I am not young and spend first 36 years of my life in USSR. Then I emigrated to USA where I live ever since and loving it despite all deficiencies of this country that I probably more aware of than vast majority of it’s critics.
I am reasonably well educated, graduating in Computer Science from a very good provincial University in USSR in 1970-s and then graduating with MBA from a very good private Midwestern University in USA in 1990-s. However the bulk of my education is self-education – reading on average between 50 and 100 non-fiction books per year over a very long period of time.
I am and was successful in both systems – Soviet Socialism and American Capitalism. However material success in these two different systems provided for a very different levels of resource availability. In purely material goods and services such as food, housing, transportation, and such the ratio would be approximately 100 to 1 for comparable items. It is not possible to compare goods and services that were just unavailable in USSR. How one would compare reading about pizza and eating it? However much more pleasure I derived from the ability to read any book that I want, see any movie or show that I want, travel to any city in the world that I want, and build a house in the place that I want. All this is available in American Capitalist Society and was not even remotely possible in Soviet Socialist Society.
My parents were Holocaust survivors and had no education beyond high school level so I do not belong to any long-term family intellectual tradition. However I do belong to a very long-term family survival tradition and this background served me very well in life indeed.
My views based not only on books, but also on real life experience of interacting with different people so I’d like to list things that I did in life and environments where it happened:
I was a worker without any significant qualifications doing a semi-qualified and pretty dirty job on manufacturing plant in early 70-s USSR. It gave me a close exposure to what one would identify as working class – people with very narrow view of the world who worked all their life in hard jobs for a small income.
I was a conscript soldier in Soviet army, which gave me an unsurpassable exposure to human cruelty and stupidity.
I was an engineer and low-level manager on computer center of the Soviet State supply committee, which give me real time and very intimate exposure to failures of central planning.
I was an object of KGB investigation not that much for freethinking as for free writing, that gave me a valuable insight in my own personality and view on interplay between power and fear.
I was a penniless immigrant in America looking for a job and doing odd jobs.
I was a programmer for a couple of small companies and this experience provided a nice exposure to small business in America. Later I started one, which provided a great lesson in my own limitations.
I was a student in Executive MBA program, which give me some exposure to the way of thinking of people whose net worth counted in millions.
Finally I become and remain as of now business consultant with highly valued skills and job that allowed for a very intimate understanding of work of American big business and government at federal and state and local level.
All these experiences provided input in my thinking and therefore are at least somewhat relevant to this site.