The outsized role of unfettered finance in Chile has only worsened inequality that led to recent uprisings
In September this year, less than a month before frustrated Chileans took to the streets in Santiago, on Chile Day, former finance Minister Felipe Larrain announced new legislation that, it was hoped, would make Chile into a regional financial center. The new bill would contains regulatory changes to facilitate registration of foreign securities in Chile and eliminate tax differences between locals and foreigners that affected the ability of finance to move seamlessly in the domestic economy. These measures were announced to commemorate ChileDay in London, where Conor Burns, minister in the UK government praised Chile’s macro-economic growth and fiscal management under the Sebastian Pinera government.
After years of trying to make the country into a financial regional center, the new bill concretized the government’s intentions. Larrain explained that the initiative meant to relax existing rules of financial regulations through a number of areas, including reduce paperwork for foreign investors, introduce new international practices in the local fixed income market for investors to access liquidity, simplify tax laws and contracts for short-term finance and make mutual funds more flexible. In this way the government sought to enable growth in profits of financial assets, which are primarily held by wealthy investors and high net worth Chileans. Protestors’ move into the affluent Providencia neighbourhood to up the ante a few days ago – known as Chile’s financial district – ironically represent the apogee of this relationship.
After unease spread about the social conditions in Chile after the increase on metro fares, Minister Felipe Larrain, who retained the position from Pinera’s 2010 administration, was sacked. Larrain’s firing is emblematic for several reasons. Much of the recent analysis while rightly focusing on worsening social conditions for the majority of Chileans, few commentators have pinpointed one, if not the most important culprit, of high inequality since Chile became a democracy ended in 1990. Chile’s embrace of financial globalization has been at the forefront of higher levels of inequality in Chile for over the last 2 decades during both left- and right-wing governments.
The planned growth of the financial sector, while good for investors and those with idle assets, it is not positive for the majority of Chileans. The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean shows ownership of financial assets are concentrated in the pocket books of the 1 per cent. In 2017, the net worth of households was extremely distorted. While the poorest 50% of households had an average net worth of US$ 5,000, the sum for the wealthiest 10% averaged US$ 760,000, and the richest 1% owned US$ 3 million. To make matters worse, the richest 10% made a whopping 92.2% of investments in shares and mutual funds, other forms of equity holdings and investment portfolios, and 77.4% of deposits in savings accounts and long-term fixed deposits. In comparison, the lower 50 per cent of the population held just 7.7% of total physical assets like motor vehicles and real estate. As a result, many Chileans are swimming in debt, owing a total of US$116 billion (about 44 percent of gross domestic product) – a significant portion due to mortgages and showing increases by 12 per cent since 2010.
In its 2018 economic survey, the OECD laid out the conditions that have led to the current crisis: as many 30 per cent of Chilean workers engage in informal work or on short-term contracts, with high concentrations among women, youth, low-skilled and indigenous groups, while unemployment benefits are virtually nonexistent. Self-employed workers earn 20% less than a formal waged employee with the same skills and experience. Financial sector employees also make more than twice the average worker and even mining sector workers. Over the years, this wage inequality and labour informalisation have been facilitated by deregulating labour markets whereby workers have less bargaining power of labour unions. Labour unions’ calls to increase their stake in the congress therefore offer some hope for workers to gain more of the share of national wealth. Increases in labour income, as ECLAC shows, have a positive effect on macro-economic growth. Pinera’s obstinacy to these initiatives seem to protect his economic standing rather than promote a resolution in workers’ favour. Government resistance would only encourage further polarization.
Chile’s financial sector has expanded at a rate more than any other economic sector, and realized a significant portion of total income and profits in the country. In terms of asset base as a percentage of GDP, the financial sector (including money bank deposits and of other financial institutions) it has growth from 64% in 1984 to 67% in the late 1990s, surpassing the 100% mark in 2010. In 2016, this ratio reached 117%. After Mexico, Chile has the highest capital penetration of foreign banks in Latin America which has counter intuitively reduced the amount of credit available to small local businesses to finance production in new products and sectors. In the meanwhile, foreign investment has however expanded in areas that do not employ great numbers. Large mining businesses which employ fewer numbers of Chileans also have a disproportionate access to international markets for credit. Chile’s pension system is also privatized and seen as source for financial sharks to make a killing, which fluctuates according to traders’ optimism and can lose as it did in late 2018 when investors lose confidence.
