Branding Yourself in the Libyan Political Scene

If I could do anything of service to the internet is that I can take Libyan politics and translate its nuance way of ignoring nuance to the Western public. This is my service to the world. A gesture of my gratitude. A gift to the masses and so on. The laws of political discourse are complex and poorly contained. However, even though I am no political scientist I do have a better world view of politics in general than all political scientists. This I assure you has been affirmed by me. So, you know it is the “real deal”.

The most fascinating construct of politics is image. Image is great. It gets the uneducated and unmotivated to follow you. It gives one a sense of purpose. Consider the two sides in Libya. Dawn and Dignity. Beautiful images immediately pop in your mind. If you don’t like one, what is wrong with you. What do you have against sunrise (or sharia law in their case) and why do you hate dignity (or why won’t you trust our glorious leader Hafter). It goes on and on.

The fascinating focus in Libya on branding is incredibly alarming. Consider that half of any of the two supposed governments has members that I swear were mechanics before the war and now are ideologues of Muslim Brotherhood or experts on central banking. With this consideration add on the fact that no one makes an effort to understand the other and merely paints them with a brush with a few strokes of Western conspiracy and Gulf deception. As poetic as it seems it is really a mess. The world to the average Libyan politico is a struggle similar to the Game of Thrones but lacks real complexity and coherence.

This all comes from the mouths (or Facebook pages) of 6 or so million moderately educated Libyan men and women. Who while all wanting democracy also all want to ban the concept of “parties”. As if it is a permanent construct in reality, and not an arbitrary social congregation. Again, Libyan politics is something. There is at times less substance in their opinions than a college freshman who bases their worldview on Banksy prints.

But the greatest and tastiest crunch of Libyan politics is the love of all things “Thuwar”. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary does not define Thuwar, which is a shame because it makes militia gatherings stale. However, Thuwar is not just a revolutionary or a rebel but its our rebel. Every group has their rebel. Rebelling against other rebels.

However, hardly are they rebelling. Especially when they have infrastructures of militias with media personalities so established in the Libyan ethos you would think their wife beaters and uneducated opinions about women’s place in society are government policy. Now I might be tough on them and surely I am in my sacred place in the Western world free from getting tortured and exposed to whole new experiences from them. But if you could take this group of people give them a budget of $50 million to make a small narrative driven movie you will have a piece of trash with no objective plot but rather 30 haphazard themes thrown on a plot that screams misogyny.

Some may like the film, in fact possibly love it. But that type of person stages photos on social media and uses the shorthand for everything all the time. The average politico in Libya is enamoured with the statements from militias about their fight against terrorism, Egypt, West, Sudan, Algeria, all the Gulf, and practically anyone but the militias and Hanes. They pick one and then brand themselves. In fact the branding is so permanent the cheap joke is to call them cattle instead of Sheeple.

A common discussion among Libyan political intellectuals in Zawiya and Wershefanna. Think of them as Biggie and Tupac of Libya. All they have to really do is eat a balanced meal to preform for a long while and make sure they avoid orange so things will rhyme. These are two regions with many Libyans who have nothing in common besides the fact they live in similar areas. Yet these people keep fighting with many reasons from honour to racism. All they had to do is just make sure their kids get on the bus and get to school. But some people in Libya want to feel important. After all the political vacuum sucks all the crap that was too small to be found in the carpet.

So, overall you have learnt that image matters. You have to pick an image. Stick to staples like goodness, nature, family, nation, etc. Also, you have learnt to ignore nuance and just say Thuwar. It’s like patriot on steroids. Just say it and arguments end. And you learnt to take yourself too seriously and start problems so that you can have political clout.

Consider this the definitive intro to Libyan politics. Consider this the final destination among you journey to write a report for your international relations class on Libya. After all you can trust me, I am trustworthy.

The issue with not being a real political scientists is I can’t tell if crazy politics is unique. But I could careless, little does anyone know that I am doing what is commonly referred to as venting.


“Phobia” is the solution to Libya


The past week if not tiresome and lacking in precipitation it was in its place filled with an interesting avenue into a small but enlightening experience with Libyan political satire. The show in particular is Phobia. Easily found for any native arabic speakers, or for that matter anyone, by here.

