Monday, February 7, 2011
The names were changed but the game is the same
Egypt and why everybody likes the military.
It is estimated that around a thousand families maintain control of vast areas of the economy. This business class sought to consolidate itself and protect its wealth through political office. The National Democratic party was their primary vehicle for doing so. This alliance of money and politics became flagrant in recent years when a number of businessmen became government ministers with portfolios that clearly overlapped with their private interests.
Mubarak presided over a process in which the national wealth passed into a few private hands while the majority of the population was impoverished, with 40% living below the poverty line of less than $2 a day, rising rates of unemployment, and job opportunities for the young blocked. In the last few months of 2010, Egyptians protested for an increase of the minimum monthly wage to less than $240, but the now departed Nazif government decreed that less than $100 was sufficient as a basic income. This, at a time when the prices of food staples and utilities tariffs increased at very high rates. Indeed, as one local economist asserted, every single commodity and service cost significantly more under the Nazif government – which is the government of business that ended progressive taxation and replaced it by a single unified income tax.
Additionally, public social services underwent masked privatisation, taking health and education beyond the reach of vast segments of the population. Many poor families were forced to give up the hope of educating children and had to send them to do menial work to contribute to the income of the household. There was little public investment in most services, and in infrastructure such as roads, water and sewerage. In the 2000s, Egypt witnessed numerous demonstrations by ordinary people across the country for the construction of overpass bridges on fast roads and for clean water in towns and villages.
The legitimate social and economic demands of the people were repressed and denied, and the regime used the police to control the population. Under emergency laws, the police acquired extensive powers and engaged in surveillance and monitoring of the population. Torture and abuse in police stations became routine. Police roadblocks and checks were part of the daily reality of Egyptians. Under the generalised corruption, the police engaged in extortion and offered their services to private interests.
This was part of an article by Swala Ismail in the Guardian. I couldn't have put it in better terms myself. But the truly scary part is that we're seeing the exact same scenario here in America. Just change Mubarak to Bush /Cheney. Morph the NDP into the republican party. And we all remember the no bid Haliburton contracts. We're not quite to the point of having to pay off our police but it's getting close. With towns cutting their police it's only a matter of time before low paid rent a cops will fill the void. Not that they don't have their place but would you really want them doing police work on a daily basis?
The call to privatize everything is just another ploy to skim more money to the top 1% of our country. To do so would put us in the exact same position as Egypt with almost no middle class. Their military is lucky enough to have a job although it's a rather unusual label considering that most of their work is making products rather than defending the country.
I may be out for a while as things are getting busy around here. Posting and comments could be light. Keep it together for me would you.