Increased privatization of the state, and narrow industrial policies promoted by agencies like the Inter-American Development Bank bolster the role of finance using a number of instruments and incentives. Compared to years prior to the dictatorship, and for a short period during Pinochet reign after the banking crisis of the 1980s, finance was largely well regulated and credit expanded to sectors that generated a large number of jobs. Now, rather than expanding employment and increasing high-value industrial exports, Chile has since the 2000s suffered becoming more and more specialized in mining. Even as private investment flows increased in copper mining during the 2000s, this has not had a broad effect on re-industrializing the Chilean economy. The opposite is true. In fact, the majority of the country’s lithium is manufactured outside of the country.
While some economists have suggested that that higher inequality was due to the end of the high-price commodity boom in Chile in 2014, the historical record shows that inequality was rampant during Pinochet’s dictatorship and only slightly decreased from the 1990s onwards. Inequality was practically baked into the tax system, as well as the housing and transport policies of successive governments, as Chileans found it hard to seek work opportunities in its capital city Santiago. This has earned Chile the infamy of the most unequal country in Latin America and the OECD as a whole according to certain analyses.
As the world awakens to the reality that the expanding finance do not lift all boats or ‘trickle down’, if there is to be a successful resolution to the current calamity that dates back to the reforms of Pinochet, democratizing finance is critical to return power to the hands of Chileans.
Democracy Summit and the fall of American-backed Muslim Brotherhood
The world was surprised by the American arrangements for the American administration, led by “Joe Biden” and the American Democratic Party, to organize the “World Democracy Conference”, which will bring together all the democratic countries in the world with a purely American choice, during the days of December 9 and 10, 2021, with the participation of nearly 110 countries around the world, while leaving the other half of it is marginalized, authoritarian, or neglected without similar calls being made to it, claiming that it is not democratic, according to the American perspective of understanding the process of democracy from a purely narrow perspective that does not fit the needs of other countries, according to their national, regional and religious circumstances and characteristics, among others. This in itself is a new provocative American attempt to break up the world and divide it, according to strict ideological bases, according to what “Biden” announced before in the alliance of democracies around the world in the face of authoritarianism and authoritarianism, and his intention of that is mainly China and Russia, then the rest of the uncivilized world will come behind them. And who gave them multiple names, in this new global division, that they are: (undemocratic, tyrannical, dictatorial, authoritarian, autocratic, and tyrannical), and the other such names that competed the organizers of this conference referred to in describing all those who differ with them ideologically and politically in The foundation, led by China and Russia in the first place, and as the Chinese State Councilor and Chinese Foreign Minister “Wang Yi” said:
“This American democracy summit aims mainly to strengthen the division in the world under the banner of democracy, and it only serves the strategic needs of the United States”
But on the other hand, the US administration’s omission of invitations to the countries of the region to attend the conference mainly means (dividing the region in favor of its Chinese and Russian competitors, and even more dangerously, the failure of the Israeli-Gulf Arab peace plans under American auspices, as well as the reflection of what is happening on Israel’s security due to the difficulty of the future of security cooperation and coordination between the countries of the region and Israel due to the sensitivity of their current position on the United States of America), and perhaps this is what many extremist terrorist groups may exploit to launch continuous attacks on American and Israeli targets, given the security vacuum left by the United States of America in the region in favor of both China and Russia, which has become an essential component of the Egyptian, Arab and Gulf foreign policy agenda, especially in light of the “escalation of American interference in the internal affairs of Egypt and the countries of the region in the field of democracy and human rights”, which reached its climax and escalated with the preparation of the United States of America for a conference that brings together all democratic countries in the world. During which all the countries of the region were excluded with the exception of “Iraq and Israel”, which will inevitably affect (Israeli peace plans under American auspices with the Gulf states and the region, as well as the United States of America giving the green light to extremist terrorist movements and militias to target the security of the Hebrew state, and perhaps all the Gulf countries and countries in the region hesitate to sign and complete new peace agreements with Israel, given the American interference in their internal affairs).
Which, I believe, helped “divide the world and the countries of the Middle East at the present time between going to Washington or to the two emerging powers in the world, namely: China and Russia”. Hence, the economic power of China, through its “Belt and Road initiative”, is heavily dependent on its financing and expertise away from the idea of “American political conditionality”. For example, we find that on the Egyptian side, it would have been unlikely that prominent projects on the ground, such as (the new administrative capital and the new industrial zone of the Suez Canal), would have been practically translated without the Chinese aid to the countries of the region and Egypt in the first place.
