Category Archives: Economy

A Love Affair With Cleanliness

Since time immemorial Belarusians have had a love affair with cleanliness, even more so than the Dutch who are completely obsessive about keeping everything in their range of vision absolutely spotless. This of course is how the name Dutch Cleanser came about. And having been to Holland I can verify that this almost insane devotion to keeping everything clean is absolutely true. I witnessed shopkeepers on their hands and knees scrubbing the pavement (sidewalk) outside their premises.

Belarusians have a similar obsession with keeping their humble abodes as pristine as possible. In the time of fairies and hobgoblins they would use elbow grease, the fat extracted from the elbow of the Belarusian wild boar. This substance had the ability to remove elf blood and dragon snot with just a few wipes from a toga. This practice was so effective that it continued well into the 20th century when chemical based cleansers took over as heavy television advertising persuaded Belarusians that newer amish cleaning products were better. We of course know otherwise.

Recently a natural cleanser has been catching on that harkens back to the good old days. The product is called Dutch Glow and it has been getting rave reviews from quite a few people. It was developed by an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania who wanted an effective cleaner for his farm tools. The results were so impressive he decided to market it. Today it is selling like a house on fire online.

Part of the attraction of Dutch Glow is that it uses no chemicals and can be used to clean grime and burnt food residue from stoves as well as wine stains from marble and granite. Heating the product seems to increase its effectiveness and a quick trip to the microwave is rewarded with even greater effectiveness.

The price is quite reasonable. Two bottles of concentrate – enough to make 16 pints of the diluted cleaner will cost you just under $31 including shipping. That less than $1 a pint. I am told that this cleanser is so gentle you can use it to bathe the Gloghounds that are used in Belarus to find deposits of naturally occurring glue. And I am told that this is exactly what Belarusians are doing with it.

Tax Relief For Belarus Glue Hunters

One of the main forms of tax relief in Belarus is afforded to those glue hunters who raise Gluehounds, better known as Gloghounds. These dogs can take years to train. Their training can be time-consuming and costly.

The Belarus department of Glue Production allows those who raise Gluehounds to write off most expenses incurred in training these dogs. For example boarding, food and all training materials are tax-deductible. So is transportation to and from the glue mines where the dogs need to learn how to detect glue sometimes many feet underground.

A little background may be in order:

Over the last hundred years Belarusians have bred a dog that is able to detect rich pockets of glue which can lie as deeply as ten feet from the surface. The Gloghund, or Gluehound through training is able to find rich deposits of petroleum based glue in minutes.

Professor Herzog Volpa from the Belarusian State University explained that ancient compressed plants, trees and animals are kept moist by a network of underground streams that criss-cross Belarus. After tens of thousands of years underground the foliage turns into a powerful semi-liquid glue with properties similar to Crazy Glue.

satan__s_urine_hot_sauce_illustration_by_cvdart1990-d5c8om9“The dogs are trained from a few months old to recognize the smell of the glue which has an odor that is like a cross between sulfur, gasoline and ammonia. Because of the pungent and sulfurous smell locals call it ‘Maca Satany’ or Satan’s Urine,” said Volpa.

The dogs are given a treat every time they find a vein of this glue. These treats are also tax deductible

Once the dogs point to a likely location a ‘rigger’ drills an exploratory hole and pulls up a sticky sample. If it is viable a rig will be sunk and the glue pumped slowly out. The glue, which comes up as a black stick mass will be refined like gasoline until it is a dark honey color. This glue is a minor, but important Belarus export. Fast-acting and powerful it is ideal for gluing sections of wood together to make glue-lams, and enjoys a fabled reputation in the west for being a natural alternative to chemical-based super glues.

 

 

Glue Mining In Belarus

Landlocked between Poland, Lithuania, The Ukraine and Russia lies a country that few people have ever heard of, let alone visited. The Republic Of Belarus.

Belarus has had a tumultuous history.

In medieval times Belarus was inhabited and ruled over by various races including the Slavs, the Mongols and Lithuanians. During the 19th century, various countries tried to claim Belarus and it was alternately ruled by Poland and Russia. The latter managed to retain control until WWI when Germany claimed Belarus and in 1921, the country was divided between Poland and Bolshevik Russia.

This was a terrible time in the country’s history. Belarusians in Poland were subjected to genocidal killings and thousands were executed.

During the next two decades, Belarus was tossed back and forth between USSR and Germany, which left the country ravaged. By the end of WWII a quarter of the country’s population had died, many of them in Nazi concentration camps.

Under soviet rule, Belarus recovered economically and Minsk became one of the industrial hubs of the USSR. But disaster struck in 1986 when the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine melted down and Belarus was hard hit. Around one-fifth of the country was seriously contaminated and people still suffer the effects of radiation from the plant today.

Nationalist sentiment grew in the following years and the Communist Party granted the country independence in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then Belarus has has retained closer political and economic ties to Russia than any of the other former Soviet republics.

Since independence, Belarus has had two presidents—Stanislau Shushkevich, a physicist who followed a centrist path between communism and the Popular Front, and current president Alexander Lukashenko, who runs the country with an iron fist.

LUKASHENKOInternationally, Lukashenko is considered a tyrant and archaic in his outlook. It is widely believed that he is responsible for the economic decline of what was once a very promising nation.

Belarus is the 62nd largest export economy in the world and the 27th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2013, Belarus exported $36.4B and imported $40.5B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $4.04B.

The chief exports are refined gasoline, fertilizers and delivery trucks. But one little-known export is glue. And is produced in the most unusual way. Belarus mines glue in the same way that petroleum companies drill for oil. And the way that it is located is like a page out of a fantasy novel.

Over the last century Belarusians have bred a dog that is able to detect rich pockets of glue which can lie as close to 12” from the surface. The Gloghund, or Gluehound resembles a cross between a Bloodhound and a Borzoi. It is swift on its feet and even swifter on its nose, sometimes able to find rich deposits of petroleum based glue in minutes.

Professor Herzog Volpa from the Belarusian State University explained that ancient compressed plants, trees and animals are kept moist by a network of underground streams that criss-cross Belarus. After tens of thousands of years underground the foliage turns into a powerful semi-liquid glue with properties similar to Crazy Glue or the famous as-seen-on-TV 5 second glue.

“The dogs are trained from a few months old to recognize the smell of the glue which has an odor that is like a cross between sulfur, gasoline and ammonia. Because of the pungent and sulfurous smell locals call it ‘Maca Satany’ or Satan’s Urine,” said Volpa.

“The dogs can sometimes locate the glue ten feet underground. They are rewarded with their favorite treat – dried Moose testicles.”

Once the dogs point to a likely location a ‘rigger’ drills an exploratory hole and pulls up a sticky sample. If it is viable a rig will be sunk and the glue pumped slowly out. The glue, which comes up as a black stick mass will be refined like gasoline until it is a dark honey color.

It is fast-acting and powerful – ideal for gluing sections of wood together to make glue-lams and joining rubber to rubber or other materials to make furniture. National output of ‘Maca Satany’ is approximately 125,000 gallons. Not a huge output but certainly larger than a cottage industry and a welcome addition to Belarus’ gross national product.