10 Reasons Behind Arab Spring

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REASON #9: SOCIAL IMBALANCES

yemen social imbalances
Anti-government protestors raise bread as a symbol of poverty during a protest that demanded Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen. Suspected al-Qaida gunmen killed four Republican Guard soldiers on Sunday in the mountainous central province of Marib, security officials said. Also Sunday, the U.S. government, citing terrorism and civil unrest, advised Americans not to travel to Yemen and said Americans already in the impoverished Arab nation should leave. A travel warning issued by the State Department also authorized family members of U.S. Embassy staff and non-essential personnel to leave. Arabic on the bread reads, "Leave". Photo -Muhammed Muheisen/AP Photo

According to the Galbraith?s ?theory of social balance?, consumption of private goods requires a facilitating or regulating mechanism from the public sector, for some form (or several forms) of public goods. The imbalance between the both, the leading American liberal economist argued, can create opulence on the one end and squalor on the other.

The reasons behind such imbalance could be due to several factors such as consumption outpacing production, better reputation of private enterprise compared to the public one and inefficiencies of the system.

Countries in the Middle East tend to have a large public sector that delivers most of the services to the masses. From health services to electricity and water supply to banks, governments in the region have a monopoly over access to public services and utilities. While the private sector exists, the public sector is the preferable choice of the majority as it provides cheaper service with more emphasis on wider public accessibility. Services offered by the private sector, on the other hand, are more expensive and focus on profits thus limiting public access.

The majority of the population in the Middle East lives on less than $2 a day and relies on government-run health, education, transportation, energy and food sectors due to affordable rates and universal accessibility. However, as governments adopted the neo-liberal economic policies in the last few decades, decided to scale down public spending and privatized its institutions, the services no more remained affordable and accessible by the large segment of the society as the new owners concentrated more on profits and growth rather than affordability and quality.

While the private sector made claims of bringing an improvement in health, education, transportation, energy and food production, the prices just went high while the income of the majority of the people failed to grow steadily. This social imbalance widened the gulf between the privileged and the under-privileged, stoking tensions between the different classes of the society.

It is not uncommon that most of the people rely on poorly managed public services that suffer from under-investment and mismanagement. A comparison between the government-run and private hospitals, schools, trains and other companies will reveal the huge gap between the quality of the service and the contrasting state of the affairs between the both. If private sector flourishes due to heavy investment and efficient management, the public sector languishes due to under-investment and negligence, displayed by governments that have no political will to improve conditions.

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