Jordan in Numbers

In Jordan, hard facts are not commonly used, unfortunately. As I described at an earlier post, Jordan has a big social problem of bigotry and over-confidence is politics.  Many statements are given about the deteriorating status of living, which is true and sad in many cases, but are often expanded and generalized to say that nothing good has come out of the establishment. This is not true. Jordan has real problems: We have political problems, from the external climate of the Middle East, to internal marginalization. We have social problems, and problems in education, and problems in corruption, and a poor economic situation, etc. But things are getting better, and to say that the establishment has not done anything would be an injustice.

This is not to say that all is well: we are a long way to go, and we should obviously demand more from the establishment. We should also demand less marginalization, and to be included in the process. But to fool ourselves and say that we are living in a system where the Establishment is trying to keep is weak and poor would be an unjust, unfounded, and disheartening act.

This is a look at the last ten years King Abdullah II’s reign as the Kingdom’s head of state.

Can some of these developments be associated to the potential positive sum nature of the world, technology, etc.? Yes. But take a look at the data, collected from a number of sources, and decide for yourself if it shows the possibility of a benign, well-intentioned establishment.

Information is taken from the CIA Factbook (referenced CIA for short), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Ministry of Finance of Jordan (MOF). Currencies are either in dollar ($ / USD), or in Jordanian Dinars (JD / JOD), and are indicated.

Nor all numbers are necessarily useful; GDP for instance is often criticized for not being a good metric of a country’s economic situation. Keep this in mind while viewing.

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According to Abdullah II’s book, Jordan exports to the US shot up from “virually nothing to $18 million in 1998”. Under Abdullah’s negotiations, this number rose to $1 billion in 2009.

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Debt as a percentage of the GDP continues to drop. After it reached below 60% of the GDP around 2008, a new policy was adopted that indicated that public debt shall never go above 60%. Initial reports indicate that we are about to hit that mark now, a very concerning sign. But people forget we are in a global recession; things are indeed very concerning, but some people assume that the establishment has worsened our situation. Looking back at 2002, where public debts’ percentage of the GDP was in the high 90s, it puts things in perspective.

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Public and External debts in Jordan shown as an absolute number in JOD. These numbers are contemporary and not adjusted for inflation. As such, if adjusted for inflation, one would probably see a more level Public Debt graph up to 2011, and slowly declining external debts.

 

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Continue reading “Jordan in Numbers”

Let Me Speak My Mind: a Trend of Political Bigotry in Jordan?

I have not written anything in this blog in a long time. I have tried to start writing many times, but I never could finish. I have been, for the past few months, increasingly frustrated with the stiuation in Jordan; while the government is doing some right moves, politically, I became largely frustrated with the wave of bigotry that has swept our society off its feet. Bigotry in politics is almost deeply enthralled in the hearts and minds of many Jordanians, across classes, political views, roles, and perspectives.

Pro-Government protesters are bigoted against Pro-Reform protesters, considering them unthankful, unpatriotic “scum”.

Pro-Reform protesters are themselves bigoted against Pro-Government protesters, thinking they are government-funded thugs who want ot beat them.

Pro-Government media is bigoted agaisnt many political movements, consdiering them outside-fundedp lots against our security.

Anti-Government media is even more bigoted: against the government, police, and their supporters. Every policy is an evil plot, every anti-Government journalist is a hero, every incident is an attack, every violence is targetting thme, and every politician is corrupt.

Events are blown out of proportion at times, and are silenced at others. Every Jordanian reads the news they agree with, and stop: never the opposite perspectives. Our opponents’ political view does not exist. Our opponents’ perspectives are always unfounded. Our rivals are always bigoted, nonsensical, idiots, and fools–never us.

We need a national dialogue, yet all we do is push each other around. Videos of our protests are sad scenes of people yelling at people, fighting with others, and never listening. Never mind that some are reporters and other are policemen, neverm ind that some are politicians and others are activists, all act the same: Like the stereotypical impulsive man, violent, angry, bigoted, and never listens.

I try to go both ways, sometimes criticize the government, and at others support it, depending on what I think (though recently I admit I am doing more support than criticize, but I’m convinced I’m still rational about it). Yet, whenever I criticize, or express the need for a reform, I am called naive by some, and anti-Jordanian by others. And when I express that I don’t think the government was wrong in X, or that the government is doing the right thing in Y, I am either uneducated or have some sort of interest.

After debates with some, I often hear that people are surprised how there is someone smart who thinks differently. So let me be very clear:

People subscribe to all sorts of thoughts, beliefs, and views. Some views might be better than others, but all are debatable. Nothing is obviously true, and very little is obviously false. Most of those who subscribe to views possess a well-thought, legitimate reason, and many philosophical arguments, that lead them to possess a view. No view, belief, or side is exclusively more intelligent or just. My view can still be better than yours, and I will continue to defend it with confidence, but never condescension.

Political reform is essential, but the society must also rise up. We need a new atmosphere where one is not ridiculed for speaking his mind.

Journalism and Editorialism are Still Lacking…

I added this comment on a recent article by Basil Rafai’a that appeared on Ammonnews here:

مقالة ركيكة بعيدة عن المنطق، مع الأسف.

