Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hard work

Central planning is very hard work. Here is a piece of archival research by USC Prof Mike Gruntman (H/T Jim Moore) on the troubles of fixing compensation for the first Soviet cosmonauts. Here is an excerpt:
Imagine the communist rulers of
a superpower pondering questions of
how many ties and socks should be
allocated to Yuri Gagarin or underwear
sets to his wife. Later they would struggle
with the similar challenges of determining
the number and types of head
scarves, underwear sets, stockings, and
blouses for the first woman cosmonaut
Valentina V. Tereshkova.
This stuff could not be left to standard military procedures (as in the U.S.) nor to (gasp!) the market in the event of a private space program.

There is always the old voyeuristic fun from examnining the compensation packages of "stars" -- whether in business, entertainment, sports, etc. But this story of how the Soviets did it is serious. How to balance proper rewards to national heroes with egalitarian politics? Not simple at all.