I came to America in 1975 and became an American in 1980.
Half of my life I lived in the Soviet Union, another half – in America.
I worked in the Soviet Union as a manager and a scientist and I worked in the USA as a cutter, a clerk, an accountant, a broker, a programmer, a system analyst. I graduated from colleges in both countries (the Moscow Textile Academy and Queens College in NYC).
For forty years I hear and read that capitalism is bad and that America is a bad country. I saw all kinds of protesters. I heard a lot of journalists, professors and elected officials who believe that socialism and communism are better. .
Certainly, everybody has right to her/his opinion.
However, as I lived many years In the USSR and the USA it is easy for me to compare what is better.
Let’s look today at facts and make conclusions. Then we can continue to discuss the question in the title of this post.
Several years I am renting during winter an apartment in a condominium in Hollywood, Florida. My landlord is from Cuba. He is a large trucks driver.
He bought this apartment 7 years ago as an investment. He lives with his wife in their own very nice house near Miami.
The photo below shows a deck of the condominium and a beach below. I meet daily people on the deck who own apartments here and have apartments or houses in Chicago, New York and other places. All of these people are working or worked before retirement. They are (or were) teachers, programmers, doctors, nurses, engineers, professors, government employees, etc. Some of them have or had their own businesses.
You can see in the photo a building that is under construction.
Picture #2 gives you a better view of it. The building will be finished soon.
All apartments in it have the same design and the average cost of an apartment is
$1,000,000. The interesting fact is that all apartments are already sold out.
Now, there are hundreds of condominiums in Hollywood and thousands of houses that cost more than 1 million dollars. All of them have owners.
There are many cities all over America like Hollywood or even richer (like Naples in Florida).
How bad is America and how bad is capitalism if people who are working hard and have education can have wonderful apartments or houses, can travel, are free to choose their way and enjoy life?
I am proud that I am American!
I live a few miles south of you in Aventura, 178th Bisc Blvd. Been in Miami 60 of my 65 years. Had enough, moving to North Carolina soon.
Carl, what are you looking for in N. Carolina?
The hospital/doctor complex is on Bisc Blvd 210 Street. I’m on 178 took me 1 hour 20 minutes to get home. In south Miami they built an 800 unit apt bldg and corrupt officials gave waiver for just 25 parking spaces ! Authorities paid off , builders leave with $ and people stuck. They are still building and nowhere to park and traffic gridlock. There is no work ethic and place reeks of incompetence. Took me 5 days of 7 phone calls 3 trips to store to finally get my prescription meds straightened out at Walgreens. I can’t stand it. If you don’t speak Spanish half the population ignores you in public and private sector. I have a son in NC. I have never been there except week 3 months ago. Bought house . Whole different world up there.
Most of the condos you speak of are investment property from rich South Americans or French Canadians. The is great wealth here but over 50% south Florida residents at minimum wage and poverty level. This place will implode not enough water , electricity, more people getting welfare help than paying into system to support it.
I am sure you see it much differently coming from Russia. This must seem a wonderland for you. As long as you have good job you will enjoy. But I think you may eventually long for more rural environment like I am now doing. Regards.
The right to vote here is an illusion of democracy. The capitalist megacorps and megabanks run everything and are creating subsistence living here. Your country’s slogan “all power to the workers” sounds good to me. Of course no communist country has initiated that part of change and power switch.
Carl, thank you for the detailed answer to my question and comments on this post. I will
answer them soon in my posts. Best to you in North Carolina!
If I didn’t love Australia and already live close to a beach you might have convinced me to shift countries 🙂
I read that an international organization decided that Australia was the best
country for living in 2013. You’d better stay where you are! 😉
Well yes, Australia has a lot going for it ☺
You must keep it this way!
We try, but the struggle increases. People increasingly mistake liberty as a justification for selfishness. The possible consequences of this worry me
You are right to be worried.
It is nice to hear an opinion from someone who has lived both places. I hope one day to be as fortunate as you and have a winter home in Florida. You make a good point though that the riches are here for those that are willing to work hard for them.
Phil, we don’t have property anywhere. We had a cooperative apartment in Queens and
sold it before prices crashed. We use money to travel and to rent.
Majority of our relatives and friends have houses and apartments. All of
them working hard (or worked hard) and have good education.
I’m envious of your travel as well and I look forward to reading more of your stories about it.
I’ll write more about it this year.
I rent an appartement in the Netherlands. I live on welfare. I am happy too. Don’t need and don’t want millions.
What is your age? Did you work before in the Netherlands? Btw, we are not
rich. We have pensions and small savings.
Oh! I understood wrongly! Sorry! I hope you are enjoying your residence! 😀
I am 47. I am unfit for work since I left university.
Well, good for you and it’s nice to hear from somebody who simply worked and can afford this all. Unfortunately, I’m probably in the wrong business, since so far working for 16 hours a day hasn’t given me much. I lived on the both sides of the planet, as well and relocated to Canada when I was 46. You must be incredibly lucky, I wish I could one day afford a nice stay in Florida again. We traveled couple of times there, but situation changed after 2009 and so it’s a little hope it’s going to be much better soon. Happy New year
Inese, first 5 years in US I slept 4 hours daily. After being a well
known manager and scientist in the USSR I started here cutting fabrics
by a large knife. Then I graduated from college in 2 years, had very
difficult time finding a job. My wife also learned new profession.
