Egypt: Hunger games continue, will subsidies?
Subsidies in Egypt account for 10% of the countries GDP but do little to address the disgusting levels of economic inequality. People live hand to mouth in Cairo’s over crowded slums. The state continues keeping bread, sugar, beans, and fuel at 1970s levels. Egypt’s bureacrats are barely keeping the wheels on the state, if they didn’t…everyone remembers when President Sadat tried to end subsidies in ’77, riots, fire, blood.
Why would the Muslim Brotherhood try to reform subsidies now as the Council on Foreign Relations says it should? Everyone’s favorite fact is that the Ikhwan al Muslimeen is full of capitalists, but they’re not stupid. The revolution if you still call it that wasn’t a class based one. Ending subsidies might trigger one and if they do, there will be blood.
I’m holding no crystal ball in my foreign fingers. This is the reality. Iran’s successful attempt to reform the subsidy program comes more than 30 years after Islamists hijacked that revolution. So neo-liberal think tanks should temper their well wishing and expectations.
Speaking of getting the cart out in front of the horse. Egypt’s Islamist parliament hasn’t even written a new constitution and already it’s tackling the incredibly important issue of internet porn. I’m thinking back to what people were saying in the streets on January 25 and can’t remember the moral ills of porn being a battle cry.
The elephant in the room that principled folks who are concerned with both society and economy should first address is the military’s hold on 20-30 percent of the economy. I’m not saying that the U.S. should stop funding the Egyptian military, because it’s clearly in the U.S.’s national interests to do so, but, what I am saying, is that things like shutting down NGO offices should only be half as disturbing as the fact that the Egyptian military uses conscripts as day laborers and the state’s coffers to fund it’s system of loyalty-inducing privileges.