Skip to comments.Make way for the women- Chalabi´s tactics for future of Iraq and Iraqi oil
Posted on 03/01/2005 5:51:37 AM PST by Leifur
Dark horse. While most of the campaign rhetoric was slim when it came to political platforms, Shiite politicians are looking ahead to what they plan to do once they manage to form a government. Chalabi, who was once a favorite of the Pentagon but has since fallen out of favor in Washington, remains a dark-horse candidate for prime minister. Last week, he laid out what he says is the political agenda of his allies in list169 . First, he says the government should assume complete control over the security forces when it comes to training, recruitment, and deployments. "This is very important," he emphasizes. The next step should be to root out Saddam loyalists in the security forces, get a full handle on Iraq's finances (which have been controlled in part by U.S. diplomats), and rein in the activities of U.S. security contractors who blaze through Baghdad in armored SUV s with their guns bristling. Perhaps the most interesting proposal is his idea to give every Iraqi a share in the country's oil profits, modeled on the revenue sharing in Alaska. Those shares would be taxed, providing the government with revenue. "This is our FDR thing," says Francis Brooke, a close Chalabi adviser. "This is where we think we can build a permanent majority."
(Excerpt) Read more at usnews.com ...
This is indeed a very interesting proposal. I have been vorried that as an oil country Iraq will just go the same way as all other oil countries (except Norway), towards dictatorship again, specially as I know that most of the parties that did run for parliment called them selfs socialistic, workers or something like that and I saw that on many of their agenda´s was to continue the food aid program that the UN food for oil was replaced with. Most of the (bad) economy of Iraq has been payd for with the oil and most companies (at least the biggest ones I beliewe) have been in government ovnership, and indeed most things in daily life have been dictated one way or the other by and through the government.
The thing is with countries like Iraq, Venezuela and other countries whose governments have their main revenue sources independant from their population they become corrupt. So what is possible to do to make them more like ,,normal" countries, whose government is accountable to their people, who see how much their spending is hurting their own revenues is to reform the property system first and foremost and try to distribute the money to the citizens first before it goes to the government.
In normal countries, where the economy is based upon many pillars, and private entrepreunalship, the government must get its revenues from the people. F.e. is the situaton in Afganistan and Iraq very different, as Afganistan does not have many natural resources, so they must get their revenues from trade, agriculture and other kinds of productivity inside the country, and foreign help in the beginning propably. In fact if there is not a permanent solution to what to do with the oil money Afganistan is more likely to become a democracy than Iraq, unless they become a rental state (a state with independent revenues) through foreign help like Egypt. The danger there was newer too much centralization, quite the opposite, to much chaos, there needs to be found a balance.
I like those ideas from Chalabi particularly as they will decrease the power of the central government in Bagdad, and they can increase the power of various levels of government in new Iraq, of the 18 districts and various cities and towns, who will all get revenues by taxing these and other income of the citizens, like in a ,,normal" country, but specially as they will increase the power of the individual over his own affairs. Thus the potential for many different kinds of systems to arise within Iraq is great, maybe in some areas there will be high taxation and programs like the food program, public health and public schools (it depends though upon how much power each level will get over these issues, the more power at lower level the better in my opinion) and others still be run by the local government. In other areas the people will vote for more right winged aproach, having lower taxes and having to pay for schools, food, health care and such themselves. Thus this system can be something all the various powers within Iraq can agree on, instead of allways fighting for the top position to be able to distribute the oil wealth to their own people of the various groups living in Iraq.
I tried to think up some ideas how to do this, but now it seems that this controversial Iraqi politician has had similar, and in fact better idea, using a model I did not know of, Alaska, wich is by far simpler than my thoughts. I am not sure though how far this will go, if he wants to privatatize those services provided by the government, including the food for oil money, but it seems at least that the government will not get their revenues directly from the oil, but indirectly through the taxes of the people wich is absolutely neccasery for providing that the people look at their governments not as a source for cash, like in oil countries and other socialistic countries, but as spenders of your own money.
Hopefully this system will be enacted, it will be a huge stabilising factor I beliewe if the rules of the petroleum fund are simple enough and open to all, and not under direct control of the politicians what to do with the money.
I will post later my ideas for a scheme distributing the oil revenues wich were based upon a little more right winged aproach, but yeat maybe to much government control over the money. Hope to hear comments on if and how this could work.
I agree, the people rightly have first claim on the oil revenue - and in places where that is not the case the revenue mostly buys too much government.
The other thing I am disappointed in is that the US did not insist on breaking the oil production up into competitive enterprises, and on dissociating Iraq from OPEC. Too much "blood for oil" in that, I suppose - but it sure would "put a hurting on" Saudi Arabia's budget for proselytizing if that were so.
