On April 24, a Bangladeshi garment factory fire in Savar (an industrial suburb of Dhaka) collapsed killing 1,129 people. It was the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. Making clothes for companies like Walmart and Sears, fires and collapses are almost common in Bangladesh and yet owners of these buildings and factories go without being prosecuted. This article in the NYT explains how and why these disasters continue to occur without the elite owners being held responsible for their crimes.
An article in The Guardian relates that both Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi’s supporters and liberal anti-Morsi protesters may clash in huge protests tomorrow in Alexandria. On Friday, two protester’s were killed (one an American) and 70 were injured with large numbers on both sides being reported that even larger protests will be held on Sunday.
The anti-Morsi protesters are critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s religious fundamentalism. They say that Morsi himself is becoming too authoritarian and has exerted too much control over the nation’s media institutions. But on the other side, Morsi supporters say that the president was democratically elected and the Brotherhood’s religious bent is good for Egypt.
But what I’m concerned with is that the media is blowing these events out of proportion. They need to be reported on but I do not like the rhetoric I am hearing stating that change in Egypt is over and the hope for democracy is waning. What we need to remember, though, is that democracy needs time to develop. There needs to be time for the building of institutions, for the holding of fair elections, and a strong government not held hostage by political uprisings in Tahrir Square and the streets of Alexandria.
Democracy is not dead in Egypt, in my opinion, for there are a lot of similarities between the events in Egypt and those that occurred in France between 1789 and 1898. There was Napoleon, Louis Bonaparte, the manning of the barricades, and the Paris Commune. These anti-democratic actions in France all took place until a true democracy was created over a 100 years later. The creation of a democracy does not usually run as smoothly as the one that was created here in the United States.
With Edward Snowden leaking NSA documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald over the last few weeks in an effort to expose secret government domestic spying exercises, the paper’s website has put together a nifty little java presentation of famous U.S. whistleblowers. Entitled “A Guardian guide to U.S. government Whistleblowers”, it’s a short, but sweet, list of prominent U.S. citizens who helped expose the government’s wrongdoings.
The European Union again proved they are willing to take much more aggressive action than the United States when it comes to putting the burden of financial crises on the backs of the wealthy instead of on the people at the bottom of the economic ladder. They announced today part of the responsibility for bailing out banks when they fail will be placed on large depositors. From the article:
The plan stipulates that shareholders, bondholders and depositors with more than 100,000 euros ($132,000) should share the burden of saving a bank…The rules break a taboo in Europe that savers should never lose their deposits, although countries will have some flexibility to decide when and how to impose losses on a failing bank’s creditors.
This seems to be a little bit of a check on banks acting badly since big investors will be watching their actions more closely in the interest of not losing their money. And as the piece further illustrates, some bankers just didn’t care when it came to dealing with the crisis and what was done with taxpayer money:
Earlier this week, Ireland’s deputy prime minister attacked “arrogant” executives at a failed bank who had mocked government efforts to tackle the country’s banking crisis.
In the tapes published by an Irish newspaper, the collapsed Anglo Irish Bank’s then-head of capital markets was asked how he had come up with a figure of 7 billion euros for a bank rescue, responding that he had “picked it out of my arse.”
I could see some flaws with the policy in that it could lead investors to put their money elsewhere or create a problem for an individual bank when a wealthy investor gets nervous and starts a run taking money out of a bank. But the pro seems to outweigh the con here and this policy is a step in the right direction of a more stable economy in times to come.
It would be nice to see the U.S. actually take some steps like the EU when it comes to income inequality. As we previously noted, the EU sees the problems that come with too much imbalance in income and they are taking action to remedy the situation. Here’s hoping the U.S. can eventually follow in their footsteps in the interest of long-term economic stability.
A great summarized prep in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling coming today. Let’s hope we get ruling #1 and the inevitable legalizing of gay marriage for all will finally come to the United States.
UPDATE: The Lt. Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, stopped the passage of a strict abortion law that was being filibustered by democrats in the state Senate due to a technicality; Republicans upset by Dewhurst’s ruling.
To update a prior post regarding Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis’ attempt at a 13 hour filibuster to prevent a bill that would issue tight restrictions against abortion rights, unfortunately she has failed. The Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said she went too far off topic in her rhetoric and stopped the filibuster. Follow the link to find out more details.