Lets differentiate between right and wrong [Archives:2005/863/Opinion]

July 28 2005

One of the major peculiarities that has kept this country in a static state, in terms of finding ways out of the many oddities that confront the Yemeni people is that we tend to forget that there is a right and there is a wrong. This has in fact prevented us from finding solutions to the many problems that seem to have a long span of endurance, way beyond the normal life span that such problems should have. In fact, it seems that many of the problems we face tend to have an unsolvable nature to them, as if they were actually meant to be an inseparable part of our lives. For this reason, we found many people going out on the street a week ago, in an effort to tell the government that, really, they have had enough of enduring problems, many of which require just a little thinking to find their way to solution. To those people, it seemed that our government seemed to want to keep those problems hanging for some reason or another, as if their existence depended on them. The protests last week were really a fiery appeal to the government that life can be better, if the government would only remember that it has to get out of this endless stream of problems we are facing – the government better start differentiating between right and wrong. Needless to say, a lot of people really feel that most of our problems are caused by those in the establishment, who believe that it is normal to have problems. When these problems are obviously inexcusable they will blame them on our past, or on certain elements of the population or on some imaginative external threat that seeks to destroy our national existence. For many years now, the Yemeni people have accepted most of the excuses of the government for the sad plight that many of our people are facing and quite often, the population went along with the excuses. But when the government last week said, “a little more pressure on the population will not hurt, because we have to succumb to the policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, or else – and this is actually what the official media was telling us all along the tense past week – the economy will deteriorate”. The observer is frankly at a loss in trying to figure out to what extent does the government mean when it says our economy will deteriorate. In fact, many sensible people wonder if there is any further deterioration possible than the deterioration we are already in. In all likelihood, the fact that the deterioration of the economy does not touch the ruling establishment and all those on whom it relies on to keep its stranglehold on the people of Yemen, maybe gives them grounds for believing that there is more deterioration hidden. I.e., the deterioration that could possibly hit these officials if they do not listen to the World Bank or the IMF. After all aren't the latter important sources for filling the coffers that they and only they seem to have unlimited access to. The people went out on the street, because they now know that government officials are not affected by such nuisances as inflation, unemployment, poor education and even power outages. They all seem to manage to circumvent all these problems with ease. People are really fed up with seeing government officials traveling and coming back sometimes with container loads of goods and commodities for their own selves, while many of their neighbors can't even afford to go to the city to buy medicine for their ill loved ones. People are fed up seeing government officials or members of the ruling establishment throw wedding feasts that would make Haroun Al-Rashid turn in his grave, while the average citizens must sell half their assets, if they are to get their children married. It is these things that slowly begin to eat at the nerves of the population. All they needed was a spark to set off their anger. Well, the government for once did not fail in providing the people with something they need. Last week, they told the nation that we are going to raise prices, or else the economy will deteriorate. The first question that one heard from so many people was, how could our economy deteriorate when the major source of our economic well being – the oil that is supposed to be the launcher of Yemen's renaissance – is now selling at record high prices? Come to think of it, why can't we have a feel of the oil revenues that are overflowing in the Central Bank vaults waiting to be paid out as gratuities to whoever the government feels it can count on to keep the status quo of ongoing problems that have no resolution? One cannot help but reiterate such statements from the common people in the street as they ride their minibuses staring at the lavish splendor of the villas and castles that government officials have managed to construct with their meager salaries (which give rise to the question, how did they manage to erect such splendor, when any first grader well knows that their salaries would never be able to finance such extravagance? Many also ask, why does the IMF and the World Bank continue to deal with people, many of whom have acquired enough assets to be able to underwrite many of the projects that they suggest for Yemen? The people are fed up with hearing, if we do not carry out the reform program, Yemen will loose favor with the IMF and World Bank. They started to say, let us loose favor with the World Bank or the IMF, what have they done for us anyway? The sky will not fall on Yemen, if the World Bank blacklists our country. Chances are we might be better off, if we stop stooping to the dictates of people who live far away in Washington D.C. thinking they can draw up econometric models to solve every problem in the world. In fact all they ever do is bring misery to the overwhelming majority of the people of the countries that supposedly are being guided by these monster organizations. Just look at the countries that rely on the IMF and the World Bank for their economic well being. They never see any solutions to their economic problems, but rather create new ones, with poorly managed and operated projects that in the end throw millions of dollars away, which must be paid back for generations to come. These are just some of the vibes one picks up in the streets of Sana'a from common folk: carpenters, painters, teachers, small time clerks, people who are beginning to really feel that they can really be better off. They say all our government needs to do is look to many of our own experts to seek solutions to our economic problems, bring government spending under control, and close the pathways to illicit wealth and extravagance by instituting something called accountability and punishment to the plunderers of the national resources and the state treasury. The people are tired of being the ones to have to bear the punishment, while knowing full well that the government measures have never solved any of the problems of the past. The people were saying, we really want to see government officials and members of the ruling establishment live the way we do. Maybe then, they will seriously seek solutions to our problems.