The genius of the show is in its modernity in comparison to so much of the “filmed on camcorder” theatre spectacles of Syrian comedy routinely shown on Arabic satellite television. In one episode the tiresome efforts of a returning Libyan to fit into political groups runs a foul due to political ignorance. Many people do the same Democrat vs. Republican, but in Libya the dynamic is far more complex. It’s secularist, militarist, salsify, Muslim Brotherhood, moderates, federalist, centralist, etc. These are all fringe groups either. They are prominent within each and every family. Hardly has Libyan culture allowed itself to be fully made fun of. Phobia goes were few Libyans are will to go. Just having Libyans watch it may actually help the country move forward.

It also showcases a unique Libyan style of comedy that I find much closer to American and English comedy. There is a heavy focus on satire, ridiculing the status quo is at the hem of Phobia.


Welfare is not an Immigration Magnet

The easy way out of a being ambushed by a pro-immigration argument is to point out that the mere existence of welfare will attract immigrants, thus creating havoc in our dear country. Of course, this is said by partisan anti-immigrant groups. As well, such an argument was made by well known economists of the 70s and 80s. Mostly because they lacked the data and their assumption was based on arguing that non-natives react differently to welfare. As if American’s reaction to different state-based benefits were never of concern. This is mostly a native bias that occurs in most people.

First, ignore the immigration problem and focus on for instance American interstate migration. America is a developed nation, a nation that has within most states a substantial welfare base besides existing federal benefits. States not only control their own benefits but also the allocation of some federally determined benefits. So, this makes the data perfect for analyzing and determining if welfare can induce poor people to move among states for more benefits in a developed country.

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) from 1979-1992 Phillip B. Levine and David J. Zimmerman found little evidence that welfare benefit differences among states in the US caused migration among states. They specifically looked at:

 

The pattern of cross-state moves among poor single women with children, who are likely to be eligible for benefits is compared to the pattern among other poor households

What occurred is the little evidence can be seen of families who qualify for Aid for Dependent children moving versus other poor individuals. And they go further to note:

The are no more likely to move from low versus high benefit states than other poor individuals not eligible for AFDC. Neither are they more likely to move to a higher benefit state. This suggests that either other factors dominate their decision to move or that the perceived costs associated with moving exceed any potential gain from increased benefits.

Levine and Zimmerman produced this paper in 1999 as a answer to debates during this period concerning the failure of the “Great Society” programs. They were addressing the issues when states start retaking federal tasks in welfare and found that this didn’t create the issues predicted by some during this period, particularly the welfare magnet theory.

If one can conclude that welfare magnet theory is unfounded amongst states then I don’t think its hard to apply the same to international immigrants. Considering that for many immigrants the cost of moving is even greater and their living conditions may have become worse with lower incomes, coming to America or Europe for welfare is not exactly a good deal (almost always in the short run).

A survey of various research (section 5.1) on “welfare magnet theory” leads to the conclusion that for different countries at different times the balance of usage of welfare between natives and immigrants changes. Its not really significant and when significant differences occur they can be explained by the changes in welfare systems or changes in labor structure as a result of law or recessions. However, in the survey issues are noted that explain this discrepancy:

One issue with many of the welfare assimilation studies is the lack of separation between welfare eligibility and usage. In particular, most studies do not evaluate the extent to which various immigrant groups are eligible to work and/or to receive welfare benefits in the host country. Changes in work eligibility over time might offer interesting insights in the reasons for the greater reliance on welfare by the immigrants. Similar to the wage and employment assimilation studies, welfare assimilation studies also suffer from the issue of selective re-migration that generally has not been accounted for. In addition, none of the studies have estimated the extent to which welfare dependence is related to the “welfare magnet” effects versus employment obstacles such as discrimination, insufficient language skills, transferability of educational degrees and lack of work permits.

One of the papers, Borjas (1999), makes a case that since immigrants are clustered in high benefit states they are more sensitive to welfare compared to natives. However, this study falls for the criticism set out in the survey above. The issue is that arguing that a state like California, which has many immigrants and  provides high levels of benefits attracts immigrants towards welfare is inconclusive. The research seems to fall short to mean anything. Too many variables could affect decisions. Various research came along and noted this, particularly Zacodny (1997) and Kaushal (2005).

What both papers address is the issues in finding proper experimentation parameters. This is because as mentioned before sometimes immigrants incentives and choices are large and expansive and reasoning from large but constricted samples can lead to inconclusive answers and sadly inconclusive answers have been applied to some policy in the US.

