Category Archives: Middle East prosperity

Reconstruction, Redemption, Jim Crow, all Judge America’s Readiness to Heal Itself

reconstruction_congressThe outcome of many political events can be predicted by examining the economics surrounding them. For instance, the demonstrators of the Arab Spring that would go on to turn over their governments were extremely well correlated to purchasing power parity and GDP growth of their respective nations.

http://jobvoucherplan.com/2011/01/30/what-is-the-effect-of-economics-on-the-egyptian-demonstration/

Likewise, the outcome of America’s Reconstruction era for African Americans was written by the political economics.

Most people, including those Arab Spring demonstrators and ex slaves of 1865, want to exercise their lives in the quiet pursuit of happiness. In the aftermath of the Civil War, after hundreds of years of oppression, in a land surrounded by groups of men who had nightly patrolled outside slave homes prior to the war’s end, and in which the President seemed bent on directing a lenient path back into the union, the last thing, ex slaves wanted was a major political disruption that would thwart the pursuit of happiness that was within their grasp. But they did need a way to survive if they were not just going to exist as before on their masters’ plantations.

To survive, these ex slaves would need a means to sustain themselves. To eat, to have a roof over their heads, and to clothe their families, at a minimum they would need to enter this new paradigm of an agricultural economy with either their own farm or a way to earn a living on another’s.

Without having to subject themselves to a continued plantation life, they would need to borrow the funds to live until a harvest produced. They would also need the means to purchase a farm, the tools to work it, and the seeds to plant on it. This would require a loan and some equity, if they were going to qualify to obtain a loan in America’s capitalist economy.

To obtain a loan typically requires some collateral, or at least some history of being able to repay the loan. A loan requires that the borrower have a job commensurate with the amount of the loan, own a business with some history, or at least have some form of education that would support the amount of the loan.

President Lincoln had promised the slaves 40 acres and a mule. This seemed a generous start to a new life in a world turned upside down politically and socially. In addition, the Freedman’s Bureau offered some financial and food assistance until they could gain an economic foothold. So the foundation for a new life seemed to be put in motion at war’s end.

However, the plantation owners did not want the ex slaves to gain this foothold for that would mean financial ruin to them and an end to the political economy of the south as it had existed for several hundred years. The single largest investment and equity of the South was the slaves. Emancipation destroyed that investment, leaving the plantations without an engine and the wealth of the Confederacy evaporated. They had no intention of letting this happen without a fight, even if they had just lost the war.

Fortuitously for the South, Lincoln was assassinated. In his stead, Andrew Johnson was made President. His sympathies were with the South, not the slaves. As such, he reversed the program of free land for slaves and gave it back to the plantation owners. Without land and without equity, ex-slaves would require generous loans to escape their old life. Neither were offered or even guaranteed by Johnson’s Presidency. Without even a guarantee to back loans, ex-slaves were relegated to some form of land lease, which reverted to odious share cropping across the South.

Granted, even though land grants were occurring along the railroads heading west, nonetheless, taking land from pre-civil war land magnates and giving it to ex slaves was a bit radical in our capitalist country. It also threatened northern lawmakers, who were also large landowners. The idea would not politically stand for precedence set would mean that sometime in the future when southerners regained political power, they could turn the tide on northern land owners.

While ex slaves were not given a quick fix to their poverty dilemma, over the long run, ex slaves held the power of change in that they now could vote in economic supports due to the passage of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments. They could enact laws to support land loans. They could fund schools to gain the education to build skills to afford loans and to eventually help ex slaves enter into the American economy.

Yet, southern plantation owners understood the politics of freedom as well and fought to thwart ex slave access to loans, to schools, and to political participation. Through legal, political, and subversive means such as the KKK, ex-slaves were denied the means to obtain loans and to decent education. And with the support of Johnson, their means of voting for change was subversively and violently denied.

Nonetheless, they hoped to sustain the slow and arduous path toward economic freedom, if the federal government could simply and, at least, moderately support their efforts. Sadly, economic events would erode the northern citizenry support of the federal government’s reconstruction. The erosion had standard elements of a greed caused boom/bust economic crisis that would divert national attention away from the tediousness of supporting a social goal that required a gradual lessening of prejudice from the North.

Similarly to the Great Depression that would follow, and the 2008 economic implosion that we all experienced recently, the discovery of gold in 1848 set up the economic failing of post civil war reconstruction when it started the mass migration West in search of riches. The migration to California was an impetus for the massive railroad-building boom after the war, including the transcontinental railroad.

Across Europe, a housing boom similar to America’s in the 2000’s was used to feed America’s railroad ventures, the size of the investment boom, which had not been seen before. Yet the rate of investment could not be sustained by the growth in America’s post war economy just yet. Unfortunately, as all booms do, it ended in a bust that caused a 20-year depression in Europe and the Long Depression in America, starting in 1873.

The depression caused a shift in public sentiment that resulted in political losses that signaled the end of support for Reconstruction. Pre Civil War southern political powers would regain their power in the South, and swift retribution plus starving of any economic progress for ex slaves would be the result.

