When I go to the grocery store these days with my list of ingredients for recipes I’m going to make, I find I have to figure out what to substitute for the products that are missing from the shelves, coolers, etc. I can’t help but think back to 1989.
1989? Yes. It was when Boris Yeltsin was a newly elected member of the new Soviet Parliament and he had been in the United States touring a mockup of a space station at The Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Not much was made of his comments about that tour — but oh, the Randall’s Supermarket his group dropped in to see! He thought the thousands of things for sale were staged. He said no one in the Soviet Union, not even Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev (their leader) has that kind of choice. Years later in his autobiography, he wrote, “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”
Mr. Yeltsin bemoaned his country not meeting its potential. Are we squandering the achievements we have enjoyed? Achievements that have been around so long we forget that they don’t happen on their own. Empty shelves at the grocery store — one symptom of many problems in our country.
Competent leadership and policies matter.