M’hemmx għalfejn noqgħodu nirrepetu kemm sejra tajjeb l-ekonomija. Trid tkun iblah li ma taċċettax dal-fatt u tifraħ bih.
Tqum il-mistoqsija: il-kejk ekonomiku li qed jikber daqstant, kif qed jitqassam?
Żgur li l-profitti tal-intrapriżi żdiedu. Il-gvern qed jirnexxielu jnaqqas il-piż relattiv tad-dejn fuq il-finanzi publiċi u fuq l-ekonomija, b’rankatura li tissupera dik mistennija mill-pajjiżi membri taż-żona ewro – ħaġa li ssaħħaħ il-prestiġju finanzjarju tal-pajjiż.
Nisimgħu bid-dħul “favoluż” li qed igawdu ċerti saffi tas-soċjetà. Nisimgħu kif oħrajn li jaħdmu bla nifs, ma jistgħux ilaħħqu mal-ħajja. Nisimgħu kif barranin “refuġjati” jew “irregolari” qed jiġu esplojtati qishom kienu ilsiera.
Ma rridux naċċettaw b’għajnejna magħluqa dawk l-“istejjer” imma lanqas niċħduhom pumm paqq.
Fl-interess nazzjonali, wasal iż-żmien biex isir studju serju, xjentifiku, li jgħarbel il-mistoqsija: Kif qed jitqassam il-kejk ekonomiku? Min qed jieħu l-akbar biċċiet?
Naħseb li kieku kont Amerikan, qatt ma kont nivvota għal John Mc Cain. Biss, anke bħala barrani, ili nsegwih u dejjem impressjonani. Mhux biss għall-fortitudni li wera bħala priġunier fi żmien il-gwerra tal-Vjetnam tas-snin sittin tas-seklu l-ieħor: bħalu urewha priġunieri Amerikani oħra tal-Viet Cong, kif ukoll priġunieri Viet Cong maqbuda mill-Amerikani, li kollha ġew soġġetti għal tortura u trattament inuman.
Lil Mc Cain bqajt nammirah għax għalkemm segwa politika “tal-lemin” li ma naqbilx magħha, baqa’ jipprova jkun korrett f’ħidmietu biex jipprattika l-valuri mistqarra fil-kostituzzjoni Amerikana. Kellu jagħmel il-kompromessi li ħidma f’demokrazija elettiva teħtieġ biex tkampa – pereżempju meta daħħal lil Palin bħala seħbitu fit-tellieqa presidenzjali tal-2008 – għalkemm forsi swewlu aktar deni milli ġid.
Minkejja li jixluh li tbandal wisq minn naħa għal oħra fil-karriera twila tiegħu, Mc Cain qatt ma kien pinnur.
Alaa al Aswani hu kittieb Eġizzjan li jaf kif jissusak bir-rakkonti tiegħu. Għandu rumanzi qawwija li għamlu suċċess internazzjonalment. Qrajt rakkonti tiegħu miġbura bl-Ingliż taħt it-titlu “L-Isparaturi fuqek ta’ Ħbiebek” (Friendly Fire). Idaħħluk bla nifs fil-ħolm u t-tbaqbiq tal-poplu Eġizzjan f’ħajtu ta’ kuljum tal-Kajr.
Hi dinja li tfawwar bil-frustrazzjoni u l-għatx għal ħajja aħjar li jinħassu f’kull belt kbira, imma li kullimkien jieħdu t-timbru ta’ dik il-belt. Aswani ma jonqosx li b’maestrija, jagħti lir-rakkonti tiegħu t-timbru Kajrota. Tnejn minnhom – speċjalment l-ewwel waħda – jitilqu għat-tul imma l-oħrajn huma fin-natura ta’ stejjer qosra, ġieli anke anedotti. It-temi tiegħu għandhom element li jfakkrek f’Dostojevski, għadilli kollox f’minjatura.
Dnub li ma nsegwux aktar mill-qrib l-attività artistika u letterarja tal-Eġittu għax għandha ħafna x’tgħallimna.
English Version – Who’s getting the cream?
One hardly needs to discuss again the current economic success. It would be foolish to deny that it is happening and not to welcome it.
The question that arises is: How is the economic cake that has grown so much being distributed?
Business profits must surely have increased. The government is successfully reducing the relative burden of the national debt on public finance and on the economy as a whole, at a pace that is superior to what eurozone member states are expected to achieve – which bolsters the country’s financial prestige.
We then learn about the “fabulous” incomes being made by certain strata of society. We are told about others who while working very hard, still cannot make ends meet. There are stories about how foreign “refugees” or “irregular migrants” are being exploited like they were slaves.
One should not uncritically take on board all such stories but neither can they be automatically discarded.
In the national interest, the time has come for a serious, scientific study to be carried out dealing with the questions: How is the economic cake being sliced up? Who is getting the cream?
I guess were I an Amercan, I would never have voted for John Mc Cain. Nevertheless, even as an outsider, I followed his career since quite some time back and always found him impressive. This was not simply because of the fortitude he showed as a prisoner at the time of the Vietnam war of the 1960’s. Other American prisoners of the Viet Cong as well as Viet Cong prisoners captured by the US, who were subjected to torture and inhuman treatment, had also shown it.
I continued to admire Mc Cain despite the “right wing” policies he espoused and with which I disagreed, because he tried in his political endeavors to correctly practise the values declared in the US constitution. Yet he had to compromise, as has to be done in an elective democracy if one wants to survive and succeed – as for instance when he chose Palin as his running mate in the 2008 presidential race – even if his compromises might at the end, have generated more pain than benefits.
Though he was slated as maverick right through his long career, he was never a pennant that flaps with every wind.
Alaa al Aswany is an Egyptian writer who knows how to shake his readers up with his stories. A number of his powerful novels have been international successes. In an English language anthology under the title of “Friendly Fire”, I read some of the stories he wrote. They draw you in a rush within the dreams and anguish of the Egyptian people as they live their lives in everyday Cairo.
It is a world that overflows with the frustrations and the urge for a better life that can be felt in every big city, but which everywhere have characteristics that reflect the reality of that city. Aswany succeeds in brilliantly giving his accounts the stamp of Cairo. Two of his pieces – the first one especially – are quite long, the others are more in the nature of short stories, actually anecdotes. His themes have facets that remind one of Dostoevski, though all in miniature.
It’s a pity we do not follow at all closely the artistic and literary activity of Egypt; there is a lot to “learn” from it.