America would then shift its attention to an economic revival that would simply bypass the sleepy South and focus on exploiting the rail system that had been laid. Millions of immigrants and an expansive growth of industry in the new industrial era would divert America’s attention on social justice for another 80 years.

The South would regain its plantation economy. Ex slaves would eke out a poverty-stricken existence, waiting for the next political upheaval that would not occur until the First World War. The chance at human progress had been thwarted. Decades of harsh treatment and social ingraining of prejudice both on the sides of the oppressor and the oppressed would ensue. How would this injustice affect race relations in America and how would it ultimately impact our inner cities?

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Economic Crisis, European Crisis, Middle East prosperity, social trajectory, War

Trade you an Ounce of Gold for a Haircut?

I was the last customer to receive a haircut from my barber so after paying him, we both walked out to our cars. As he drove away in his Ford sedan, I thought that people all around the world give haircuts and that most of the barbers in our world cannot trade their services for an automobile. The mere birthrights of an empire’s citizen enable him to receive empire benefits from his participation in its economy. A rich country’s citizens trade the gold acquired through the ages from other nations with each other to receive small comforts of life from each other.

The bible tells the story of a rich man that asked Christ how he could obtain heaven and Christ told him to give away all his belongings to the poor. The man went away saddened by Christ’s answer but kept his belongings. A citizen of a wealthy nation by virtue of their birth fits the parable of the rich man. While I do not think the story truly means we have to give away our wealth to enter heaven, it certainly lends itself to the hypocrisy of a wealthy nation’s citizens denouncing the hegemonic advances of their country while indulging daily in the relative benefits of their happenstance.

Obviously all democracies are not hegemonists but democracy is the only form of government that has shown any semblance of restraining hegemony’s corruption, or corruption from petty tyrants that squeeze the little wealth of the citizens of African nations for their own aggrandizement for that matter.

Certainly there are wealthy elites in Europe that will benefit from spurring on America’s involvement in Libya just as there are financial lobbyists that attempt to sway every decision made in Washington and every decision made by politicians worldwide. One benefit of Democracy is that countries somehow occasionally rise above the incessant lobbyist barking to do the right thing, and in this case it was to give the people of Libya their own voice against a maniacal bully who has vowed to commit wholesale slaughter of anyone and all who dare to speak of freedom.

As America leaned socialist during the great depression to begin a redistributive process of allowing the common man to share in the wealth of its nation without destroying its capitalist core, so will African nations and others find their way. Revolution seems to destroy economic engines. Democratic evolutions can point a nation’s capital in the direction of the good of all its people.

When I hear cynicism about America’s justification for entering Libya, I am more sympathetic to the argument of isolationalism and protecting our military from harm when the threat to our country is minimal than I am to insinuations of the U.S. bombing to prop up our empire or of us forcing our failed form of democracy on the continent of Africa in this case.

I understand the continued economic injustices that have occurred in Africa after their decolonization movement failed to give them the freedoms they desired when despotism, supported by industrialized nations, proved too strong a force to overcome for the next several generations. I understand that they have many reasons to distrust nations that have exploited their continent for a century and now say they want true independence for Africans.

But now is the time that countries like Libya could use oil to invest in infrastructure to build opportunities for their nations, or for countries like Egypt, whose population is educated, to take on economic growth. My push for democracy is that any nation is subject to tyranny by the few on the many, and that no matter if it is America or Libya, democracy is needed to defend against corruption.

In my barbershop scenario, perhaps the 22nd century chinese barber will be given title to a barbaric fuedal city in Europe as the price for his haircut. Perhaps the concentration of national wealth will create the ultimate in barter exchange between the birthright entitled. ( barbaric stretch of the imagination, agreed)

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Middle East prosperity, Social Media Democracy

What is the effect of Economics on the Egyptian Demonstration?

This is a graphical context of middle 60% PPP annual household income for several European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.   Those countries either involved in direct war with the United States, or that have recent uprising and demonstrations have their annual incomes  boxed in red.

While the issues are so very much more complex than just economics, share of world income  partially explain demonstrations in Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen and much more vigorously, Egypt.  Compared to others in the region that have either created diverse economies like Turkey, or whose populace have benefited from oil revenues like Saudi Arabia, these countries average incomes have lagged well behind, and their citizens sense little say in their futures.

Compared to India and China, they fare better financially, if we look statically at their current purchasing power. However, the latter countries’ citizens look forward to growth through active private and public investment where the former do not.

Additional Data:

Qatar  $          68,600
Switzerland  $          34,600
UAE  $          53,200
U.S.  $          37,100
Kuwait  $          34,000
Israel  $          21,700
Greece  $          24,600
Cypress  $          24,800
Saudi Arabia  $          22,900
Oman  $          22,200
Libya  $          14,400
Turkey  $            9,700
Iran  $            8,200
Lebanon  $            8,100
Tunisia  $            5,900
Egypt  $            4,200
China  $            3,900
Jordon  $            3,800
Syria  $            3,400
India  $            2,100
Yemen   $            1,800
Afghanistan  $            1,500

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Filed under Bureaucracy, Full Employment, Innovation, Middle East prosperity