I was proud of America in 1941!

On June 22, 1941 without declaration of war Germany invaded the Soviet Union. At that time I was 7 years old.

In 73 years I wrote about that day and the Great Patriotic War in the post MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY.

Odessa was occupied during the war and my mother and I were fortunate to reach Sverdlovsk in the Ural Mountains and to rent a small room there. My mother was a nurse in a military hospital and she was able to come to our room only on Sundays for several hours

All other days I stayed in the room reading everything I could find. Our landlords, two mighty sisters about 65 years old, helped me daily to do the most important thing: to get my food ration.

During winter the situation in the city was especially bad. Food rations were tiny and there was impossible to get berries or mushrooms or fishes in the forests. People were starving and some tried to steal your food on the way from a food distribution center. However, I was safe, as both sisters had heavy sticks in their hands and used them effectively without hesitation.

One day we found out that the city received some food from America. Our rations increased. I still remember that we got containers with hot soup in it. One of my protectors gave me a spoon and said: “Eat it right here! I know how hungry you are!”

The soup was delicious. A woman who worked at the center explained that it was a turtle soup.

Several months later we received a big can with an egg powder (it was part of the monthly ration). It was also from America. On Sunday my mother made an omelette from it. It was incredible beautiful and tasteful. We ate it very slowly enjoying every bite.

I asked my Mom where America was and she showed me on a map. Then I asked: “Mom, why this country that is so far away, helps us?”

My mother answered: “America is a mighty and rich country! Today it helps our country and other countries to fight terrible enemy by providing military equipment, materials and food. We hope very much that soon it will fight Nazis together with us and we’ll win the war together!”

I was proud of America in 1941 and I love it since 1941!1flag

 

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Several extracts from Wikipedia:

“The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled An Act to Further Promote the Defense of the United States, (Pub.L. 77–11, H.R. 1776, 55 Stat. 3034, enacted March 11, 1941)[1] was a program under which the United States supplied Great Britain, Free France, the Republic of China and later the USSR and other Allied nations with materiel between 1941 and August 1945…

Joseph Stalin, during the Tehran Conference in 1943, acknowledged publicly the. importance of American efforts: “Without American production the United Nations [the Allies] could never have won the war.”

On December 11, 1941, the United States Congress declared war upon Germany, in response to that nation’s declaration of war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and only hours after Germany declared war on the United States.”

 

Quote about poverty and wealth.

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.

In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”

Confucius

Thomas Sowell and his quotes.

I just returned home from a nice party and found an email with Thomas Sowell’s quotes. I read all quotes and then went to Google to find out who was Thomas Sowell.

Here is what I found:   THOMAS SOWELL

Then I went back to the email and copied several quotes.

You can see them below and make your own conclusions.

“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

“One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.”

“I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
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“Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions — and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.”
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“Oh, those Americans!” (part 2).

Click below to read the first part of this story.

“Oh, those Americans!” (part 1)

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We were very upset. Nobody of us wanted our teachers punished due to actions of any boy from our school. We loved and respected Boris and Nasir. Every day showed all of us that they cared and did everything possible to help us.

Nikolai, who was on the Uzbekistan’s boxing team, expressed common opinion. He said: “There will be no more cheating!”

Several days passed. On the ninth day three boys picked more than 40 kg and proudly shared their prizes with their classes. We found that butter was not edible and pita was too small to satisfy 20 or more hungry guys. Still we hoped that more boys will pick 40 kg next day.

However, night brought bad surprise. Temperature dropped substantially and it became very cold in our large room. We slept on the thin mattresses on the floor and had only thin blankets to defend us from cold. It became windy outside and there were many holes in the floor and walls of the building.

So during the night we suffered from cold. It was even worse on our way to fields. We did not have warm clothing and the closest field with unpicked cotton was already about two miles away. Many guys took their blankets with them and it helped a bit on the way to the field but nobody could keep blankets on when picking cotton. So we suffered from cold until sun was high above our heads and then we continued to suffer from reflections of sun rays from cotton bushes.

However, we worked and did not complain. Our teachers worked and suffered even more than we as they slept very little caring for sick boys at nights. We knew that there were only several days left before coming home and this knowledge lifted our spirits.

Two more days passed. Then several boys complained that they had severe abdominal pain. Greg was one of them. He told us that it was very painful for him even to touch his abdomen. He and some other boys also had fever and they vomited. Two boys said to teachers that they had frequent and painful urination.

