Theodore Dalrymple writes:
Just before the current troubles in Ukraine began, we called a plumber to our rented flat in Paris, which smelled of mold at the time. He was Ukrainian. He told us why he had left his native country a few years before: Everyone there was corrupt, nothing was possible without bribery, the opposition was as bad as the government, and all political demonstrations, which were frequent even then, were entirely bogus.
Indeed, political demonstrations had become a form of social security, the political system’s corrupt and vastly rich oligarchs paying a small daily subvention to the otherwise unemployed who agreed to demonstrate in their favor. There was nothing to choose between the government and opposition except the size of the daily payments that they offered, which varied from day to day like the stock market. Principle didn’t come into it; demonstrators changed from pro-government to pro-opposition and vice versa, according to the amount on offer.
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We had a Russian translator on the phone, but Dmitry’s English is good enough that he didn’t need one.
Until I said, “What else can we do to make your job good? What are your personal goals for your career?”
He was silent.
I said, “Did you hear me?”
The translator said, “There is not really those words in his language. He doesn’t know what you mean.”
I said, “Well, tell him I want to make sure the job helps him in his life. I want him to feel like this job is good for him and his family. Ask him what we can do to help him grow?”
Then I hear only Russian. A lot, back and forth.
I ask, “What is happening?”
The translator says, “He is crying. He has never heard any business person talk this way. I had to tell him that you really mean it.”