FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Destroying Libya’s Welfare State

by DAN KOVALIK

The other day, I was listening to the voice of “liberal” radio, NPR, and was surprised to hear its bizarre, and yet quite candid, report on what it apparently views to be one of the more hideous aspects of the Gadhafi years – a modern welfare state which looked after working people.

Thus, without tongue in cheek, or any note of irony, NPR, in its November 14 report, entitled, “Libya’s Economy Faces New Tests After Gadhafi Era,” explained that the biggest impediment to the new economic era is the Libyan worker who was simply too coddled by Gaddafi.

NPR thus cited a 2007 book on the Libyan economy by authors Otman and Karlberg who called “the Libyan worker under Gadhafi ‘one of the most protected in the world,’” receiving job tenure, government subsidies of around $800 a month for the average Libyan household, and gasoline at a mere 60 cents a gallon.  NPR, citing the same book, explained that workers now freed from such a tyrannical world by NATO bombs, have been left with a “’subsidy mentality’” and a “’job-for-life outlook which has ill-prepared Libyans for the more aggressive and cutthroat world of competition.’”

However, lucky for them, Libya’s new acting finance and oil chief, Ali Tarhouni, is resolved to turn this situation around by disciplining Libya’s workers through “smaller government and a larger and freer private sector.”   NPR describes that, Tarhouni, being the realist that he is, “has no illusions that it will be an easy transition.”    The report thus quotes Tarhouni who states that, “[t]he challenge here is that this is a welfare state,” with Libyan workers expecting too much from their government.   I’m sure Tarhouni, with Western support, will show these workers a thing a two.

Of course, had NPR gone further, they could have also explained that, according to the statistics of the United Nations Development Programme, Libya, at the time of the NATO invasion, had the highest human development indicators (which measure levels of health, education and income) in all of Africa, with a life expectancy of 74.5; undernourishment of the population at under 5%; and adult literacy at over 88%.    Libya was in fact ranked 53 in the world out of 169 comparable countries, ranking, for example, above Turkey, (post-Soviet) Russia, Brazil and Costa Rica in terms of the human development indicators.

For NATO, its corporate allies, and its media mouthpieces, such prosperity for workers simply will not do.   We live in a world where austerity for the workers is the order of the day – for those in Libya, Greece, Italy, Spain, Great Britain and the U.S. as well.   And those who stand in the way of such austerity measures, whether they be a nationalist government in Libya, Communists in Greece or Occupiers in the U.S., must be dealt with accordingly – by violent reaction.

Thankfully, once in a while, we have news sources such as NPR which will, albeit quite unwittingly and clumsily, tell us that this is indeed what our military and police actions are all about.   You just have to be reading and listening between the lines to find out.

Dan Kovalik is Senior Associate General Counsel of the United Steelworkers of America.

 

 

Daniel Kovalik lives in Pittsburgh and teaches International Human Rights Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail