Thursday, March 03, 2011

People march (or revolt) on their stomachs, too!

The Muslim world's dictators, kings, sheiks and other potentates are falling like dominoes not because of some CIA plot by Western infidels (as Libya's unspellable tyrant alleges), but because food prices have risen dramatically. In countries in which food is a large part of the consumer basket of goods, such as in the Arab world, this spells hunger.

We all know that “Let them eat cakes!” is a recipe for a bad end. The last person reputed to have said such a thing of her starving subjects, French Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, was executed in 1793.

The reality today is that people in poorer countries today are facing acute hunger and starvation. According to the World Bank, global food prices have risen an average 29 percent between January 2010 and January 2011. Before that, prices were just 3 percent down from a historical peak in 2008.

“Based on a very rough analysis, we estimate that a doubling of food prices over the last three years could potentially push 100 million people in low-income countries deeper into poverty,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick declared recently. “This is not just a question of short-term needs, as important as those are; this is ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price too.”

Food prices leading to inability to satisfy hunger is the phantom at the barricades in Tunis, Cairo, Tripoli, Teheran and Amman — not Thomas Jefferson, not Osama bin Laden and certainly not CIA Director Leon Panetta.
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