Bleak Present Beckons the Entrepreneural Future
If there are no public institutions, if there are no public services, if there are no public places, then where will Egyptians convene to find out who they are and what they want? Where will we go to interact with one another and uncover our syncretic, tolerant roots? By public places I mean actual spaces where citizens can people-watch, truck and barter, and tell time by the public square’s clock.As autocrats throughout the Arab world curry favor from Washington, their societies literally pay the price. Recently in Morocco, the Time-Warner lobby deployed US trade representatives to inform the government that public radio broadcasts in Berber by the Moroccan Ministry of Culture must be eliminated--because they are free and non-commercial.
Which brings me to the bleak present inside US-occupied Iraq and today's UN report:
The UN published a report today in Baghdad which describes in alarming detail the daily conditions of Iraqi life, plagued by unemployment on the grand scale, lack of housing, healthcare, electricity and potable water. The report contrasts Iraqi potential in a country with plentiful natural and human resources with the current conditions of life in 2004. The 370-page report was the result of a survey of 22,000 homes representing 150,000 people across Iraq’s 18 provinces.The United States is not going to permit public mobilization to rebuild the country and get things back on track. The increasing divisions in Iraqi society are celebrated in Washington, where the public sector (save the military) is hated more than Arab terrorism.
The rate of unemployment is 18.4%, with youth and the educated bearing the brunt--unemployment is at 33.4% and 37.2%, respectively; the principal cause of child mortality is diarrhea. Only 55% of school-age children are able to attend classes. Meantime the level of education among females is declining.
The principal problems in the heath sector are a lack of personally hygiene, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and dozens of destroyed hospitals and health clinics. 85% of Iraqi households face frequent power cuts, while only 54% have access to potable water (vs. 75% twenty years ago). Nearly a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from chronic malnutrition.