What is discovered from Zacodny and Kuashal is that immigrants location choices inside a particular country is related to work (or particular goals) and most importantly the number of immigrants in the city. This actually paints a clearer picture. And explains why New York and Los Angels are still attracting immigrants till today. Both were homes for immigrants of various generations for a long time. The issue with previous research is in my opinion the lacking grasp of determinants of immigration, as well as a the lack of depth in the variables that are overseen. The papers I mentioned that noted the lack of magnet theory both clearly looked at data in the US that looked at the changes following policy that limited benefits to immigrants in some states and while remaining in others.

I think going past this and addressing causes for changes in welfare uses (or more specifically the reaction to discrepancies in welfare benefits among nations) in Europe or Canada is even more helpful in understanding “magnet theory” but still the importance of understanding the various determinants, as well as outside macro reasons for use of welfare are important. Sadly some research overstated the existence of the magnet theory by not understanding this. Many overstated the possibility of stress by immigration on public finances mostly by using the magnet theory. Especially many politicians who till today still wield the magnet theory as the ultimate anti-immigrant tool.

PS I will follow up on Scandinavian/Canadian immigration, and possibly more in depth into pro magnet theory papers. I just had to get this out because this argument still gets used by politicians and even some of my peers.

I should note that some of econometrics in the research particularly Borjas and Kaushal/Zacodny I had trouble comparing just because my experience with econometrics is only beginning since I am only an undergraduate student. But for the most part I attempted to compare the research, even the quantitative parts. Overall, Borjas (1999) and others, in much of their work, seem weak and inconclusive.If you’re an econometrician or know more about labor economics I would appreciate your response.


Musings on my visit to Libya

It has been four years since I visited Libya. In those four years the country has changed. I have changed. But I can’t help but feel like the country has instilled a new and unidentifiable level of depression in me. Middle Eastern politics has always been frustrating, with its complicated history with intervention, colonialism, and fundamentalism. What I saw in Libya for some reason felt more disheartening.

Imagine for instance that you dreamed of driving a DeLorean all your life, as I have. You researched day and night about its ride, its aluminum panels, its electrical issues, etc. You knew what the car felt like before you entered. You knew it had no power steering, knew it had unique ride feel, and you knew that its faults made it important to you. You like the car for its pop cultural significance and love it as it’s a symbol of your youth. But then you buy the car and discover that its spirit, the one you read about, the one in the movies is not there. Even its faults are not unique and natural. An unidentifiable feeling of failure overshadows them. If you slaved and saved away from your teenage years to now to see this car, only to find yourself feeling depressed. This is essentially what I saw in Libya.

The live and spirited revolutionaries of Libya that the media spoke highly of, the ones my parents spoke highly of were not here. They have become walking corpses. Every face I see is darkened, every face lacking emotion and reason. It is as if all their efforts were gone into the war. This is the unidentifiable aspect of Libya. I can’t identify the cause of complacency for violence.

But why slave away for a country if one is to be complacent with the criminals to rule it. Why do many Libyans, whether commentators or random civilians, manufacture ethnic tension. Is this their sophistication, their ode to everything democratic? I spent the first 10 years of my life in Libya and never learnt of any Wershifanna or Zawiyah history even though I lived in the area. They were places not ethnicities. And the tribes never really ruled like many thought. Not since the modern era at least, not since the World Wars.

Basic services like electricity gets cut continuously, sometimes by hooligans wrecking stations or sometimes because of wear and tear. However, the culprit is the Libyans who refuse to pay electricity bills. Talk to any of them and tell them this and they will wave you away telling you they can’t do anything about that. But they can. Basic rule of economics: there is no such thing as a free lunch.

All of this and much more (including the excessive littering, corruption in oil industry, disrespect for the goal of liberal democracy) are activities many Libyans including my own family members are complacent with. This is my depression. Seeing people who were bright and resilient in the civil war become okay with violence and low standards. Some people say they want security but push them more and they will change minds once their manufactured ethnic tensions come up or their memory of a cousin who is a carjacking criminal return. Everyone is selfish. No one will accept a centrality of force and law, as long each Libyan doesn’t truly desire it. And when they do it will be too late. There are too many desiring to be their own Gaddafi’s, hating on good people successes.

Libya much like the rest of the post-Arab Spring countries is flirting with the idea that autocratic leadership wasn’t so bad. It’s as if the last 50 years never happened. As if Arab nationalism, Arab socialism, religious fundamentalism, or other flavorings of dictatorships are okay to the alternative. The paradigm is much simpler. It’s an Autocratic/Fundamentalist versus Liberal.