Hence, the error of these current American policies will inevitably affect Israel’s security, as (it will inevitably weaken the desire and enthusiasm of many in the region, whom the United States of America used to pay more attention to signing and concluding more peace agreements and political normalization between its Israeli ally and other countries in the Arabian Gulf and the region mainly under US sponsorship). Accordingly, we will analyze a number of the following foundations and indicators to understand the repercussions of this American step to exclude the countries of the region on their interests in the region and on Israel’s security itself.
The importance of the “June 30 Revolution” in Egypt appears to reveal the double standards of America towards the will of the Arab peoples themselves against the American interest, which increased after President “El-Sisi’s nomination for the presidency”, at a time when the popularity of the United States of America declined in Egypt, following its position on the June 30 Revolution, and the subsequent wave of political events that followed June 30, a position that probably did not satisfy anyone, whether from the group of supporters who wanted clear support from Washington, or even from the group of opponents, who wanted a stronger position on the part of the United States of America, and this unless (Washington’s reluctance to stand in support of any party), in addition to proving the American failure to pass its democracy in the region with the failure of the Arab Spring revolutions, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt and later in Tunisia and Sudan, and the growing weakness of political Islam currents in the region.
Here we can find a logical relationship between (the reasons for Washington’s refusal to invite Egypt to the conference of American democracies in December 2021, and the June 30 revolution in Egypt), the failure of the Arab Spring revolutions and the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt, as follows:
We can understand and analyze (the role and influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, its recent conferences and meetings with a number of American officials, and the successive statements of personalities belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood regarding their “agreement with the new approach of the American administration”, led by President “Joe Biden” not to invite the Egyptian state and the countries of the region), due to the failure of the Arab Spring revolutions, which produced Muslim Brotherhood governments backed by the United States of America.
The activity of all the organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood began in the United States of America, after (the success of the “June 30 Revolution in Egypt” and the advent of President “El-Sisi” and the alliance of the Egyptian military institution with the masses in the streets was proven), with the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Arab Spring revolutions in most Arab countries, supported by the USA.
Therefore, the attempt of the United States of America for (developing a plan to antagonize the Arab peoples against their rulers or to shed light on unreal events to distract the Arab world and the region in subsidiary events with the help of the American-active Muslim Brotherhood), began in the same period and time in which it was witnessing the rebuilding of the Arab Spring countries again, especially the beginning of building the new Egyptian state in the first place.
What is worth studying and analyzing here, is the submission of a memorandum by the US Congressman, “Frank Wolf”, to the US House of Representatives, calling for an investigation with former President “Barack Obama” and his Secretary of State, “Hillary Clinton”, after the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt, “Mohamed Morsi”. In 2012, on charges of “supporting the group with nearly $50 million in the presidential election during the run-off”.
At the time, the US Congressman “Frank Wolf” announced after the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood and its candidate for government, that:
“American politicians have supported the activity of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political agenda in Egypt at the expense of other parties that do not like Washington”
Representative “Frank Wolf” also made direct accusations against former US President “Obama” and the US administration itself, accusing the White House of (creating politically illegal practices to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and aiming to create an atmosphere and a state of chaos in the region through supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, sacrificing American interests in order to support the project of political Islam), and although the issue was not escalated, it had a wide resonance within the American Congress, and it was reopened again after the June 30 revolution and the isolation of Morsi, but it was kept secret later.
And here we can observe and explain what the US Congressman “Frank Wolf” said about his assertion about (deliberate questioning by organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood in Washington for all the plans and successive successes of starting the implementation and rebuilding of Egyptian institutions and its new administrative capital with different foundations and modern ideas), and these organizations deliberately shed light on the negatives without exposure to the positives of building new facilities, bridges, and roads, all of which took place during the era of President “El-Sisi”, and all Brotherhood organizations also deliberately, with American assistance, mainly work on (igniting and dividing the region, increasing and growing the intensity of regional competition and polarization between all parties and forces internally and externally).
American Representative “Frank Wolf” in the US Congress and all his supporters considered: “the attempts that have been made to spread chaos and disorder in Egypt and the countries of the Arab Spring revolutions with the help of the Muslim Brotherhood organizations are deliberate”, and this is during the same period, in which politicians must be wise to not luring them into side battles that waste their gains and the achievements of their people. Therefore, the correct behavior, according to the wise, was that everyone in Egypt and the Arab region should devote themselves to building the interior.
