Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bringing it on home

Watching those incredibly brave folks in Tahrir Square standing up to one of the most evil and murderous regimes in history, one wonders when OUR downtrodden will get their act together.  Yeah, I know--the situations are very different.  In USA, hardly anyone has to survive on less than $2 per day, our food is still amazingly cheap, we have so much housing that almost 10% of it lies empty, W and Obama are not nearly as evil as Mubarak, and folks are hiding out from a really vicious winter.

Even so, our young people face a future as bleak as the youth of Egypt and one wonders how long they will stay in their parent's basements asking why they are not getting laid, why they cannot participate in their country's future, why they should pay massive amounts every month for an education that was worse than useless, etc. etc.

Pilger seems to think that it is only a matter of time before the revolutionary fever in Egypt will spread to the richer nations.  He may be right--these things do have a way of spreading.

The Revolt in Egypt is Coming Home
by John Pilger, February 10, 2011
The uprising in Egypt is our theater of the possible. It is what people across the world have struggled for and their thought controllers have feared. Western commentators invariably misuse the words "we" and "us" to speak on behalf of those with power who see the rest of humanity as useful or expendable. The "we" and "us" are universal now. Tunisia came first, but the spectacle always promised to be Egyptian. 
As a reporter, I have felt this over the years. In Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square in 1970, the coffin of the great nationalist Gamal Abdul Nasser coffin bobbed on an ocean of people who, under him, had glimpsed freedom. One of them, a teacher, described the disgraced past as "grown men chasing cricket balls for the British at the Cairo Club." The parable was for all Arabs and much of the world. Three years later, the Egyptian Third Army crossed the Suez Canal and overran Israel’s fortresses in Sinai. Returning from this battlefield to Cairo, I joined a million others in Liberation Square. Their restored respect was like a presence – until the United States rearmed the Israelis and beckoned an Egyptian defeat. 
In Britain, the BBC’s Today program is their voice. Here, serious diversions from the status quo are known as "Lord knows what." On 28 January the Washington correspondent Paul Adams declared, "The Americans are in a very difficult situation. They do want to see some kind of democratic reform but they are also conscious that they need strong leaders capable of making decisions. They regard President Mubarak as an absolute bulwark, a key strategic ally in the region. Egypt is the country along with Israel on which American Middle East diplomacy absolutely hinges. They don’t want to see anything that smacks of a chaotic handover to frankly Lord knows what." 
Fear of Lord Knows What requires that the historical truth of American and British "diplomacy" as largely responsible for the suffering in the Middle East is suppressed or reversed. Forget the Balfour Declaration that led to the imposition of expansionist Israel. Forget secret Anglo-American sponsorship of Islamic jihadists as a "bulwark" against the democratic control of oil. Forget the overthrow of democracy in Iran and the installation of the tyrant Shah, and the slaughter and destruction in Iraq. Forget the American fighter jets, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and depleted uranium that are performance-tested on children in Gaza. And now, in the cause of preventing "chaos," forget the denial of almost every basic civil liberty in Omar Suleiman’s contrite "new" regime in Cairo. 
The uprising in Egypt has discredited every Western media stereotype about the Arabs. The courage, determination, eloquence, and grace of those in Liberation Square contrast with "our" specious fear-mongering with its al-Qaeda and Iran bogeys and iron-clad assumptions, bereft of irony, of the "moral leadership of the West." It is not surprising that the recent source of truth about the imperial abuse of the Middle East, WikiLeaks, is itself subjected to craven, petty abuse in those self-congratulating newspapers that set the limits of elite liberal debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps they are worried. Across the world, public awareness is rising and bypassing them. In Washington and London, the regimes are fragile and barely democratic. Having long burned down societies abroad, they are now doing something similar at home, with lies and without a mandate. To their victims, the resistance in Cairo’s Liberation Square must seem an inspiration. "We won’t stop," said the young Egyptian woman on TV, "we won’t go home." Try kettling a million people in the center of London, bent on civil disobedience, and try imagining it could not happen. more
Got to get these people jobs--SOON!
The Youth Unemployment Bomb
February 2, 2011, 11:40PM EST 
From Cairo to London to Brooklyn, too many young people are jobless and disaffected. Inside the global effort to put the next generation to work
