Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at 4:52 AM
In what can only be described as playing Russian roulette with his country’s stagnating economy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered every casino and slot-machine parlor in Russia to cease operations, effective tomorrow.
Of course, the gamble here is not that the Russian mob might whack him in retaliation, or that this order will deprive the state of much needed tax revenues. Rather it is that, according to the New York Times, Putin’s order:
… will lead to one of the largest mass lay-offs in recent Russian history.
Economically, this begs the question: why, when every world leader is desperately cooking up gimmicks to create jobs, would Putin issue an executive order that will throw hundreds of people out of work?
Well, Putin insists that it’s necessary to rid Russia of the social perils gambling enables; not least of which is the organized crime that has made doing regular business in Russia such a gamble.
To be fair though he did not just wake up one morning last week in a Taliban state of consciousness and decided to rid his country of Western vice. In fact, the quixotically puritanical Putin has been railing against these vices for many years.
I am mindful, however, that Putin is probably using gambling and Casino operators now as scapegoats to deflect attention from his inability to manage a Russian economy that is spiraling out of control. And he’s clearly shrewd enough to know that nothing comforts poor, oppressed and unemployed (and employable) people quite like appealing to their self-righteousness and giving them evil doers to blame for their economic woes.
As for those who will lose their jobs, Putin probably figures they’ll be easily assimilated among the millions of Russians already commiserating over the loss of their jobs. Hey, misery loves company, right?!
In the meantime, this order will do little to curb crime and other vices in Russia – especially since the cheap Russian vodka that fuels so much of them will remain readily available.
Nevertheless, given that Putin wields more dictatorial control over Russia than the Mullahs wield over Iran, there seems little doubt that his order will be fully executed.
Putinization of Russia extends to Georgia