How sad that members of the “brat pack” were so disillusioned by their trip. Our recent collaboration between top American songwriters and Soviet tunesmiths--the U.S./U.S.S.R. Songwriters Summit in November, 1988--revealed the best of a new society struggling to be better. We missed our gourmet restaurants, limos and satin sheets, too. But perhaps our group (Cyndi Lauper, Michael Bolton, Brenda Russell, Barry Mann and 50 others, including film crew) were more philosophical by virtue of maturity.
Where the “brat pack” saw food shortages, we noticed a country where everyone is fed. Where other visitors may have seen small and unglamorous housing, we were in awe of a place where everyone is sheltered. There are no people sleeping in cardboard boxes on the streets of Moscow. And, most dear to our hearts, artists, composers, writers and athletes are all treated as useful citizens and given training, support and respect.
America has come to its success through a different route. Although a lack of monetary rewards for extra effort may demotivate the Soviets, we know from having negotiated with them under their new system that ambition is not something they lack.
Please understand--we saw the repression, alcoholism, shortages, disorganization, corruption and boredom with which Soviet life is plagued. But we chose to view these problems as we do American problems--as those that can be solved.