The main difference between Russian and American teenagers is that the Russians don't know how to play the game Monopoly, and therefore know nothing about money, said a former engineer who was born and raised in the Soviet Union.
Matvei Finkel, who now lives in the United States, told a Weber State College crowd Thursday that Russians have been slaves for so long, now they only want a little respect and VCRs.Finkel said that he was a typical Russian who joined the Red Army in his youth. He grew up to be a consultant in Russia for CBS News and eventually married an American citizen.
He said Soviet citizens don't aspire to buy a house and own two cars; They just want "a little bit to eat."
"If you're lucky to find chicken, you eat chicken," he said.
Finkel said a citizen there has to wait five years to buy a car, and the only way to make extra money is to sell goods on the black market.
But to set up goods in the open black market, you must pay off police and other government officials, Finkel continued, which means the government there is corrupt.
"If you learn to steal from the government, it means you're very smart," he said.
Finkel said that life is changing in the Soviet Union under the direction of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
He said that when he was growing up his mother warned him, "You want to stay out of trouble, you keep your mouth shut." Under the old philosophy, government would tell the people, "Don't be different."
People are now speaking out in the Soviet Union, Finkel said, and the government is allowing people to own and manage their own businesses.