Nothing to Buy
INTRODUCTION
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/theworldfactbook/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.
TASK
In this lesson you will compare Sovietera marketplace with presentday Russian marketplace, and demonstrate consumer decisionmaking in both Sovietera marketplace and presentday Russian marketplace.
PROCESS
Activity 1
After explaining the differences between the marketplaces in the Soviet Union and presentday Russia, divide the students into two groups: Sovietera marketplace and presentday 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 Sovietera 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.
Sovietera Wallet: One week's salary is 50 Rubles (there are 100 kopeks in a ruble)
Sovietera Prices:
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 
Cereal  Not Available  
Soda  Not Available  
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 
Juice  Not Available  
Frozen Prepared Foods  Not Available  
McDonalds  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 
Conditioner  Not Available  
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 
Presentday Wallet: 500 Rubles
Presentday 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 chartpaper 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.
Discussion Questions
After students have shared their shopping lists, discuss the following:
 Would you rather shop in the Sovietera or presentday 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 presentday Russia?
 How much did the average wage increase?
 What do the two calculations above suggest about the state of the presentday 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?
CONCLUSION
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 presentday 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 presentday Russia affects relationships between people? Why?
EXTENSION ACTIVITY
Is the Ruble Becoming Rubbish?
In this partnerapproved (Illuminations) lesson plan for grades 812, 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 fifthgrade 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