Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Jordan's Reaganomics

So listen up, all you elites here in Amman: I'm getting more and more evidence that all this cash flowing into the country hasn't yet even started thinking about trickling down to the have nots. Honestly, I'm getting really tired of people saying that this is the only way for things to move ahead, blah, blah, blah.

I've been taking taxis quite regularly over the past week or so as well as talking to lots of people and I keep hearing the same stuff: prices are astronomical, nobody cares about the poor and that the situation is out of control.

Meanwhile, many of the people I know are living the big life and are happy with the way things are going. The poor? Things will be getting better for everyone eventually, they say.

It kind of reminds me of a huge debate I had with some friends a few years ago about the ability of the uneducated and poor to choose their political leaders here in Jordan. Many of my Jordanian friends shocked me by saying that democracy is too dangerous for Jordan--the majority of the population, in their opinion, is too "stupid" to choose their leaders and/or make beneficial choices for everyone.

Better to be comfortable with the status quo. It certainly doesn't threaten the elites' way of life.


At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Nas said...

There are two major sources of monetary inflow, loaded iraqi "refugees" and gulf (particularly kuwaiti) investment. the former has done a lot of damage mainly because they are all very wealthy and focus mainly on consumption which in turn drives all our prices up, hence the poor get poorer because they can't afford the new prices. the latter is long term, you're looking at investment into projects which will in the long term inevitably be beneficial as more and more jobs are created. we are talking about projects which won't be finished for a few years.

as for democracy and voting. i am the biggest advocate of a democratic jordan but you should pay heed to what your friends said even if they are elitists. it's not so much that everyone enjoys the status quo as much as it is the knowledge that democracy will not be able to function in any capacity if it were introduced tomorrow. massive social and political changes need to be made, a paradigm needs to be shifted in order for any of that to happen. and I actually prefer it that way. given our demographics and the regions instability, things have an easy way of self-destructing in Jordan.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

To address the point about people being "too stupid to vote or qualify for democracy in the short term", I believe that people's right to fail comes with their right to freedom.

If people never fail, then they never tried hard enough. If people never try hard enouh they will never achieve great things. But what's more dangerous is if people are not given the chance to try to begin with. In that case, people grow grudges!

At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Nas.

Hamseh n., I think failure is too high a price to pay for democracy. Why not be smart and learn from other nations (takes time to shift a paradigm) and make sure we take the right steps at the right time for our situation. I think it is better to renovate than to rebuild.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Ziad said...

I agree with Nas regarding democracy, I blogged about it here.

And regarding the economic benefits, I agree with Ahmad's latest post.

People complain, but the FACTS about consumption tell another story!

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amanda, on many of your posts I feel a certain affection for Jordan, which can be both positive or not. However, your last two posts don't catch me by surprise as there are two sides to every coin, but it just bothers me that a foreigner thinks she can come into a country, not her own, and begin criticizing some socio-economic realities you find in most emerging countries in addition to many states in the big happy US of A; where people better fit to tackle such topics have been concerned with this when you & I both were still in diapers. I am confident that you are a responsible entity within society, but it requires more tact to talk about subjects that have little concern to you in an effort to make those who read your posts feel that your thoughts are something different than being positively mediocre.

It really left a bad taste in my mouth...

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

Nar, the statement "failure is too high a price for democracy" is contradictory in the context of a responce to my comment. If there is a price to pay for democracy, then that means democracy can be achieved, if democracy is achieved, then the failure I was talking about couldn't possibly have happened, and therefore can never be the price. I believe you meant to talk about risk instead. That the risk of failing is too high.

Well, we're not talking about democracy tomorrow, you know that's just unrealistic. We're talking about putting the wheels in motion starting from today. If you and I are saying that it's gonna take a 10 year process to get to where we want to be, then we need to ask ourself can tomorrow be day 1? What is day 1? When do we start?

We haven't started yet, and you know why? Because of people's attitudes. It's always in people's attitudes.

If Jordanians really are not "ready for democracy" and should "trust their politics to elites", then what kind of attitude should Jordanians be expecting from these elites?

Responsibility, hard work, selfless giving to their country and "to the people". Serious planning followed by immediate action. No more waiting.

Instead, what attitude do Jordanians see? I'll tell you what attitude:

A secondary school course book in Jordan defines the term
“oriental democracy”:

“the rule by a small group of educated people who know very well how to run the state.”

Is this the attitude of leaders who will give people real democracy in 10 years? Or the attitude of people who want to prolong their elite status as long as possible?

At 5:14 PM, Blogger 21stCenturyShea said...


" requires more tact to talk about subjects that have little concern to you in an effort to make those who read your posts feel that your thoughts are something different than being positively mediocre."


Your meaning is not altogether clear to me, but I assume that you are dismayed by Amanda's critique of the recent economic developments in Jordan.

I don't think it is tactless for Amanda to remark on the Jordanian situation. Her husband is Jordanian, her son is half Jordanian, and her extended family is Jordanian. She has a vested interest in what happens in Jordan.

Even if none of these things were true, she is still entitled to express her opinion. If you find flaws in her ideas, critique them, and present evidence for an opposing view. If you find her ideas (or the fact that a non-Jordanian is expressing them)distasteful, the best solution would be stop reading this blog.

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Cairogal said...

In response to 'anonymous' I think there comes a time in the lives of some expatriates in which they cease to be 'expats'. Seven years in Jordan constitutes a long time to me. Long enough to love the country as your own, long enough to understand the complex issues that plague a nation, and long enough to embrace those issues as your own. I don't think ajnabeeyeh claims to have any less issues in her native land. Her connection to Jordan and what it could be, should be more touching than offensive.


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