egypt tyranny revolt protest

Egyptians Ready, Americans Unready
tourism boycott

Tourism Boycott for Egyptian Reforms

The military supported Mubarak, as one of them, and now owns about 10 to 15 percent of the Egyptian economy. How much of the US GDP is claimed by the US military/industrial complex? These two truncated op-eds are from a frequent contributor. If you have a news article, please submit it. Thanks.

by Joel S. Hirschhorn, 16 February 2011

I keep thinking about how Egyptians have mustered the courage to fight their government’s tyranny while Americans remain unready to revolt against the peculiar American brand of tyranny.

How ironic that in the nation with monumental gun ownership among its citizens there is no hint of people giving up on meaningless elections and taking to the streets in massive numbers to protest their corrupt government.

Americans have to wake up, pay attention, sacrifice, and join together to make things much, much better and the hell with conventional politics driven by the worst special interests and the rich.

In just about every objective way that nations can be judged the US is losing.
* Our educational system for children is a joke; data keep showing that American children are far behind those in many other countries.
* Our health care system no longer produces healthy citizens, compared to many other nations, despite costing much, much more.
* Most large companies now make more money from foreign operations than domestic and invest money abroad, not here.
* Our financial sector is awash with corruption, greed, and dishonesty; it and groups affiliated with it spent more than $3.7 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions from 1999 to 2008.
* Economic inequality has skyrocketed with the rich becoming richer and everyone else suffering more and more.
* Huge numbers of Americans go homeless and face home foreclosure.
* The large number of homeless, hungry, poor and imprisoned Americans defines a nation that has lost its glory.

A once great nation is sliding down the toilet and most everyone, especially politicians, are lying endlessly as it does, as if the nation’s decay should be ignored rather than honestly combated by its citizens.

All those talking so much about the wonderful transformation in Egypt hardly mention economic reforms. However, restoring the Egyptian economy and ensuring that it benefit not just the upper class that supported Mubarak is key. Further, the enormous amounts of money stolen by Mubarak and others must be sought.

A global tourism boycott of Egypt is appropriate until it is absolutely clear that a true and honest electoral democracy with a more equitable economy have been created.

Then a huge wave of renewed tourism will be the reward. Make this an incentive to the new military dictatorship to honor the revolution. The military supported Mubarak, as one of them, and now owns about 10 to 15 percent of the Egyptian economy.

The US government and other nations should immediately issue official rulings that impede their citizens from any travel to Egypt until the formation of a trustworthy government. Major businesses connected to tourism should do likewise; issuing strong statements that travel and tourism are being ended until the entire Mubarak regime is replaced, including his wealthy cronies and sons in the business community.

“The corruption of the Mubarak family was not stealing from the budget, it was transforming political capital into private capital,” said Samer Soliman, a professor of political economy at American University in Cairo. Global Financial Integrity has estimated that illicit financial activities and government graft stole $57.2 billion between 2000 and 2008. Certainly, tourism was one source of that stolen money.

Tourism is critical for the Egyptian economy that unfairly has rewarded the Egyptian plutocracy. In 2010, when 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt, they generated nearly $11 billion in revenue, reports the Egyptian Tourist Authority. That number is about 11% of the total gross domestic product for the country. It is a critically important source of foreign currency.

In my experience working in Egypt a number of times, those figures probably underestimate tourism spending. Because so much of the spending is part of the underground, cash economy such as money spent on guides, taxis, goods, and souvenirs in small stores and from street vendors, and food in restaurants. Tourists also were generous with the ever present street beggars.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said recently that about one million tourists flew out of Egypt in the first nine days of the protests, causing losses of about one billion dollars. Their return should be carefully debated. Recovering stolen money from the Mubarak family and their cronies should be a higher priority in the near term.

Of course without tourism Egyptians suffer, but we must remember that even when tourism flourished most Egyptian workers suffered economically. And they mounted their rebellion knowing that they would be hurt financially. They have thought in terms of the longer term, and so must we. Now we must see a tourism boycott for Egypt as a political statement and tactic that aids and supports the brave citizens that sacrificed so much for their revolution.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through delusionaldemocracy.com.]

Also see:

US outspends everyone on arms, funding enemies, too
http://www.progress.org/2010/zewail.htm

Even Americans are ready for change
http://www.progress.org/2009/survey.htm

More Calls to Ban Zimbabwe's Blood Diamonds
http://www.progress.org/2009/diamond.htm

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