Cons, Libs and NDP do not call for Egyptian President to step down

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George Victor

As an old environmental campaigner, I agree with him that we're probably seeing the onset of climate change and its effects on the species.  You don't agree with him?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

George Victor wrote:

As an old environmental campaigner, I agree with him that we're probably seeing the onset of climate change and its effects on the species.  You don't agree with him?

 

What's to disagree with?  He states the obvious so what?

KeyStone

Let's compare Egypt with Honduras and Venezuela.

In Honduras, the leader that the West did not want in was removed by a coup. The Western nations said very little and allowed democracy to be subverted, and a new leader to be put in charge of the country and supported by the West. In Honduras, democracy is not very important.

In Venezuela, the West has a great deal to say, every time Hugo Chavez so much as tells TV stations to stop coordinating coups. The West must monitor the elections very carefully, to make sure no one complains. In Venezuela, democracy is very important.

In Egypt, Mubarak is the leader the West likes. If only the people of Egypt liked him. So, the West will stay very quiet on this, and if Mubarak can find a way to stay in power, and create some token display of democractic refrom to assuage his detractors, they will back him up. In Egypt, democracy is not very important.

George Victor

kropotkin1951 wrote:

George Victor wrote:

As an old environmental campaigner, I agree with him that we're probably seeing the onset of climate change and its effects on the species.  You don't agree with him?

 

What's to disagree with?  He states the obvious so what?

Oh, I just thought it might support the urging of some to keep the starving masses of Egypt in mind when their proposals for Egyptian revolution reach a fever pitch.   It's also going to play a large part  across the countries of the Middle East with their burgeoning populations and lack of everything except sand. And once upon a time critical analysis took into account the "obvious" first.  : )

In your challenge, above, you said: "I read it but didn't find it particularly noteworthy.  I was actually asking you for your opinion on it since you raised it or am I to take it you agree with every word he wrote. "

 

And you disagree with him where?????? (Not to muddy the waters of your theoretical, economics-free approach).

al-Qa'bong

Economics isn't free of theory?

wage zombie

One reason that Egypt is susceptible to interference from the West is because the nation cannot feed itself.  Currently the country imports wheat, has a declining resource base and a growing population.  I think higher levels of soveriegnty and democracy are dependent on improving these material conditions.  Improving the material conditions seems like quite the challenge, especially with forecasts of an implending global food shortage.

I don't really know what can be done.  I don't think it really matters much about what the NDP or Jack Layton say about Mubarak.

I wish that the narrative (in the media, I guess) focussed more on USian hegemony and the ways democracy get squashed in order to further imperial interests.

George Victor

We just might be ignoring what the average Egyptian considers important. And back here, away from the cut and thrust of "public" debate, we might, like Krugman, note it for future reference as perhaps THE determinant of Middle East politics.

Hell, the determining factor in politics everywhere, if Lovelock's got it right!

al-Qa'bong

Quote:
One reason that Egypt is susceptible to interference from the West is because the nation cannot feed itself.  Currently the country imports wheat, has a declining resource base and a growing population

 

China, Russia and India import wheat (or at least we used to sell them all wheat at one time) as well. Is the question as much one of production as it is of distribution? When the Mubarak family can accumulate $70 billion, while the average income is $2.00/day, my guess is the latter. Political reform ought to be able to address such an imbalance.

George Victor

I guess you're saying that Egypt should be able to afford to now feed its people by purchasing foreign-grown grain.

The question posed by Krugman looks a little farther down the pike than that. Very few economists would adopt that perspective.

Estimates put as many as 40 million people living on $2 a day or less.   The average Egyptian would be living on something more than that.  Knowing the median would be very useful.

al-Qa'bong

No, I'm saying that many countries feed their people with foreign-grown grain.  This isn't unheard of.  Without such people my part of the world would still be bison pasture (which might not be such a bad thing, when all factors are considered).

George Victor

quote: "Is the question as much one of production as it is of distribution? When the Mubarak family can accumulate $70 billion, while the average income is $2.00/day, my guess is the latter"

I guess it's a question of both. Smile At least, Krugman is saying that production is shure as shucks likely to suffer.

And by the way, what does climate change portend for your neck of the prairie? 

 

 

George Victor

Thanks wz

 

wage zombie

al-Qa'bong wrote:

When the Mubarak family can accumulate $70 billion, while the average income is $2.00/day, my guess is the latter. Political reform ought to be able to address such an imbalance.

