Egypt: What We Are Not Seeing
By Alex Saitta
February 4, 2011
I was watching some videos last night of analysts discussing the situation in Egypt. Some truly believe it is a chance for democracy to take hold there, and they believe that will happen.
First, with so many TV channels today and 24-7 news, the level of talent of the typical TV "analyst" has fallen significantly. Most are not experts in the field they are talking about and really have no clue. I watched one video where Jim Cramer (a former stock analyst, who has evolved into more of an entertainer on CNBC ) was being asked about the future course of Egypt. Good grief.
A good analogy is when major league baseball significantly expanded its number of teams about 40 years ago, and the quality of pitching was diluted. All of a sudden the league went from 2 or 3 great pictures per team to 1 maybe 2, because the talent was spread so thin. I appeared on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg many times in the past. I can tell you, the bookers take who they can get to fill the slot and they have a lot of slots to fill.
The second point is I have doubts that democracy will be the result in Egypt. I would bet inside the walls of that government right now and out in the street, many are thinking, how can we get in control or get more power? It is now our turn to run the show. That is the way it has been done there for thousands of years. Their leaders and the people know no different I suspect.
Democracy requires a higher level of political consciousness that we are not seeing in Cairo right now. Obviously there is quite a difference between what we are seeing there and the likes of Ben Franklin or Socrates. The former is a mob. The latter's goal was good government that they would like to see, but really don't desire to be a part of.
Specifically, democracy requires framers who want to design a system that takes the power of a few and spreads it out to the masses. Normally, the only ones who have the power to redesign the system into a democracy, also succumb to human desire and they don't want to give up that power, so they hold it close in a dictatorship.
Like I mentioned, Franklin and Socrates had that desire and higher level of political consciousness. I don't see that in Egypt at this point.
How will this affect the US?
In the short-run, these pictures scare people. Seeing rioting, first hand accounts and real-life killing on every news channel, 24/7 doesn't lessen their effect. Even though this violence will not spill over to the streets of the US, the pictures are scarey. The link to the US is oil. A month or so of these pictures plus rising gasoline prices could crimp consumer spending and turn this into a speed bump in this economic recovery.
Long-term, gosh, this could start a domino effect in the Middle East. It can break for us or against us in a series of negative events. It is breaks against us, and the oil supply becomes threatened or Israel is threaten, it could result in a war at some point. We went to war over our oil being threatened in 1993. We'll do it again. Oil is just that critical to our economic interests.
Personally, I don't think a strong USA has anyone to be scared of on any issue, anywhere in the world. However, our economy is rotting from inside-out, because of years of overspending and excessive borrowing. It is putting weight on our economy, on our ability to generate income and wealth and hence our ability to defend our interests around the world.