Egypt’s Difficulty

January 31, 2011

Egypt is a way-ancient land now exploding via extreme-modern media, but a good reason for all the unrest is as old as time — food.
And a near-twist-a-flex attitude in the US, where prices are fairly stable, mainly because American consumers aren’t really paying much for the actual agriculture product.
From a NPR report on rising world food prices, except as of yet, in the US:

The reason for the tame price environment in this country is that the cost of food itself is a relatively small part of what U.S. consumers pay at the cash register, according to Homi Kharas, senior fellow for the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
He says that when a U.S. consumer buys a box of cereal or a cup of Starbucks coffee, she is mostly paying for the packaging, marketing and attractive store fixtures.
So the shopper is not greatly affected by the underlying commodity price the way poorer people are in other countries when they buy, say, a simple sack of rice.
“Take corn flakes,” Kharas says. “Very little of the price of the box reflects the corn inside.”

And to make it even more surreal, the rising crisis of securing food might just be another of them asshole financial concoction jobs bullshitted out of the nefarious minds on Wall Street.

(Illustration of ‘Nefertari‘ at top found here. And the above Cairo crowd scene found here).

From IPS News on Friday:

Billions of dollars are being made by investors in a speculative “food bubble” that’s created record food prices, starving millions and destabilising countries, experts now conclude.
Wall Street investment firms and banks, along with their kin in London and Europe, were responsible for the technology dot-com bubble, the stock market bubble, and the recent U.S. and UK housing bubbles. They extracted enormous profits and their bonuses before the inevitable collapse of each.
Now they’ve turned to basic commodities.
The result?
At a time when there has been no significant change in the global food supply or in food demand, the average cost of buying food shot up 32 percent from June to December 2010, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Nothing but price speculation can explain wheat prices jumping 70 percent from June to December last year when global wheat stocks were stable, experts say.
“There is no food shortage in the world. Food is simply priced out of the reach of the world’s poorest people,” said Robert Fox of Oxfam Canada in reference to the estimated one billion people who go hungry.
“Hunger is not a food production problem. It is an income problem,” Fox told IPS.

Hence, therefore is Egypt and getting hands on food — The UN World Food Programme (WFP): Egypt is a low-income, food-deficit country, with 19.6 percent of the population – almost 14.2 million people – living below the lower poverty line, on less than US$1/day.
And it’s everywhere — as Josette Sheeran, head of the WFP, told Bloomberg News: “We’re in an era where the world and nations ignore the food issue at their peril.”

Or face some bad shit like Egypt is now experiencing, where, according to CNN Sunday evening, the country is quickly running out of the food staples — bread, beans and rice — and people are unable to provide: “Everything is running out. I have three children, and I only have enough to feed them for maybe two more days. After that I do not know what we will do.” school administrator Gamalat Gadalla told CNN.

Sounds like we need a bowel of them corn flakes right about now.

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