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Recent events in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere
Old 02-21-2011, 07:49 PM   #1
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Recent events in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere

This is truly an astonishing time. I'm trying to imagine how the world is changing before our very eyes. Could this movement spread to other countries such as Saudi Arabia, China or North Korea?

It's very interesting how Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have played a part in information exchange despite the best efforts to stop communications in these countries.

How do you think these events will change our world? Any of you shifting how you are investing or planning for the future? Any change in travel plans?

There's just so much to think about with all this.
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:10 PM   #2
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These are as you say momentous events, two long established dictators are gone and another is tottering.

One thing I think is that the Libyan government response of coming down very hard on the demonstrators may guide any upcoming regimes under seige, as the light hand did not appear to work very well for Egypt or Tunisia.

This whole thing got me to thinking about the Kent State Massacre in 1971. Some of the students killed were only walking to class; others really did nothing particularly challenging. IMO the US doesn't always look very good when judged with the same eyes we use to judge foreign regimes.

If Gadaffi survives in power, his example along with the brutal Chinese response in Tiananmen Square will point the way for dictators who want to stay in power.

I wish PollyAnna would come along and explain how all this is actually a good thing. The last thing the US government wants is democracy in the middle east, no matter what they might say. The people mostly hate us, so if they have even remotely free elections the elected governments will be anti US. Another little problem is that a democracy of messed up hungry people is still a bunch of messed up hungry people. So they may fool around with voting for while, but since the advanced world is full of problems of its own there is limited money to be thrown at them and they will soon tire of voting and some other overlords will come along. We should remember that Hitler was elected- barely, but elected. And it took a long time for him to demonstrate to the German people that he was bad news

Likely the most most stable governments in these hopeless places coming up against Malthusian limits will only be governments with better secret police, better dossier keeping, and more effective torture.

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Old 02-21-2011, 08:15 PM   #3
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For now, the price of oil concerns me. It seems to be an important lynch-pin for our economy.

Right now, we have lots of US treasuries - Vanguard Intermediate treasury fund, and the Vanguard TIPS fund in our retirement accounts. I am concerned about China...things are beginning to look shaky. Of course, there is the national debt.

With things seeming to unravel, I am beginning to feel a bit like a deer in the headlights.

I think that the best thing to do financially is to re-balance when necessary, and stay diversified.

And, that also means to continue to LBYM, and stay healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually - and connected to family & friends.
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:32 PM   #4
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This whole thing got me to thinking about the Kent State Massacre in 1971. Some of the students killed were only walking to class; others really did nothing particularly challenging. IMO the US doesn't always look very good when judged with the same eyes we use to judge foreign regimes.
It strikes me that if there were a million people protesting in Washington DC, occupying public buildings and calling for the ouster of the government, we would see far more dead people than we have seen so far in Egypt and Libya.
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:50 PM   #5
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It strikes me that if there were a million people protesting in Washington DC, occupying public buildings and calling for the ouster of the government, we would see far more dead people than we have seen so far in Egypt and Libya.
Possibly Egypt, but no way any US government would behave like that SOB Gadaffi. I don't think the Air Force would bomb civilians at least I hope not. Last I looked the protesters in Madison, were calling for the ouster of the government and they are all alive.
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Old 02-21-2011, 08:51 PM   #6
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What happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya is the result of trends that are just starting to emerge. These trends are also beginning to be seen in China.

- Large proportion of poor
- Large population of unemployed
- Large population of college graduate unemployed
- Corruption by those in power
- Rising food prices (put in global warming if you want and this will be a huge problem)
- Rising energy prices
- Rising other commodity prices
- Increasing population that will be increasing disproportionally in the 2nd and third worlds - World population going from 6.8B to about 10B by 2060 or so.
- Population that skews in their 20s - young, unhappy and without hope

These same factors are being seen in the USA if you look for them. Just look at the number of people on food stamps.

++++
Now, if you wanted to write a novel projecting these trends into the future it would look like this:
Nations across north Africa and the east of it establish ineffective and corrupt multiparty governments for a short period of time.
Radicals in each country exploit the disenfranchised.
A strong leader unites the nations across North Africa and the East.
This area does not have any real economic base; except for oil
As time goes on 'The Leader' gets 'financial aid' from Europe and the USA (see below).

After awhile the 'financial aid' is not enough. 'The Leader' moves to expand into Europe.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Barbary_War
The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:04 PM   #7
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It strikes me that if there were a million people protesting in Washington DC, occupying public buildings and calling for the ouster of the government, we would see far more dead people than we have seen so far in Egypt and Libya.
This is the point I was hoping to make gently. Kent State showed us that pretty clearly.

Ha
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Old 02-21-2011, 09:11 PM   #8
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I see this ending in a Califate.
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Old 02-21-2011, 10:38 PM   #9
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I think the Chinese government was trying to get ahead of this type of civil instability when they moved toward a capitalist economy in the late 70s. They had actually taken an survey of their young people which came back with a 'so what have you done for us lately?' type of response. No credit given at all for their work on sanitation, food supplies, or education. The reason why they are supporting so many manufacturing jobs to our detriment is that unemployment is one of the factors that threatens stability. They also need to address the imperial attitude of many of their local politicos.

Once a political establishment looses the support of a large segment of the population they are at risk. Once that segment concludes that it is better to die trying to change it than die by inches trying to survive it will be a fight to the death on both sides.

The problem with entrenched politicos is that they fail to get ahead of the curve and accommodate the desires of the educated underclass [btw, that is why the US developed affirmative action programs]. IMHO Libya will experience a blood bath but the current leadership will either loose control or they will become international pariahs supported only by oil revenues.
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:47 PM   #10
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I see this ending in a Califate.
It's the domino theory all over again. Next, we'll see Wisconsin go, and before you know it, California will fall.

Truly a sad time for all lovers of cheese...
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Old 02-21-2011, 11:49 PM   #11
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I wish PollyAnna would come along and explain how all this is actually a good thing. The last thing the US government wants is democracy in the middle east, no matter what they might say. The people mostly hate us, so if they have even remotely free elections the elected governments will be anti US.Ha
I joined an pro-Egyptian Facebook group and have been trying to read their postings (using a free online translator) and have made one Egyptian Facebook friend. I turned down another because he appeared to be cruising for chicks. Many of them can communicate in English quite well.
My point is that, when you say the people mostly hate us, I disagree. I think there are religious fanatics and a lot of older people set in their ways (there and here) but the younger generation has a lot of tech savvy people with a secular education, who just want to have a nicer life, just like here. I visited Egypt about 15 years ago, traveling independently, and once I got used to the men on street corners waving machine guns (it took me awhile to realize they were there to protect tourists like me) I found the people quite friendly, although I did pretend to be Canadian when asked, just in case.
I don't know how the revolution will turn out. Will they achieve democracy? Will they elect a good leader? I don't know, but I think it's wrong to assume the majority of Egyptians don't like us.
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:06 AM   #12
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Pretended to be Canadian when asked? Wow!! That's why we use those CDN flag stickers.
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Old 02-22-2011, 01:04 AM   #13
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I don't know how the revolution will turn out. Will they achieve democracy? Will they elect a good leader? I don't know, but I think it's wrong to assume the majority of Egyptians don't like us.
Thanks for sharing this toofrugal.

Ha
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Old 02-22-2011, 01:40 AM   #14
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For now, the price of oil concerns me. It seems to be an important lynch-pin for our economy.
Yeah, that's why we need to try to get off oil, even if global warming is a load of bunk.
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Old 02-22-2011, 05:03 AM   #15
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I don't know, but I think it's wrong to assume the majority of Egyptians don't like us.
Most people in the world quite like the idea of America - and those that don't, don't see much irony in expressing that dislike using American technology in the form of computers and the Internet. However, you don't have to be an extreme hater of America to be uneasy about the ambiguities in US foreign policy. (Not much has changed on that score in the last 50 years.)

