Thursday, February 10, 2011

Americans: How we can support democracy in Egypt

By the end of World War II, it was clear that control of oil was critical to geopolitical power. The major powers vied for influence in the Middle East. The U.S. made a deal with the Saudi government to keep them in power in return for oil. The Saudis used extremist religion to enforce their rule. This extremism was, and still is fine with the U.S. government which over time has come more and more under the control of the oil industry.
This ample supply of oil enabled the U.S. to develop the auto and sprawl -- autosprawl. Autosprawl is extremely wasteful in many ways. The costs of autosprawl have been kept off the balance sheets of the oil companies (externalized), and passed on the the taxpayer, the environment, and future generations.
Propping up the Saudi government has been difficult and the U.S. has hedged its bets by backing other brutal regimes in the vicinity. Even resorting to outright invasion.
Egypt has played a key role for U.S. interests. But the regime has been so corrupt and brutal that people have finally had enough and have risen up. Our suburbs were built on their suffering. We must help them. Here is how.

1. Fight for free public transit: when transit is fare-free, ridership will go up, and more people will demand better service.
2. Oppose autosprawl subsidies. There are many. We detail them whenever we can. This is a good way to expose the fake "conservatives" who are all for cutting pensions, social security, and health-care coverage, but won't even mention oil subsidies, sprawl subsidies, or the highway lobby.
3. If you cannot do the first two. Then try to go car-free or at least ride public transit more.

Join us. Together we can make a difference for the heroes of the democracy struggle, in Egypt, and everywhere.