 


Thoughts on the adequacy of undergrad economics

Introductory economics courses are the scorn of bloggers. Mostly because they are blamed for an apparent epidemic economic misunderstanding, especially by heterodox schools that see them as the breathing ground for economists they don’t like.

Now the link between econ 101 and bad economists is really weak. We have to consider that to become an economist an advanced degree is required, as well as research experience. This means that scholarly standards and focus on empirical analysis are important. Thus, the “bias” of economists is formed most likely through their research efforts not by a 101 textbook.

Furthermore, the intro courses are themselves very clearly simple. Demand and supply models are introduced properly. As well, the limitations are mentioned. It is true some people become extremist when they couple this with political views but those types of people don’t become prominent economists. They may affect politics but really that’s a stretch that should be blamed on the political discourse not Mankiew’s textbook.

The focus on strict marginal analysis is also helpful not hurtful. Most of it results in the introduction of math into economics. This leads to a tradition of empirical analysis that results in quantifiable research. Teaching economics students, whether they are econ majors or not, in a full literary fashion is not conducive to increasing productivity the field. I doubt that the field could have moved on past the debates of free markets versus socialism of the mid 20th century.

Today, the left over of “principles” courses that focus on marginal analysis has resulted in a greater diversity of economics student. Its no longer the 60s, quantifiable and theoretical work has blended well to have a wider diversity of economists. Noah Smith points this out excellently:

I have the vague sense that if you were an idealistic, brilliant young libertarian in the 1960s and ’70s, you might naturally dream of growing up to be an economist. You might watch a rousing speech by Milton Friedman, and you might imagine that one day you, too, would use the power of logic and rationality and mathematics to ward off the insanity of socialism. Well, America still has some idealistic, brilliant young libertarians, and some of them probably still dream of becoming economists. But now they will be in the minority. They will be joined by quite a few—maybe more—idealistic brilliant young liberals, who recognize the power of markets but also want to figure out how to fix things when markets go wrong. And they will also be joined by quite a few brilliant engineers, for whom political ideals take a back seat to the solving of practical, real-world problems. 

 

Socialism and centrally planned economies failed, free trade and markets won but now with quantifiable economics we can focus on nuances and really improve society. In many ways principles courses help the field of economics but noting to students that externalities exist and introduces, much like the courses’ titles note, economics in the modern world. This economics is nuanced, expansive, and while not an exact science it’s not its 19th century version any longer.


Thoughts on Price Discrimination and Public Healthcare Insurance

I recently came across an article by Uwe Reinhardt in Economix on equalizing payments. He addresses the price discrimination in healthcare costs and the cost shifting among public and private payers.

 While there evidently is pervasive price discrimination within the private health-care sector, there are also sizeable price differentials between public payers on the one hand and private payers on the other.

 

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The article is really great and the discussion of other multi-insurance regimes in Germany and Switzerland is really insightful, considering the recent question of the right structure of healthcare.

I do think that it’s important to analyze the more positive or interesting effects of price discrimination. For instance people with access to certain governmental benefits (Medicaid/Medicare) tend to have less price elasticity in healthcare expenditure. Once one can differentiate consumer based on elasticity, that is those on benefits and those not on benefits and moreover, between those that are wealth and those who aren’t, its more efficient (profit wise) to shift output from the consumer’s with low elasticity to those with higher elasticity. Resulting in higher costs for the inelastic consumer and lower costs for the elastic consumer.

Now since price discrimination in healthcare can occur between the rich and poor, then the effect of benefits on such discrimination should be acknowledged. Reinhardt mentions that the concept of cost shifting in healthcare because of price discrimination is really not of concern to the debate. However, I argue that if one looks at price discrimination and elasticity of various consumer sectors then one may explain certain effects caused by Medicare/Medicaid and how price discrimination itself helps avoid some of their negative fallout.

For instance, assuming that no benefits exist and two different consumers exist in the market then output will shift to the elastic one and price will rise to the inelastic one. Depending on severity the price increase could be very large; one has to remember that the hospital is assumed to be profit maximizing.

 

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Now from this point imagine that the poorer customer has a less elastic demand. This would mean that the shift of prices and output would be smaller. This may explain why Reinhardt doesn’t care much for cost shifting in this sector as the benefits make it so the hospitals have difficulty differentiating between consumers. And in most cases can force them to lower operating costs versus shifting output. This is because the price discrimination analysis focuses mainly on changes in elasticity, not changes in costs between different segments.