Iraq liberation ping.
That is exactly the problem, it buys too much government, and as usually, pro government people worke for the government, thus there is the breeding ground for tyranny, as there is no check on how much the government spends, and in what, special interest groups allways demand more and more, and he who can deliver by spending the most gets most support, and becomes in creasingly tyrannical as he does not have to answer the people what he is doing with their money, he says it is for everybodys benefit, but it aint, just look at what is happening in Venesuela.
What I see as the future for Iraq is much brighter than before I heard about these ideas. I had been trying to form ideas of how best to distribute the oil wealth to minimise the danger of Iraq sliding back into tyranny because of government control over the oil. I am just conserned that, even though democracy is beeing rightfully founded, that it does not have enough foundation to stand on, one of wich is the bad state of the Iraqi economy. Although I know that there are a lot of entrepreunal Iraqis who run their private bussinesses, but it seems most of the factories and in fact most of the work force has been employed by the government, wich comes to little surprise having the main source of the wealth in the hands of the government, the oil. Most oil countries become so called rental states, that is as the revenue source is pretty independant of the population the government tends to become corrupt and undemocratic, most countries where oil is the main source of revenues are undemocratic, or on the road to tyranny like Venesuela.
The only real oil country I know of that is not undemocratic (though the same party has had power over most of last century) is Norway, and I beliewe that is mostly due to they tend to be very cheap, that is even though they have billions in revenues they don´t use it, but store it under their pillows, so to speak, that is most of it goes into big publicly owned pension accounts wich use it to invest and pay old people pension. The government is thus not free to use the oil revenues for wathewer purpose they see fit, and have to draw much of their revenues from peoples taxes, wich are I beliewe rather uncommon in many oil countries.
Saddam used the oil revenues to make his power more, mostly by buying his own people and divide and qonquer, putting people against each other, giving money hither and thither, to his own tribe to buy loalty, and to sunny muslim to buy their loalty and so on and so on. The worst thing that can happen is that there will be a new ruling class that will start pumbing money into their own communities to buy their loyalties. This happens in every country, elected officials or not, but is particularly dangerous in oil rich countries, wich seem to go toward dictatorship in the fight for the oil money.
So my conclusion is that special precautions have to be done to limit the politicians power over the oil revenues, of wich I would like to get Iraqi´s and others views on and criticism and opinions if could work, why not if not, and how to make them work. First a Government Petroleum Fund into wich all the oil ravenus must go will have to be founded, wich will have open and thorough accounting system that all Iraqis (and others) can look into openly, maybe through the internet. From this fund then all money the government needs for running the things it has been limited to do, and that limit must be so that the government is only responsible directly for running few things like the police, armed forces and judicial branch. Most other things must be privatized. I know that this will be difficult in a country where the wealth is as unevenly distributed as Iraq and people are used to having the government providing for their all daily needs, even food so the transition will be difficult and will have to be done little by little. So one of the main function of the Fund will be to help the poor people of Iraq to get back on its feet.
One of the things I noticed in last elections was how many of the parties described themselfs in one way or another as socialistic, that is they wanted the government to provide for the citizens, presumable with the oil ravenus, all promised they to keep everybody happy and prosporous, that is they were going to give everybody what they need, or think they need through big government projects, one of wich, like I saw in the agenda of some of the parties was to continue the oil for food project, thus keep the people still as beneficiars, essentially beggars, from the good politicians that are giving them the oil ravenus. We can obviosly see how dangerous that will be, having so much power in the hands of the politicians, that even the main food source is subject of their control.
Here in my country, Iceland, there is constant struggle between the right and left, weather we should be helping everyone the same like the left wants, or like we on the right side of the political spectrum want, focus our limited money into helping the poor, mainly so they can get back to their feet so they will not have to get help any more. We do this mostly by say someone looses his health and ability to work, he gets a certein amount of money in help, but if he can work a little, for every extra crown (our currency, krónur) he works himselfs in, the help is reduced by some ratio, usually half crown for every crown he works himself in, beyond a special amount. Thus there are more money left to help those that can not work anything, and as the money is not cut completely off when they start working again they can start working as much as their health allows them.
Similarly you could keep helping those that need food aid, but the help should be less and less in ratio to how much that particular family earns, that is for every dinar they earn beyond some minimum amount, the food aid should be decreased for like one/tenth of a dinars worth or something like that initially, but little by little that ratio should be made higher, so the program can be little by little fased out for most Iraqis. But most importantly it should be privatized. I guess that every family gets a voucher (is the system not still in effect, although the government has taken it over?) stating how much of wheat and milk powder and all the other things that are given through this program they are entitled to, wich they have to take to the distribution centers to collect the food. Those vouchers should be given out by the petroleum fund under strict distribution rules like I mentioned earlier, so the money for them newer goes directly through the government, as the fund will have an independant administration and pre made rules about how the money shall be spent.
