At dawn on the first day of Eid, the Egyptian channel ONTV, owned by famous Egyptian businessman Najib Sawiris who supported Tamarod, the popular campaign against ousted President Mohammad Mursi, aired an episode of the American documentary “Why Poverty?” It played the episode “Park Avenue,” which narrates the vast distance between the richest of the rich, who live in a grand building in York’s Park Avenue, and the poor and the middle-class, whom some call the mob.
Egypt’s core issues
Although the series deals with Egypt’s core issues – poverty and social inequality – no one, until now, wanted to discuss such issues amid the current political war raging over identity, culture and classes.Jamal Khashoggi
On the other side, there is the public, sometimes offensively called “mobs.” Economists call them the middle class and the lower class (the poor). They say these classes cost the state billions in support programs to help with high living costs. They are billions shared by the upper class since they receive the money via a formula in which the state bears the cost of some goods or enjoys certain privileges in prices of energy, water or customs’ exemption. This should theoretically serve the poor by providing them with essential goods with lower prices. Low incomes represent a massive share in the state’s budget. The state spends through this budget controlling massive numbers of citizens. The latter are thus loyal to the state thanks to these wages, although they do not tire complaining of how insufficient these wages are. At the same time, members of the upper-class do not hesitate to accuse them of laziness. But they differ here from their American counterparts. They do not call for sacking these people from their jobs by downsizing companies. In Egypt and the rest of the Arab world, there is a socialist culture that still dominates even in oil-rich countries. But over there, this culture takes the form of a state responsible for all tribe members on some level at least.