The first tendrils of Spring appear in seeming defiance of Winter’s presence. The Arab world is simmering and no one knows what broth will ensue. U.S. states are returning billions of dollars to the federal government as their citizens search for jobs. And Donald Trump continues to act as if he was a direct descendant of Barnum.
The Missing Safety Valve
In all of the discussion and controversy concerning the political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East there has been no shortage of theories and pronouncements as to what caused this frenzy of political awakenings. The internet and Facebook are given as major enablers of the ongoing rebellions and revolutions. The not so glowing example of democracy at work in Iraq is rarely cited.
But we should certainly consider the fact that over the past decade the United States and most countries in Europe have imposed more restrictions on immigration either through legislation or administrative practice. These restrictions have given special attention to those seeking to leave North Africa and the Middle East. Could there be a connection here?
After all, in the past educated and ambitious and eclectic men and women from places like Tunisia and Algeria and Egypt could emigrate to someplace and pursue their hopes and dreams.
Whatever their motives, many of them shared a common dissatisfaction with the status quo and the marble ceiling that was constructed over their ambitions.
Since 9/11, most of these “dissenters” do not have the option of moving to America or Europe. But their dissatisfaction with the status quo has not abated. The result has been the turmoil that we see every day and we will, in all likelihood, continue to see the drive for change.
It may turn out that Europe and America were the safety valves for the oligarchs and monarchs in the Middle East and North Africa. And it would appear that the safety valves just aren’t there anymore.
A Constant Struggle to Stay Behind
On November 2, 2010, the voters in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida elected Republican governors who ran on very conservative platforms. These men all claimed that the root cause of many of the problems of the citizens of their respective states was the federal government.
Since their election, all three of these governors have rejected and returned billions of federal dollars that were intended to finance high speed rail systems. These dollars were also intended to provide jobs and income for men and women in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida.
That would be Ohio with a 9% unemployment rate, Wisconsin with a 7% unemployment rate and Florida with an 11.6% unemployment rate.
The rail infrastructure of this country is woefully behind that of most of the developed world (including China) and it needs to be improved everywhere and now. The men and women seeking work, any kind of work, in Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida most certainly would welcome federal government “interference” that came in the form of a paycheck.
When ideology overcomes common sense, the outcome is almost always a poor one.
Donald Trump for Pope?
Two weeks ago Donald Trump announced that he was “seriously considering” running against Barack Obama in 2012. He clearly assumes that his serial corporate bankruptcies and thousands of stranded bondholders will somehow disappear from the national memory banks by November of 2012.
Last week Mr. Trump announced that he was “seriously considering” purchasing a controlling interest in the New York Mets. Presumably he doesn’t think that Mets fans have suffered enough.
Who know what’s next? But Pope Benedict should watch his back!
Have a great weekend!