Here we can follow (the map and activity of all branches of Brotherhood organizations in the United States of America after the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt), similar to its strategy and its extended organizations in Britain and Europe, but it was more elitist in the United States of America, through the organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood, which are known by name in the United States of America, such as:
(MSA Muslim Student Association, which began in 1963, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which was established in American lands since 1983, the Islamic Society of North America ISNA, the Committee on American Islamic Affairs CAIR, which was founded in 1994)
Additionally, there are some other organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood have global activity and influence within the United States of America and various European countries, all of which aimed to make continuous attempts to influence the position of their governments towards Egypt and the countries of the Arab Spring revolutions.
Indications can be identified in (organizing the ranks and bases of the Muslim Brotherhood inside the United States of America after the advent of the administration of Democratic President “Joe Biden” has been begun), with the aim of influencing the image of democracy in Egypt and the region. And that is through the activity of the system of families affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is spread almost throughout the United States, and the task of each family was to (establish its roots in the region in which it is, by influencing the largest number of those around it), and to take care of the newcomers of the Brotherhood Muslims to the United States of America, as well as the establishment of new schools, mosques and clinics to expand their influence within American society and communicate with all American political decision-making circles to promote the failure of Egyptian democracy and the fall of political Islam currents loyal to Washington and its democracy
And all those American organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood began to (promote the failure of democracy in Egypt and the countries of the region by holding conferences and calling for it, and claiming the current regimes reject democracy on the American way, and even laying out different plans for the American democratic administration to reveal different ways to embarrass Arab regimes that reject the political project of the Muslim Brotherhood), led by the Egyptian state and its military establishment.
The old international Brotherhood organizations have been active among them, by communicating and rapprochement with American decision-making circles, including: The Muslim Students Association “MSN”, which is the association founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is one of the most important institutions that have been active in American universities, and about 600 student associations have emerged from within USA so far. With (attempting to influence American officials to put pressure on the regimes in Egypt and the region, therefore, several large conferences were organized to gather, mobilize and expand the base of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda within American society and its intellectual and research centers), especially the American circles of influence and influence.
We find that the most dangerous American statements in this context are the analysis of the well-known American thinker “Noam Chomsky” and his revelation of deliberate American interference in the affairs of Egypt and the region after the failure of the Arab Spring revolutions backed by the United States, by saying that:
“The percentage of popular opposition to the United States of America in Egypt – which is the most important state in the region – has reached out to 80%, and therefore America and its allies do not want governments that express the will of the people. If this happens, America will not only lose its control over the region, but will also be expelled from it. It has a plan that is typically implemented by Washington and it doesn’t take a genius to understand it”
We find that this type of American support for the alleged democracy in several countries around the world, in the form that the internationally known American thinker “Noam Chomsky” spoke about, we have witnessed many precedents and evidence around the world over and over again, it happened with (Simosa in Nicaragua, the Shah In Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, Devilliers in Haiti, the leader of South Korea, Maputo in the Congo, Ceausescu, the favorite of the West in Romania, Suharto in Indonesia). As it is a completely typical and permanent matter, it applies to many cases, especially the countries of the Arab Spring revolutions.
In the same context, the American academic “Robert Spencer”, as a specialist in the affairs of extremist Islamic movements, indicated that: “The Muslim Brotherhood had worked actively for several decades before within the corridors of American political decision-making”, through several fronts, such as: (Council on American Islamic Relations, Muslim Student Associations, Islamic Society of North America), as well as 29 other organizations operating in the United States of America under various umbrellas and names, and the US Federal Investigation Agency, called them as they are (organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood with the international extensions).
And the American researcher “Robert Spencer” explained the reasons for the success and growth of the Muslim Brotherhood’s power in the face of the regimes and countries of the Arab Spring revolutions and the Middle East, emphasizing that it is (US-backed), by pointing out that (most of those international organizations of the Muslim Brotherhood were established in the eighties. Those fronts continued to act as a “pressure lobbyists” on the White House’s decisions towards Egypt and the countries of the region), even after the failure of American policies towards their support after the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood, even though it was proven that Washington was unable to support them after the failure of the American-backed Arab Spring revolutions basically.
