The Inter Press News Service, which my journalism major daughter recommended to me, gathers stories from people living in the places they are reporting on. I found a story by Zoltán Dujisin about the Polish city of Nowa Huta.
Construction of Nowa Huta (New Steel Mill), now a district north-east of Krakow, a city of 1.4 million about 300km south of capital Warsaw, began in 1949 as authorities of then People's Republic of Poland decided to build an autonomous model city around the Lenin Steel Works.
The monumental city grew rapidly with migrant workers coming mostly from the countryside, and its steel mill became the largest in Poland. The city came to be known as the perfect example of socialist-realist urban planning and architecture, with a Polish touch.
The Soviets loved to create "model cities" to show how top-down planning could create the communities of the future. As the lawyers say, the model proved too much. The model cities worked only when lavishly supported from outside. When that support collapsed, so did the model.
Once employing 43,000 workers, the steel mill was downsized to a workforce of 9,000, and much of it lies abandoned as only few sections were sub-leased to private companies.
"Politically and economically everything has changed, but I'm not sure people are happier," Aleksander, a former engineer at the Lenin Steel Works told IPS. "Perhaps there is more freedom, but many more people don't find work. Maybe our work wasn't that good, but it was work."
Ah yes. Working to prove a political point is good work if you can get it. But someone has to actually make the things your pay check will buy. Real economic growth always comes from below. The task of rational government is not to "grow economies" but to foster their growth. Radical leftist government is like the father in the Berenstain Bears books. He is there to show us what not to do.