It's been a long time, however since we are on the subject that i'm personally familiar with, i was born there and lived for a while plus i still talk to my friends over there, so please indulge my musings on differences and similarities of the US and Russian mafias, aka governments.
Over here, in US it's called government fees or political contributions or lobbying fees, they get shared between same department, over in Russia it is also shared within the same department. In the end bribery is cheaper in Russian than US, plus you get the finished result immediately instead of waiting and hoping, if they'll approve or pass the law to benefit you, and will it happen fast enough for you not to go broke.
Good education resulted in understanding of the situation, hence protests, hence government response of trying to push religion into schools and dumbing down education system at present, can't have people questioning stuff, you know.
A walking russian joke, not much power, just a clown with a podium, people tend to ignore politicians. Police, they are a fair game if they overstep their boundaries, unless of course you are in only place where they are in control, Moscow and Leningrad, everywhere else, if the bug you, kick their ass, if you win, you get away, if they win, they'll make you regret it.
There are two kinds of Russians, the oh my god i love the state, please punish me i've been bad, and the second kind is, don't worry i've got it, why don't you go and bug someone else.
So in reality all governments are designed to do one thing, restrict and collect money for passage, if you refuse they'll kidnap you or kill you. Not hard to understand is it?
Standard of living
$20,000.00 in US will get you what? In Russia only a small minority is using credit system, majority is bought for cash, savings rate is over 25% of income. Food prices are comparable to here and so are the prices for gas, only few use cars, majority are bi-pedal or use buses.
Poverty rate, poor people are retired people and some workers. Imagine a Physician. working for the government health care makes about $300.00 a month, needless to say, bribes are welcome, needless to say once ohbummer care is in the fool swing, workers salaries will be cut here as well.
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