Staunton, April 4 – One of the easiest ways for a government to explain away something it has failed to address is to suggest that it is a natural calamity like the eruption of a volcano that no one can be expected to prevent but at best can try to ameliorate the situation, Andrey Vaganov of Nezavismaya gazeta says.
That is exactly what the Putin regime has done in recent days, suggesting that the excess deaths and declining birthrates are volcano-like phenomena that Moscow can observe but can’t be expected to address, the Moscow editor says. And its palliative policies thus aren’t even designed to be effective (ng.ru/kartblansh/2021-04-04/3_8119_kartblansh.html).
Of course, “such open declarations from the leaders of Russia relative to the demographic situation are something we have never heard before,” Vaganov continues. And that in and of itself is important, but even more important is the effort of the regime to justify is mistaken actions in a few places and its absence in many.
About the only step the regime has taken is to boost spending on maternal capital in the hopes that will lead to more births. That may do some good, but it utterly fails to address what is the far more serious demographic decline of the Russian nation: the increasing flight of its best and brightest to live and work abroad.
That has been going on for 30 years and it is only getting worse, Vaganov says; “and it is obvious that this problem won’t be solved just by increasing maternal capital.” Instead, he argues, Moscow should be guided by the pyramid of needs popularized by American psychologist Abraham Maslow.
If Moscow did so, it would recognize that the authorities should be addressing the needs of Russians not at the lowest levels such as physical requirements and security “but at the highest, cognitive and ethnic requirements and the need for self-realization.” That is exactly the opposite of what the Putin regime is doing.
To really address Russia’s most pressing demographic problem, brain drain, it needs to give Russians not only the chance for a future of rising incomes but also and more important the opportunities for creativity and freedom. But the Kremlin today is denying both, and thus ensuring that the demographic future of the country is dire.
Not because this is something like the eruption of a volcano but precisely because it isn’t, the editor argues. It is man-made and as such it could be unmade if there were the understanding and will to do something.