Russian Constitution

A respected writer-journalist mentioned Article 38 of the Constitution recently. I’ve read the Russian Constitution but truthfully if you asked about Article 38 I’d normally be clueless. Its not something one carries along to pass the time on flights or use as a bedtime story at night.

Perhaps I should. The observation prompted a check and sure enough, Article 38, Section 3 says very clearly…”Able-bodied children over 18 years of age shall take care of disabled parents.”

Well pardon me for being so bold, but that isn’t exactly “cradle to grave” socialism, unless I have missed something. The last time I seriously looked at the Constitution was a couple months ago when the “31” protests (Article 31 guarantees free speech and freedom of assembly) were at the top of the news.

Related, and I’ll leave this one for the reader to determine as to whether it belongs in the “odd” or “end” catagory: President Medvedev, Prime Minister Putin and the Duma seem to agree that health care costs are out of hand. There was a lot of angst in the Kremlin during the “Obamacare” debates in Washington as the Kremlin is looking at methods to move towards a more market driven system, with the goal of saying goodbye to socialized medical care in a managed transition over time. (You may have noticed that everything in Russia is “managed,” from health care to democracy.)

But wait, there’s more! This autumn there was no shortage of discussion taking place in the Duma (Parliment) about the cost of education. The Russian Constitution guarantees free public education for levels from “Children’s Garden” (Kindergarden) to high school graduation (11th grade). With the annual average salary of around $600 per family across the country, it seems that parents are less than happy about the extra fees required of student families.

What fees, inquiring minds wish to know? Thanks for asking. There are fees for all sorts of things from extra care after school (tutoring and academies) to uniforms and payments for school security guards. Ranging in some areas upwards of $100, the average salary for parents doesn’t go very far when children are involved.

Most schools provide a free lunch which I should point out proves that just when you were convinced that there “is no such thing as a free lunch,” leave it to the Russians to step in and prove that old saying to be wrong! Some schools provide free breakfast too, I’m told. So there.

Moving on (we don’t need a .org), did you hear the analogy about life in Russia as compared to taking a ride on a bus? Okay, here we go:
Q: How’s life in Russia?
A: Like a bus trip, one comrade is driving and all the other comrades are holding on for dear life!

Here is another one:
Q: What does a Russian bride get on her wedding night that is long and hard?
A: A new last name.  

Finally, and this question has always been puzzling: In a land where there is lots of snow and very cold temperatures this time of year, why do young Russian women bundle up to the hilt by layering multiple blouses and sweaters, the heaviest possible winter coat with a sash around the neck to protect the throat, tall leather high heeled boots, and a thick hat with ear warmers…yet still wear miniskirts in winter?

If you have an answer to that or any of the other probing and thoughful inquiries raised on this post, I’d love to hear from you.