Ithaca Blog

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Poor Eat Cakes of Mud

Official apathy about mass starvation is certainly not new. Everyone knows the remark by Marie Antoinette when told the French people had no bread.

History repeats itself in Haiti, where the current world food crisis is particuarly severe. Haitians are eating mud mixed with oil and sugar, but the country's president suggested they must not be too desperate for money for food if they still had cell phones and other items of value that they hadn't sold yet. He said, "If there is a protest against the rising prices, come get me at the palace and I will demonstrate with you."

They did. In thousands. The president barricaded himself in, with soldiers. He remains in office, though his prime minister was forced out, and the government is in turmoil.

The situation of rising prices and scarcity of food is raging around the world. Experts are stumped, as experts often are. Ordinary people, however, know that oil profiteering and militarism are official policies now around the world, for the rich to bury the poor alive.

The leader is our leader, George Bush, who says the war in Iraq is great, not a disaster for Iraqis and Americans alike; who didn't know that gasoline has gotten prohibitively expensive for ordinary people; who has said that emergency rooms are a pretty good national health care policy. To the limited degree that he knows what he does, he cares even less.

They say the fluttering wings of a butterfly in the Amazon can create forces that in turn create tsunamis. Let's hope - and work for - new leadership in this country to create tides of change and ease.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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