Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Uber-Footballers, Unter-Economists and
By Ben Tanosborn
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 12, 2010
After a month of tribal solidarity, of total adherence to our
own soldier-footballers fighting for that quadrennial trophy in the
ultimate international team sport, football – sorry, but I refuse to call
it soccer – the World Cup has finally found its temporary Olympian home in
Spain or, if you prefer, Iberian lands.
easily have been the Netherlands or, if you prefer, the Low Countries, but
it was the turn of “La Roja,” the indomitable furia roja wearing colorful
red jerseys, to invade Flanders once again three and a half centuries
after the Peace of Westphalia… this time, however, without shedding blood,
peacefully – even if the game incited too many yellow cards from Howard
Webb, the English Premier League referee so unreasonably feared by the
Now, after this respite from the economic woes
befalling much of the world – a distraction understandably welcomed by
governing politicians – we are back to the reality of the economy’s empty
cup most nations have on display courtesy of a short-sighted system that
we mistakenly refer to as democratic capitalism when in essence it is
nothing but stealthy, and predatory, corporate enterprise.
ongoing debate as to whether the economy will fare better – in order to
achieve the so-called “economic recovery” – via austerity measures or more
economic stimuli, the leadership in the European Union and that of the
United States do not quite see eye to eye, Europeans opting for tightening
their belts while in America the key proposal is additional spending.
Before we take sides on this debate, we should first agree as to what
economic recovery is, or is mistaken to be, and exactly what we mean by
austerity measures. We may be in for a great surprise, at least here
in the US, as to what most folks in Main Street mean by recovery and
austerity… which is unfortunately a watered down version of the existing
By economic recovery, most people I
know, regardless of political sentiments, social status or even education,
think of the return to prior times… to what they call normalcy; never mind
that for an entire generation prior to this crisis we had built a society
spending somewhere between 5 and 10 percent more than it produced… and
that somehow such accumulated debt, whether personal or as indentured
members of their community, remains outstanding, to be paid in the future.
Shouldn’t recovery, instead, mean the return to economic sanity and not
the temporary return to untamed greed and the fraudulent financial
dealings of recent times?
As for austerity, do we really mean a
level of non-indulgence and asceticism that will permit us to live within
our means and pay back our debts? It is doubtful, but keeping
expenditures in line with revenues is a crucial first step that must be
taken. If need be, let economic sanity be enhanced with a slight
touch of sacrifice by calling it austerity.
During this past
month, we have seen many national sport heroes make their countries proud
in South Africa; from David Villa with his five goals for Spain in the
tourney, to Andrés Iniesta and his winning goal in the championship game
which gave the World Cup to Spain… to the entire team from Ghana which
“almost” made the semi-finals. These were uber-footballers in this
World Cup that made us feel good as human beings in contrast to
politicians and unter-economists who through ignorance or deceit fail to
give us the necessary leadership and knowledge to maintain the economy
At least the Europeans seem to be taking the right path
with their quasi-austere method of keeping their deficits down as
suggested by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the wealthier
and often more frugal EU members. Unfortunately, the method does
often require a greater sacrifice from those less able to afford it.
That, however, is something which needs to be addressed at the initial
distribution of earned wealth via appropriate taxation, the place where
greed and motivation can best be set in balance.
In contrast to
the Europeans, Obama and his corporate contingent of advisers still treat
our economic malaise with stimuli-aspirin. More spending of money
that will need to be borrowed… from China, of course. America is
using China as its own cash machine (ATM), just like Americans had been
doing in recent past by using their over-valued real estate as worthy
collateral. Even Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman doesn’t seem to get it…
talking nonsense about the myths of austerity from his bully pulpit.
Has it occurred to the good columnist-professor that only resource-strong
developing nations can afford to do that long term? And that, given
the shifts which have occurred in the international marketplace during the
last two decades, our rate of growth as a fully matured economy is bound
to decrease… and not increase?
We should also ask… is America
chiefly to blame for the existing marketplace insanity?