By Peter Coy
In Tunisia, the young people who helped bring down a dictator are called hittistes—French-Arabic slang for those who lean against the wall. Their counterparts in Egypt, who on Feb. 1 forced President Hosni Mubarak to say he won't seek reelection, are the shabab atileen, unemployed youths. The hittistes and shabab have brothers and sisters across the globe. In Britain, they are NEETs—"not in education, employment, or training." In Japan, they are freeters: an amalgam of the English word freelance and the German word Arbeiter, or worker. Spaniards call themmileuristas, meaning they earn no more than 1,000 euros a month. In the U.S., they're "boomerang" kids who move back home after college because they can't find work. Even fast-growing China, where labor shortages are more common than surpluses, has its "ant tribe"—recent college graduates who crowd together in cheap flats on the fringes of big cities because they can't find well-paying work.
In each of these nations, an economy that can't generate enough jobs to absorb its young people has created a lost generation of the disaffected, unemployed, or underemployed—including growing numbers of recent college graduates for whom the post-crash economy has little to offer. Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution was not the first time these alienated men and women have made themselves heard. Last year, British students outraged by proposed tuition increases—at a moment when a college education is no guarantee of prosperity—attacked the Conservative Party's headquarters in London and pummeled a limousine carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Bowles. Scuffles with police have repeatedly broken out at student demonstrations across Continental Europe. And last March in Oakland, Calif., students protesting tuition hikes walked onto Interstate 880, shutting it down for an hour in both directions.
More common is the quiet desperation of a generation in "waithood," suspended short of fully employed adulthood. At 26, Sandy Brown of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a college graduate and a mother of two who hasn't worked in seven months. "I used to be a manager at a Duane Reade [drugstore] in Manhattan, but they laid me off. I've looked for work everywhere and I can't find nothing," she says. "It's like I got my diploma for nothing."
While the details differ from one nation to the next, the common element is failure—not just of young people to find a place in society, but of society itself to harness the energy, intelligence, and enthusiasm of the next generation. Here's what makes it extra-worrisome: The world is aging. In many countries the young are being crushed by a gerontocracy of older workers who appear determined to cling to the better jobs as long as possible and then, when they do retire, demand impossibly rich private and public pensions that the younger generation will be forced to shoulder.
In short, the fissure between young and old is deepening. "The older generations have eaten the future of the younger ones," former Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato told Corriere della Sera. In Britain, Employment Minister Chris Grayling has called chronic unemployment a "ticking time bomb." Jeffrey A. Joerres, chief executive officer of Manpower (MAN), a temporary-services firm with offices in 82 countries and territories, adds, "Youth unemployment will clearly be the epidemic of this next decade unless we get on it right away. You can't throw in the towel on this."
The highest rates of youth unemployment are found in the Middle East and North Africa, at roughly 24 percent each, according to the International Labor Organization. Most of the rest of the world is in the high teens—except for South and East Asia, the only regions with single- digit youth unemployment. Young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed.
Last year the ILO caught a glimmer of hope. Poring over the data from 56 countries, researchers estimated that the number of unemployed 15- to 24-year-olds in those nations fell in 2010 by about 2 million, to just under 78 million. "At first we thought this was a good thing," says Steven Kapsos, an ILO economist. "It looked like youth were faring better in the labor market. But then what we started to realize was that labor force participation rates were plunging. Young people were just dropping out." more
Let's not forget that our major economic problems are at LEAST 30 years old.  Whatever "revolution" is coming will have to overturn a whole generation of madness.
The real effect of 'Reaganomics'
Ronald Reagan promoted the idea that conservatives prefer to leave the economy to the market. Nonsense – we've been gulled
Dean Baker, Monday 7 February 2011 18.30 GMT
At the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth, his most important legacy has gone largely overlooked. Reagan helped to put a caricature of politics at the centre of the national debate and it remains there to this day. In Reagan's caricature, the central divide between progressives and conservatives is that progressives trust the government to make key decisions on production and distribution, while conservatives trust the market.
