To the editor:
In 1998, I took a job with a Western firm in Russia, right in the midst of a political and economic crisis. Just as I arrived, the IMF reassured Russians and the global market that the necessary loans would be provided to keep their banking system afloat.
The nearly $5 billion loan that was supposed to keep the Russian banking system solvent to the end of the year disappeared within a week. The Central Bank then defaulted on $40 billion of government debt, sending the Russian banking system into free fall and devaluing the ruble. Most average Russians saw their savings reduced to a fraction.
While historical analogies are always imperfect, Russian financial wizards do not have a monopoly on greed and theft. Just as officials at the Russian Central Bank were guilty in the late 1990s of selling worthless pieces of paper to keep their rotten system afloat, so more and more it appears that U.S. treasury officials and their political-corporate cronies are involved in an increasingly desperate and corrupt game to keep the U.S. economy solvent. While small-time investors and pension plans are being wiped out, bankers, brokers and oilmen are recording record salaries and profits.
The Russian people reacted to this elaborate Ponzi scheme with their typical stoic resignation and further deep distrust in their political and economic leadership. I sensed these same sentiments when reading about how folks in Lawrence are selling their blood and family heirlooms to pay bills and put bread on their tables ("Cashing In," Journal-World, July 13).