Monday, February 7, 2011

Pyramids in America?

Mubarak is a crook at best and an awful leader for sure.  These facts are well known and it is therefore easy to point to him and his policies of greed and corruption as key factors in the economic woes of most Egyptians.
Egyptians want NO MOBarak
He has remained in power partly due to our laziness but more importantly because of our continued need for peace between Egypt and Israel.
But we lost sight of the fact that during the decades of his control in that country the people have lived under the tremendously restrictive thumb of Martial Law.
As human beings we have a need to find not only fault for failings but some one or some thing to blame.  And when we can pinpoint that blame we can codify all our angst toward that culprit.
In Egypt there is no doubt that Mubarak is the head of whatever group has held the country down for the past 30 years and is easily seen as that culprit. 
Egypt has an unemployment rate of over 9% but for the past 30 years under Mubarak it has not been below 8% and has often hit 12%!  In America we are up in arms when the rate is above 7% and most pundits claim that a President cannot be reelected with a rate even that high!
But we cannot point to the current Egyptian dictator as the cause of our economic woes in America.
Unfortunately there is no one person to vilify here.  No individual we can banish from our lives and go back to the glory days of blissful economic bloom and boom.
Instead we are mired in gloom and doom.
Oh the stock markets are doing well but most Americans are not broadly invested there.  Buying shares at depressed prices may have been a good idea and has created tremendous wealth for those who were already financially stable before and after the 2008 crash.
But the few dollars most average Americans had left in their pockets post crash went toward more frivolous items such as food and clothing.
And therein we find our culprit, our American Mubarak of sorts.
It is said that the Egyptian President has socked away a fortune in the neighborhood of $70 billion.  Much of that money was obtained in the form of aid from the US and given in the hopes of building stability in the region.
But over the same period of time big business, big banks, large multi-national corporations and Wall Street financial institutions in America banded together into a covert cabal of corruption that made Mubarak’s crimes look pitiful and petty.
Money! Power!
Money!! Power!!
Okay, both!!!
For example the Koch brothers who are behind many a conservative group hell bent on keeping the landscape free and clear for corporate greed to continue and flourish are each worth between $10B and $20 billion!
So did these groups secretly conspire to bring down the economy?
Of course not and I do not mean to give that impression.
They obviously hoped that the bubble would continue to grow and they could amass even larger, more obscene bundles of billions.
So they have been hurt for their collective acts and have lost fortunes as a result of the meltdown?
Give me a break!
If anything the companies that were hurt the most and were at the center of the meltdown were given a leg up by our government using tax payer dollars.
And in return for our largess we have been rewarded with our highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.
But we are told that many institutions are repaying the loans they received and the government is actually realizing a profit!  So why are we not rejoicing?
Well for one thing deep damage done to our work force will not be fixed all that quickly.  Many of the corporations that are showing wonderful profits are doing so because they fired so many workers and scared those remaining into taking on double responsibilities and working longer hours.
But the large institutions are hiring again so it will get better shortly, right?
That would be true if those workers were located in America!  Sadly many of the needed jobs have gone overseas.  And who can blame a company for hiring someone at 10¢ a day in Asia rather than $7.25 per hour in the States?
Logic would tell you that if the American consumer continues to be treated like dirt with ever decreasing salaries they will not be able to purchase products produced by these offending companies.  But since when has logic trumped greed?
Unless our government steps in and regulates the cash flow out of the country we can look forward to continued high unemployment rates and a steady decline toward third world status.
But then logic does come into play and the owners of those companies and industry leaders who make up the wealthiest 2% of America, such as those billionaire brothers Koch push back and fund tremendous lobbying campaigns to stop any erstwhile regulatory fix.
In America we do not riot in the face of obvious corruption (most of the time.)
In America we calmly look to our leaders for solutions (most of the time.)
In America we have faith that our President can and will work with members of Congress to stem the tide of rising greed and set the ship of state back on course (not so much anymore.)
We all know the truth about the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny and we also know that the next elections are always just a few months away.
Perhaps those new elected officials will finally have our best interests at heart.
And right now that’s the biggest difference between America and Egypt.

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