Anyway, just think how all this would have gone down 30 or 40 years ago, during the Cold War. At least one of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt would have had their regime propped up by the Soviets (anyone remember them?). When almost any two-bit country had any form of civil unrest, the US and the USSR would find a way to not-quite-fight over it. Now, the US is the only game in town - China is getting bigger and more important, but they're not about to start a war with anyone because they're so economically embedded with the West.
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Old 02-22-2011, 10:35 AM   #16
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I wish PollyAnna would come along and explain how all this is actually a good thing. The last thing the US government wants is democracy in the middle east, no matter what they might say. The people mostly hate us, so if they have even remotely free elections the elected governments will be anti US. Another little problem is that a democracy of messed up hungry people is still a bunch of messed up hungry people. So they may fool around with voting for while, but since the advanced world is full of problems of its own there is limited money to be thrown at them and they will soon tire of voting and some other overlords will come along. We should remember that Hitler was elected- barely, but elected. And it took a long time for him to demonstrate to the German people that he was bad news
I am of two minds on this.

Actually, no, I am not, to be honest.

I am inside a Tom Paine kinda guy. Of course, I might wind up like Tom did: "In 1802, at President Jefferson's invitation, he returned to America where he died on June 8, 1809. Only six people attended his funeral as he had been ostracized due to his criticism and ridicule of Christianity."

Screw "realism". Let them try democracy. Let the State Department pound sand.
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:07 PM   #17
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I lived in Venezuela when Chavez rose up, left but remained very close (family, closest friends, primary home) as he began brutalizing the country and the people. We (my son, friends and I) participated in many protests. The conflict, pain and tragedy that results is unimaginable and widespread. It is no different in the middle east now.

The people rising up are repressed, and hungry. There is no guarantee what they are doing (Egypt & Tunisia) will lead to a better outcome for them, and based on the past two or three decades, once the developed and democratic world has finished moralizing and applauding, it will stand aside and let the pieces fall as they may. The institutions needed to prevent others from coming in to exploit this are not in place.
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:26 PM   #18
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This is the point I was hoping to make gently. Kent State showed us that pretty clearly.

Ha
Kent State? Come on. Four people killed as the result of poor local crowd control decisions/discipline, not as a result of a deliberate government policy. If anything, the reaction to Kent State, (like the reaction to Watergate), helped the US in the eyes of the world. "Wow, look how that got handled. Messy, but public and transparent. Would that happen in our country?"

Millions on the Mall in DC would not result in significant bloodshed, at least not at the hands of the US military. President Nixon hinted to the military leadership that he needed the 82nd Abn to come fix things for him in DC--he was told plainly that those in uniform were sworn to support and defend the Constitution, not his administration. The same thing would happen today.
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:41 PM   #19
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Yeah, that's why we need to try to get off oil, even if global warming is a load of bunk.
We just need to drill our own damn oil instead of buying it from countries that support terrorism or harbor terrorists in return for the terrorist not blowing up their oil wells..........
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Old 02-22-2011, 12:51 PM   #20
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If anything, the reaction to Kent State, (like the reaction to Watergate), helped the US in the eyes of the world. "Wow, look how that got handled. Messy, but public and transparent. Would that happen in our country?"
+1. Our founding fathers were wise in designing a system to ensure power is seperated. We also have a free press. Yes, we all have our issues with the media, but it's not controlled by the government. We're free to criticize our leaders and often do. That's a sign of a healthy system. Imagine going to North Korea and spouting off about Kim Jong-il. I don't think you'd last very long.

It's become more difficult for leaders like Gadafi to maintain control of information and communication. The same thing has happened in other countries. Despite attempts to control what the people see, hear and report, the truth comes out. Facebook, twitter and youtube have made it hard for those in power to control the media.
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