Russian Woman Journal
Point of view

Thursday 9 October  2008

DOUG R. (England)

Who organises your bread?


villageI was on a camping holiday in the old Yugoslavia and got chatting with a Czech couple.
This was in the sixties, when Czechs were permitted to travel in that area.
We had many discussions around our camp fires, as can be imagined.

One evening I was unable to explain our capitalist system in a way he could appreciate.
Then he asked this simple question;
‘Who organises your bread supplies?’ My reply was ‘nobody.’

That sums up the difference between western free enterprise and eastern centralised control.

What makes the difference?
In the west generally and America in particular, economic growth and business development rely on special people called ‘entrepreneurs’.
Over 60% of total national American income derives from their efforts.
They establish and operate ‘enterprises’, often starting from nothing.
Everything new, successful and innovative is the result of an entrepreneur becoming involved and taking action.
That’s why America is business. American life is business life. That’s what America does- business.

What is an entrepreneur?
A dictionary definition might be ‘a person who, by taking risks and using initiative, attempts to make a profit.’
Another popular relevant word is ‘enterprise’. The dictionary might say ‘a project requiring boldness, effort and the readiness to embark on new ventures.’

Not everyone wants to be such a person, or even have them near. They can be awkward people.
Most established organisations deliberately avoid these disruptive mavericks, who keep trying to change the established comfortable status quo.

In our modern safety-first world the words ‘risk’ and ‘initiative’ is anathema.
The majority consider it better and safer to maintain the status quo. ‘Don’t rock the boat’.
Corporate bodies are afraid of disruptive questioning people. They don’t know how to deal with them. So management takes the easy way out and either blocks their efforts or gets rid of such unsettling personnel.

East European culture seems almost designed to weed out dissidents and encourage only conformists. Russians regard ‘businessman’ as one step away from ‘crook’ at most.

Where are these entrepreneurs? Why are so many in the Anglo-Saxon worlds of Britain and America? Is there something in the water? Maybe it is in their genes.

Where did they come from? When did they go to America?
After the American Declaration of Independence (from Britain) it was decided a bigger population was urgently needed for this vast new America.
A policy of open immigration was announced. Anyone and everyone from anywhere were invited to migrate.

Many present day Americans can thank their ancestors for taking the risk of moving to the New World.
Follow that line of thought. Many questions answer themselves.

By instinct or choice or opportunity, these migrants left behind their old familiar friends and surroundings. They accepted the risks in the hope of a new and better life in a strange foreign land on the other side of the world.
Think for a moment and imagine what courage it took for them to do this. What spirit did they have within? Were they exceptional people?
Where is that gene pool today? It is still there, alive and kicking.

gardenIn those early days a strong enticement must have been the chance to own land- an impossible dream in old style Europe. In America peasant skills were ideal for carving out a rural life.

Others had acquired specific skills and became accepted as specialists in particular activities.

A classic example is the familiar Chinese laundry.

Other incomers set up as traders in jewellery, or silver or gold, some in wine or specialised food. Maybe they knew about trees and timber, or cattle and horse breeding.

Some opened restaurants or started ethnic shops selling food or clothes often to their own communities.

 They brought skills. They had learned to help each other. Today many ethnic communities have retained those strong cooperating and supportive attitudes to each other.
In most cases the necessary original capital for businesses was raised by small but several loans from friends and relatives.
Today, most Chinese restaurants have many owners. It’s called ‘spreading the risk……’ an excellent business practice.

These new enterprises demanded hard work for long hours.
It usually meant doing something the locals did not wish to do themselves.
These early enterprising families encouraged their children to follow higher education and enter one of the professions such as law, medicine or dentistry.
They did not want their children to endure the hardships they had.
Professional qualifications would protect them from that life.

What has this to do with Russian women?
It is very relevant to someone hoping for marriage into this entrepreneurial culture.

Consider the man who sets up his own enterprise from nothing.

1. He must accept the risk of failure. Over 80% of new ventures fail within 3 years, most in their first year of trading. He may lose all he has.
2. He needs initiative and drive. He needs unusual ‘get up and go’.
3. He needs foresight. He must identify situations he could take advantage of. If not now, then soon, when according to his judgement, the opportunity arrives. He will be ready.
4. He needs resilience. If a project fails he must have it within him to re-establish. Or think why it failed and consider whether to try again, maybe in a different location, or look for something else to do. He must retain his personal self belief.
5. He needs judgement. When should he cut his losses and move on? Or keep going in the belief he is right and his project can be viable?

Look again at those features.
Aren’t they exactly what most women do not want in a husband?

Look at these words:
Risk, failure, start again, enterprise, losses, try this, try that, move to another town, try something else…..
These words and phrases are not what most wives wish to hear.

Some women will happily enjoy the fruits of success but any hint of failure or loss will freeze the atmosphere at home.
A normal wife wants a steady family income from a reliable source.
This usually implies ‘having a job’.

The wrong woman will destroy an entrepreneurial man.

Does she think she can change him? He has qualities and faults as part of his makeup. They can be suppressed but will not vanish.
The valuable qualities of a self-starter need careful nurturing, not destruction.
Even if she fires off the ultimate weapon and demand he ‘gets a proper job’ he will always remember this wifely insult. He may come to resent her destructive demand that he give up on his dream.
An entrepreneur has been destroyed, not by events or bad luck or wrong business decisions but by marrying the wrong woman.

Does it matter?
Perhaps you don’t consider the advantages adequate for the downside risks?
Think about that, right now.

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of wealth?
How do you propose to acquire this wealth?
I mean real wealth not just ‘to be comfortable.’

Several possibilities come to mind;
1. Marry into it or be born into it with a rich father/mother
2. Start your own business
3. Become a crook/cheat/fraudster/gangster
4. Gamble

seaPerhaps ‘become a bookie’ looks attractive to failed gamblers but I know some of those who have failed too….

Do you doubt the most satisfying choice is to start a business?
It will also be the most fun, this most demanding absorbing exciting activity.
Only you make the mistakes, or benefit from success.

But you need to be a particular sort of person.
If you marry, she needs to be a particular sort of wife.

Is it sensible to consider a woman who has been educated and trained to believe ‘the State will provide.’?
Where will she go for bread when the husband cannot?
She has no idea. She wasn’t educated that way.

This article was prompted by correspondence on the Russian side of this site, based on an article on the subject of finance by Helen Vedekind, and on her replies.
In particular her response to ‘Natalia.’

It seems Natalia’s husband cannot maintain mortgage payments and there is a risk of the house being repossessed by the bank.
As I read the translated version it seemed Helen Vedekend puts the blame entirely on Natalia’s husband. It seems he is getting further and further into debt. It is not clear why or what he does for a living.

Helen Vedekind’s advice to Natalia is to look after herself, because she did not make his debts.

Presumably Natalia was happy to enjoy the fruits of such a lifestyle while it lasted, but now things have turned hostile she is advised to walk away, leaving him to his problems.

If he is an entrepreneur in trouble, he needs help not castigation. Maybe whatever extra cash Natalia could supply from her own income might be sufficient to keep him going through a rough business patch.
This is a far from an unusual situation. Many couples have weathered an economic storm by cooperating and helping each other through a temporary bad time.

I believe this makes my point, as expressed in my article above.
The wrong woman can ruin a good man.
Get your own bread.



DOUG R. (England)


Lana Hurrell:  for English readers who would like to read Russian topics mentioned in this article, please use Google translation  or Yahoo link   http://uk.babelfish.yahoo.com/


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Published in Woman's Magazine Russian Woman Journal  www.russianwomanjournal.com - 9 October 2008

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