Now, recent research (as recent as 2013) has shown that Medicaid has actually possibly reduced private insurance costs instead of shifted.

Using regression analyses, I found that a 10 percent reduction in Medicare payment rates led to an estimated reduction in private payment rates of 3 percent or 8 percent, depending on the statistical model used. These payment rate spillovers may reflect an effort by hospitals to rein in their operating costs in the face of lower Medicare payment rates. Alternatively, hospitals facing cuts in Medicare payment rates may also cut the payment rates they seek from private payers to attract more privately insured patients. My findings indicate that repealing cuts in Medicare payment rates would not slow the growth in spending on hospital care by private insurers and would in fact be likely to accelerate the growth in private insurers’ costs and premiums.

Now, like I mentioned Reinhardt probably ignores this (or at least doesn’t put as much weight on it) because just basic price discrimination analysis doesn’t reflect cost shifting. However, as prices for the private insurers (generally more wealthy) fall (realistically increase slower) in response to more Medicaid I could argue that it’s because of the changing elasticity of the other consumers. They become less elastic and thus the shift in price discrimination is not large and maybe sometimes non-existent.

In reality, the explanation of the pressures of Medicaid on operating costs, at least in the short-run makes more sense (lack of direct of cash subsidy). In the long-run programs like Medicaid generally don’t help costs for the general market. In that case price discrimination by doctors may explain why possibly costs haven’t sky rocketed similarly to what some pundits claim. Costs may generally rise under government subsidization of certain people’s incomes but its more nuanced than that. And like Reinhardt says, in general price discrimination doesn’t mean cost shifting and even if Medicaid reduces price discrimination effects it certainly doesn’t remove it completely.

To conclude his piece, Reinhardt advocates for “All Payer” system. A system in which costs are negotiated by all insurers and hospitals as a whole and thus same rate is applied to public and private consumers. This system in my opinion has one large benefit and that is less administrative costs, and thus makes it incredibly attractive. However, allocation arguable is not more efficient but possibly more equal, more charitable. For instance, Maryland introduced this system and these were the results for uncompensated costs:

In Maryland, the “reasonable costs” of uncompensated care are recognized in payment rates, and all payers contribute equitably to covering these expenses. Hospitals therefore have a financial incentive to treat all patients. Between 1978 and 2007, uncompensated care in Maryland rose from 4.0 percent of revenue to more than 8.1 percent of revenue (from $36 million in 1977 to $927 million in 2007).13 The uninsured have access to all hospitals, including private community facilities and the state’s two well-known academic medical centers.

This is a relatively important thing to consider, as the low administrative costs possibly could have helped Maryland cover costs for the low-income patients. However, possibly it could be because in general public insurers don’t skip out on costs by getting lower prices because of their relative elasticity. This means that some people maybe be able to get care when needed, but it’s mostly likely not allocativily efficient and the poor who can just afford to pay will be most effected. Not sure what the possibly consequences on the public funding is.

If the aim of American healthcare policy is just to increase uncompensated care access then possibly an All Payer system like Germany of Switzerland works, but to have an efficient and arguably one that is more allocative then price discrimination ought to continue. However, when people are given public insurance and price discrimination occurs arguably to cover for costs access doesn’t increase. Because only private insurers (generally wealthier) can cover costs, so their prices are dropped (relatively)or operating costs are dropped. Either way uncompensated care decreases. This shows possibly an explanation of public provision’s negative effect on uncompensated care. But still All Payer theoretically offers more “charitable care” from generally profit seeking hospitals.

Personally, I think instead of looking at Maryland alone one should look at the European states. Macroeconomic pressures are much more prevalent in Germany than Maryland for instance and thus the general reality of such an All Payer system may be more allocative than imagined as it could limit the oligopoly power of insurers. This is possible but can’t be proven without strict analysis of market structure of insurers in Germany, a subject I am not familiar with at all.

P.S. I just realized I have the most scattered thoughts ever, but if you can’t be scattered on the internet where else.


Libya Exists Outside Reality

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I try to talk almost exclusively about economics. This is because this blog if anything is my educational tool. Even when I talk about Libya I talk purely about economics. Something about Libya is so complicated, and so incredibly backwards that solutions for Libya seem to be useless. It seems that the only solution is to cry for an army. But how do you build one when no central authority exists. It seems that one can find the route cause of why property rights are not protected, why Sufi shrines are desecrated and why a Kingpin look a like in the east is selling oil to North Koreans.

