I’ve always thought it was a commonly known fact that oil rich countries in the middle east subsidize the living standards of their citizens with a portion of their oil profits. I thought everyone knew that countries like Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Libya would offer their citizens no interest housing loans, marriage stipends, free or low cost secondary education (domestic or abroad), free health care, and in some cases no personal income tax. When an arguement ensued, I really did not know what the fuss was about.
The specific topic, Libya, is a nation who provided some of the most lucrative social benefits to its law abiding citizens. Regardless of the form of leadership in these countries (most are dictatorships), the leaders understand the long term benefits of a healthy, educated citizenry, and do what they can to mitigate poverty. More to the point, countries who are considered democratic, with representative leadership also do these things for their citizens to the extent that they are able. I think the conflict lies in realizing that there are countries whose citizens seem better off even though they are, from a generally American perspective, ‘third world’ or ‘developing’ countries. America, after all, is a ‘developing’ country, when considered from the standpoint of time.
These countries are so ridiculously rich, it’s no wonder we’re always trying to expand our sphere of military and political influence in their neck of the woods.