Statistics show that almost every one of the nations currently experiencing “the Facebook Revolutions” has an unemployment rate above 8.2%, with the majority experiencing double-digit rates as high as 30% in Libya. Protesters in many of the countries have complained about poor employment conditions, but more have protested the lack of jobs.
Is the creation of democracy as simple as the creation of jobs? Domestically, as the unemployment levels reached near double digit figures (actually over that, with underemployed and those who fell off the statistics), we saw the rise of the Tea Party, a ‘revolutionary’ movement intent on creating extreme change in the U. S. government. Are the two related? We think so.
“The true key to improving conditions and creating democracy in the nations presently in a revolutionary state is the creation of jobs. Continued high unemployment will result in continued unrest. A job is the path to individual democracy.”- Robert Angelone, Ph.D. Founder of The Epicurus Group
A person who is employed feels a greater confidence level when he or she is capable of financially contributing to the expenses of the family, resulting in diminished feelings of pressure and the need to react. Invariably, the state is perceived as the culprit in that individual’s misfortunes. We can see this in the shifted tone in communications of the American public with their Congressional representatives.
More and more, Congressional staffers are receiving threatening, demanding and even “orders” from Americans intent on government reform. “The letter I opened today said ‘the Congressman is hereby ordered to….’ and then threatened his life if he did not do what the constituent demanded.” said one long-time staffer. The writer identified himself as someone who had lost his job. Tens of thousands of threatening letters have been received by the House and Senate in the past two years, with increasing frequency.
In the Middle East and North African nations experiencing protests and rebellions, revolution clearly is coming primarily from those who have the time to attend many protest rallies, while hard working citizens have generally remained quiet. The exception has been Egypt, where workers have protested against government ‘cronies’ in positions of power that was clearly abused. Usually, those individuals were appointed by former President Mubarak.
Much of the post-Mubarak resignation protests and strikes in Egypt have come from workers, routing out corruption within the management of the companies for which they work. “This is a clean-up effort” said Dr. Angelone, presently analyzing the news coming from our sources in the region and in Washington.
Meanwhile, in Bahrain, a traditionally stable country, with very high unemployment (15%), the government is making strong efforts to establish strong reforms while retaining power. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, trying to defuse the tension, stated he would give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each local family, and the government has indicated that it may free minors arrested under a security crackdown last year. Per capita GDP in Bahrain is $40,400, up from the $37,500 in 2008.
But the fall of Mubarak has inspired those with the greatest causes for dissent against their governments in the entire region – largely, the unemployed, to attend protests and to react to the slightest news with zeal.
Unemployment is high in Bahrain, though it has the has the freest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region. Dramatic shifts in regional economics due to the price of oil, politics and the world economic crisis have contributed in increased unemployment in petrochemical and tourism industries, along with increased use of modern technology, reducing the need for high cost labor to perform standard functions.
In the United States, the economic crisis has unemployment officially ranging in the area of 9%, but unofficially, it remains north of 25%, with millions of Americans underemployed or unable to collect unemployment benefits, therefore off the statistical labor rolls. Many of these have been from manufacturing jobs, as such jobs shift out of the United States to foreign locations.
The risk of political protests in the United States is rising, as seen recently in the debate over the healthcare legislation, in which the tone and civility of protesters reached an all-time low.