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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/31/11

Egypt and the False Dilemma

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By Michael Collins

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Image

The people of Egypt have had enough of a failed dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. As events unfold, we're seeing a cautionary message entering the corporate media coverage of this event. Having never exposed the dire conditions that prompted the massive protests and demands for change, we're now told that this could negatively impact oil supplies, the stock market, and anti-terror efforts. No foundation for the claims was provided but they're repeated regularly on CNN, the NBC's, Fox, and the print media.

Thus a false dilemma is created for the public: support the right of people to determine their own fate or protect your safety and the current standard of living, as it were.

Egypt's Oppressive Tyranny

Eighty million Egyptians have suffered under an oppressive regime for thirty years. President Hosni Murbark became Egypt's president and dictator in 1981 after the assassination of the late President Answer Sadat in 1981. Sadat had just completed a peace treaty with Israel. Since then, Mubarak has ruled through emergency law for all but 18 months. Using this law, the government has the, "right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court." The Egyptian parliament extended for two years in May 2010. For those who get too far out of line, there are the famous torture facilities of the national police.

The Egyptian revolution followed the successful peoples uprising in Tunisia just days before. The Egyptian economy has not performed for the people. The majority of Egyptians live in substandard conditions and they see little reason for hope. Conditions were no better in Tunisia. Future hot spots for revolution, Algeria and Yemen, are equally bereft of the conditions that allow for human dignity - gainful employment, health, and safety.

Children are particularly hard hit, one third of Egypt's population. A recent UNISEF that, "Increases in child mortality and morbidity, child labour, child exploitation, violence against children and women and other forms of abuse, alongside declines in school attendance and the quality of education, nurture, care and emotional wellbeing, can all be traced to times of economic crisis." (Harper et al, 2009). The Egyptian economic crisis has been devastating to children.

The following graph shows relative life expectancy, illiteracy rates, and infant mortality for Tunisia and Egypt. These are fundamental conditions of life and human dignity. High illiteracy rates promote tyrannical rule by keeping the people uninformed.

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UC Atlas of Global Inequality

The conditions in Egypt are different from those in the United States in terms of income and material wealth. On a structural level, however, the class inequalities mirror those faced here. A robust stock market failed to translate into employment gains or basic benefits for the vast majority. Policies are friendly to businesses but discriminated against worker rights and unions. Privatization has sapped the public coffers.

While conditions were building up to a boiling point, the Egyptian Stock Exchange became a favorite for foreign investors. Somehow, the geniuses on Wall Street convinced President Mubarak to privatize and adopt a market economy[crony capitalism]. He did, the people suffered more, and the results led to the near universal demand that Mubarak step down. The globalization of crony capitalism has reached the point where the main stimulus is revolution.

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Things were fine for the Egyptian stock exchange until the people had enough. Bloomberg

The False Dilemma

The coverage of Egypt's revolution has been a bit timelier than the Tunisian affair, which the corporate media nearly missed. The initial focus was on events and the questions determining the survival of Hosni Mubarak. Who will win? There was no explanation of conditions prompting the protests. That would legitimized the protesters and foreclose media manipulation that may be needed to continue the three decade support for the present dictatorship and oligarchy.

A Wall Street Journal article Sunday laid out the talking points for fear mongering and the false dilemma - support a peoples revolution or take an oil shock and more terror.

US stocks are taking a big hit because of the revolution. We're supposed to react by thinking, Is this really worth it? The recession may get worse.

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