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Friday, February 11, 2011

Today is Liberation day. Congratulations to the people of Egypt and to all people of the world who risk for social, economic, racial, political liberty, equity, and justice! And especially to the young people who led this revolution.

My Brookings Institution newsletter came today advertising Generation in Waiting a book that captures the situation in the Middle East and perhaps many "developing" regions where young people between 15 and 29 comprise over a third of the population and most of the unemployment which runs around 15%. Most have come to the cities for education and work but have been frustrated with the lack of outlet and reward for their talents.

"While today’s young men and women are more educated than previous generations, educational quality is poor. Moreover, these youth face diminishing opportunities to secure good jobs, access credit and housing, achieve financial independence, and form successful families," says the Brooking's summary.

When I looked at the fact sheet, I saw it mirrored another "developing region," here in the United States--our own San Joaquin (a.k.a. Central) Valley, California. I look at the situation of our youth who are emerging in society just as we are no longer investing in institutions that can most assist them. We are more concerned with our private, immediate short term gain, than with our long term future. We want to relieve ourselves of our private financial debts, and forget our debts to our children. We want to free ourselves from personal taxes, rather than tax ourselves to fulfill our obligations to our children.

The children of Egypt saw the way out was to move from society to the public realm. The old way of wealthy elites buying elections and running governments needs to be upended. When will the youth of this Valley and this country understand the same? The answer is not running for office in a corrupt plutocracy in which you have to accept the values of the plutocrats to achieve office.

You don't enter the public realm by taking office in a plutocracy. You enter the public realm by appearing with others to bring down the plutocracy. Many young people in the US felt they were doing this in the Obama election: "Yes, we can-si, se pueda" "Change we can believe in."

But Obama is not the answer--and of course he was the first to say this. Power is in people appearing together in the Tahrir and Tienanmen Squares and Grant Park and Washington Mall. The best thing that Obama could do now is catch the spirit of the youth of Egypt and facilitate a similar revolution here. Yes we can!


Anonymous said...

Rollie, Just read your blog note, and agree with it all (as usual). Been ruminating on the same topic myself, and wondering what can be realistically done about it. Another worry is my grandkids (I'm currently looking after two of them here in Ottawa right now, while their parents are in east Africa) are so hooked on present-day technology - especially texting on Blackberries and iPhones -- could tell many stories about that happening here all the time. I wonder if they've become 'wired' to a very private, anonymous world without many constraints on personal whims and attitudes. I would like to think there is something communitarian about it, but can't detect evidence of this. Must send. Be well. Dale,

Rollie in Fresno said...

Thanks, Dale. I also need to think about when the revolution will happen in North America. Why are not our young people (supported by us old farts) taking to the streets. The Obama movement released, but let's hope not dissipated, some of that energy for true republicanism--beyond the plutocracy posing as a democracy.