The most amazing thing here is the American side’s demand for Egypt to achieve stability at the same time as they support the Muslim Brotherhood within the corridors of political decision-making in Washington itself to spread chaos in Egypt and our Arab countries. This is what we find in published public statements, that the “National Security Council of the United States” has approved in most of its policies and orientations towards Egypt and President “El-Sisi” in the post-Muslim Brotherhood era, that “the first American demand from Cairo is to maintain security and local and regional stability by any means”, considering that:
“The mission of the Egyptian side and President El-Sisi entails, at that stage, the necessity of preserving the security and stability of Israel and the neighboring countries of Israel, as a fundamental pillar in the geo-strategic composition of the Middle East, which successive US administrations and governments attach great importance for this matter”
Through our previous analysis of the scene, we can find a logical relationship between the American support for the Muslim Brotherhood, its exertion of internal pressure on the American administration led by “Joe Biden”, and the exclusion of Egypt and all countries in the region from participating in the “World Democracy Conference”, which is called by Washington itself, according to its own criteria. Which is the first and most important thing that is taught to students of political science, which is that politics is based on interest, and that there is no friendship in relations between states, and as “Winston Churchill” said previously: “There is no such thing as permanent friendship, but there is such a permanent interest”. Therefore, the achievement of each party’s interest is the basis in relations between states, and therefore the urgent priority of politicians in the (post-revolutionary era), is achieving the interest of their peoples and their countries, by preserving the revolutionary gains achieved by all, away from any external pressures or provocations. As is the case in the current American scene towards Egypt and the countries of the region, and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the American interior itself.
New American extremist armed movements calling for democracy
The American interior has witnessed in recent years (the growth, spread and revival of a number of new armed extremist ideological movements in the American interior), which have come to challenge the authority and orders of the American government similar to its American communist counterpart in previous periods, and aims for a “new revolution” in the face of the American authorities.
The outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in the American interior has also caused the strengthening of the strength of these American armed movements, as well as the growth of “new armed extremist movements” that challenge the authority and orders of the American government similar to its former American communist counterpart, and the map of these movements and their goals can be traced, as follows:
The emergence of the most dangerous and most important armed movement called the “Boogaloo Movement” against the American government: due to the restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of the virus, it fueled the “Boogaloo Movement” against the American government. And what is new in the “American Boogaloo movement” is its armed tactic, and its “publicly” carrying of rifles and wearing tactical military clothing, and it was the beginning of their mobilization in the US state of “Hawaii” and in the state capital’s buildings to protest against the closure orders, due to the outbreak of (Covid-19). It is the distinctive of the “military appearance” of the “Boogaloo Movement” against the US government, which attracts the most attention. It threatens to wage “civil war”, as an extremist movement that uses “violent, not peaceful armed protests” against the orders of the American state, and has arisen due to the social problems caused by the pandemic to spread violent messages against Washington. The start of its launch was in April 2020, when armed demonstrators went out in separate organized protests in front of government buildings in (Concord and New Hampshire). The point worth noting and analyzing here is that the extremist “Boogaloo” movement is attracting many American youth daily. One of its affiliates said in a post on Facebook that the term “Boogaloo” began as a funny thing, but it evolved into a deeper symbol of “Boogaloo Movement”, by calling for the freedom against the decisions of the American authorities.
On the other hand, the (Three Percenters Militia Movement) appeared in the month of April 2020: those who organized a march at “Olympia headquarters” in the capital, Washington, and the participants in the gathering were keen to wear “Hawaiian shirts” to support the demands of the “Boogaloo extremist armed movement”.
In May 2020, a third extremist movement appeared in the United States, called the “Blue Igloo movement”: which began with a demonstration in Raleigh, North Carolina, and promoted itself on Facebook, and the movement entered into some “armed confrontations” with the state police.
A fourth movement appeared, consisting of armed members called the extremist “Liberty Militia movement”: they are mainly deployed in the state of “Michigan”.
A new fifth movement appeared called “The Rhett E. Boogie Group”: by advocating on Facebook forums, this led to the launch of a movement which invited “Gretchen Whitmer” as a representative of the “Democratic Party”, to address these violent threats.
In March 2020, there were also demonstrations related to the “Neo-Nazis movement” in the US state of “Missouri”: one of those belonging to this extremist movement was killed when the “Federal Bureau Investigations agents” FBI tried to arrest him, for trying to bomb a hospital in the “Kansas City” area. After the outbreak of the Corona virus, the “Neo-Nazis movement” announced that its new goal was to “start a revolution” in the country.
