One of these days ... even here in the good ol' US of A ... enough maybe an enough.
Will -- the corruption and bailouts (transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich), the gambling and speculation (the manipulation of the stock markets and your 401K), and the concentration of power into the hands of an elite few (the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court) -- finally cause economically and democratically stressed Americans to march on town squares and demand new government?
Read these two paragraphs from Annie Lowrey's article at Slate, titled 'Protesting on an Empty Stomach' and see if it doesn't remind you of what has been going on here in this country over the last decade:
Then the increase in the price of food in Tunisia sparked a wave of "enough is enough" and civil anxiety that has spread through-out the Middle East. The relative similarities between the economic environment in Egypt that finally led to revolt -- and the unemployment, underemployment and wealth disparity problems in the United States are, so to speak, unsettling.... Egypt has posted solid economic growth numbers, particularly in the past half-decade, but that growth has failed to improve the quality of life or income of most of its 80 million citizens. In the 1990s, Cairo embarked on a broad privatization and liberalization project, redoubling its efforts to attract foreign investment again in the mid-2000s. Those efforts succeeded, boosting GDP growth from about 4 percent in 2004 to more than 7 percent in 2008. Egypt has also fared well through the global recession, with gross domestic product increasing 4.7 percent in 2009 and 5.2 percent in 2010, even as other developing economies faltered.
But those gains have not been shared broadly. According to World Bank statistics, Egypt's top quintile of earners has increased its share of income since the 1990s, while the country's bottom quintile has seen its portion of the pie get smaller. Poorer Egyptians feel no richer, despite the recent gains. Youth unemployment remains a particularly pernicious problem. About two-thirds of Egyptians are under the age of 30—and that age cohort makes up a whopping 85 percent to 90 percent of the unemployed. In comparison, youths make up about 40 percent of the unemployed in nearby Jordan. (Jobless youths, particularly jobless young men, tend to pose instability risks in general.) Millions more face underemployment or the prospect of dead-end careers in the civil service. ...
And make no mistake, as explained in Matt Taibbi's book 'Griftopia', much of the reason for the inflation in food (commodities) prices is not because of scarcity, but because of corporate bankster speculation in commodities markets (indeed, this may be the replacement 'bubble' for the now popped housing bubble).
Fortunately, we have social safety nets here in the U.S. that keep people from being dragged into total destitution ... but oh yeah, those are the programs that the Repuglicans and Teabaggers want to eliminate.
On the other hand, the inequality between the wealthy and everyone else is actually worse here than it is in Egypt ... or Tunisia ... or Yemen. To wit:
Distribution of Family Income | CIA HandbookWith an economy and government built upon sands of corruption and gambling, the rise in food prices precipitated the current Egyptian crisis. What will we do when the same set of circumstances that already exist here become concurrent with food price inflation?This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country. ... The more nearly equal a country's income distribution, the closer its Lorenz curve to the 45 degree line and the lower its Gini index, e.g., a Scandinavian country with an index of 25. The more unequal a country's income distribution, the farther its Lorenz curve from the 45 degree line and the higher its Gini index, e.g., a Sub-Saharan country with an index of 50. ...1. Namibia -- 70.7 (most inequality)
42. United States -- 45.0
62. Tunisia -- 40.0
76. Yeman -- 37.7
90. Egypt -- 34.4
134. Sweden -- 23.0 (least inequality)
As evidenced by the excerpts and links below, the Great Recession caused by the collapse of the Wall Street casino in 2008, has not led to any changes in how 'capitalism' is conducted -- indeed, the disconnect between the corporate elite and their government toadies is as bad or worse than it ever has been!
The final message: pay attention to what is going on in Egypt and around the world where average people are finally revolting against corrupt economic and governmental regimes that enrich and empower the mega-transnational corporate and military elite at the cost of everyone else. If we are smart and/or lucky, our "enough is enough" movement will be peaceful, civil ... but thorough.
World food prices hit a record in January and recent catastrophic weather around the globe could put yet more pressure on the cost of food, an issue that has already helped spark protests across the Middle East.
Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.
"The new figures clearly show that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating. These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come," FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement. ...
The Federal Reserve’s program of asset purchases may be fueling an “inflation problem” in Europe even as price rises in the U.S. remain subdued, according to Royal Bank of Canada.
“One need not look to U.S. prices or factors that are relevant to the Fed’s mandate for evidence that the Federal Reserve is creating an inflation problem,” David Watt, senior currency strategist in Toronto, wrote in a research report today. “Maybe look to the U.K., where as in the U.S., there are no domestic cost pressures driving up inflation. Maybe look to the European Union. Maybe look to commodities, which are adding to pressures in many countries, but not in the U.S.,” Watt wrote.
... Tunisia’s dismal economic environment was a direct result of its increasingly “liberal” policy toward foreign speculators. Of the five countries covered by the World Bank’s, Investment Across Sectors Indicator, Tunisia had the fewest limits on foreign investment. It had opened all areas of its economy to foreign equity ownership, except the electricity sector.
Egypt adopted a similar come-and-get-it policy, on steroids. From 2004 to 2008, as the world economic crisis was being stoked by the U.S. banking system and its rapacious toxic asset machine, Mubarak’s regime was participating in a different way. Mubarak wasn’t pushing subprime loans onto Egyptians; instead, he was embarking on an economic strategy that entailed selling large pieces of Egypt’s banks to the highest international bidder. ...
... While foreign banks were setting up shop, Egypt also eliminated the red tape that came with foreign property investment, through decree number 583. This transformed the country, already a tourist hotspot, into a magnet for global real estate speculation. (Something that worked out really well for Ireland.) Even one of Goldman Sachs’ funds got in on the game, buying a $70 million chunk of Palm Hills Development SAE, a luxury real estate developer. ...
... Not surprisingly, those foreign speculation strategies didn’t bring less poverty or more jobs either. Indeed, the insatiable hunt for great deals, whether by banks, hedge funds, or private equity funds, as it inevitably does, had the opposite effect.
Whenever hot money hones in on a geographical location or financial product, it creates the appearance of economic enhancement (such as with our GDP growth based on financial services, for instance). But, on its way out the door, that mirage is replaced with harsh decline. ...
... Ironically, the Ministry’s brochure touted the large college graduate population entering the job market each year -- 325,000. The same graduates are the core of the current revolution. They failed to find adequate jobs and are faced with an official unemployment rate of just below 10 percent (though, similar to the U.S., that figure doesn’t account for underemployment, poor job quality or long-term prospects). Meanwhile, 20 percent of Egypt lives in poverty (compared to 14 percent and growing in the U.S.) and 10 percent of the population controls 28 percent of household income (compared to 30 percent in the U.S.) ...
We historically, here in the United States, have had a word for power imbalances this striking and stark: plutocracy, or rule by the rich.
Many economists and financiers believe it's possible. But what looks like magic is really illusion.