Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: January 28, 2011


After Mubarak

It’s difficult to have any sympathy for Hosni Mubarak, or any other member of Egypt’s current ruling elite. Egypt has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian dictators since 1954, when Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the Government in 1954, a dictatorship continued by Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, in turn. One always hopes that a popular movement to overthrow a dictaror will be followed by a flowering of democracy, but, sadly, that rarely happens, historically, and is even less likely to happen if Mubarak is toppled.

In all probability what will follow Mubarak in Egypt will be a government run by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies.  This means that Egypt’s most likely post-Mubarak government will be an Islamist, radical government, similar in many respects the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As Lawrence Wright points out in The Looming Tower, Mubarak’s jails have been an incubator for Islamist radicals. And why should we expect otherwise? The liberal, Western, Democratic states have been fairly supportive of Mubarak, and Sadat before him, ever since Sadat disavowed warfare as a method of destroying “the Zionist entity”, as Israel is generally known by the Arab states. Even among proponents of democratic reform inside Egypt, the support that the West has given Mubarak has made the West appear to be, at best, amoral, and, at worst, positively duplicitous. This has undercut the influence in the popular culture of Egyptian proponents of Western-style democracy.

As a result, it has been the Islamists who have seen their influence rise among the general population in recent years.  Indeed, the Islamist influence on Egyptian culture is immediately noticeable by looking at the following pictures posted a year ago by Pajamas Media. The pictures are of the graduating classes of Cairo University in 1978 and 2004.  Notice how the women are dressed.

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

The devolution from the modern era to a more conservative past is obvious.

The upshot of all this is that a post-Mubarak regime is likely to be undemocratic, Islamist, and hostile to the West in general, and the US–and, of course, Israel– in particular.  With Egypt having such a large population and corresponding cultural influence on the rest of the Arab world, there is much reason to believe that that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be the cause of a significantly less stable, and more troublesome environment in the Middle East.

Our policy failures in Egypt have been bi-partisan, and made for ostensibly the best of reasons, but their results seem likely to be disturbing. Still, it’s difficult to see what other choices were available to us.  Had we imposed too much pressure on the Mubarak regime to democratize, the end result would likely have been either a) much the same as we are facing now, or b) simply caused Mubarak to turn to China to replace the security and stabilization support provided by the West.  Sadly, the policy options we faced were those presented by the real world, and not the idealized world we might wish for. Although, one notes, had we forced Mubarak into the arms of the Chinese, we might have more acceptable moral support to offer the proponents of Egyptian democracy at the present moment.

Now, we don’t even have that.  The Egyptians are going to do whatever they’re going to do, and we have little choice but to sit by as passive observers.


Welcome to "Backwardland" – political elite get it wrong … again

You’ve heard of "Flatland"? Well in Davos, we have "Backwardland", where elite politicians are talking about what ails the world. And you’re probably not going to be too surprised by this, but they’ve got it entirely backward.

Poverty and unemployment reared their heads at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, with speakers urging the elite audience to bridge a growing gap between booming multinationals and the jobless poor.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who also chairs the Socialist International group of center-left parties, said the global crisis had led to an "unsustainable" race to the bottom in labor standards and social protection in developed nations.

"Politically, I believe we are at a turning point where… there are signs in Europe of more nationalism, more racism, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitism, fundamentalisms of all types," he said. "We need to look to a different model."

Maurice Levy, chairman and chief executive of French advertising giant Publicis, said there was "a huge suspicion about CEOs, bankers, corporations."

"People do not understand that these large corporations are doing extremely well, while their lives have not improved and without the support of the people, there is no way we will be able to grow," he told a panel discussion.

"We have been led by greed. We have been led by only the bottom line, the profit and we have sacrificed the workers in order to please the stockholders."

If you’ve wondered why Greece is in the shape it’s in and France isn’t far behind, read this nonsense.  Greece didn’t get in the shape it is in because of corporations.  It is there because the government overspent on generous benefits such as early retirement and the like.   The financial situation of nations isn’t the result of corporate greed or income inequality – it’s because they’ve spent more than they take in, entitlements are out of control, and they’ve provided decades of disincentives to work.

