20th century Jewish immigrants in America wrote many beautiful Christmas songs; these songs were born out of grateful hearts. Churches and synagogues coexist without issues. Nobody is forced to practice or not practice a religion.

Soon, however, I noticed darker aspects underlying life in America. Political correctness had seeped into everything like cancer. Under the pretense of multicultural diversity, suppression and intolerance of uniquely American traditions such as liberty, private property, and e pluribus unum (out of many, one), became not only acceptable, but necessary in supposedly enlightened society.

Under the pretext of helping the needy, liberals eliminate people's drive to better themselves and their families. Instead, they obsess about events of the past and exacerbate the victim mentality in the very people they claim to help.

The stranglehold of political correctness has only grown stronger. I see in today's governmental policies a replication of the very things I escaped from.

In the USSR, representatives of the Communist party — partorgs (literally: party organizers) — were ingrained into every aspect of civilian, official and military life. These political organizers controlled public order by observing the behavior and speech of every citizen.

People who wanted a more secure and privileged life found it necessary to join the propaganda machine. In order to survive, citizens were silent out of fear of retaliation by the authorities.

Government-controlled medical care and poorly compensated medical personnel stimulated corruption at every level of service. People had to resort to bribery in order to get the help they needed, and underpaid medical personnel were open to the payouts.

Those who could not pay had to beg for help. The only hospitals comparable to American hospitals were in Moscow and a few other cities, where government officials were treated. In the rest of the country, medical care was substandard. This was the reality of free health care for everyone.

No one can dispute that America has issues with its medical system, and here too, some people struggle to get the help they need. But the solution to the problem is not more bureaucratic control. The quality of medical care will inevitably decline for everyone.

I came to this country in the middle of a recession, and I saw the economy revive and prosper when the government eased the tax burden on people and businesses. People were free to use their talents without the interference of central planning. Today the opposite is taking place, and we see the opposite results because central planning results in wasteful spending, corruption and the suppression of initiative.

I am afraid these transformers of America are destroying the future of our children. I hope the free spirit of America triumphs.

• Kunin lived in the Soviet Union until 1980. She now lives in Connecticut

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