Saudi Arabia More Democratic than..
'Upon finishing her book, one idea stood out. Namely, Saudi Arabia is not a totalitarian society. While it is portrayed by its Western critics as being a benighted land of authoritarian oppression administered by an absolute monarchy, its king actually rules within the rubric of two overwhelming constraints.
First, is the Islamic religion itself. Although Islamic law is administered in a heavy-handed fashion that would be totally unacceptable to a Western population, Mackey skillfully shows the extent to which Islam provides a commonly-agreed upon set of rules which are apart from, and above, the monarchy. The basic tenets of Islam are accepted by the overwhelming majority of the population as being the dictates of God.'
Most people, think of Saudi Arabia as a barbarian desert country with an even wilder government. But as usual, that is 99% wrong. According to the article above, they are many proofs that Saudi Arabia isn't a totalitarian society. Anything done by the king out of religion would be ignored or would mean a revolution, unlike in dictatorship countries anything the ruler says is correct.
'Contrast this with our situation here. Many Americans have grown to dread the census taken each decade by our federal government, as it has become continually more odious and intrusive. Having no concern for our privacy, the feds have flouted the Constitution’s consent to use the census only for head counting and have expanded it to compile data on almost every imaginable facet of American life. Those who fail to mail in their census forms are treated to home visits, which grill citizens about everything from the number of bathrooms in their house to the distance of their daily commute to work. '
In Saudi Arabia, you could easily ignore the census person who knocks on your door, and its your own will to give him your family information or not, but in America, the government which is considered as the 'perfect government', bugs the hell out of the citizens as the paragraph above says. To add it to all, there is also jail terms and fines, in the end whats more democratic, a government that respects the privacy of a family or a government that achieves whatever it wants from information etc.
#2 The military draft
'While our frontier ancestors once clung to a spunky individualism which rendered them unruly and unpredictable militiamen, our government has long since ground that attitude out of our national psyche. On numerous occasions, America has instituted a draft (often even in peacetime). Many of the wars fought with drafted soldiers were only tenuously linked to our national survival. More often than not, America’s wars have been murky affairs carried out at the behest of unseen special interest groups for motives entirely ulterior to those stated to the populace at large. '
Again, a American citizen is usually forced by the government to be drafted for a number of years in the military even in peace, and declares wars with silly reasons like in Iraq and Aghanistan. Saudi Arabia again respects its people independency while America is the total opposite.
#3 Access to leaders
'One of the key differences between authoritarian and responsive governments is the ease with which the common citizen can gain access to his leaders in order to petition for redress of grievances. This was felt to be so important by our Founders that they included it in the Bill of Rights.
Saudi Arabia’s traditional tribal structures, and the egalitarian demands of Islam, have combined to create an interesting tradition which addresses this issue.'
In Saudi Arabia, and biggest proof was during the King Abdullah's 'bayaah' when many citizens freely entered his palace without any obligations and were able to say hello to the king himself. And on other occasions you can visit him and ask him for anything you'd like, even money if in need. Well, let us look towards the American government!
'Contrast this with our situation here in America. "Face time" with our president is considered to be one of the most sought-after and difficult-to-obtain commodities in Washington. Occasionally, presidents have even sold audiences to the highest bidder for campaign contributions (Clinton’s White House lodging scandals and exorbitantly-priced coffee soirées being two prominent examples). Thus, access to the president is largely reserved for powerful officials, wealthy contributors, and representatives of well-connected special interest groups.'
Can you or me enter the White House freely without any obligations etc? Or have any of you wished to meet the President? Compare the chance of meeting George Bush with King Abdullah and you'll see a major difference, even though the first is the ruler of the 'perfect government'.
'Like any restriction on their freedom as men, the Saudis not only abhor taxes but question any government’s right to collect them. The prevailing attitude is summed up in the statement issued by the Ikhwan [religious scholars] in its dispute with Abdul Aziz over the tobacco tax in 1927. "Taxes, we have ruled, are completely illegal and it is the king’s duty to remit them, but if he refuses to do so we do not feel it permissible to break up Moslem unity and revolt against him solely on this account"
She goes on to describe the situation since the oil boom:
To everyone’s delight, oil income after 1973 relieved the government of the need to supplement its income from pilgrims’ receipts and limited oil revenues with taxes. The flimsy tax code crumbled. There remained some indirect taxes, such as modest and selective customs duties, a tariff of 20% on the few items produced locally, and a poorly administered social security tax on wages. The only direct tax Saudis were asked to pay was the religiously mandated zakat, or alms tax. Otherwise, Saudi Arabia is tax free.
Many critics may point to the unique oil wealth of Saudi Arabia as being the reason behind its lack of taxes. But Mackey’s narrative indicates differently. Even before oil was discovered, when Saudi Arabia was a land of impoverished desert dwellers, their government survived only on a small tax on religious pilgrims and taxes on items (such as tobacco) that were considered to be "vices". '
'In America today, the average worker now toils from January to mid-May just to pay his taxes to the various levels of government. Our government officials have devised ways of taxing almost everything imaginable, from gasoline to telephone service. As numerous libertarian thinkers have noted, the extent to which a population has its wealth confiscated by government is a good measure of the freedom it enjoys. It may be too extreme to say that Americans are now slaves of our government, but the relationship is roughly similar to medieval serfdom.'
Why should people pay the government for everything? Even driving on a highway for a couple of miles you have to pay a number of cents! And they call this an independent country?
Conclusion, the Saudi government is still far away from being 'perfect' and all Saudi citizens know that, but what I disagree is an 'independent country', their is no such thing, and this article proves that American government is still far away. And again, the Bedouin which many people make fun of is a great culture, but few people know well about it, and just freely say the stereotypes they hear on FOX News and say it whenever 'Saudi Arabia' is just mentioned!