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Book Review February 19, 2004
 
Never Trust A Real-Estate Agent
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 4 of 4
 
In other words: Thank you for your book/ It lets us off the hook. The West cannot be blamed for the "limited success" of the "market reforms" carried out by Sachs and accomplices. Turns out the Soviets did it after all -- from beyond the grave, as it were.

If the Siberian Curse were just another tortuous exoneration of Sachs & co., it would hardly be worth criticizing. Such books appear every month, despite the fact that the public long since lost interest in deciding Who Lost Russia. The guilty don't just flee where none pursueth -- they publish obsessively, too.

This little con-game of a book aims to do something nastier: persuade Russia that its Siberian holdings are worthless, and so make it accept a low-price buyout to corrupt developers. We're talking about a classic California-style real-estate scam. I grew up with schemes like this, and I can smell it a mile off. First you convince the locals their land is worthless -- too dry, too hot, too cold, bad school district, access problems, street crime, too remote--whatever lie you find most plausible. Then you buy the land off them for next to nothing (iif your PR people have done their job, the saps will thank you for taking it off their hands) and you're sitting pretty: ready to rename it something cute, subdivide it, and cash out a billionaire.

Russians, take it from me, a child of the suburbs who grew up watching "worthless jackrabbit land with no water or utilities" bought up for next to nothing by smart operators who resold in quarter-acre plots for a 10,000 percent profit. If people like Hill and Gaddy come around shaking their heads and sighing, warning you that your big Siberian acreage is just a cash pit that you should get rid of ASAP, get the shotgun. Give the bastards five seconds to get off your property -- and give them a good spray of birdshot or rock salt in the behinds after two seconds, just for a lesson.

And hold on to Siberia for dear life.

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