Both of us lost jobs at some time and were very depressed. Our example
just shows that it is possible in America to grow, to accomplish
reasonable goals, to find happiness.
I am so pleased you have had success and found happiness in America. I am thankful for you and others who have contributed and contine to contribute to our country.
I thank God every day for this miracle!
I enjoyed reading your blog discussing your journey here in the United States and observing what others are materially able obtain here. Although you sound satisfied, and rightly so, because of all hard work you put in to achieve what you have here in the United States, it also does not sound like it was very easy for you.
Many people that I know who come from other countries, like yourself, may have had a higher “status” in that they have had degrees that allowed them to work in more significant jobs, but their degrees are not accepted here, and so consequently they have to start again. I applaud everyone who comes here, and works hard to have a better life. Too bad, we do not reciprocate – or at least help them in the transition to similar positions here. Or, maybe we do, and I am just not aware of it. I hope somewhere along the way, this country provides assistance to those people who come seeking a better life – whether in the form of food stamps, welfare, medical assistance, housing, education – especially to learn English and acculturate.
We are a nation of immigrants – especially those running away from oppression.
Sadly, there was not much in your writing about what it was like in Russia, what your lifestyle was like despite having higher education, and what about life in Russia that was unbearable and the effects of the differences on your life here in the United States.
I also wonder where all of these people are coming from, who have a million dollars to buy apartments on the beach. I don’t know this for a fact that I hear that they are from other countries themselves – not US citizens. While I have no problem with people from of the countries buying real estate here, I take umbrage with the thought that people think that there are so many rich people here.
Most people, like yourself, as you described what you went through in the 30+ years, are struggling. It hurts me to hear how many government agencies as well as businesses are taking away pensions – the kinds that you describe, I assume, that you are using to enjoy your life currently. I worry about Congress playing with Social Security, which was supposed to have been sacrosanct, and from what I’ve read Congress in the past took money out of the Social Security administration offset deficits in the budget. I worry about the powerful and the wealthy in this country continuing to transfer wealth to the top at the expense of all workers at the bottom. I worry about our children. Americans, like you and me, worked hard in the late 1800s and early 1900s to stop oppressive practices by corporations
I know that this can’t continue, and what goes up must eventually come down, but too many people suffer in the meanwhile.
Thank you for your thoughtful piece. It was nice reading.. I’m grateful that you were able to immigrate here and share your experience with the rest of us.
Sorry this is so long, but I had much to say. Obviously. Randy
Randy, I am very grateful to you that you posed so many very important questions in your
comment. I will try to answer them in future posts as we need to understand clearly where
our country is going.
If you want to know about our life in the Soviet Union please click on “My writings” below
the header and you’ll find a group of my posts about it. The most important are:
“We live many lives” and “My mother’s birthday”.
I feel for what you’ve went through after reading your two recommended pieces. I cry for all the peoples in this world who suffer. I am reminded of my father’s experience here during the Great Depression (and as difficult as that was, I do not assume it was as bad as your experience) and his going off to WWII and then coming back and trying to build a life again here back in the states.
Young people simply don’t understand the enormity of
the WW2. More than 50 millions killed, millions of invalids
(without limbs or with terrible mental scars). Without
America the war against fascism would be lost.
It makes me wonder. I came back from Kona, I was told that the land by the beach is $1 mil an acre, plus the house and every thing else; and any owners have more than 5 to 15 acres…
Amy, do you mean Kona in Hawaii? It’s America too. I tried just
tried to show that many hardworking people of all occupations live
wery well in the capitalistic society.
Last years in the USSR I had a very high salary (by their standards)
but my buying power was less than when I had a small salary here
(it increased 5 times by my retirement).
Yes, Kona in Hawaii. I agree…
You have an interesting approach to telling stories!
I am curious, if you don’t mind, where did you grow up in the Soviet Union? Did you move to the US as a scientist? Transition economies and the former Soviet countries are something I have written a lot about and I have worked quite extensively e.g. in Central Asia, Eastern Europe etc.. I studied in St Petersburg in mid ’90s too. You have lived thru some really fascinating times!!
Have you written anything about the “good old times” and your time in the Soviet Union?
Have an excellent year full of happiness, adventures and good health!
Hi, Miia. The best way for you to get answers to all your questions is to click on the
words “My writings” on the black field below header.
You will get links to a group of posts regarding our lives in the Soviet Union (I believe
that you live a new life in each country and culture). The second group of posts tells
about life outside of the USSR. I started in America as a cutter, than became a clerk, an
accountant, a stock broker, a programmer, a technical systems consultant. You’ll find more
on “My writings” page. Best to you!
What an amazing life you’ve had. Have you been back to Russia? Can you go back once you’ve emigrated?
I can go back to Russia but from my point of view nothing improved there. And bear in mind that I
was born in Odessa (Ukraine). I could not imagine that Russia will fight Ukraine.