Streetwise Professor

January 13, 2011

The Bluth Company Goes to Russia

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 9:57 am

During the Winter Break, my daughter Renee and I have been watching Arrested Development on Netflix.  In an episode we watched the other night, in an effort to attract publicity and restore the tattered reputation of the Bluth Company, (somewhat) sensible Bluth brother Michael proposes to build a new demonstration home in two months, and then hold a ribbon cutting ceremony like those his father regularly performed before his incarceration.  Completely insensible Bluth brother Job, elevated to company president as a result of the legal mess that has now ensnared Michael, agrees with the idea–but demands that the house be built in two weeks.  Unable to find a construction crew willing to do the job, Michael puts his misfit relatives to work, and they miraculously complete the dwelling in the allotted time.

When the day of the ceremony arrives, the house is girded by a bright red ribbon tied in a bow.  From the outside, the house looks perfect.  Always the tacky showman, Job descends from a helicopter with a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon.  But as soon as the ribbon parts, to their dismay the Bluths find that the ribbon has been holding the house together, and watch as the four sides of seemingly well-built house fall crashing to the ground.

Something not too different has happened in Russia.  In the aftermath of the summer’s forest fires, to burnish the reputation of his government which had been tarnished by its blundering response to the disaster, Vladimir Putin said that the state would replace houses lost in the fire, and ordered a crash effort to build them before winter set in.  The results, however, were Bluth-esque:

While the houses appeared beautiful and modern at first glance, it has now become clear that they are entirely unfit to live in. According to a report by Moskovsky Komsomolets, their newly-relocated residents are suffering from intolerable cold and other consequences of shoddy construction.

One such resident, Anna Yegorovna, explained that her new home in the village of Beloomut was all but falling apart. Seams in the ceiling were never sealed, baseboards are detaching from the walls, floors are lumpy, windowsills are warped, and wind blows through the house with ease. To top it off, the basement is brimming with water.

Officials dismiss the complaints:

“The demands residents are making are too great – to heat the house from the outside, to change the flooring. But the deadlines were all the same – have the houses at a preliminary stage of completion by October 20, and be well enough to pass the housing inspection by November 1,” [a regional official] told Channel Five. “Well, of course, they didn’t do it in time.”

Who is this “they”?  And who set the deadlines?  Could it be Vladimir “Job Bluth” Putin?  Yes it was.

No, he didn’t descend from a helicopter to cut a ribbon or hand the homes’ occupants the keys, but he is known to be a tacky showman who has pulled just about every other stunt in the book, and in this instance, his peremptory order to complete the homes before the snow flew was as realistic as Job Bluth’s two week deadline, and the results were equally predictable.

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10 Comments »

  1. His name is GOB Bluth, not Job Bluth. It’s short for George Oscar Bluth Jr.

    Comment by Jon — January 13, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  2. George Bluth – Dad
    Oscar Bluth – Brother

    Michael Bluth – Son/Brother
    George Oscar Bluth (GOB) – Son/Brother

    George Michael Bluth – Son

    That is, Gob’s name is the first names of his father and father’s brother, and George Michael’s name is the first names of his father and father’s brother.

    Comment by ThomasL — January 13, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  3. So glad to see that you are partaking of my all-time favorite TV series. You will never see magicians the same!

    Comment by Scott irwin — January 13, 2011 @ 12:50 pm

  4. Quite right; this was a foolish initiative. Putin should have taken a lesson from Mikheil Saakashvili, and just left the displaced to shift for themselves. After all, he didn’t incur any bad press from it, did he? It’s always easier to do nothing. Get with the program, Mr. Putin!!!

    Comment by Mark — January 13, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  5. I was curious about how all this would turn out after the fires but haven’t seen any reports about it. I’m especially wondering about the places that have video cameras monitoring progress. Any press on that? Haven’t seen anything.