First the food distribution centers must be closed, and all the government employees fired that work in them, or better yeat, they are to be privatized, sold to those that want to run them. Every one that has a shop will then be allowed to sell those products instead of such food aid vouchers, wich they can then use to buy more food from the distribution centers, or the government in some way, or turned in for hard cash, thus privatizing one step in the food program, distribution. Next step will have to be to allow the shops to buy those food items independantly, not through the government or the petroleum trust fund, wich will little by little draw itself out of buying directly for the money.
Similarly the government should not pay directly for schools, health care, running companys or anything else for that matter. People could get a loan from the fund, with small rates to pay for schools, and maybe a voucher directly for those that served in the armed forces to increase the incentive to serve. Those vouchers and loans will only be possible to use to buy education, by paying the schools, and they will have to be used by the schools to pay for everything, teachers wages, renovation of the school property and all that, and thus there will be a competition in education (a good school could have their rates higher than the voucher, so people would have to pay additionally from their own pocket) and thus the school would become independant from the government, although still, at least in the beginning, those that are owned by the government, publicly owned and maybe ruled by the a school board elected by the parents of those that are in that particular school for the younger kids, maybe by the students themselfs in others.
Similarly the Fund could pay for health insurance or into semi-private accounts for every Iraqi (maybe less for those that are earning more money than others) whose function it is to pay for health service directly, thus providing competition in the healt industry. Thus doctors and hospital staff would not be on the government payrole anymore, having to compete in providing the best service in the cheapest manner, although, due to the economic situation in Iraq, the money comes initially from the government, but in this way the officials have no way of dictating how it is spent, thus reducing the possibility of corruption. And in same way the Fund could pay, against maybe small payment from the individual into pension accounts that will be invested until they retire and into accounts from wich people will have to draw their money if they suddenly loose their source of income, thus giving incentives to work, and marry and found families and propably other things.
But one of the most fundamental thing so Iraqis can fullfill their potential and ancient role as the economic giant of their region (remember Babylon and its riches) is to recognise private property and reducing red tape and beurocratic barriers to buying land or getting your property recognised before the law, and to go into bussiness. The famous economist Hernando de Soto has started the Institute for Liberty and Democracy wich focuses on the lack of formal private property rights in most of the non-western world, resulting in powerty, corruption and crimes. His research on the situation in Egypt should be intriguing for Iraqis and others interested in the situation there.
One things a conservative society like Iraq can do is giving families the option of instead of sending their youngest kids to school for the money they get from the fund, they can use it to buy educational material and service maybe through the internet and thus essentially paying one of the parents, most often the woman (women?), if she fullfills some minimal education standards, has an internet connection in her home and something like that, for providing her kids, under certein age with the education they need.
This system could also help distribute revenues between the many levels of government. The 18 provinces of Iraq, and all the numerous city and town counsils around the country can not have their revenues directly from the oil, and it would be dangerous if they would get their revenues directly from the government, as the distribution would be unfair and unbalanced, based upon the political supporf the politicians get in each area. Instead they will have to have a small tax on each households income, weather their direct income or if they want the income they get from the petroleum Fund (wich as I stated earlier will be mostly evenly distributed based upon pre made rules), wich they would use to pay for their communal affairs, roads maybe and such. Thus Iraqis can see on their paycheck and tax sheet how well their politicians are doing, that is if they do not get good enough roads instead of how high the tax rate is, they can consider electing new officials.
Ps. Most of those thoughts I had written down before I heard about the ideas of Chalabi, but please comment on if the could work, better or worse than his, and or if you have better ideas.
I do think that funding a retirees' pension might be a prudent use of the money - but then, there is much to be said for the idea that that is elitist, and that if the money is for the people then the people are for the money - it's not up to you or me to decide whether the money is more needed for immediate needs or for long-term retirement benefits.
As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." And for that reason it is exceedingly difficult to construct a welfare system which doesn't buy more poverty. America went too far in that direction with its "Great Society" program; even Reagan was not able completely to undo that Johnson Administration boondoggle. The Republican Congress was finally able to convince even President Clinton to reduce the provisions for welfare by requiring limits on the time the payments are made to a given person.
It was a revelation to some of the people on welfare, that they were supposed to exert themselves and earn their own keep! I don't know the details, but cutting the program reportedly produced far less distress than the socialists believed, and actually made some of them happier for having earned their own money.
My english is limited so I am not sure I fully understand you. But of course you are correct, people should be responsible for what they do with their own money, nobody else should dictate that. I am particularly not sure what you mean by elitist, in this contest either.
