The takers versus the makers: Understanding Egypt’s Subsidy Paradox

In my younger years, when I had just graduated from the American University in Cairo, I landed my first real job at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). This was my first real taste of doing development work and doing it in Egypt was an added bonus. USAID gave me a starting salary of approximately $2,000 a month, a significant amount of money for a new graduate in Egypt in the early 1980s. I remember getting my first paycheck in a white envelope and inside was $1,200 instead of the $2,000 I was promised as my monthly wage. When I enquired about the missing portion of my paycheck, I was informed that I “qualified” for a 40 percent salary deduction, mostly from taxes, social se

Dedicated to all those who ran away

I learned long ago how judgmental some Egyptians can be and how cruel they can be as well. My last encounter with this was at the World Bank’s Annual Meetings when colleagues from Egypt started talking about one of their peers not realizing he was close enough to hear everything that was being said. They whispered that anything he said about Egypt wasn’t credible because he had left long ago. Not only did he leave they said, but that he ran away. And, for those that ran away, they added, they didn’t deserve the respect of those that stayed behind and endured “the horror” of the past two decades. But, the person they were talking about, the person that ran away, never ran away from anything.

In Flawed Societies, Crime Does Pay

Every society, and community for that matter, gets the kind of criminal it deserves. In the 1920s, the US got the likes of Bonnie and Clyde. In the 1950s, the U.S. got the mafia, the Italian immigrant criminality that was very hard to defeat. Some would argue that they were in fact not defeated, but just legalized their illegality with Las Vegas as a primary example. In cities like Baltimore, where there is perverse unemployment, the criminality it has in the form of drug dealing, prostitution, and armed robbery reflects both the lack of education of the populace at large and the deep rooted poverty embedded in that community. The typology of criminality will change in cities like Baltimore,

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    © Khaled F. Sherif, 2020

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