This framing of the debate is advantageous for the right, since people, especially in the United States, tend to be suspicious of an overly powerful government. They also like the idea of leaving important decisions to the seemingly natural workings of the market. It is therefore understandable that the right likes to frame its agenda this way. But since the right has no greater commitment to the market than the left, it is incredible that progressives are so foolish as to accept this framing.
In reality, the right uses government all the time to advance its interest by setting rules that redistribute income upward. As long as progressives ignore the rules that are designed to redistribute income upward, they will be left fighting over crumbs. There is no way that government interventions will reverse a rigged market. For some reason, most of the people in the national political debate who consider themselves progressive do not seem to understand this fact.
To take the most obvious example: fighting inflation has come to be seen as the holy grail of central banks – a policy that it is supposed to be outside of the realm of normal political debate. On slightly more careful inspection, the inflation-fighting by the Fed and other central banks is actually a policy that is designed to ensure that the wages of ordinary workers do not grow too rapidly.
When central banks jack up interest rates to tame inflation, the CEOs at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan won't be out on the street. The people who lose their jobs will be factory workers, store clerks and other less privileged workers. Raising unemployment among the group of less educated workers keeps their wages down. In other words, controlling inflation is about making sure that the wages of less educated workers don't rise relative to the wages of more educated workers. And the central banks have a licence to push as hard as they like in this direction.
Incredibly, the vast majority of progressives go along with this central bank squeeze. They accept the absurd notion that this upward redistribution by the central banks is simply apolitical monetary policy and agree not to criticise the central bank. As a practical matter, there is nothing that Congress could plausibly do in the way of downward redistribution that would offset the upward redistribution from the Fed's tightening. more
Keep in mind, the problems facing the world are much more complex than simply stupid and corrupt governments.
WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia cannot pump enough oil to keep a lid on prices
US diplomat convinced by Saudi expert that reserves of world's biggest oil exporter have been overstated by nearly 40%
John Vidal, environment editor, Tuesday 8 February 2011 22.00 GMT
Article history
The US fears that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, may not have enough reserves to prevent oil prices escalating, confidential cables from its embassy in Riyadh show.
The cables, released by WikiLeaks, urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels – nearly 40%.
The revelation comes as the oil price has soared in recent weeks to more than $100 a barrel on global demand and tensions in the Middle East. Many analysts expect that the Saudis and their Opec cartel partners would pump more oil if rising prices threatened to choke off demand.
However, Sadad al-Husseini, a geologist and former head of exploration at the Saudi oil monopoly Aramco, met the US consul general in Riyadh in November 2007 and told the US diplomat that Aramco's 12.5m barrel-a-day capacity needed to keep a lid on prices could not be reached.
According to the cables, which date between 2007-09, Husseini said Saudi Arabia might reach an output of 12m barrels a day in 10 years but before then – possibly as early as 2012 – global oil production would have hit its highest point. This crunch point is known as "peak oil".
Husseini said that at that point Aramco would not be able to stop the rise of global oil prices because the Saudi energy industry had overstated its recoverable reserves to spur foreign investment. He argued that Aramco had badly underestimated the time needed to bring new oil on tap. more
This list has 15 nations on it--ALL of them are serious food producers.
Here's Who's Going Hungry In The Global Wheat Price Spike
Gregory White | Feb. 8, 2011, 12:24 PM 
The global wheat price spike is like a punch in the gut for the world's hungry. And while they were high as a result of last summer's Russian wildfires, they've now gone even higher based on rising demand and damaged crops around the world.
While wheat isn't the major source of sustenance in every country around the world, its a key part of the diet in many countries, and represents a huge share of some eaters diets.
Those eaters may be able to swap out their wheat buys for other food items, but many may be strung up by the surge in prices, left to spend less on other products, and more on their daily bread. more

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