Many of us caught cold and started to cough. The only medicine from all problems was hot tea but everyone suspected that together with bad food it could be also a reason of stomach problems.

Nasir asked the local healer to check boys with severe abdominal pain and the old man said that it was possible that Greg had appendicitis and needed an operation as soon as possible.

In the morning of the last day Greg and six other sick guys stayed in the room helping each other. All others went to work in high spirit. We were proud that we were able to overcome all difficulties and picked a lot of cotton. We also thought what a pleasure it would be tomorrow to meet our families, to take shower, to eat decent food and to relax a couple of days before going to school.

At about 3.00 pm we heard a very strange noise. All of us stopped working and turned to see what it was. A dark dot appeared in the sky. Then it grew and it became clear that it was a plane. Soon it was near and then it landed on the road close to us. A pilot climbed down from the plane and started walking towards us.

Boris and Nasir told us to continue working and went to meet the pilot. They spoke with him several minutes and then they came back. We could see that they were very upset.

Nasir told us to stop work and to come closer as they had important news for us. Then Boris told us that government of Uzbekistan decided that all boys and girls from Tashkent must continue to pick cotton two more weeks. The pilot also said that our parents bought for us food and sent it and our warm clothing with him.

Teachers also told us that they convinced the pilot to take with him to the city three very sick boys (he could not take more). They told us to walk back to our building and then they flew with the pilot.

On the way back from the field some guys were very angry. One said: “We volunteered to go to pick cotton for only two weeks. What right did government have to force us to stay here two more weeks?”. Another guy wondered why we did not get good food from the beginning and why the government did not provide food this time. He added: “We are not getting money for our work. Why should our parents pay for our food?”

Yuri said to me: “I hope Greg will get necessary treatment today and will be in good shape when we return to the city.”

When we reached our building the plane was gone and Greg and two other boys were gone too. There were food and clothing in the room.

We continued to work. Temperature continued to drop and we suffered from cold very much. Some guys and our teacher Boris had bad dry cough, more guys had stomach problems. We counted days and worked. Finally, thirteen days passed. We were very tired but satisfied with results of our work.

Before going to work on the last day teachers told us to prepare our things for departure. They asked sick boys to clean the room and to gather all mattresses in the corner of the room.

We worked this day with great enthusiasm. However, at about 3.00 pm we heard that a plane was coming again. It landed, the pilot climbed out and stayed near plane. Boris and Nasir went to him. All of us stopped working. We felt that something was very bad.

Teachers talked with the pilot and then called us to join them. They told us that Greg was dead. They also told us that Stalin ordered all boys and girls from Tashkent’s schools to pick cotton two more weeks.

Yuri and I could not believe these news. Greg, our closest friend for six years, was dead. He was dead only because our leaders did not care about us. We were only fourteen years old but we understood the simple truth: Stalin was our leader but he was not our friend.

In two weeks boys and girls from Tashkent’s schools returned from the Hungry Steppes. However, four girls and one boy died very soon. Nothing was in newspapers or on the radio about it but people knew everything. When we heard this terrible news Yuri told me: “You know our teachers. They love us and they teach us to love others. If Stalin is a teacher he is a teacher of death”.

We did not believe propaganda from that time. We did not believe that Americans wanted to conquer the world. We also found out that in 1947 International Harvester produced a mechanical cotton picker. We did not want to compete with Americans, to compete with machines.

However, three more years we picked cotton until middle of October. Nobody asked us to volunteer. Our government decided everything for us.

Oh, those Americans!

“Oh, those Americans!” (part 1).

It was a very unusual start of the school year on September 1, 1948. Teachers told all students of 7-10 grades to go to the center of the schoolyard to listen to the speech of a colonel from the Tashkent garrison.

The colonel told us that our Motherland needed our help. He explained that Americans wanted to conquer the world and we needed to grow our economy very fast to become mightier country than America. He said: “We need to overrun America!”.

Then he explained that a part of the Hungry Steppes was recently irrigated and produced very good crop of cotton. Motherland needed our help in picking cotton by hands. The colonel added: “It will not take more than two weeks. The weather is terrific so there is no need to take warm clothing. You will get good meals so don’t take any food. Now go home and prepare to board a train at nine tomorrow morning”.

We were very excited. It was such an interesting adventure and a terrific opportunity to serve our country. Yuri said to Greg and me: “We’ll show those Americans how Soviet patriots work!”

Next day boys, girls and some teachers from Tashkent’s schools went by train and then by trucks to designated places in the Hungry Steppes. We settled in a wooden building which had one very large room with a wooden floor. Each class chose a part of the room and then we got tiny pillows and very thin mattresses and blankets.

