RUSSIA: Buttons, Beds & Boots

In the most significant confession it had ever made of the inadequacy of its state-monopoly trade system, Communist Russia started beating the drums last week for something suspiciously like the profit motive. Pravda proclaimed that the "monopolist" position of state stores was hurting trade and lowering production. It demanded "healthy competition." Andrei Zhdanov, the Politburo's rising spokesman, said that consumer cooperatives must be encouraged. The Kremlin promptly did so, with five capitalistic incentive devices:

1) Permission for Russian cooperatives to make profits as high as 20%—and give them to their members as bonuses; 2) special tax concessions; 3) promise of over...

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