It’s time Americans paid attention to our future- as played out in the Arab republics. While we wave the flag and claim ourselves a “democracy” there is very little democratic process in our elections which generally provide power to the highest bidder.
How we have a congress full of millionaires is one of the mysteries that voters ignore. We’re being gamed- and we refuse to acknowledge it. But- listen to this conversation from American Public Media’s Marketplace- and replace Jordan with here and the monarchy with our political class: (I’ve put the key phrases in bold)
Oraib Al-Rantawi, a political commentator says, most of the Arab world’s been infused with a new spirit.
Oraib Al-Rantawi: We are living in the Tunisian, the Egyptian moment. This is the spirit. Nobody will stop it!
It is, he says, a spirit of rebellion against state-sponsored theft. Across the Middle East, many people believe their autocratic leaders have been robbing them blind.
Labib Kamhawi: When you don’t have democracy, you have no accountability, no transparency and then you have corruption.
That’s Jordanian businessman Labib Kamhawi. He says that like most Middle Eastern countries, Jordan is run by a clique of wealthy families and individuals — politicians in cahoots with business people. Kamhawi says many of them plunder the public purse, hog the best jobs and try to skim a bit off every government contract.
Kamhawi: The corruption really covers all aspects of life which left people who don’t belong to this class helpless.
Not everyone agrees that Jordan is a hotbed of corruption. Local economist Yusuf Mansur.
Yusuf Mansur: There is corruption, there is corruption. However, as an economist, I don’t see it as massive or as widespread as in other countries.That does not reassure critics of the system. One of them claims there’s an unofficial poverty line for corrupt individuals: If they don’t manage to rip off more than $50 million during their careers, they’re not doing well.
But Jordan is an undemocratic monarchy. King Abdullah hires and fires his governments. Critics like Labib Kamhawi do have a question to answer:
Beard: Is the king and his family profiting personally from this corruption?
Kamhawi: The law punishes anybody who talks about the king or the royal family. So we cannot talk. You ask the king. You don’t ask me.
The king declined an invitation to appear on this program. But one expatriate Jordanian journalist is not so reticent. He’s been circulating over the Internet an open letter addresses to Queen Rania.
Letter, read aloud: What gives you the right to celebrate your birthday with a party costing $15 million? And for the king to give you a yacht costing $83 million in a poor country that has no oil, lives off aid and cannot buy milk for its children?
Around half the Jordanian population lives on less or little more than $2.50 a day.
How is it not “State-sponsored theft” when the checkout girl at the Piggly Wiggly in Atlanta, making minimum wage who pays her taxes- has those hard earned tax dollars siphoned off to NCR and Bill Nuti- who has routinely made over $4 million a year- for losing 2/3 of the company’s value?
How is it that so many members of Congress are now millionaires- despite- a life of “government service”- does anyone really want to look at how John Boehner pays his tanning bill? The cost to run for office is soaring- and the only way to reach elected office is to raise huge sums of money- typically from wealthy special interests- and then to serve your money masters.
Is this country run by a clique of wealthy families? The recent events in Wisconsin- where the Koch brothers are funneling money into Governor Walker’s campaign and his attempt to dismantle organized labor? Or are the families who are so worried about the “Death Tax” which affects so few Americans- yet gets so much press? Or- let’s talk about the guys on Wall Street making $5 billion plus a year (over 25 of them in ’09)- yes- that’s with a b- by packaging our home loans- and playing financial roulette with money that’s not theirs?
Let’s look at how many billions we’ve had to spend to bail out Wall Street- yet- we still see crooks like Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo walking free with a multimillion-dollar golden parachute- instead of prison time.
There is a political disconnect in this country- as great or wider than that between the rulers of these Arab oil republics, yet, we still believe that because we are free to discuss things without the threat of imprisonment- we’re somehow better off.
The reality is- this country is becoming one huge prison- both the literal kind- where we lock up petty criminals by the boatload, and one where the working class has the odds stacked against it. However, as the plunder continues- and our housing values and our currency continue to drop- and our unemployment rate stays high- and decent jobs continue to get replaced with minimum wage jobs– we will eventually see another American Revolution (and it won’t just be the Tea Party people.)
The people in Washington should be worried. Because unlike Egypt, Tunisia and the rest of the monarchies that will soon fall- our people have access to something that isn’t readily available in Turban land- guns.
When the riot comes- it won’t be as easy to write off as the riots we’ve had in the past- LA’s back in the eighties was just a street brawl compared to what’s coming.