لا نستطيع أن نوصف الموقف بالمثير للشبهة إذا قال ناطق “ما حدث” بدل “زعرنة”، فعلى الناطق الرسمي للأمن العام أن يتكلم بحيادية وقد قام بذلك. لا يجب علينا أن نطالب ناطق باسم الأمن العام بأن يستخدم مصطلحات منحازة كمصطلحاتنا.

وعلى كل حال، توجد صور، ولكن الصور غير كافية. المرتكبون “مجهولين” حتى تعرف اسماؤهم ومواقعهم ويتم القبض عليهم.

أرجو أن يقوم رئيس التحرير بتدقيق أكثر جودة في المرات القادمة.

Irresponsible Editorialism

The most irresponsible article opinion piece I’ve ever seen, by far was on Ammon today, entitled “The Cost of 15 mins in the bathroom“, poking fun at the government’s restriction of general internet access to increase productivity. The article goes as follows:

By government calculations, the cost of each employee spending 15 minutes in the bathroom would reach JD 17.5 million per year.

The idea, of course, alluding to the government’s calculations of 1 hour spent by government employees browsing the Internet costs the government JD 70 million per year, leading Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s government to block access to over 48 websites from the internal network at all ministries and public agencies.

The logic is purely flawed. Browsing the computer while working is a non-essential activity and a waste of time. It is a distraction. Going to the bathroom is an essential need for an employee and helps them be in a better condition to do their task.

I hope AmmonNews engages in more responsible editorialism in the future, pointing out issues that actually matter, instead of attacking the government for good moves.

الصحافة المدللة: فن التذمر في الوقت الخاطئ

أثناء قراءة احد احدث المقالات على موقع عمّون الأخباري، تملكني العجب تجاه نزعة التذمر في الوقت الخاطئ ومن دون حق. المقالة بعنوان “الوزير المدلل” وتناقش بعض سياسات وتوجهات وزير الاتصالات وتكنولوجيا المعلومات مروان جمعه، خصوصاً خطوة حجب بعض المواقع الالكترونية عن موظفين الدوائر الحكومية في الدوائر أثناء ساعات العمل. وجهت الصحافة اتهامات ورد جمعة عليها بحقائق وأرقام وبيانات مقنعة، فإذ تفاجأت بأن أرى “الصحافة” ترد على جمعة بعبارات غير مدروسة وغير منطقية (الأمر الذي يسمى الـ”مغالطة الشكلية”).

قبل المضي قدماً، أود التأكيد على احترامي لمهنة الصحافة بشكل عام، والصحافة الأردنية بشكل خاص، وأن تهجمي على بعض الممارسات غير موجهة للصافة الأردنية بأكملها.

والأمر العجيب أن الاتهامات والـ”إهانات” الموجهة لجمعة ليست بالإهانات الحقيقية، وهي في الواقع ليست أمور سلبية، إلا أنها وجّهت بضوء سلبي ووراء عدسة ساخرة لتبدو كأنها انتقادات حقيقية…

اتهم جمعة بأنه وزير “مدلل” لأن منهاجيته وطريقه عمله في العمل العام تشبه طريقة العمل في القضاء الخاص، واتهم بأن لديه “عقلية البزنس” ولذلك فهو “بالطبع” غير ملائم ليكن وزير فعال في القطاع العام.

العجب هنا أن المتخصصين يتفقون بأن الكثير من عادات إدارة القطاع الخاص يجب تطبيقها في القطاع العام لتحسين جودة الخدمات. مثال عليها هو استخدام مبدأ “الهيكل التنظيمي” في القطاع العام بعد أن ثبتت ميزته في القطاء الخاص، وطرق الدفع بالساعات، واستخدام الدعاية والاعلانات لنشر وعي “المستهلك” (هنا، المواطن)، الخ…

الإنتاجية هو الأهم في القطاع العام، والإناجية أيضاً في بالغ الأهمية في القطاع الخاص، وبحسب دراسات وأرقام وحقائق، نعلم بأن الحاسوب قد يضر الانتاجية عندما يستخدم كأداة “استجمام” أو “لعب” يستخدمها الموظف الحكومي وموظف الشركة للفت انتباههم عن العمل.

وإذا فأمر جمعة بحجب بعض المواقع الاخبارية والشخصية ذات الشعبية في الدوائر، وغير المتعلقة بالعمل، وهي — كما أكد جمعة ذاته — ممارسة شائعة في العديد من الشركات وفعاليتها مثبتة.

الصحافة تتذمر بطول “الطوابير” في الدوائر الحكومية، وكثرة الانتظار، وعدم التركيز فيها، وكثرة الاخطاء الممكن تجنبها (ومعها حق هنا) — ولكن لا تحسبوا أن في هذا التذمر رغبة للتغيير والتحسين (فالتذمر موضة وفن)، بل اعلم أن في هذا التذمر رغبة للتذمر فقط لا غير، وإذا أعربت الحكومة أو دائرة حكومية عن رغبتها في معالجة الوضع الراهن، والتغيير والتحسين، فتعود الاسطوانة المكسورة بالدوران، والتذمر، والتذمر، إلا أن التذمر الآن… من غير حق.

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