But to trooly look at those money as the individuals own money the national oil company should be split in as many shares as Iraqis are today and distribute them, one share to each, otherwise it is the money of the society, for better and worse, and then we allways have to wonder what is better than something else, and consider the socialogical and political situation in different countries.
F.e. would changing Icelandic society overnight into a libertarian/conservative society would newer work or even be considered, but doing it little by little, maybe with things like mentioned here would be much more possible to sell to the public:
In same way changing the Iraqi society will take time, and it should mostly be about making them ready for the day the oil runs out (or is replaced or tumbles in worth), and if they get used to get a monthly check from the government oil fund that can cover all their daily needs they will become used to it and increasingly decide not to bother to work, or even prepare for the future (as the money flows steadily) with pension investment. By distributing the money in this way will result in many ways similarly as how easy it is to live on welfare in Europe.
It is of course very difficult to construct a system that does not breed dependency and powerty, I doupt it is possible in fact, but the more individualistic and right winged the aproach is, the better.
Ps. Could you tell me how to let the text be leaning like you did with the quote?
"Elitist" comes from the word "elite," which means "the best of the best."Ps. Could you tell me how to let the text be leaning like you did with the quote?
If I use the term I am referring to the socialist project of trying to convince people of the preposterous notion that government can be, and will be, composed of people who not only have the best interest of the people at heart, but are so smart that it would be foolish of you to retain your own freedom rather than exchanging it for letting them take care of you.
The short answer is by using the code, <I> to start the leaning text, called "italics" in English - and by using the code </I> to switch back to normal text.I will now repeat all of the text above, using a special code to replace "<" everywhere I used that code in the text. You can inspect it, then copy-and-paste it into a "Post Reply" window, and then click the "preview" button on the screen, just below where the text appears. The preview will show the effects of the code, rather than the code itself - and if you want to play around by deleting some of the <p> codes for example, you can do preview again and see the effects changing the code has.
The intermediate-length answer is that
- codes to change the text, and to insert links and even pictures, is called "HyperText Markup Language," usually abbreviated "HTML."
- This web site accepts HTML codes, but it also does some good things without them provided that you use no HTML. Specifically, if you do use HTML for italics you also must use HTML to explicitly specify paragraph breaks. If you do not do that (by inserting <p>at the end of each paragraph), when your text is displayed all the paragraphs will run together and your text will be hopelessly hard to read.
The other thing you might miss is the fact that if you do use HTML, merely citing a web page address by typing its URL will not produce a hyperlink to that page. The address will appear simply as plain text.
The long answer is found in HTML Sandbox, among other places.
<I>My english is limited so I am not sure I fully understand you . . . I am particularly not sure what you mean by "elitist." </I> <blockquote>
"Elitist" comes from the word "elite," which means "the best of the best."<P>
If I use the term I am referring to the socialist project of trying to convince people of the preposterous notion that government can be, <I>and will be,</I> composed of people who not only have the best interest of the people at heart, but are <b>so smart that it would be foolish of you to retain your own freedom rather than exchanging it for letting <I>them</I> take care of you. </b> </blockquote>
<I>Ps. Could you tell me how to let the text be leaning like you did with the </I> <blockquote>The short answer is by using the code, <I> to start the leaning text, called "italics" in English - and by using the code </I> to switch back to normal text. <P>
The intermediate-length answer is that<UL>
<LI>codes to change the text, and to insert links and even pictures, is called "HyperText Markup Language," usually abbreviated "HTML."<P>
<LI>This web site accepts HTML codes, but it also does some good things without them <I>provided that you use <b>no</b> HTML.</I> Specifically, if you do use HTML for italics you <I>also</I> must use HTML to explicitly specify paragraph breaks. If you do not do that (by inserting <p>at the end of each paragraph), when your text is displayed all the paragraphs will run together and your text will be hopelessly hard to read. <P>
The other thing you might miss is the fact that if you do use HTML, merely citing a web page address by typing its URL will <I>not</I> produce a hyperlink to that page. The address will appear simply as plain text. </UL> <p>
The long answer is found in <a href="http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/802064/posts">HTML Sandbox</a>, among other places. </blockquote>
Quote from Schlicht: Thanks Leifur caught your post at Healing iraq,very interesting...
Thank you, that is essentially the same as I have been saying on this thread, please tell us your thoughts about this.
What should be done with the Iraqi oil money in your opinion? Should the Iraqi government use it in various projects, paying for and running health care, education and various social engineering projects, or should it be distributed to the people of Iraq, and thus making themselfs responsible for their own affairs directly, not the government, wich can slide into tyranny if it has to much power in my opinion.
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