Nothing to Buy
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During the reign of Communism in the Soviet Union, there was no unemployment. People had good income regardless of the quality of their work. However, there were very few goods available for purchase.
The Soviet Union decided to distribute goods equally. Therefore, all produce grown and goods manufactured within the Soviet Union were sent to a central location to be distributed to each of the cities and villages throughout the country. Click here lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/sutoc.htm or www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html )
Because economic needs differed from location to location, villages and cities frequently found themselves with many goods they didn't need, and few goods that they wanted. Therefore, many consumers had income, but were unable to purchase what they wanted or needed.
Since the fall of Communism and the Soviet Union, a different economic situation has developed. Since employment and product manufacturing and distribution are no longer overseen by the government, the unemployment rate has risen dramatically. At the same time, the value of the ruble dropped so those who had saved money during the Soviet era no longer had much money. Many companies have come from the west (United States, Europe) and are selling their products in Russia. Therefore, Russian consumers now have plenty to buy but no money to spend.
In this lesson you will compare Soviet-era marketplace with present-day Russian marketplace, and demonstrate consumer decision-making in both Soviet-era marketplace and present-day Russian marketplace.
After explaining the differences between the marketplaces in the Soviet Union and present-day Russia, divide the students into two groups: Soviet-era marketplace and present-day Russia marketplace.
After the students are divided into the two groups, give each group of students the appropriate "wallet" and list of goods to buy. Explain to each group that they need to purchase enough goods to support their family of five for one week. Then, explain to each group that they have only one Saturday to do their shopping (8 hours). In the case of the Soviet-era group, there were many long lines that consumers had to stand in before they could buy the food or goods.
They will use the tables below to determine how they will best spend their time and money to acquire the goods needed for their families.
Soviet-era Wallet: One week's salary is 50 Rubles (there are 100 kopeks in a ruble)
|Foods||Price||Time needed to buy|
|loaf of bread||25 kopeks||1 minute|
|Milk||45 kopeks a gallon||1½ hours|
|Meat||2 Rubles for 2 pounds||If available,3 hours|
|Potatoes||3 kopeks for 2 pounds||1 minute|
|Fruits||25 kopeks for 2 pounds||If available, 3 hours|
|Rice||78 kopeks for 1 pound||1 minute|
|Snacks like Potato Chips||Not Available|
|Cheese||1 Ruble for 2 Pounds||If Available, 2 hours|
|Macaroni||20 kopeks for 1 pound||1 minute|
|Flour||82 kopeks for 4 pounds||2 hours|
|Sugar||1 Ruble for 1 pound||2 hours|
|Frozen Prepared Foods||Not Available|
|Goods||Price||Time Needed to Buy|
|Toilet Paper||2 kopeks per roll||1 minute|
|Toothpaste||12 kopeks per tube||2 hours|
|Soap||10 kopeks per bar||2 hours|
|Shampoo||1 Ruble per bottle||If available, 3 hours|
|Matches||1 kopeks per box||1 minute|
|Laundry Detergent||2 Rubles per box||2 hours|
|Disposable Diapers||Not Available|
|Paper Towels||Not Available|
|Gasoline for car||60 kopeks per Gallon||If Available, 6 hours|
|Pet Food||Not Available|
Present-day Wallet: 500 Rubles
Present-day Russia Prices:
|Foods||Price||Time needed to buy|
|loaf of bread||10 Rubles||1 minute|
|Milk||45 Rubles per Gallon||1 minute|
|Meat||60 Rubles for 2 pounds||1 minute|
|Potatoes||20 Rubles for 2 pounds||1 minute|
|Fruits||40 Rubles for 2 pounds||1 minute|
|Rice||10 Rubles for 1 pound||1 minute|
|Cereal||15 Rubles for 1 box||1 minute|
|Soda||40 Rubles for 2 Liters||1 minute|
|Snacks like Potato Chips||25 Rubles for 1 large bag||1 minute|
|Cheese||60 Rubles for 2 pounds||1 minute|
|Macaroni||5 Rubles for 1 pound||1 minute|
|Flour||40 Rubles for 4 pounds||1 minute|
|Sugar||20 Rubles for 1 pound||1 minute|
|Juice||5 Rubles for 1 gallon||1 minute|
|Frozen Prepared Foods||150 Rubles for 1 frozen pizza||1 minute|
|McDonalds||40 Rubles for a Cheeseburger||1 minute|
|Goods||Price||Time Needed to Buy|
|Toilet Paper||5 Rubles per roll||1 minute|
|Toothpaste||20 Rubles per tube||1 minute|
|Soap||5 Rubles per bar||1 minute|
|Shampoo||40 Rubles per bottle||1 minute|
|Conditioner||40 Rubles per bottle||1 minute|
|Matches||1 Ruble per box||1 minute|
|Laundry Detergent||20 Rubles per box||1 minute|
|Disposable Diapers||80 Rubles for 28||1 minute|
|Paper Towels||15 Rubles per roll||1 minute|
|Gasoline for car||40 Rubles per gallon||1 minute|
|Pet Food||20 Rubles per bag||1 minute|
Students must decide how to spend their income and their time. They should generate a list on chart-paper of all of the food and goods that they bought and how much money they have left over. They should also calculate the amount of time they needed to purchase all of those goods.
After students have shared their shopping lists, discuss the following:
- Would you rather shop in the Soviet-era or present-day Russia? Why?
- Which group had more money to spend compared to the cost?
- Which group had more choices of goods to buy?
- By how much did the price of milk increase between the Soviet Era and present-day Russia?
- How much did the average wage increase?
- What do the two calculations above suggest about the state of the present-day Russian economy compared to the Soviet Era economy?
- How much money did the Soviet Era consumers have after shopping?
- What does that suggest about the economy in the Soviet Union?
- Go here to read reviews of restaurants in St. Petersburg. Remembering that $1 = 27 Rubles:
- In dollars, how much would a meal at Count Suvorov cost?
- In Rubles, how much is the same meal?
- What is the average Russian consumer's wage? Could he or she afford to eat a meal at Count Suvorov?
Answer the following questions. Remember to print them out and hand them in when you have finished.
Where would you rather live: in the Soviet Union or in present-day Russia? Why?
How do you think the economy in the Soviet Union affected relationships between people? Why?
- How do you think the economy in the present-day Russia affects relationships between people? Why?
Is the Ruble Becoming Rubbish?
In this partner-approved (Illuminations) lesson plan for grades 8-12, students "analyze the effects of economic turmoil on various segments of the Russian economy and relate them to the local economy and their own lives. " Although this plan is written for older students, it can be easily adapted to a fifth-grade classroom. There are also some interesting Extension Activities at the end of the lesson. www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/19980909wednesday.html?searchpv=learning_lessons