With the departure of the “president for life” Mubarak of Egypt, labor unions across that country are out in the street now demanding improvements to their lot in life. Even the police who were a week before clubbing pro-democracy protestors are themselves protesting in the street. They are probably kidding themselves about how much better off they will be now. It wasn’t the protestors that really drove out the Mubarak family but the army in what you could call a soft coup.
At best the new order imposed by the army will spread the wealth around to a broader oligarchy and the bulk of the population will get a few crumbs, and if they are lucky some trappings of democracy with less corruption overall. Egypt’s real problems didn’t come from Mubarak but from the people that kept him in power.
Trans-national corporations and mega-banking concerns ruled Egypt through Mubarak and they aren’t going to tolerate any real reform. Not that they are likely to take action right away. They rarely do anything at the point of a gun but that is always an option (ask anybody we‘ve invaded in the last hundred years). They will of course send in the economic hit-men to inform whoever replaces Mubarak about the realities of life, just like they do with American Presidents.
Ironically the Egyptians rebelled because of the inequality between the rich and the poor while in the US that inequality is much worse. While at the same time most Americans seem to accept the notion that the middle-class is making too much money and must accept onerous cuts in pay. The horde of new Republican governors and state legislatures are gearing up impose dramatic pay cuts on state workers, destroy unions and slash government programs in the name of austerity and the preservation of tax cuts for the rich.
In Ohio the Republican Governor pledges to eliminate a staggering deficit without raising taxes but 2/3 of the state’s budget merely passes through to local governments. This means if you live in a county or city that can’t raise its own taxes to cover the Governors cuts that‘s too bad. After all, police and firefighters are luxury items you can learn to live with out. Buy yourself a gun and organize a bucket brigade, you know, pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
President Obama is on the austerity bandwagon with some mean spirited cuts in his new. Slashing heating assistance to the poor, cut aid to cities to provide clean drinking water, cut Pell grants for college, cut aid to hire teachers and for cops on the beat. A shrewd political move on Obama’s part, by cutting things the Republicans were eager to take the axe to, they must now out scrooge him. Of course if you’re shivering in your unheated apartment, afraid to drink the water while somebody is breaking down your door and the cops won’t come, oh well, you won’t need to finish that college application anyway.
In Wisconsin where the Progressive movement started over a hundred years ago, the new Republican Governor is about to effectively end all public employee unions in the state and impose drastic pay cuts. Public worker strikes will become illegal and the rightwing thug has put the National Guard on notice that any public protests are to be met with force. The army would not fire on civilians in Egypt but this isn’t Egypt. www.prairie2.com