    Comment by Howard Roark — January 13, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

  6. Even you, Mark, should be able to understand the absurdity of Putin’s grandstanding promises followed by p*ss poor performance on said promises. Consider an alternative: a low key directive to help those affected, followed by the construction of habitable houses. As it actually happened, Putin exploited a tragedy to burnish his political image, and then left the people harmed by that tragedy worse off than he had led them–and the world–to believe would be their lot. In other words, it wasn’t about the people who lost their homes at all; he used those people. It was all about Putin. Like that’s a shock.

    And give the whataboutism a rest. Saakashvili’s actions are irrelevant to any evaluation of Putin’s. Ever heard of the axiom of the independence of irrelevant alternatives? It applies here, and to most of the whatabouts raised by you and your like.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 13, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

  7. Unfortunately, crisis management is politically more rewarding than good management. I remember back in August (when else?) 2000, when the Ostankino TV tower caught fire, Putin said that it was evidence of infrastructure decay, the Soviet resource is almost used up and we have 5 years to fix things, before everything start falling apart around us…
    P.S.
    Crap! It’s even on the wiki! I thought I was the only one to have such long memories. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostankino_Tower#Accidents
    Oh well, 2020 is getting uncomfortably close, so it’s time for Strategy-2030.

    Comment by So? — January 13, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

  8. Really Mark?

    Interestingly the IDP’s from the Russian ethnic cleansing of Georgians from South Ossetia in 2008 havebeen rehoused, mostly in new villages close to Shida Kartli, while the Russians have failed to house any of the Ossetians they promised to house after the Russian military shelled and bombed Tshkinvali for 3 days (the Russians did far more damage to Tshkinvali than the Georgians did).

    Of course the real problem is the 250,000 or so refugees from the war in Abkhazia in the early 90’s, unlike Russia the Georgians simply do not have the economic resources to rehouse all of them, but at least they try.

    Comment by Andrew — January 14, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  9. Do tell. I realize that in Andrew-World, Georgia lies just to the north of Heaven in its munificence and in the benevolent wisdom of its leader. However, here on earth

    http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=12384&lang=eng

    thousands are booted out of their temporary housing, some without notice or compensation. Apparently, moving is fairly routine for them.

    http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=12706&lang=eng

    “Georgians do not have the economic resources to rehouse all of them, but at least they try”. Again, do tell.

    http://www.humanrights.ge/index.php?a=main&pid=12600&lang=eng

    28 Georgian Lari a month in assistance. Well, that’s generous, surely? Why, it’s….almost $15.00!!! Enough left over to invest in personal development, according to the government.

    http://www.eurasianet.org/node/61701

    I understand, though – probably not a lot of the folding green (or whatever colour the lari is) lying around after the government spent better than $7.5 million on its own reelection.

    http://georgiamediacentre.com/content/observers_might_think_30_may_election_was_free_it_was_no_way_fair

    As for “whataboutism”, apparently defined as “anything you say that does not agree with me, even if it is a direct comparison of the same issue”; you’re right. Saakashvili’s actions are indeed irrelevant to any evaluation of Putin’s. What was relevant, and remains relevant, was the blind eye russophobic media turns to the treatment of disadvantaged people outside Russia. Saakashvili is regularly praised by western media for the “great strides” he’s making in the advancement of Georgia and its people. Meanwhile, FDI in Georgia continues to slide while inflation surged to 11.2% in the month just passed. These facts are themselves irrelevant – it’s the continued praise for Georgia compared with the continued venom addressed to Russia; where the minimum wage has risen steadily and is scheduled to rise another 6.5% this June, 170,000 people started their own business since January 1st 2009, and the country boasts the world’s third-largest cash surplus.

    Comment by Mark — January 14, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  10. […] fit to live in say the new residents and Other Russia. Streetwise Professor weighs in, noting that the shambolic rush job reminds him of an episode of Arrested Development in which a house wrapped in a ribbon collapses as soon as the ribbon is […]

    Pingback by Official Russia | Weekly Blog Roundup, Monday 17 January 2011 — January 20, 2011 @ 12:03 am

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