At the end of World War II, the most industrially advanced communist nation to ever exist was faced with a serious problem. After Stalin'sprogram of Yezhovshchina(the Great Purge) which according to official Soviet records killed less than 2,000,000 people, The Holodomor (terror-famine), the Russian Revolution the Russian Civil War, the period of communist collectivism (many historians place Stalin's personal body count around 30 to 50 million dead), the First and Second World Wars, Russia's population was 60 million less than during Czarist rule. Even though the population was greatly reduced, the Communist Soviet Union was unable to feed its self.
Nikita Khrushchev thought someone should do something about it. Fortunately he was just the man for the job. He had a plan and a snappy name for his program "The Virgin Lands Campaign". The Soviet Union is one of the largest and natural resource rich nations on earth. One area Kazakhstan, has a territory of 2,727,300 km (larger than Western Europe) and is suitable for growing wheat and other grain crops. The idea was simplicity its self, move farmers to the area, plow up the land, plant wheat and save the country. So that's what they did.
I hope you caught all that. The program was a success, at first. They plowed up over 330,000 km of land or about 12% of Kazakhstan and they grew lots and lots of wheat. Impressive. In fact they were producing about 2 times the amount of wheat as the greedy individualistic western nations. So what happened? Well no one thought about the need to store the wheat or the need to transport it to people who wanted to eat it, so it rotted in Siberia, and the Russians had to buy food from people who could actually get it to their cities.
The first harvest on the Virgin Lands, in 1956, was a stunning success. Of the 125 million tonnes of grain produced in the
Soviet Unionthat year, more than half of it came from one eighth of the country. The Soviet Unionwas producing, per capita, twice as much wheat as the West. The scheme was therefore considered to be a huge success, as it not only enabled the to feed its people but also to prove to the world that the Communist way of life was "better". USSR
Nearly all of the collective farms in the Virgin Lands grew one crop alone: wheat. By the 1960s, the soil had been drained of all its nutrients beneficial to wheat. However, production of fertilizers in the
had increased during this period and so the loss of fertility was principally due to poor planning as the fertilizers were rarely available where they were needed. Before long, due to lack of any measures to prevent erosion, much of that soil was simply being blown away by the wind to leave bare, useless steppe behind. USSR
Also, much of the crop that could be harvested was wasted, as there were not enough storage silos, so it had to be thrown away. Furthermore, the Soviet infrastructure was unable to cope and so much of the grain produced did not reach the towns, which was where it was most needed.
Therefore despite the initial success of the Virgin Lands Campaign, the
Soviet Unionwas forced to buy 20 million tonnes of grain from to meet its needs and avoid famine. This constituted a huge humiliation both for the Canada and for Khrushchev, who had boasted that the USSR Soviet Unionwould outstrip agricultural production. US
Government bureaucrat's are capable of doing a job once it is laid out to them and they get funding for it. One problem is that they will do the job and use the bench marks they are told indicate success. Benchmark #1 plow land, check. Benchmark #2 grow wheat, check. Benchmark #3 harvest wheat, check. Send in report demonstrating we accomplished our job, check. Someone forgot Benchmark #4 get wheat to hungry people, no one did it, it wasn't their job.
Next time you come across ObamaCare, remember the Virgin Lands Campaign and the law of unintended consequences. The Soviets spent lots of money, did lots of work and still failed to get what they wanted, yet some still think it was a success.
"Someone should do something about it". That was the rational for a government health care program called medicare. Medicare is a very large reason that the cost of health care in this country has risen faster than other sectors of the economy. The communists in America believe that they can fix the cost of health care if only they can get their hands on the entire industry, never admitting that they are the ones who made it unaffordable in the first place. Think I'm a bit over the top? Ask a Ukrainian era 1932 about the effects collectivism and Supply and Demand (third link in the post).