Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From Russia With Love

It would appear that the Russians seem to be embracing the phrase "Desperate times call for desperate measures" or whatever the phrase is that sounds an awful lot like that one. It seems that the Russian economy has been hit extremely hard by this global financial crisis, so sayeth the folks over there at Yahoo! News. (That would be the Yahoo! News that is, apparently, for the UK & Ireland. Who knew?) "Its stock markets have lost about 70 percent of their value since peaks in May, and workers have been hit by lay-offs and wage arrears." (It's the arrears, I hear, which they fear will....ah, never mind. I've just always wanted to do that.) So the Russians are cutting back due to all of the arrearage and they're cutting back on one of their lifestyle staples. The vodka.

You might think, how bad could cutting back on vodka be? (If you're me, you'd think, "Oh, my GOD!!! Not the VODKA!!) If you're Russian and you live in Russia, apparently it can be pretty bad. The way I see it, the Russians are, in general, not a happy bunch. No, some of them are quite angry. Even those who leave Russia and head abroad and still grumpy the majority of the time. (I've been told it has something to do with bread, but I really haven't gotten a lot of clarification on that.) So in order to combat their anger, they drink and they drink vodka. To give you an idea of how angry the Russians are and how much they must drink to forget their anger, every single person there consumes about "15 liters of pure alcohol each year." Of course, that figure is calculated if you figure just every person. Now if you're only going to count the ones who can and do drink, that number is going to increase per person and now you're looking at well over 5 gallons of pure alcohol pure Ruskie per year. That's a lot of drunk Russians.

According to a one Pavel Shapkin, who is the president of the National Alcohol Association (not to be confused with the NRA or the AAA, as that would lead to chaos and confusion), "The government has to do something for these people trying to afford the most basic essentials in life." See, it's about priorities. In this country, all I hear about is universal health care this, tax cuts for the poor that. But in Russia, the government really needs to help people buy booze. That's what they've set their sights on. Affordable alcohol for all! Aim high, Russia!

But until the government can do something, the Russian people must fend for themselves. I just wish they'd fend in a different way, as alcohol poisoning deaths, which had been on the decline for two whole years, went up six percent in September. Why? Well, perhaps it's related to the fact that "....drinkers went for anything with alcohol content, including cosmetics, perfumes and cleaning agents to bring about the same effects as vodka." Wait. What?

So, vodka, which is about $1.80 for a plastic half-liter bottle (a half liter is about the same size as a quart, for those of you on the US measurement system and also for those of you who have forgotten what you learned in that episode of Schoolhouse Rock), is too expensive. SO expensive that it's cheaper to start downing your make-up, your perfume and your cleaning products in order to catch a buzz. Somehow, I see that as being much more expensive in the long run.

I mean, would it be commonplace for a bunch of Russians who are all trying to scrimp and save a few cents here and there, to all be sitting around on the porch (or whatever the Russians have that is the equivalent of a porch. Probably a barrel or a crate, I guess.) passing around a big bottle of Jean Nate? Everyone taking a swig from a flask of Charlie? Naturally, it would be in a paper sack and they may or may not be singing campfire songs. (Just don't light the fire around the Jean Nate or else you're going to have a Russian inferno that will make that Chicago fire that the cow started look like a marshmallow roast. A bunch of highly toxic, quite flammable, drunken combustible Russians around a lit flame. That's not good. Keep away from flame.) Naturally, the women would all be in the house or shanty, gathered around a boiling cauldron of old shoes and beets, passing around a bottle of Old Spice while they complained loudly about the bread or lack thereof or whatever their problem with the bread is.

Shapkin explained how not only were people trying to save money by drinking lesser alcohol products (ie, things with alcohol in them that are NOT intended for consumption), they were also trying to make money by trying to sell lesser alcohol products (ie, products which may or may not contain alcohol, but that are definitely NOT intended for consumption). He says, "At times like this, any grandmother can collect some old bottles, fill them with whatever she wants, and sell them to the alcoholics that are trying to save some money."

Wow. Shady Russian grandmothers, trying to make a quick ruble or two off of the drunks by selling them false hope in a bottle. Who knew? I guess no one. Just like no one knows what they're going to do about all of the vodka that isn't being purchased and all of the Russians who are drinking anything and everything except vodka because they have no money. So there's no money, no vodka, and soon there will be no body splash or perfume. There's just going to be a really big, really cold, country that's filled with people who are high on shower gel and angry about bread. I don't see it ending well.

Stumble Upon Toolbar Sphere: Related Content

No comments: