Battered and bruised picture prompts questions about rise of extremism in western cities
Paul Joseph Watson
A photo of a bruised and beaten gay man who claims he received his injuries while walking through a Muslim suburb of Paris arm in arm with his boyfriend has provoked shock and fresh concerns about the rise of ethnic extremism in western cities.
“A man in Paris, France was reportedly beaten for walking with arm in arm with his boyfriend Olivier early Sunday morning. Wilfred de Bruijn, a French resident, says he was assaulted while walking in Paris’ 19th arrondissement. He says he sustained several injuries, including a missing tooth, broken bones, and fractured pieces of bone in his skull. He posted a photo of his wounds on his Facebook page with the caption “Sorry to show you this. It’s the face of homophobia,” reports Al Jazeera.
The 19th arrondissement of Paris is mainly populated with Muslim and North African immigrant families and who live adjacent to Orthodox jews. The area is known for suffering high rates of crime fueled by “gang warfare,” and ethnically-charged clashes are commonplace.
The 19th arrondissement was also the location of some of the worst scenes of unrest during the city’s riots in 2005. Muslim extremists also attacked a gay club in Paris last year.
While the majority of people responded to de Bruijn’s photo by noting how it reflected the sad state of human rights in 2013, some accused him of faking the story, asking why the wounds were not dressed and why de Bruijn only took 10 days sick leave from work.
It is important to emphasize that most Muslims abhor violence and that those who resort to it are in the minority.
However, many see the rise of Muslim extremism in western cities as a growing menace that is being downplayed as a result of political correctness.
In January 2010, videos began to emerge of so-called “Muslim patrols” in different areas of London. Although condemned by mosques, the aim of the patrols was to create “Muslim zones” where behavior such as drinking alcohol, dressing inappropriately, or appearing to be homosexual was met with intimidation and threats by gangs of Muslim men.
Signs that read “Sharia controlled zone” have also been plastered all over communities in London and other UK cities, with residents warned, “You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced.”
On the other hand, numerous videos have also emerged of white people engaging in lurid racist rants against ethnic minorities on public transport. Such stories have received massive attention and countless thousands of comments. White people have also been the target of such rants metered out by blacks and Muslims.
The rise of social media and the widespread ability of people to film incidents in real time using cell phones has undoubtedly made it appear as if such activity is on the increase. However, the figures do show that “racist attacks” are increasing against both white populations and minorities in major western countries such as the United Kingdom and America.
Whether by accident or design, the intense media focus on these incidents has served to drive a further wedge between people of different ethnicity, faith and lifestyle – which in the long term will only serve to reduce the ability for people to unite under the banner of freedom in pursuit of their common interests.
Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.SOURCE
By Alexandra RENARD / Clovis CASALI / Matthieu MABIN
AFP – Greek police tear-gassed protestors in central Athens as public sector staff and students went on strike over austerity cuts, shutting down courts, schools and transport including flights.
On Athens’ central Syntagma Square outside the parliament building, police used tear gas to clear some of the 20,000 protestors, who included some 300 anarchists, after firebombs were thrown at them, an AFP reporter said.
At least two protesters were injured, the ambulance service said, in addition to an AFP photographer struck in the face by a riot policeman’s shield as she took pictures of his colleagues hitting a demonstrator lying on the ground.
Another 10,000 people marched in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
The protests organised by the two main Greek unions, ADEDY and GSEE, came ahead of a general strike on October 19, which will also affect banks and shops.
It was called in response to new taxes, wage cuts and layoffs imposed by a government, fighting to avert a default on its debt payments, as the next installment of international aid hangs in the balance.
“Every time the public deficit gets bigger they impose new taxes, life is just getting too expensive,” said Stavros and Helena, a married couple employed by the city of Athens.
“They should just put us on a boat and send us away,” they told AFP.
“All workers must unite and coordinate their forces against this storm of measures that strike income and labour rights,” ADEDY chairman Costas Tsikrikas told Flash Radio.
“If we don’t resist we will lose everything,” he said.
Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis said Greece must hold a referendum so the seemingly outraged public can vote on the government’s response to the debt crisis.
There was a need, Kastanidis said, “for the Greek people, at this critical moment, to take a position on the fiscal problem.”
He did not specify when such a call to the public would be made, or the exact phrasing of the question, but said, “it will not be an easy question, but a vital question.”
Government spokesman Elias Mossialos later denied that a referendum was being planned.
Civil servants are protesting a plan to furlough some 30,000 employees, who will be on reduced pay for a year as they try to find other jobs.
The workers concerned already suffered sweeping wage cuts last year.
“Furlough equals layoffs,” read a banner carried by municipal workers. Communist unions urged Greek to “organised resistance” as they marched on parliament.
The 24-hour walkout has shut down ministries, town halls, museums, schools and courtrooms, as well as flights in Greece. It also brought trains to a halt and hospitals were reduced to emergency staffing.
The labour plan, accompanied by downsizing at scores of state-owned companies, is designed to ease the state payroll as the government struggles to balance its bulging public deficit.
But there has been mounting criticism even within the ruling Socialist party.
“We have fallen behind in three crucial reform fields — civil service wages, tax evasion and privatisations,” former labour minister Louka Katseli told private television station Mega.
“We gave our (EU) peers an excuse to say that necessary reforms were not carried out in the summer,” she said.
The additional austerity cuts are mandated by Greece’s international creditors — the EU, IMF and European Central Bank — under an economic recovery programme launched last year in return for a 110-billion-euro ($149-billion) loan.
A high-level mission from the three organisations is currently conducting an audit of Greek finances and must sign off on the release of an eight-billion-euro loan installment next month.
Greece’s state reserves to pay wages and pensions run out in November.
The country is trapped in a deepening recession and many Greeks point out that the cumulative cuts are only digging a deeper hole for the economy, which is expected to contract by 5.5 percent of output this year.
As the recession has repeatedly neutralised part of the sacrifices, there is concern that additional cutbacks to meet slipping fiscal targets are inevitable.
Years of liberal dogma have spawned a generation of amoral, uneducated, welfare dependent, brutalised youngsters
By Max Hastings
A few weeks after the U.S. city of Detroit was ravaged by 1967 race riots in which 43 people died, I was shown around the wrecked areas by a black reporter named Joe Strickland.
He said: ‘Don’t you believe all that stuff people here are giving media folk about how sorry they are about what happened. When they talk to each other, they say: “It was a great fire, man!”?’
I am sure that is what many of the young rioters, black and white, who have burned and looted in England through the past few shocking nights think today.
Manchester: Hooded looters laden with clothes run from a Manchester shopping centre
It was fun. It made life interesting. It got people to notice them. As a girl looter told a BBC reporter, it showed ‘the rich’ and the police that ‘we can do what we like’.
If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame.
Most have no jobs to go to or exams they might pass. They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped.
They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.
They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.
They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others.
Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it.
A former London police chief spoke a few years ago about the ‘feral children’ on his patch — another way of describing the same reality.
The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.
Nobody has ever dared suggest to them that they need feel any allegiance to anything, least of all Britain or their community. They do not watch royal weddings or notice Test matches or take pride in being Londoners or Scousers or Brummies.
Not only do they know nothing of Britain’s past, they care nothing for its present.
They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime, sometimes petty, sometimes serious.
The notions of doing a nine-to-five job, marrying and sticking with a wife and kids, taking up DIY or learning to read properly, are beyond their imaginations.
Last week, I met a charity worker who is trying to help a teenage girl in East London to get a life for herself. There is a difficulty, however: ‘Her mother wants her to go on the game.’ My friend explained: ‘It’s the money, you know.’
An underclass has existed throughout history, which once endured appalling privation. Its spasmodic outbreaks of violence, especially in the early 19th century, frightened the ruling classes.
Its frustrations and passions were kept at bay by force and draconian legal sanctions, foremost among them capital punishment and transportation to the colonies.
Today, those at the bottom of society behave no better than their forebears, but the welfare state has relieved them from hunger and real want.
When social surveys speak of ‘deprivation’ and ‘poverty’, this is entirely relative. Meanwhile, sanctions for wrongdoing have largely vanished.
When Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith recently urged employers to take on more British workers and fewer migrants, he was greeted with a hoarse laugh.
Every firm in the land knows that an East European — for instance — will, first, bother to turn up; second, work harder; and third, be better-educated than his or her British counterpart.Who do we blame for this state of affairs?
Ken Livingstone, contemptible as ever, declares the riots to be a result of the Government’s spending cuts. This recalls the remarks of the then leader of Lambeth Council, ‘Red Ted’ Knight, who said after the 1981 Brixton riots that the police in his borough ‘amounted to an army of occupation’.
But it will not do for a moment to claim the rioters’ behaviour reflects deprived circumstances or police persecution.
Of course it is true that few have jobs, learn anything useful at school, live in decent homes, eat meals at regular hours or feel loyalty to anything beyond their local gang.
This is not, however, because they are victims of mistreatment or neglect.
It is because it is fantastically hard to help such people, young or old, without imposing a measure of compulsion which modern society finds unacceptable. These kids are what they are because nobody makes them be anything different or better.
A key factor in delinquency is lack of effective sanctions to deter it. From an early stage, feral children discover that they can bully fellow pupils at school, shout abuse at people in the streets, urinate outside pubs, hurl litter from car windows, play car radios at deafening volumes, and, indeed, commit casual assaults with only a negligible prospect of facing rebuke, far less retribution.
John Stuart Mill wrote in his great 1859 essay On Liberty: ‘The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.’
Yet every day up and down the land, this vital principle of civilised societies is breached with impunity.
Anyone who reproaches a child, far less an adult, for discarding rubbish, making a racket, committing vandalism or driving unsociably will receive in return a torrent of obscenities, if not violence.
So who is to blame? The breakdown of families, the pernicious promotion of single motherhood as a desirable state, the decline of domestic life so that even shared meals are a rarity, have all contributed importantly to the condition of the young underclass.
The social engineering industry unites to claim that the conventional template of family life is no longer valid.
And what of the schools? I do not think they can be blamed for the creation of a grotesquely self-indulgent, non-judgmental culture.
This has ultimately been sanctioned by Parliament, which refuses to accept, for instance, that children are more likely to prosper with two parents than with one, and that the dependency culture is a tragedy for those who receive something for nothing.
The judiciary colludes with social services and infinitely ingenious lawyers to assert the primacy of the rights of the criminal and aggressor over those of law-abiding citizens, especially if a young offender is involved.
The police, in recent years, have developed a reputation for ignoring yobbery and bullying, or even for taking the yobs’ side against complainants.
‘The problem,’ said Bill Pitt, the former head of Manchester’s Nuisance Strategy Unit, ‘is that the law appears to be there to protect the rights of the perpetrator, and does not support the victim.’
Police regularly arrest householders who are deemed to have taken ‘disproportionate’ action to protect themselves and their property from burglars or intruders. The message goes out that criminals have little to fear from ‘the feds’.
Figures published earlier this month show that a majority of ‘lesser’ crimes — which include burglary and car theft, and which cause acute distress to their victims — are never investigated, because forces think it so unlikely they will catch the perpetrators.
How do you inculcate values in a child whose only role model is footballer Wayne Rooney — a man who is bereft of the most meagre human graces?
How do you persuade children to renounce bad language when they hear little else from stars on the BBC?
A teacher, Francis Gilbert, wrote five years ago in his book Yob Nation: ‘The public feels it no longer has the right to interfere.’
Discussing the difficulties of imposing sanctions for misbehaviour or idleness at school, he described the case of a girl pupil he scolded for missing all her homework deadlines.
The youngster’s mother, a social worker, telephoned him and said: ‘Threatening to throw my daughter off the A-level course because she hasn’t done some work is tantamount to psychological abuse, and there is legislation which prevents these sorts of threats.
‘I believe you are trying to harm my child’s mental well-being, and may well take steps?.?.?. if you are not careful.’
That story rings horribly true. It reflects a society in which teachers have been deprived of their traditional right to arbitrate pupils’ behaviour. Denied power, most find it hard to sustain respect, never mind control.
I never enjoyed school, but, like most children until very recent times, did the work because I knew I would be punished if I did not. It would never have occurred to my parents not to uphold my teachers’ authority. This might have been unfair to some pupils, but it was the way schools functioned for centuries, until the advent of crazy ‘pupil rights’.
I recently received a letter from a teacher who worked in a county’s pupil referral unit, describing appalling difficulties in enforcing discipline. Her only weapon, she said, was the right to mark a disciplinary cross against a child’s name for misbehaviour.
Having repeatedly and vainly asked a 15-year-old to stop using obscene language, she said: ‘Fred, if you use language like that again, I’ll give you a cross.’
He replied: ‘Give me an effing cross, then!’ Eventually, she said: ‘Fred, you have three crosses now. You must miss your next break.’
He answered: ‘I’m not missing my break, I’m going for an effing fag!’ When she appealed to her manager, he said: ‘Well, the boy’s got a lot going on at home at the moment. Don’t be too hard on him.’
This is a story repeated daily in schools up and down the land.
A century ago, no child would have dared to use obscene language in class. Today, some use little else. It symbolises their contempt for manners and decency, and is often a foretaste of delinquency.
If a child lacks sufficient respect to address authority figures politely, and faces no penalty for failing to do so, then other forms of abuse — of property and person — come naturally.
So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.
They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.
They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game.
They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential.
Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.
Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people.
They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values than the young rioters of Tottenham, Hackney, Clapham and Birmingham.
Unless or until those who run Britain introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking, there will never be a shortage of young rioters and looters such as those of the past four nights, for whom their monstrous excesses were ‘a great fire, man’.
Greece wracked by political turmoil in debt crisis
NICHOLAS PAPHITIS, Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece was wracked by political turmoil as the embattled prime minister faced down a party revolt over new austerity measures — a bitter dispute that forced the EU to hint at new loans so Greece can fend off a summer default.
Prime Minister George Papandreou has struggled to garner support for a new package of euro28 billion ($39.5 billion) in spending cuts and tax hikes demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which last year granted his debt-ridden nation euro110 billion ($155 billion) in bailout loans.
But the measures have sparked riots on the streets of Athens and open criticism from his own Socialist lawmakers. Papandreou’s desperate efforts to form a coalition government with the opposition conservatives collapsed Wednesday, and the political crisis deepened Thursday when two of Papandreou’s lawmakers resigned. A planned Cabinet reshuffle was delayed till Friday, after Papandreou chaired a seven-hour emergency meeting with Socialist lawmakers to try and ease the crisis.
The party feud heightened worldwide concern that a Greek financial collapse could trigger panic elsewhere in the 17-nation eurozone — a fear that saw borrowing costs in vulnerable EU countries surge and stock markets come under pressure.
“We will prevail and we will hold on. We have as a country in the past successfully faced major crises. As hard at this struggle is, we cannot run away from our fight,” Papandreou told party lawmakers. “We will fight and we will win, for Greece, its people and the future of the new generations.”
Fearing further chaos, the EU’s top financial official, Olli Rehn, indicated in Brussels that Greece will likely get its next financial lifeline in July, despite the EU finance ministers’ failure to agree on a new bailout package for the country.
Rich EU countries like Germany and the Netherlands want private creditors to share a big part of the burden of helping Greece, while the European Central Bank fears those demands could trigger a partial default that would spark panic on financial markets and pummel banks in Greece and across Europe.
Rehn, the EU’s monetary affairs commissioner, said eurozone ministers would likely agree Sunday to give Greece the next euro12 billion ($17 billion) loan from last year’s euro110 billion package. However, the aid will only be paid if Papandreou’s government, which faces a vote of confidence within days, can get new budget cuts and privatizations through parliament before the end of the month.
