February 28, 2011

Wage Structure in the USSR

"Striking it rich" is impossible. "Keeping up with the Joneses" is bad form. Excelling the Ivanoviches in socialist competition to cut production costs, increase output, and raise profits beyond the Plan is always the order of the day. Conspicuous success in such endeavors means prizes, bonuses, honors, and fame. This elite bears little resemblance to any known aristocracy, plutocracy, or theocracy."
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 581

"No private person may legitimately make a penny of profit out of this system of state and cooperative industry and trade, banking and transport. There are no individual shareholders in the state industrial enterprises; and the financial columns of the Russian newspapers are restricted to brief quotations of the rates of the state loans. All the normal means of acquiring large personal fortunes are thus pretty effectively blocked up in Russia; and if there are some Nepmen, or private traders who have become ruble millionaires through lucky dealings in commerce or speculation, they are certainly neither a numerous nor a conspicuous class."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 131

"The new class of state managers, or "red directors" of factories, who have replaced the former capitalist owners, are mostly Communists and former workers. But by the very nature of their position they must look at industrial life from a rather different angle from that of the workers. Although they make no personal profit out of the enterprises which they manage, they are supposed to turn in a profit for the state."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 174

"But the general view of the Social Democratic and Anarchist critics of the Soviet regime, that there is a deep rift between a few Communist officeholders at the top and the working masses at the bottom, is, in my opinion, distorted, exaggerated, and quite at variance with the actual facts of the Russian situation."
Chamberlin, William Henry. Soviet Russia. Boston: Little, Brown, 1930, p. 177

"The difference in the standard of life is only determined by the ability of the single man. The external glamour of life, enjoyed in all other countries by a few big businessmen or rich heirs, has been sacrificed to a feeling of security guaranteed by no other state to its citizens. In order to remove the fear of the vacuum endured by 90% of the citizens, the enjoyment of the other 10% must be curtailed. Then the worker will not be filled any more by hate and jealousy, nor the owner by hate and fear of revolts.
Such a state without classes must necessarily be a state without races. Privileges for any race or color are explicitly denied by the Constitution. "
Ludwig, Emil, Stalin. New York, New York: G. P. Putnam's sons, 1942, p. 167

"On the whole the men who remain in top leadership are the ablest of the 12 million government employees. Although shouldering more responsibility they do not receive salaries anywhere near as large as those of corporation presidents in the United States. They do receive decorations and they may have cities named after them. They are all provided with automobiles, expense accounts and good houses or apartments."
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers' Press, Inc., 1946, p. 39

"Even more important than these liberties is the fact that they labor not for the private profit of employers (save for the small proportion employed in private industry), but for the profit of the whole community. State industries, like private, must show a profit to keep going, but the public use of that profit robs it of the driving force of exploitation.
The liberties enjoyed by workers in Russia, whether or not in unions (less than 10 percent are outside), go far beyond those of workers in other countries, not only in their participation in controlling working conditions and wages, but in the privileges they get as a class. The eight-hour day is universal in practice, alone of all countries in the world, with a six-hour day in dangerous occupations like mining. Reduction of the eight-hour day to seven hours is already planned for all industries. Every worker gets a two-week vacation with pay, while office workers and workers in dangerous trades, get a month. No worker can be dismissed from his job without the consent of his union. His rent, his admission to places of entertainment or education, his transportation- -all these he gets at lower prices than others. When unemployed he gets a small allowance from his union, free rent, free transportation, and free admission to places of entertainment and instruction. Education and medical aid are free to all workers--or for small fees--extensive services being especially organized for and by them.
...There is in Russia no privileged class based on wealth. Practically all rents for land or buildings are paid to the state or to cooperatives; only a little of it goes to line private pockets. Money may be loaned at simple interest, the rate being limited. Money deposited with the state earns a rate of interest even higher than in capitalist countries. But nobody is getting rich off the interest on his savings and loans, for all incomes are both limited at their source, and, when much above the average, are heavily taxed. Persons with higher incomes are also obliged to pay higher prices for some necessities- -especially rent. Inheritance of property is now theoretically unlimited, but so heavily taxed as in effect to destroy all above a moderate amount.
The new bourgeoisie, which has grown-up with the new economic policy--private traders, richer peasants...- -is too small to constitute a noteworthy exception to the general absence of a wealthy class. And they are being increasingly restricted, despite the assertions to the contrary by the Communist Opposition and others. The statistics of private versus public enterprises show it. Earnings and incomes throughout Soviet Russia vary from the minimum of bare subsistence, 15 or 20 rubles a month, to 10 or 15 times that amount. Few incomes run above that figure (300 rubles a month, $150), the highest in all Russia being those of a few concessionaires and foreign specialists on salaries ($5000-$10,000) . Even the few traders and concessionaires who have gotten rich are unable to invest money productively in Russia, except in state loans. None can be invested for exploitation. There is practically no chance for anyone to get rich under the Soviet system except a comparatively few traders, concessionaires, or the winners of some of the big state lotteries--and it is hard for any of them to stay rich under the heavy taxation."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 29-30