What made the Europe or for that matter the West surpass China and the Islamic Empire after the dark ages is a combination of state autonomy and private property. Now the private property facilitated trade and the state autonomy lead to a level of protection and a level of freedom. Of course we can debate to what extent a nation state must intrude to fix people’s lives. But to large extent the state wasn’t an institution to which gave you permission to do a handful of things but rather an institution that worked towards protecting you from transgressions. This principle of course wasn’t followed fully in Europe during 1600-1700. But in the places it did occur the lack of full border autonomy among the various connected kingdoms and states allowed trade to occur and with private property rights it provided incentives for innovation and meaning for trade. In the Islamic Republic no property protection occurred or at least it came and went and especially went away when wars occurred or political infighting occurred. In China the same occurred. Therefore, people traded and for that matter knowledge was traded. And this knowledge challenged current structured and this caused innovation and ideas to accelerate. Of course the latter growth, especially as France and Britain developed into full on nations can be attributed to colonialism. When Europe could no longer have anything to gain from invasion as property was not beholden to states but to people they looked for squalor in other worlds. But that initial structure lead to a consumer society and lead to a large and expansive civil society. Why can’t Libya have this? Is it rooted in national defence?

I don’t think so. I don’t think that all Libya needs is some patriotic men and women in uniform and then some how the special interest ideologues that want to get their militias high paying salaries will disappear. Such a thing doesn’t happen and there is proof of it. Whether it’s Afghanistan or a variety of post-war/post-colonial African nations. You achieve growth and development through trade and openness. The government will need an army as a requirement for governance but you can’t have Libya at pause just to wait for the government to deal with adversarial groups. Their power lies in their ability to delay pre war institutions from returning to work. This includes public works, international trade, etc. What needs to happen is for the government to assert that they are in charge of international trade and that they welcome outsiders to come to Libya. Actually completing work rather than empty gestures could do this. Like for example working oil refineries in Zawiyah could be sold or operated fully and competitively. Drive Ibrahim “Kingpin” Jathran out, so much so his hissy fit could be put on display in a courthouse and soon made into a made-for-TV drama on some Libyan version Lifetime.

They idea of competing for legitimacy from Militias is ridiculous but I am not proposing the government say they are better. I am trying to say that fears of federalism are exaggerated. This is not because its going to happen, rather its because its already here. Any Libyan can see this. Different militias with the claim to “work for the people” rule even parts of cities, so really I would love to have just three provinces. But in Libya you have a hundred. All with attempts at economic policy and religious policy. Its crazy to think the government is struggling to pass bills when all that is needed is a framework to suggest that it’s the governing body. But no framework exists and no constitution exists. No framework exists to say that ever city has a municipal body with said role. Rather it seems militias take a city block and rule it like a nation state, saying that the GNC is corrupt. Of course the GNC is corrupt, but really the GNC isn’t even supposed to have a serious role. Its role is supposed to be dealing with governmental framework, but till now all they have done is sends their “injured” children to Europe to be treated for claimed injuries during the war. As well as pay high salaries for workers who never show up to work. While still not paying workers, most of who are immigrants for work that they actually do. I can’t tell you how poorly the Libyan government treats street sweepers and garbage men, most of which are immigrants that aren’t hired in capable jobs because of racial intolerance in Libya. This issue could be dealt with if public servants did their job but why would day if no framework existed and if the boys club of ignorance continued to try to be some fake congress when their job is to allow a constitution to be created so that there is no excuse for militias to be the “people’s representatives”.

The recent constitutional council is a little weak. Only 30% of eligible voters voted. But you don’t get two chances to create a real government. One that will be recognized as in charge of the border, one that will protect property rights and one that is looked at to get rid of militias. One that people may want to volunteer in to protect.

So, while my thoughts have been scrambled I think there is a central message there. Previous ways to form order aren’t the only answer to Libya. Just having an army is not enough. It’s the effort to be the prime institution and crafting rules for governance, and at least attempting at defining a new constitution that make others absolutely illegitimate. Until then the country will be divided and even though everyone hates militias and the GNC they will never be able to recognize a central authority. One that only exists as more than just a collection of empty gestures. Government must be one that creates an example for Libyans and tells them that their property is theirs, their lives are theirs and that a framework exists that protects them. Weapons are not how you protect people, its institutions. If they create an army they can’t take on every militia head on, they have to make them useless, almost run them out of business.


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