The loan would keep Greece afloat until September and give finance ministers and the ECB until their next get-together in July to resolve their differences, Rehn said.
His comments raised hopes that Greece would avoid a quick default, alleviating the selling pressure on the euro, which had earlier fallen below $1.41 for the first time in three weeks.
But fears of a second Greek bailout drove the yield on Greece’s two-year bonds above 30 percent for the first time ever Thursday and kept the 10-year equivalent near all-time highs around 18 percent.
Even if a second bailout is granted to Greece, many analysts think the road will still end in default, and some even wonder if Greece will stay in the 17-nation eurozone.
“While an additional bailout package may stave off near-term disaster, a major debt restructuring seems inevitable at some point and Greece’s future in the currency union is looking ever more doubtful,” said Jonathan Loynes, chief international economist at Capital Economics.
Some economists fear that a Greek default would trigger financial chaos like the Sept. 2008 collapse of the U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers.
“The risk of a ‘Lehman moment’ for the eurozone is increasing,” says Neil MacKinnon, analyst at VTB Capital.
Nout Wellink, a member of the ECB’s rate-setting council, said the situation means that European governments need to be ready to double the size of their bailout fund to euro1.5 billion — a prospect sure to irritate German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces unrest at home over Germany’s role as the leading funder of bailouts.
In Athens, Papandreou said he would keep seeking a consensus with the opposition over the financial reforms that creditors have demanded.
“I will serve and continue to serve the effort for broader consensus and we hope that this effort ultimately is successful,” he said.
He admitted his government had displayed “mistakes and weaknesses,” but promised a new, stronger Cabinet in a reshuffle.
His strong words failed to reassure, and prominent Socialist lawmaker Vasso Papandreou was stinging in her criticism.
“The measures we are implementing are only cuts in salaries and pensions,” she said during the emergency meeting. “We voted for other measures but we have not implemented them.”
The lawmaker — who is not related to the prime minister — said Greece was in a worse condition now than when it first passed austerity measures last year.
“We have managed to mobilize nearly all of Greece’s society against us,” she noted.
Derek Gatopoulos and Elena Becatoros in Athens, Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels, Pan Pylas in London and David McHugh in Frankfurt contributed.
Food prices to skyrocket, riots could follow, suggests USDA
by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) When the upswing in commodity prices eventually makes its way throughout the food system in mid-to-late 2011, food prices are sure to spike with levels potentially reaching those of 2008, announced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economist Ephraim Leibtag at the agency’s annual Outlook Forum. And if conditions escalate rapidly, there is also the potential for food riots and other civil unrest.
The USDA is predicting a 3.5 percent increase in food prices in 2011, which is about twice the overall inflation rate but less than the 2008 increase, according to a recent Reuters report. In 2008, food prices rose 5.5 percent, which represents the highest increase since 1990. But the possibility of food prices dramatically rising in 2012 like they did in 2008 is a definite possibility.
“Given that it’s still earlier in the year, I’m prone to be conservative on the side of the forecast,” said Leibtag. “It’s a possibility,” he added, concerning the likelihood of massive inflation in food costs like was seen in 2008.
ARE YOU READY FOR AN EMERGENCY?
Leibtag also explained the agency’s expectation of a four percent rise in costs for meats, poultry, and fish; a 3.5 percent increase for fruits and vegetables; a four percent increase for cereals and bakery products; and a three percent increase in sugar and sweets costs. All increases represent anywhere from a 20 to 60 percent increase over last year’s increases.
In 2008, food shortages and rapid price increases led to riots in 25 different countries around the world. And the same may happen again, including even in the US, due to factors like the devaluation of the dollar, crop losses, rising oil costs, and other economic factors (http://www.naturalnews.com/031408_f…).
