Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Basic Economics

Perhaps you've heard media folks talking about debt, deficit, big government, etc. and not being particularly well-versed in economics you didn't really understand what they were saying or why you should care. Well, below, by way of Hot Air, is a video which in five minutes will answer a lot of your questions about the perils of big government.

It's a basic guide to why many people are dismayed by what our government has done over the last two or three years. I hope you'll take the time to watch it. It's important that every American understand the ideas this student presents:

Egyptian Moderates

There's been a lot of reporting from Egypt about what the people there want. Much of the reporting and media commentary would lead us to think that the mass of Egyptian people are moderates eager for Western-style freedom and democracy. Pew Research Center, however, has a report on the opinions of Egyptians and others in the Muslim world which gives a much different view of what the Egyptian people think, and it's not encouraging.

In Egypt 31% of Muslims see a struggle between moderate modernizers and hard-line fundamentalists and of that cohort 59% identify with the fundamentalists.

Majorities of Muslims in Egypt, as well as Jordan, Pakistan and Nigeria, say they favor imposing harsh punishments for adultery, robbery, and converting to another religion. Eighty two percent of Egyptians favor stoning people who commit adultery. Seventy seven percent favor whipping and cutting the hands off people who commit theft. Eighty four percent of the Egyptian people believe those who leave the Muslim religion should be executed.

Egypt and Pakistan were the two countries surveyed in which the percentage of people holding these views was highest. In some of the other predominantly Muslim countries surveyed – Turkey, Lebanon and Indonesia, for instance – most Muslims oppose these measures.

I suppose it's reassuring that something less than half of the people in these countries favor death sentences for those who convert from Islam. No wonder Muslim emigrants to Europe and elsewhere often have such a hard time assimilating.

Anyway, the take-away here is that, at least in Egypt, the overwhelming number of people are not at all what most people think of when they think of "moderates".

The President and the King

In the classic story by Antoine de Saint Exupery titled The Little Prince the prince meets a king who feels he must exert his authority even though no one heeds his orders. Thus the king orders people (and other things) to do what they were going to do anyway so that he would have the satisfaction of seeing his orders obeyed.
The little prince was tired so he yawned. "It is contrary to etiquette to yawn in the presence of a king" the monarch said to him. "I forbid you to do so."

"I can't help it. I can't stop myself, " replied the little prince, thoroughly embarrassed. "I have come on a long journey, and I have had no sleep..."

"Ah, then," the king said. "I order you to yawn. It is years since I have seen anyone yawning. Yawns to me are objects of curiosity. Come now! Yawn again! It is an order."

"That frightens me...I cannot, any more..." murmured the little prince, now completely abashed.

"Hum! Hum! replied the king. "Then I --- I order you to sometimes yawn and sometimes to ---." He sputtered a little, and seemed vexed.
I thought of this king while reading about President Obama's shifting demands to Hosni Mubarak. First the President demanded that Mubarak immediately begin the transition to a new government, i.e. resign, but Mubarak replied that he didn't think that would happen any time soon. So the President then demanded that Mubarak begin a gradual transition to a new government, but it looks now as if Mubarak will begin the transition when he's good and ready, which may be never:
In a shift on the crisis in Egypt, the Obama administration on Saturday gave its support to a gradual transition in government to prepare for new elections in September.

[This] was a departure from President Obama's demands as recently as Friday afternoon calling on the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, to make immediate changes and step down in the face of the 12-day-long popular uprising and violent clashes in his country.
Perhaps President Obama, like Saint Exupery's king, will next be demanding that Mubarak stay in office as long as he wants so as to keep Egypt stable.