Before I came here, I didn’t think much about the prestige of living in a country everyone has heard of and actually knows something about. Many Azerbaijanis know that people around the world may not know exactly where the country is, but are usually surprised to find out that many people have never heard of it.
One of the advantages of living in the Soviet Union to the Azerbaijanis is that they were part of a 15-country world power. Azerbaijan was proud to can fruit, grow vegetables and tea and produce china, silk, flowers and rugs for themselves and the other 14 countries. They in turn, got the benefit of receiving goods produced in other parts of the Soviet Union.
One way I can describe what has happened since the fall of the Soviet Union is to compare Wisconsin (which is a little bigger than Azerbaijan) in America to Azerbaijan in the Soviet Union:
As the Federal government collapsed, the states of the United States had become separate countries overnight. Wisconsin’s dairy exports stopped because no country has money to buy dairy products, borders are now closed and different governments are springing up, some of which may last and some of which won’t. The railroad and truck traffic that was so easy before is a major problem now, with different rules and laws. There is no payment system or even financial system in place. No one really trusts the other countries to pay their bills, plus it is more patriotic and cheaper to stick to your own country’s products.
Wisconsin’s tourist business collapsed immediately because most people could not travel outside of their own countries anymore due to lack of money and the difficulties of getting passports. National chains also collapsed because they would not be able to figure out how to operate in 50 countries with different currencies, laws and shipping difficulties.
Harley-Davidson, Kohler plumbing fixtures and the sausage factories stopped production because people in Wisconsin don’t buy that many motorcycles, bathroom fixtures and sausage. All of these business problems put most of the country of Wisconsin’s citizens out of work.
Medical supplies and drugs from outside Wisconsin and wheat from Illinois became unavailable. Some of the dairy farms were converted to wheat to make up the difference. But the dairy farmers are not knowledgeable about wheat and the rocky soil is not good for growing it.
Fresh fruits and vegetables in the winter are non-existent because of the cold climate and importing is impossible due to the balance of trade issues and the difficulty of transporting perishable products on deteriorating roads and railroad tracks, so much agricultural production in each country rots in the fields because the interstate highway system deteriorated and collapsed since there was no Federal government to maintain it.
There is no dental school in the country, so dentists are becoming scarce. Maybe someone started a dental school, but there is no accreditation process or competition; a small country like Wisconsin doesn’t need two dental schools, especially if no one can afford to go to the dentist anymore.
No one was in charge for awhile, so capable, talented people sneaked out of the country and went to places where they could find work. The less-educated people who have fewer options stayed behind.
Wisconsin’s Indians are trying to secede and start their own country, while the country of Wisconsin fights it and a civil or terrorist war is brewing. Folks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are trying to figure out if they want to merge with Wisconsin, since they are closer anyway, and this is starting tensions with Michigan.
And people in countries all over the world are saying they have never heard of the country of Wisconsin.