And the nonsense wasn’t confined to Europeans:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said tackling income inequalities was essential to future growth and needed to be part of the core of doing business in the 21st century.

The core of doing business in the 21st century is no different than it was in the 17th century.  Good product, affordable price, satisfied customers.  What Clinton is really saying is that the left intends to use the excuse of “income inequalities” to clamp down on corporations, extort more in taxes (we’ve already discussed who really pays those taxes and how regressive that is, not to mention the fact that at some point, when those taxes can’t be passed along, the corporation goes location shopping or dumps jobs) and generally kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

U.S. economist Nouriel Roubini predicted a backlash against budget cuts in Europe if there was no rapid return to economic growth.

Well yes, but again, with the plan that seems to be afoot, that’s almost assured, isn’t it?  What this is, again, is a different approach to collectivizing corporate earnings.  Terms like “income inequality” and “social justice” creep into the conversation.  And “share” – you remember “share” as in “share your toys, little Johnny”.  Well now it is time, say the elites, to “share” what hasn’t been earned by those receiving the “share”.

With unrest in Tunisia and Egypt a major talking point in Davos, Mthuli Ncube, the Tunis-based Chief Economist for the African Development Bank, predicted more trouble ahead if the fruits of growth were not shared more evenly:

"If you are not even creating jobs, not even sharing the economic growth that is coming through, then there will be push-back," he said. "It’s one thing to get good growth going. It is another to share that."

It is indeed – but here’s something that has worked throughout economic history: get good growth going, create jobs with profits and suddenly it is being “shared”.  Tax the crap out of anyone or anything that looks like it is making money and you won’t get growth, you won’t create jobs because the profits won’t be there to support either.

Of course what Mthuli Ncube is talking about is “sharing” through government – they’ll take it and dole it out.  Oh, and by the way, the unrest in Tunisia wasn’t driven by a backlash to “corporate greed”, it had to do with government greed and oppression.

This is the not so new approach by the left to use the financial crisis as an opportunity to loot corporations and support the welfare states that are in big trouble.  Demonization is right around the corner.  The real cause of the unrest among those the leftist elite like to use as their pawns has little if anything to do with corporations and a lot to do with the governments most of these boobs represent.

~McQ


Another alarmist claim bites the dust

OK, perhaps not the perfect metaphor for this but another in a long line of claims made by the UN’s IPCC report has been found to be totally false.  In fact, in the case of this particular claim, there appears to be no foundation whatsoever for the claim and in reality it appears exactly the opposite of what was claimed appears to be true.

The claim?

Himalayan glaciers were melting because of global warming climate change.  The facts?

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

You have to love that sentence – “contrary to popular belief”?  Is that what the so-called “science” of global warming climate change has been reduced too?

Even more damning:

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that half of the glaciers in the Karakoram range, in the northwestern Himalaya, are in fact advancing and that global warming is not the deciding factor in whether a glacier survives or melts.

“Global warming” isn’t the deciding factor?  But, but there was “scientific  consensus” that global warming climate change was indeed causing the glaciers to melt.  And now scientists are saying that not only are the glaciers not melting – they’re instead growing – but that global warming climate change isn’t even the “deciding factor” in either case?

In fact, the study says, the real reason for advancing or retreating glaciers is much simpler than global warming climate change.  It has to do with debris fields:

Their report, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the key factor affecting their advance or retreat is the amount of debris – rocks and mud – strewn on their surface, not the general nature of climate change.

[…]

"Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level," the authors concluded.

Dr Bookhagen said their report had shown "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" in contrast to the UN’s climate change report which, he said, "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together."

In fact, the science of global warming climate change lumps a whole bunch of things together it shouldn’t be lumping together, while it leaves off a whole mess of things it should be considering depending on the model such as clouds, sun, water vapor, etc.

By the way, a reminder of the base for the IPCC “scare-science”:

Dr Pachauri, head of the Nobel prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has remained silent on the matter since he was forced to admit his report’s claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was an error and had not been sourced from a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It came from a World Wildlife Fund report.

He angered India’s environment minister and the country’s leading glaciologist when he attacked those who questioned his claim as purveyors of "voodoo science".

Of course, now we know who the real purveyor of “voodoo science” is, don’t we?

~McQ