Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Tunisia then Egypt who's next?

This is the image that started it all. Sorry if it offends you.

How did all this happen in such a short period of time one might ask and what was the motivation? A symbol of human desperation occurred in Tunisia about two weeks ago in mid January. A 26 year old college graduate Mohamed Bouazizi was selling produce on the street. Police came and checked his permit. When he couldn't produce one they confiscated all of his products. In total desperation he poured gasoline on himself and lit himself on fire. When that story hit the media it started another fire resulting in the downfall of the Tunisian government.
In Cairo on January 17th Abdou Abdel-Monaam Hamadah, a 48-year-old owner of a small restaurant from Qantara wanting to contact his member of parliament was refused access by security. He pulled a bottle of gasoline from his pocket dosed himself and lit himself on fire.

But this is only part of the story for the middle east. We might have known a bit about the U.S. rendering people to Egypt to be tortured and interrogated, but we failed to look at the rest of the conditions in the country. Egypt has an unemployment rate of around 40%. And the nearly half of the population that does work make at or below the poverty level. Some for as little as $2 per day. In the cheapest countries that's not enough to buy food to survive. Is it any wonder they've lost their fear of authority. When all hope is gone what's the worst that could happen to me I'm sure they are thinking.
Aside from years of oppression, torture and no work there are other factors that lead to this. The bulk of Egypts' income had come from agriculture but with a growing population and a shift to internet and telecom. But something happened in 2005 that really changed the landscape. That year the government lowered the corporate tax rate from 40% to 20%. Those at the top saw record profits and bonuses but for most money didn't trickle down to the rest. Does this sound familiar?

That's not all folks. Don't leave now because the story is not over yet.

The desperation is spilling over to other countries:
ALGIERS — A third Algerian has died from self-immolation, the daily al Watan reported, while another tried to set himself alight Sunday, adding to a grim tally of Tunisia-inspired acts.

A 26-year-old jobless and homeless man died at dawn Saturday in a hospital in the eastern city of Constantine.

There has been in the last month 10 such people to set themselves on fire out of sheer desperation.
If you follow world events here's something to keep a eye on as time goes by that would by PIIGS. Standing for Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Spain. These are the countries in financial trouble. And Ireland it's important to note did the same thing as Egypt by lowering its' corporate taxes. Now the U.S. wants to do the same? It's also important to note that Japan was in a similar economic situation in the late 1980s. It took them over ten years to dig their way out. Their real estate had inflated to the point where a two bedroom condo in Tokyo went for $2 million at that time. The government was forced to lower interest rates and hold them there for quite some time. But if you think our debt is bad Japan's debt is 200% of it GDP. By comparison the U.S. debt is around 100%.
What I'm seeing in all this are events repeating themselves. Economies moving from manufacturing bases of producing goods to the service industries that sell paper. With the efficiencies of computers these days it doesn't take an army of workers for a corporation to make massive profits. Even stock trades can be automated with lightning fast speed. Super computers do that in fractions of a second. Have humans become obsolete? Even our production methods require fewer and fewer people. What once took a farmer a whole day to accomplish can now be done in a few minutes with mammoth farm machines. With most of our factories closed (42000 in ten years) and jobs shipped overseas there's been nothing to replace that void. Maybe we'll be seeing some of the same events happening here if things don't turn around soon only for us it will be a gray revolution as most of the unemployed here are 50+.


an average patriot said...

They are not quite sure what they want but from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, they know they want change. And their wrath and their courage are creating a new form of Arab unity.

"It's the influence of the Tunisian domino, and it will not stop. It will go to other Arab states."

The uprisings are having a ricochet effect across the Arab world. People are watching the events unfolding on television and Facebook and identifying with the people in the streets.

Tom Harper said...

The Middle East is in for some interesting times. I have no prediction on which country will be next, or how far reaching this will be, or even what the people's underlying motives are. (Starvation? Desperation? Political repression?)

But the toothpaste is out of the tube now, and there's no getting it back in. Things won't be the same. Some explosive changes are in store, whatever they'll be.

MRMacrum said...

I don't think there is one country on this planet that does not have a sizable population within its borders that is ready to implode. Global dominoes tend to take their time, but it is rare when they don't affect all who exist here in one way or another.

S.W. Anderson said...

Great post and potent food for thought. Where did those percentage-of-GDP stats come from?

". . .moving from manufacturing bases of producing goods to the service industries that sell paper."

Well, sorta. Considering its inordinate size and power (political, financial and market), it makes sense to consider the financial industry separately from service industries like small retailers and one-man yard upkeep operations.

"Have humans become obsolete? Even our production methods require fewer and fewer people."

That was being discussed as far back as the 1970s. We can have a peaceful, pleasant society where technocrats, professionals, entrepreneurial whizzes and just a few others do nearly all the work and conduct nearly all the business. To make it workable and sustainable, though, the requirement of working to qualify for a decent standard of living would have to be removed. "Decent" meaning food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, transportation and recreation.

What I'm saying is, the most gifted, dynamic, productive and determined types in society work their hyperachieving little hearts out, enjoying fabulous rewards for themselves AND paying for the balance of society's upkeep at a decent level.

Does that mean everyone who wants one gets a backyard pool and a Lexus SUV? No, but it does mean there are plenty of public pools and nearly everyone can at least afford a Kia.

Kuwait has something like that model of society and economy. The ruling princes spread the wealth generously throughout the relatively small population of native Kuwaitis, wisely realizing there's plenty for all with no need to risk resentment, much less social upheaval and the kind of thing going on in Egypt.

We could adopt a system where the many receive income whether they work or not. With ever increasing efficiency and automation, we someday might have to. The alternative would be for country after country to become another Haiti, Tunisia or Egypt, with periodic uprisings and much predictable, preventable bloodshed.

BBC said...

Have humans become obsolete?

Not really, but things do change, and like you said, while our company's still in this country do have a high output they do it with fewer people.

I hope that the youth are starting to understand that it's not wise for them to have too many kids because there won't be jobs for them in the future.

We just have more news access to other country's now, shit like that has always been going on, it's not in your yard so don't get too worked up about it.

Doesn't Egypt have any decent metals it can mine?

BBC said...

I read somewhere that Egypt kills about 70K people a year, hell, ya gotta keep the population down somehow I guess.

I guess the rich figured that they didn't need them cuz they were surplus?

Anonymous said...

Another succinct posting Mr DeMeur.



BBC said...

Haven't been up long this morning but a quick look at the news shows me lots of interesting weather events going on around the world.

Big storm running across our country, bad floods in other country's, beaches being lost in other country's.

It's just been an average winter here for the most part, I'm starting to feel like I'm missing out on some of their fun. LOL

Randal Graves said...

So I'm *not* getting my money for nothing & my chicks for free?

Michael Scott said...

The domino effect is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Randal- No,and stop singing about faggots will you? Please?

Ranch Chimp said...

Excellent posting here Demeur ... I have been writing about some of this stuff to expect since my start online, because we should expect more of this due to the condition. One thing for sure ... those who dictate that I call the "3 entities" (mega, religion/ churches, corporate/ finance, and government's) they are missing the outcome and result's of their action's ... while they think they are winning and going somewhere's .... they will have to face a reality that they didnt anticipate ... in time. In the meantime as I posted in earlier posting's ... these revolt's whether in form of self imposed destruction of folk's, mass suicide, terrorism, etc ... will roll across the globe in wave's ... just like the bubble/ bust financial scenario's for awhile until the system start's to collapse ... which will be global eventually ... where the masses will just simply walk away from what has been the dictating rule for long ... long story though.