28.7.16

THIS TIME, WITHOUT ASSISTANCE FROM THE VOLGA GERMANS AND THE EAST PRUSSIANS.

Once I learned some of the details of my great-grandparents' wanderings from East Prussia by way of Volhynia to northern Wisconsin, I took to quipping (later augmented with wonky stuff) that agricultural failures in the old Soviet Union predated Stalin and collectivization and Khrushchev and virgin lands.  The Volga Germans, in fact, were prior invitees, brought in by Catherine the Great.

Now, notes W. R. Mead, all that matters are the right incentives.
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union, which then included the ‘breadbasket’ of Ukraine, could never feed itself, and frequently had to import wheat from the West. Today, even without Ukraine, Russia has become the world’s leading wheat exporter.
Economics: sometimes the policy prescriptions sound simple, but to really foul things up takes a technocrat.

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