The Mubarak family accumulated $70 billion for fulfilling their function as imperial puppets. They did not make their money by maximizing business margins in the subsidized bread industry.

Nobody is going to pay Egypt to be democratic.

wage zombie

Egypt imports more total wheat than any other country:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/agr_gra_whe_imp-agriculture-grains-whe...

Quote:

# 1  
Egypt:
6,300 thousand metric tons 
 

# 2  
Japan:
5,800 thousand metric tons 
 

# 3  
Brazil:
5,600 thousand metric tons 
 

# 4  
Indonesia:
4,100 thousand metric tons 
 

# 5  
Mexico:
3,400 thousand metric tons 
 

# 6  
Algeria:
3,300 thousand metric tons 
 

# 7  
Korea, South:
3,100 thousand metric tons 
 

# 8  
Philippines:
2,800 thousand metric tons 
 

# 9  
Nigeria:
2,300 thousand metric tons 
 

= 10  
United States:
2,000 thousand metric tons 
 

= 10  
Iraq:
2,000 thousand metric tons 
 

While China, Russia, and India (and the USA) all do import wheat, they are NET EXPORTERS of wheat (and the top 4 wheat producing countries):

http://www.suite101.com/content/top-ten-wheat-countries-a30185

Quote:

Below are the leading wheat producers for the 2005-6 season. The top 10 producers accounted for over two-thirds of global wheat harvests.

  1. China … 96.2 million tonnes (15.4% of global wheat production)
  2. India … 72 million (11.5%)
  3. United States … 57.1 million (9.1%)
  4. Russia … 45.5 million (7.3%)
  5. France … 36.9 million (5.9%)
  6. Canada … 25.5 million (4.1%)
  7. Australia … 24.1 million (3.8%)
  8. Germany … 23.6 million (3.8%)
  9. Pakistan … 21.6 million (3.4%)
  10. Turkey … 21 million (3.4%)



Again, Egypt imports more total wheat than any other country.  Japan is #2, and that's a challenge for Japan, but Japan has a lot going for it besides that.  As George mentioned, Egypt has very little other than sand.  Declining oil reserves, and a growing population.

When looking at wheat imports PER CAPITA, Egypt is still in the top ten:

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/agr_gra_whe_imp_percap-grains-wheat-im...

Quote:

# 1  
United Arab Emirates:
370.659 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 2  
Libya:
242.803 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 3  
Israel:
238.968 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 4  
Jordan:
173.611 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 5  
Algeria:
101.439 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 6  
Tunisia:
89.33 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 7  
Yemen:
86.8432 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 8  
Egypt:
81.284 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 9  
Iraq:
76.7018 thousand metric tons per 
 

# 10  
Cuba:
70.5032 thousand metric tons per 
 



Notice Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt at 6, 7, 8.  Some of these countries still have lots of oil.  Some of these countries have imperial sponsorship.

Notice that Cuba is the only country in the top ten not from the region, and Cuba's challenges are altogether different.

None of the countries in the top 9 highest wheat importers by capita have sustainable economies.  Egypt's economic outlook is nothing like that of Russia, China, or India.  Whether this revolution ends up being democratic or socialist, nobody will trade Egypt food for sand.

trippie

Very nice discussion. This debate has moved back and forth, here and there. Much better that what I have been watching on the CBC and other MSM outlets. At least here you can talk outside of the bourgeois box.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

George Victor wrote:

From a "liberal" economist, Paul Krugman, writing today in the NYTimes:
Droughts, Floods and Food

I'd make further comment on this piece but it is now behind the corporate firewall. 

George Victor

?     I only recall asking you for your take on the piece, k51.   Let 'er rip.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

It was a mediocre piece written by an American for one of the flagship capitalist presses. Without the piece being still available I can't comment in depth.  Like I said it was pretty much MSM analysis. I would need the piece to point you to the exact sentences that make it mediocre.  

al-Qa'bong

 

Krugman`s essay leads us into the wilderness, then leaves us there.  What`s his point?  Should the protestors just stay home and let the dictator run things because global warming and rising food prices make governance moot?  Is Krugman just following the company line?

 

Quote:
As The New York Times -- always a reliable barometer of official thinking -- reported, "The United States and leading European nations on Saturday threw their weight behind Egypt's vice president, Omar Suleiman, backing his attempt to defuse a popular uprising without immediately removing President Hosni Mubarak from power." Obama administration officials, the newspaper added, "said Mr. Suleiman had promised them an 'orderly transition' that would include constitutional reform and outreach to opposition groups" ("West Backs Gradual Egyptian Transition," 5 February 2011).

Moreoever, the Times reported, the United States has already managed to persuade two of its major European clients -- the United Kingdom and Germany -- to back continuing the existing regime with only a change of figurehead.

The danger to Egypt's revolution comes from Washington

I can not better see Krugman`s point than I can that of those who bring up Egypt`s lack of wheat production...and all that sand.  Is there no hope that changing their political system would improve the lot of the populace?  Would a democratic government, accountable to the people and not to the Empire`s corporate masters, not be a step in the right direction?  Would throwing off their shackles not make Egyptians better capable of improving their economic situation, or is this also a moot point, since the Arab mind is incapable of thinking democratically?

Perhaps Egypt should surrender to the Israelis now and hope the victors make their desert bloom.

George Victor

It is because of such in-depth consideration of the material aspects of revolutionary movements that old Karl is likely turning over and groaning in his London grave at this moment.Smile And I think he may also have been concerned about the possibility of a truly fundamental shift in the human condition. You can neatly separate that condition from events in Egypt in your mind, but not on the ground...not for the people there.

Folks want to know, first, where their food is to come from.

al-Qa'bong

So the bread riots that led to the French Revolution were incidental, and were unrelated to the goals of the revolution, much as the sharp rise in food prices have nothing to do with Egyptians hitting the streets calling for change?

George Victor

February 6, 2011

Droughts, Floods and Food

 

By PAUL KRUGMAN

 

We're in the midst of a global food crisis - the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they're having a brutal impact on the world's poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.

The consequences of this food crisis go far beyond economics. After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn't so much why they're happening as why they're happening now. And there's little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

So what's behind the price spike? American right-wingers (and the Chinese) blame easy-money policies at the Federal Reserve, with at least one commentator declaring that there is "blood on Bernanke's hands." Meanwhile, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France blames speculators, accusing them of "extortion and pillaging."

But the evidence tells a different, much more ominous story. While several factors have contributed to soaring food prices, what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production. And these severe weather events are exactly the kind of thing we'd expect to see as rising concentrations of greenhouse gases change our climate - which means that the current food price surge may be just the beginning.

Now, to some extent soaring food prices are part of a general commodity boom: the prices of many raw materials, running the gamut from aluminum to zinc, have been rising rapidly since early 2009, mainly thanks to rapid industrial growth in emerging markets.

 

The link still works here in the east. What he is also saying is that perhaps hunger is bringing on the revolution....

George Victor

Al, save the snot!

Make that silly snot.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

George I am not signed into the NY Times and have no desire to so I suspect you are registered and thus you can see the article.  I merely get a login screen no matter which route I try to get into the article from.  Saw a nice profile of him going through the last route you suggested but unfortunately while scenic it still led to the same dead end.

George Victor

And here's the other half for the broken-link readership:

Now, to some extent soaring food prices are part of a general commodity boom: the prices of many raw materials, running the gamut from aluminum to zinc, have been rising rapidly since early 2009, mainly thanks to rapid industrial growth in emerging markets.

But the link between industrial growth and demand is a lot clearer for, say, copper than it is for food. Except in very poor countries, rising incomes don't have much effect on how much people eat.

It's true that growth in emerging nations like China leads to rising meat consumption, and hence rising demand for animal feed. It's also true that agricultural raw materials, especially cotton, compete for land and other resources with food crops - as does the subsidized production of ethanol, which consumes a lot of corn. So both economic growth and bad energy policy have played some role in the food price surge.

Still, food prices lagged behind the prices of other commodities until last summer. Then the weather struck.

Consider the case of wheat, whose price has almost doubled since the summer. The immediate cause of the wheat price spike is obvious: world production is down sharply. The bulk of that production decline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, reflects a sharp plunge in the former Soviet Union. And we know what that's about: a record heat wave and drought, which pushed Moscow temperatures above 100 degrees for the first time ever.

The Russian heat wave was only one of many recent extreme weather events, from dry weather in Brazil to biblical-proportion flooding in Australia, that have damaged world food production.

The question then becomes, what's behind all this extreme weather?

To some extent we're seeing the results of a natural phenomenon, La Niña - a periodic event in which water in the equatorial Pacific becomes cooler than normal. And La Niña events have historically been associated with global food crises, including the crisis of 2007-8.

But that's not the whole story. Don't let the snow fool you: globally, 2010 was tied with 2005 for warmest year on record, even though we were at a solar minimum and La Niña was a cooling factor in the second half of the year. Temperature records were set not just in Russia but in no fewer than 19 countries, covering a fifth of the world's land area. And both droughts and floods are natural consequences of a warming world: droughts because it's hotter, floods because warm oceans release more water vapor.

As always, you can't attribute any one weather event to greenhouse gases. But the pattern we're seeing, with extreme highs and extreme weather in general becoming much more common, is just what you'd expect from climate change.

The usual suspects will, of course, go wild over suggestions that global warming has something to do with the food crisis; those who insist that Ben Bernanke has blood on his hands tend to be more or less the same people who insist that the scientific consensus on climate reflects a vast leftist conspiracy.

But the evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we're getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we'll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Quote:

But the evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we're getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we'll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.

This is written from his position of privilege and grates on my nerves.  He is never going to get a taste of starving in the streets but he has concern for the disruption of the "capitalist" economy and "imperial" political order .  I am sure he can tell you the names of some good restaurants in Cairo.  As Al Q said he merely points out what seems to me to be the obvious and leaves me at the end thinking, So?  

Quote:

It's true that growth in emerging nations like China leads to rising meat consumption, and hence rising demand for animal feed. It's also true that agricultural raw materials, especially cotton, compete for land and other resources with food crops - as does the subsidized production of ethanol, which consumes a lot of corn. So both economic growth and bad energy policy have played some role in the food price surge.

This bothers me because of its embedded hierarchy. Foremost it is China and other developing countries and then government policy. No mention of America's corporate driven foreign policy and its control of the worlds futures markets in agricultural products.  No analysis of how food can be a commodity for speculation in a world where people starve.  Just MSM drivel. I don't expect anything better from the NY Times. I prefer when the focus is on more alternate viewpoints rather than a very narrow slant that blames no one for people starving to death in this world.

al-Qa'bong

George Victor wrote:

Al, save the snot!

Make that silly snot.

Georgie, if you prevaricated a little less (save for when you insult someone - brief moments of clarity, those) you would not elicit such questions.

You said (from what I can make out) that material concerns (i.e. food) came before the philosophical goals of a revolution, and I pointed out that there is just a chance that material concerns were the catalyst for the revolt in Egypt.

Why the churlish reaction?

George Victor

I may have missed it, but I believe I was first in the thread to meantion to $2 a day folks and what they might want from revolution...And "churlish" aQ, is your "So the bread riots that led to the French Revolution were incidental, and were unrelated to the goals of the revolution, much as the sharp rise in food prices have nothing to do with Egyptians hitting the streets calling for change?" That was in the very next line of posting after I had said, in the posting immediately preceding it: "Folks want to know, first, where their food is to come from."

 

You're losing it aQ.

 

 

George Victor

quote: "This is written from his position of privilege and grates on my nerves.  He is never going to get a taste of starving in the streets but he has concern for the disruption of the "capitalist" economy and "imperial" political order .  I am sure he can tell you the names of some good restaurants in Cairo.  As Al Q said he merely points out what seems to me to be the obvious and leaves me at the end thinking, So? "

 

You have a very vivid, class-fuelled imagination, k19.  And of course, he is the most liberal economists in the U.S., the one who declared war on Dubya from day one. Can't imagine you trusting much at all flowing north.

And you didn't find this :"These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they're having a brutal impact on the world's poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs." as an indication of someone with sympathy for the human condition?

I would not want you reading my paper in poli-sci 101 .

al-Qa'bong

That was in the very next line of posting after I had said, in the posting immediately preceding it: "Folks want to know, first, where their food is to come from."

 

You're losing it aQ.

And I said that concern over their food supply was a catalyst for the Egyptian revolt, as it was for Parisians in 1789.  You do not seem to want to acknowledge that.

Are you arguing that Egyptians should stay with the staus quo (working from within the system is impossible - you would agree with at least that, would you not?) and refrain from demonstrating because doing so would cause food prices to rise?  Just this once, come out and clearly say what you mean without all the equivocation that makes sorting through your posts so entertaining.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Closing for length.

fyi, I haven't read this thread but it looks like some of you all might need to dial it down.

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