During the month of May 2020, a white supremacist group, known as: the “Associates of Bradley Bunn” appeared in the state of “Colorado”: which prompted the “US Department of Homeland Security” to issue an alert to it. And “Bradley Benn” is a former US Army soldier, who was arrested on May 1, 2020, after the “Federal Bureau Investigations agents” FBI found that there were “four pipe bombs” in his home in Loveland, Colorado, which led some to sympathize with him for his courage, and they formed a movement in his name.
The other armed prominent group in the USA, which has been revived and unified under a given new name of the “White Supremacist Groups”, which has been active since 2019, has been revived, and has declared itself as (an extreme right-wing movement), and includes a group of armed militias.
In general, it is possible to observe and track the goals of these American armed movements and increase their activities, especially after the outbreak of the Corona epidemic and the poor economic conditions in the American interior, and made the beginning through social media, where one of them wrote: “Many individuals are very upset with the way that the USA is managed and the other passed laws that are criminalised to the law-abiding citizens”. Perhaps what is new in the thinking of these American extremist armed movements, according to the study of the “Extremism Program at George Washington University”, is that their discourse goes beyond discussions about combating restrictions, which many protesters describe as “tyranny” to talk and violent radical discourse about “Killing FBI agents” or police officers “to start a war”.
From here, we understand the existence of (a real state of conflict and undeclared polarization within the American interior itself, whose features appeared between the movements of the left and the right and resulted in the carrying of arms and resistance to the American authorities themselves), and this internal American conflict became clear between (the forces of the left and the American right) after the failure of the former President “Trump” in the period of the previous US presidential elections in November 2020, and perhaps this period will be the one (which will establish the next American period and will determine the extent of its democracy globally and even how to deal with rebellious groups and sectors and the opposition of the American people themselves who reject the internal American policies and their undemocratic approach), and it will expose the global American democracy itself to (face difficult tests in front of the minorities who are expected to dominate the American political scene by 2040 according to the expectations of American sociologists, anthropologists and humanists), hence the important question will come, regarding:
(How will the United States of America present itself to the world less than 20 years from now? Especially, in the presence of a real undeclared internal conflict over the American power and governance circles, which threatens the American concept that promotes the idea of democracy and human rights from the narrow American perspective)?!
The Turkey and the U.S. Holiday Season
Guess! Forty-six million turkeys are eaten in the US over the course of a year, a month or a certain day? The surprising answer (or maybe not) is the latter … on the Thanksgiving holiday. It is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday in November. Another 22 million are devoured over Christmas and 19 million perish at Easter.
We are a carnivorous culture. If 46 million turkeys stand side-by-side, they make a line some 7,000 miles long or about twice the distance between the East and West coasts. Despite all this, turkey is only the fourth source of protein in the U.S. coming in as it does after chicken, beef and pork.
Nevertheless, almost 1.4 billion pounds of turkey were consumed at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter — to the 46 million Thanksgiving turkeys one can add 22 million for Christmas and 19 million for Easter (2011 figures). About a third of the turkeys are eaten during the holidays and two-thirds over the rest of the year. It adds up to about 230,000 birds in total.
That is the front end for turkeys. But not all the turkey is eaten. The carcass and some of the meat ends up in trash cans. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates a third of global food is wasted. That figure coincides with what the US Department of Agriculture projects for turkeys — 35 percent goes into garbage cans and ends up in landfills.
The average weight of a turkey is 15 lbs. giving us approximately 690 million pounds for the 46 million consumed during Thanksgiving. It also means 240 million pounds goes to the waste dumps.
Turkey is not the only waste — Americans throw away 25 percent more waste during the approximately month-long holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year (think of all the gift wraps, Christmas trees, cardboard boxes, ribbons, sticky tape, etc.). On ribbons also, if people in the U.S. reused just 2 feet of holiday ribbon, it would save 38,000 miles of ribbon. And if each family wrapped only 3 gifts in re-used Christmas wrapping paper, the saved paper would be enough to cover 4,500 football fields. All of which might seem to be in the spirit of the grinch that stole Christmas, but the general idea is to think about minimizing waste.
Perhaps all of this is irrelevant in a world in the grip of the covid virus. The essence of holidays lies in the gatherings of friends and relatives, something frowned upon in the age of covid. So, a quiet march to the New Year and a muted “Happy New Year” with a ‘beware of the omicron strain’ under one’s breath.
Such is the world of covid with its frustratingly temporary immunity. Is there a possibility it will eventually become like the common cold, a nuisance with which we learn to live? As it is the latest version i.e. the omicron variant shares its genetic code with the cold virus and is more easily transmissible.
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