Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt -- Politics and Economics

Now that Mubarak has left, the media is trumpeting that Egypt is now "free." That's not a likely result. The military, who has ousted Mubarek and assumed control, owns a huge share of Egyptian business and industry -- estimates range from one-third to to one-half of the entire Egyptian economy is directly owned by the group that now has power in Egypt. Will they give up that power? Not likely.

What this means is that economic freedom will remain in short supply in Egypt. New politicians will appear and there will be elections, but the things that can make a difference to the lives of ordinary Egyptians will not be on the ballot. Egyptians need economic development. They need the freedom to start new businesses, educate their children and live in an economy that produces jobs.

The fundamental need in Arab countries is economic freedom, not the right to vote themselves into an Iranian-like theocracy or a Venezuelan-like monocracy. This does not mean that Mubarak is better than democracy. Democracy is definitely better than Mubarak. Democracy, without economic freedom does not produce economic growth (even though economic freedom without democracy can produce economic growth -- check out Singapore and parts of modern day China).

The Arab lands need economic freedom for their citizenry. The curse of oil has robbed the Arab countries of a middle class and made every Arab country the land of the rich and poor. Education, economic freedom and economic opportunity are the ticket, not the right to choose between various opportunists looking to cash in on Egypt's new found freedom.

As long as the military is Egypt's savior, the Egyptian people cannot be saved.