Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


The conversion to a capitalist system has devastated former Soviet republics. In 1997 I visited the newly independent Republic of Moldova, sandwiched between the Ukraine and Romania. As in Russia, essential services have collapsed. Life expectancy in Moldova is plummeting, the average wage is just $40 a month, and half of the country’s 4.5 million people live on less than $1 a day. Winters are bitter, but the government can’t afford to heat hospitals, schools, or other public buildings. The inhumanity of all this comes home to me when a Moldovan woman who works for an American aid project tells me of a friend whose newborn froze to death in the hospital’s maternity ward. The mother didn’t complain. After decades of communism, the woman tells me, “Moldovans are resigned to their suffering.”

Incredibly, in the midst of this deprivation, American experts teach the basics of capitalism to those strong enough to seize market opportunities. In the center of the capital, the government has built a pristine stock exchange, equipped with state-of-the-art computers and trading software. The idea is that if Moldova looks like a capitalist country, it will act like one. Not so. The exchange is moribund because demand for Moldovan stocks is minuscule; perversely, most of the action comes from organized criminals and tax evaders who, through a loophole in the law regarding cash purchases, can launder their money through stock purchases.

“Our American experiment in Moldova isn’t a success,” says Vince Morabito, an American aid worker in the country. “We’ve exported our lack of social conscience.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate