As the rest of the world was watching the events in Egypt, you have to wonder what the oligarchs and plutocrats at the World Economic Forum were thinking. Would the demonstrations seen in Egypt and Tunisia spread throughout the Middle East? That was the question being asked in most of the world. In spite of the rhetoric of the fear and hate mongers the uprisings in Egypt were the result of never-ending unemployment and the increasing cost of food and fuel, not about religion or even tyranny. Those problems are systemic and even a government without Mubarak won’t be able to fix them in Egypt so the extremists may eventually be able to take advantage of the situation.
But you have to wonder if the elite at Davos weren’t looking beyond the Middle East. In much of the West you see the same problems, high unemployment and increasing prices for food and fuel. There is little the governments of the United States, Spain, etc. can do about it – like Egypt there are systemic problems. The people of the Middle East are objecting to the two or three percent of the population that is doing very well while they suffer. We are see the same thing in the United States and much of the Western World. This graph from Gallup tells the story.
That’s right – as the Wall Street economy has improved the main street economy hasn’t.
One business that is booming in the United States is private security – the senior executives of the big banks and Wall Street wouldn’t dream of going out in public without security.
The oligarchs and plutocrats know what we are not being told – for most of us things are not going to get any better. The stimulus preferred by the Democrats won’t do it and the supply side cuts preferred by the Republicans will only increase the inequality. History has a lesson – extreme inequality leads to revolution. Think Castro and Chavez or Lenin and Mao or Hitler and Mussolini – never desirable outcomes.
I suspect that this was on the minds of those attending the World Economic Forum at Davos – not so much a fear that the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia would spread within the Middle East but outside the Middle East. The issues are the same – too many people chasing too few jobs and too little food.
We can talk about peak oil, peak phosphorus, etc but the real problem is peak people.