All peoples, seem to go under periods of time where they're controlled and dominated by a repressive, ineffective and negatively acting regime. The Pharaoh in the Old Testament story of Exodus is one such autocrat, putting down a justifiably unhappy public for the sake of his smaller self benefit and smaller self gain. Like the story of Exodus describes, the universe does not reward his/her oppression, negative things begin to happen to their people, and eventually, to their own selves on their seats of power and control.
While unlikely to have the spectacular series of events described in the Old Testament's version of history, there are real detriments for these oppressive and ineffective regimes that can be seen as plague-like in nature. The Soviet Union lost all of its satellite countries before imploding upon itself in Russia, in addition to lagging behind in the world as far as productivity and quality of life is concerned. The autocracies of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have all fallen, and the regimes across the Middle East have been shaken to their core following the Arab Spring movement last year.
Even now in the United States, there is grumbling beneath the surface of electoral politics against both of the existing parties and their candidates for President. And this is not only from the Tea Party. Even if President Obama wins reelection and continues his mediocre track record of “change” in our country (which plays to the the elite's benefit, I might add), the general discontent is likely to grow as things continue to stay the same or get worse for everyone. What could have been peacefully resolved through an election and the peaceful transference of interest and policy to a broader interest base, could turn into the violent overthrow of the American government. The American investors, bankers, executives and lobbyists would go into exile from their country like so many French aristocrats did after the French Revolution in 1789.
We're not likely to see our rivers turn to blood, or experience fire balls raining down from heaven. I wouldn't worry so much about your first born son being killed off mysteriously by unseen forces if you don't have lamb's blood on your lintel. But this economic quagmire is, indeed, a plague upon this society of ours. And the poor governance in Congress and the Presidency isn't helping matters on the ground from festering and becoming worse by the day.
I don't view religion literally. To me, religion is just an abstraction created by our ancestors' more primitive genetic and memetic brains. Some things religious thought leaders got right in what appears, to me at least, as a very round about way of coming to said conclusions intuitively. Some of the things they simply got wrong when compared to the common reality of how things work. But when these same people got stuff right, they got stuff really right. One has got to wonder how many of those modern “Pharaoh's” hearts are hardened to the suffering of others around them. One has also got to wonder to the extent of the plagues that they've caused within their countries. It's not necessarily from any divine intervention or divine providence that these things are happening. Rather, it's through the simple relationships between “cause” and “effect” that these individuals have brought these plagues, in various forms, to Earth for us all to see and experience. That is why one wonders, if the ancient Israelites weren't really on to something real, when they were experiencing their divine “intervention” from God.