"...Even to tourists in Russia the absence of any moneyed class is at once apparent.... No fine shops, no gay restaurants, no private motors--none of the trappings of wealth that lend color and variety to the life of bourgeois countries. Instead, a somewhat monotonous drabness and shabbiness, more than compensated for by the thought of its significance to the masses."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 30

"And to anyone who accepts the view of social action as a struggle of classes, the political democracy of capitalist countries is only an instrument for the rule in the last analysis of a comparatively small class--the big property owners. ...Tested by it, the Soviet system clearly represents the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population-- the workers and peasants--as opposed to propertied classes,..."
Baldwin, Roger. Liberty Under the Soviets, New York: Vanguard Press, 1928, p. 35

"One should keep in mind, however, that big incomes are still extremely rare. Earning power may vary in the Soviet Union, according to artistic or technical proficiency, but the extremes, as Louis Fisher has pointed out, are very close. No such "spread" is conceivable in the USSR as exists in Britain or America between say, a clerk in a factory and its owner. Among all the 165 million Russians, there are probably not ten men who earn $25,000 per year."
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 567

"Yes, you're right, we have not yet built communist society. It is not so easy to build such a society. You are probably aware of the difference between socialist society and communist society. In socialist society certain inequalities in property still exist. But in socialist society there is no longer unemployment, no exploitation, no oppression of nationalities. In socialist society everyone is obliged to work, although he does not in return for his labor receive according to his requirements, but according to the quantity and quality of the work he has performed. That is why wages, and, moreover, unequal, differentiated wages, still exist. Only when we have succeeded in creating a system under which in return for their labor people will receive from society, not according to the quantity and quality of the labor they perform, but according to their requirements, will it be possible to say that we have built communist society."
Stalin, J. The Stalin-Howard Interview. New York: International Publishers, 1936, p. 11

"The railways, the length of whose permanent ways, in 1913, on the territory now administered by the USSR, was about 36,500 miles, had increased to about 48,200 miles. For the whole of the former territory of Russia the mean increase in the workers wages was 16.9% over pre-war figures. (Figures arrived at by taking purchasing-power into account)"
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 155

"Now the 1928 Five-Year Plan, supported by colossal figures, ended in four years by an achievement of 93 percent of its objectives. As regards heavy industry, the achievement in four years amounted to 108 percent. National production trebled between 1928 and 1934. Pre-war production was quadrupled by the end of 1933.
From 1928 to 1932 the number of workmen employed increased from 9,500,000 to 13,800,000 (an increase in important industries of 1,800,000, in agriculture of 1,100,000, and in commercial employees of 450,000) and, naturally, unemployment has become a thing of the past there. The part played by industry in total production, that is to say in relation to agricultural production, was 42 percent in 1913, 48 percent in 1928, and 70 percent in 1932. The part played by the socialist industry in total industry at the end of four years was 99.93%. The national revenue has increased during the four years by 85 percent. At the end of the Plan, it was more than 45 billion rubles. A year later 49 billion (1/2% being capitalist and foreign elements).
The amount of the workers' and employees' wages rose from 8 billion to 30 billion rubles.
The number of persons able to read and to write has risen, for the whole of the USSR, from 67 percent at the end of 1930, to 90 percent at the end of 1933.
Pause a moment and compare these figures, which testify to a progress unique in the annals of the human race, with the virtuous prophecies which figure above--Insolvency, Deadlock, Catastrophe, Breakdown--all of which were uttered at a time when the Plan was almost realized already--in spite of universal opposition."
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 194-195

"When he says that there are inequalities of wages and privileges comparable with those under Tsarism he lies. You all know it. No man has a sum of privileges in excess of any other. And wages vary, but the worst-paid worker is not much less well-off than the best paid. Remember, this is a transitional stage. We are on the way to our Communist goal. Trotsky offers instead years of fruitless waiting for political revolutions whose opportunity may well not be seizable. He offers the workers of the world an abstraction. "
Edelman, Maurice. G.P.U. Justice. London: G. Allen & Unwin, ltd.,1938, p. 136-148