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WHAT KIND OF ECONOMY SHOULD WE HAVE?

The results of the poll show that over the last six months the number of proponents of a market economy has gone slightly down. In autumn 1998 they made up 74.6% of respondents, and in spring 1999, 67.4% (Table 1). At the same time, the number of people, who support the liberal model of the market economy (i.e. a market economy with little state regulation) went up 3.8%, while the number of people who advocate for a social democratic model went down 11%.

Table 1. Preferred economy (%)

These results, in our opinion, are quite understandable. The active work done by the Belarusian authorities to tighten their grip on economic processes, the introduction of various limitations and prohibitions, appearance of new control bodies and their increasing authority resulted in something, which could be predicted beforehand: living standards deteriorated and the economic activity of people degraded. This caught the proponents of a social-democratic economic model off-guard and left them bewildered, because the results of the state’s interference in the Belarusian economy contradicted their faith in the Keynesian theory.

However, it takes time to change views for the majority of people. Therefore, former supporters of the Keynesian theory formed four groups: the first (around 34%) joined the liberals, the second (about 10%) Communists, the third (a little more than 6%) adopted unconventional views of the economy and, at last, the fourth (almost 50%) is undecided yet, and is represented as part of the group of respondents, who gave no answer.

So, the government’s activities, aimed at the building of a “market socialism”, made more people support free market, despite the official propaganda and the 1998 accomplishments of the Belarusian economy, and drastically brought down the number of proponents of a state-regulated economy.

At the same time, it is very important to know, how people’s views will change in the future, because this will determine tomorrow’s economy. By this rationale, the opinions of young respondents are of great interest, because they reflect the dominating views in a future society.

It is seen that young people’s views make a difference from the views of Belarusians at large (Table 2). The fist thing to attract one’s attention, is that young people prefer a market economy, although they are also vulnerable to the above listed influences. The number of proponents of a liberal economy grew 5.0%, while the number of supports of an administrative economy went down 6.7% and social democrats 3.4%. Consequently fewer and fewer young people want to have the state bureaucratic machine care about their welfare. Everyday life proves that these hopes are vain, while the values of a free market economy prove more meaningful.

Table 2. Preferred economy for young people under 30, %

This leads us to two obvious conclusions. First, the Keynesian theory, which suggests heavy state regulation of economic processes, was discredited by “the fathers of market socialism” and disappointed the people. The views of young people, which are the best indicator of tomorrow’s life, change for economic freedoms, promising real economic reforms in the future.

Second, one can suggest that in a few years the number of supporters of a Communist economy will become wretched, as it should be in a civilized country. The majority of people must rely on themselves, not on the promises of a populist, who uses people’s longing for better living standards to advocate a “better re-distribution” of end products.