Then each of us got a piece of black bread, mashed potatoes and a cup of tea. Bread looked and tasted like clay, mashed potatoes had very unpleasant taste and tea was very black without milk or sugar but with a lot of leaves in it.

After the long trip all of us (178 boys and two teachers) were very hungry and tired but nobody liked the food. We were very happy that our parents practically forced us to take a lot of food with us. Boys of each class shared food from home and drank tea. Very soon after it all of us fell asleep.

At five o’clock in the morning there were loud sounds of gong. Our teachers Boris and Nasir told us to get up fast, wash our faces and hands with water from a large barrel and prepare to go to a field. Nasir (he was our teacher of Uzbek language and he communicated with locals) explained to us that there was a pond near the building but water in it was not good for drinking or washing faces or hands. Locals boiled it and placed in large wooden barrels.

At 6.00 am we formed a column and with songs went to the nearest cotton field. At the field a local man gave each of us a special apron for placing cotton in it and a large sack. The upper part of the apron was around the neck and the lower part was around torso. Both hands were free to pick cotton and to put it in an apron.

Nasir told us that only women picked cotton in Uzbekistan and that majority of them did it with one hand. However, some were able to pick cotton with two hands and they earned more money.

He explained that after an apron is full the cotton placed in a sack. After a sack is full each of us should bring it to a mobile weighing station and a local man will write a name and how much was in the sack. At the end of the day anyone who will be able to pick 40 kg of cotton will get a teaspoon of butter, a teaspoon of sugar and a small pita.

Nasir showed us how to pick cotton and put it in an apron and where was the weighing station. He assigned a furrow to each of us and explained that we should pick cotton from both sides of the furrow until we reach the end of it. Then he’ll assign a new furrow.

cottonbush

Before we started to work a truck brought our breakfast. It was a copy of the previous day supper. We were so hungry that ate everything and added a bit from food that our parents gave to us.

Half an hour later we started to work. It was a gorgeous sunny day. The cotton field was beautiful. The air was fresh. The feel of ripe cotton was very nice and we enjoyed picking it from bushes. Greg, Yuri and I tried to pick cotton with both hands. We knew that nobody will get money but thoughts about butter, sugar and pita inspired us.

Actually, all boys were in a very high spirit and worked very fast.

Our teachers told us not be in a hurry, that two weeks of work was a marathon and not a sprint. However, we loved competition and we loved pita even more.

Several hours passed and everyone slowed down. The sun was high in the sky and it was very hot. All of us were thirsty. None of us had dark glasses and it was painful to look at the white cotton under sun. Sun was beating down mercilessly on our practically unprotected heads and bodies.

Our teachers Boris and Nasir directed our work and helped to pick cotton those boys who stayed behind others.

At 1.00 pm a truck brought our lunch. Each of us got a piece of bread, a bowl of potato soup, mashed potatoes and tea. Nasir talked with a local leader and the man explained that nobody expected that somebody from Tashkent will come to the area. They had very limited supplies of food and nothing was coming. There was only a lot of rotten potatoes and they used it for soup and mashed potatoes.

There were several trees near the road to the field and we were able to eat lunch and relax a bit in their shadows. An hour passed very fast and then we started pick cotton again.

Temperature continued to rise and those of us who were in hats without visors, in sleeveless shirts or in shirts from thin materials suffered very much.

By 5.00  pm we were absolutely exhausted. There was no pita in sight. The best result in picking cotton had a guy from the tenth grade who managed to use both hands. But he picked only 23 kg.

Teachers stopped our work and we went back to our building. We could not sing as we were very thirsty and tired. Happily, there was cool in our large room and there was a lot of cold and hot water in barrels.

At 6.00 we had the same supper as the first day but this time we ate everything and added some food we brought from home. However, many boys did not feel well. Some had high temperature and headache, almost everyone had painful red areas of skin. There were no doctors or nurses for many miles around so Nasir went to locals to find out how to prevent heat strokes and cure painful skin areas.

In the meantime Boris who was a war veteran told us about his war experience. He stressed that usually first days are the most difficult days and that we had only 13 more days before going home.

Nasir brought a very big jar with some substance made from goat milk. Local healer assured him that it was very effective in relieving skin redness, rash and pain. We immediately started gently apply this substance to painful skin areas helping each other.

Nasir also told us that Uzbek women picked cotton in dresses and shawls from thick materials that protected them from the sun. He added that he asked the local leader to give us several shawls just to try if our boys would be able to wear them during work.

In half an hour almost everyone was sleeping. However, our teachers stayed awake. They were doing whatever they could to help boys who had high temperature and headache. I am not sure if they slept even several hours during that night.

Next morning the local leader arrived with several shawls and many old newspapers. Boris gave shawls to boys who had the most painful red areas of skin. He said that all others should use whatever clothing they had to protect themselves. He also showed how to prepare a hat from a newspaper and told us that each of us must make such hat and wear it.

Teachers told boys who had headache or were dizzy to stay in the room and to help peel potatoes, clean the room and boil water.

Then we went to the field again. The morning was cool and we laughed that we were looking as pirates.

The second day was a copy of the first but we were better protected from the sun and we already knew what we were doing. At the end of the day all of us still got extra areas of painful red skin and we suffered from daily heat but our results were better. One guy from the eighth grade who used both hands picked 31 kg. On the way from the field everyone was talking that it is possible that next day somebody will pick 40 kg and will get butter, sugar and pita.

Next morning more boys stayed behind and everyone who worked in the field suffered very much from heat. All of us also suffered from reflection of sun rays from white cotton. However, there was nothing we could do and we worked diligently  till the end of the day.

All of us were pleasantly surprised when we heard that 6 boys picked slightly over 40 kg. However, immediately after supper our teachers told us to gather in the middle of the room. We saw that they were very upset.

Boris told us that when one Uzbek started to empty our sacks in the area where cotton was kept before pressing it into huge 200 kg bales he found that there were heavy pieces of dried land in several sacks and yellow wet cotton in several others. Somebody peed on the cotton to make it heavier.

Boris told us that he never expected that anyone of us would be so stupid, unpatriotic and dishonorable. He also explained that such actions were criminal and could be punished by 10 or more years in jail. Than he added that the local guy warned him that if the same thing happens again he would have to report it to the local KGB representative and our teachers Nasir and Boris would be severely punished.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb – a man hated by many experts.

America has more Nobel laureates in economics than any other country. There are thousands of experts in universities, banks, brokerage companies, insurance companies, etc.

Thousands of people work for the government and tell our presidents and the Congress what to do to keep economy growing and to keep people employed.

There is also a mighty Federal Reserve System. It is the central banking system of the United States. “It was created on December 23, 1913, with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907

The U.S. Congress established three key objectives for monetary policy in the Federal Reserve Act: Maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates… The first two objectives are sometimes referred to as the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate… Its duties have expanded over the years, and today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, include conducting the nation’s monetary policy, supervising and regulating banking institutions, maintaining the stability of the financial system and providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions…The Fed also conducts research into the economy and releases numerous publications, such as the Beige Book.”

With all this tremendous pool of experts how did it happen that the USA and many other countries were recently in the financial crisis and still are very slowly recuperating? Unemployment is still high, financial system is not very stable, interest rates are artificially kept very low and it especially hurts senior citizens.

Some people believe that it is a result of the fact that so-called experts in economics relied on the wrong economic models.

One of those people is  Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He warned long time ago that the way financial and monetary policies conducted was wrong and will lead to a financial crisis.

Who is this man? I will summarize what I know after reading information on the internet and after reading his books “Fooled by Randomness” (2001) and “The Black Swan” (2007).

Nassim Nicholas Taleb was born in a mighty and very rich family. Then the family lost almost everything. He got a good education and wanted to pursue his interests in economics, mathematics, philosophy. To be able to do what he wanted he needed  financial independence. So he applied his efforts and his knowledge to this particular purpose and made a fortune. At the same time he proved that his theories are valid and usable.

You’ll find more information about Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the article below. I hope you’ll find time to read the article. It is very, very interesting. 

NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB

I have no doubts that Taleb is today’s intellectual giant, that his views on economics and politics, his philosophy must be studied and applied in our society.

However, as I mentioned in the title of this post Nassim Nicholas Taleb hated by many experts. He hated by many economists and statisticians because he states that their knowledge limited and not up to today’s changes in all areas of life, economy and science. He also hated by many politicians because he states that the policy of expanding government debt is leading to a catastrophe.

I think that it is a must to read mentioned above Taleb’s books. They are not written for experts. They are serious and very personal books written by a person who learned views of many intellectual giants before him and decided whom to believe and what to believe.

Below is an article about Taleb’s tweets. I enjoyed it. Hope you’ll like it too.

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