Friday, February 4, 2011

Day of Departure

"By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of its citizens."

-John Maynard Keynes (Government Bureaucrat, 1883-1946)

Egyptians have entered their 11th day of protest against the government. Weary, yet determined, many in other countries like the U.S. have wondered how the Egyptians can keep going. Americans cannot see the imminent dangers created by the large financial institutions because their cage is more comfortable than those countries in the Middle East teetering on upheaval.

Today, for Egyptians, has been named the "Day of Departure" for Mubarak and his government. Protesters are marching to the Presidential Palace as these words are being typed.

Though the reasons for the protesters' dogged determination against the government varies, two basic problems enabled universal solidarity to grab the young- unemployment and inflation. Egypt's unemployment rate pre-revolution, was pegged at 9.4%. Like the U.S.(inflation rate over 9%), this is a government figure and probably grossly inaccurate. The actual number is probably much, much higher. The big killer was food inflation which ate up about 40% of people's earnings. Compound the rising inflation with a growing number of bureaucrats and police that need bribing, and revolution was not far away. For some men, a future barely eking a living while paying multiple masters does not hold enough promise to keep their mouth shut. Some men, after a certain point, will fight to the death for freedom.

Men whose heart has not swelled up with either pride nor sadness in reaction to violence in Egypt are hiding from themselves. The international bankers have guaranteed economic chaos to come; yet many men, mostly in America, the U.K., and Europe, are hiding from that reality. They wish it would all go away, even if it has to be at another country's expense. But there are no more bubbles for the banks to create artificially. Eventually the inflation will touch their lives just like it touched young men's lives in Tunisia and Egypt. Egypt's courage has brought the situation to a head and will most likely force the world to deal with its uncomfortable situation much earlier.

At the bottom is a clip from a classic movie from 1942, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine) and Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund). Lesser known is the supporting male actor Paul Henreid who played the opposition leader Victor Laszlo. Rick and Ilsa are a romantic couple in Paris before the Germans invade. Victor Laszlo, married to Ilsa at the time, is thought to be in a concentration camp and dead. Rick and Ilsa plan to be married but Ilsa never shows at the rainy train station. Unbeknownst to Rick, Laszlo had escaped and Ilsa returned to care for him.

In this clip Rick asks Laszlo if it (freedom fighting) is all worth it (after all, Victor has Ilsa, the woman Rick was madly in love with). By far the best conversation of a movie full of memorable exchanges.

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