The warning serves as a wake-up call to Americans to take back their land and begin growing more food on the local and regional scale. According to statistics from Farm Aid, a family farming advocacy group, roughly five million US farms have been lost since the 1930s, and about 330 farmers every week leave their land. If this trend continues, the situation will only worsen.
Factory farming operations have essentially replaced local farming throughout the country. And government policies like subsidization of genetically-modified (GM) crops only continues to drive small-scale farmers off their land and exacerbate the problem.
03/02/11 Tampa, Florida – It is certainly old news around here that terrifying inflation in prices, thanks to the monstrous inflation in the money supply caused by the Federal Reserve creating So Freaking Much Money (SFMM) for the last few decades, has caused me to venture to that dangerous precipice between being merely weird and obnoxious, to being a raving lunatic screaming from the rooftop “We’re freaking doomed!”
Of course, I also thunder, “Buy gold and silver! Buy gold and silver! Buy gold and silver!” until my voice is raspy and my throat is sore, only to have my words of wisdom and financial salvation drowned out by the roar of the assembled crowd chanting, “Jump! Jump! Jump!” and I’m trying to yell loud enough to tell them that they have it all wrong, and that “I have no intention of jumping to my death, you morons! But if you don’t buy gold and silver against the horrific inflation in prices unleashed by the Federal Reserve creating so much money, then you are, ironically, jumping to YOUR financial deaths! Hahaha! Go to hell, all of you!”
I even threw down some leaflets of the essay “A Vale of Dollars” by Joel Bowman, Managing Editor here at The Daily Reckoning, in which he writes, “According to data released by the World Bank, food prices rose a stunning 15% from October through January. The World Bank’s own food index now sits just 3% below its 2008 record.”
This revelation did cause some discussion amongst the, apparently few, literate crowd members, and the calls for me to “Jump! Jump! Jump!” faded, and people started talking about how much more food and gas cost.
But for me, I shut up when Mr. Bowman noted that “the price spike prompted” World Bank chief Robert Zoellick to, I assume, rise up out of the neo-Keynesian fog befuddling his apparently congenital stupidity and to remark that “Global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people.”
Well, first off, I gotta tell say that Mister “They calls me Clueless” Zoellick is, again, demonstrating a stunning, complete lack of any real grasp of the situation by laughably estimating that “tens of millions” of people will be adversely affected by food prices soaring, when the real figure is at least ten times that great, if not a hundred times greater, or (more likely) hundreds of times greater than his ridiculous lowball estimate, as everyone in the Whole Freaking World (WFW) will, to one degree or another, be affected by inflation in the price of food because there are very, very few people, if any, in that aforementioned Whole Freaking World (WFW) to whom a soaring price of food is completely insignificant.
FEMA BUYS ONE BILLION IN EMERGENCY FOOD
So, again, what a moron! Although, this is what you would expect from him having happily participated in the whole monetary insanity, every step of the way, so as to be a direct cause of the world’s economic misery!
It’s too bad that Mr. Zoellick didn’t anticipate this whole thing, like the Austrian Business Cycle Theory did, years ago by saying something like, “Global money supplies are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people,” although, even then, it would have still been a gross understatement, but on the right track, anyway!
And before you think that I have such a low opinion of Mr. Zoellick because I am naturally hateful, The Daily Bell asked John Perkins, author of the best-selling Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, his opinion of the World Bank.
He replied, “The World Bank is a tool of economic hit men, there is no question about it. It’s the tool of big corporations, the IMF and most of what we call intelligence agencies of the United States, CIA and NSA. Essentially the job of all these organizations is to help what used to be just US businesses – now we call them multi-nationals – get themselves established around the world in positions where they can exploit the world’s resources, natural resources and human resources.”
And now Mr. Zoellick is shedding crocodile tears about the poor having to pay higher prices after he, as a head banker, aided and abetted the creation of all the excess money, to finance the takeover of “the world’s resources, natural resources and human resources” that made prices go higher? Hahaha! Too, too much! Hahahahaha!
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I note that this kind of treachery by banks and bankers, I assume, is what prompted George Bernard Shaw to say, “You have to choose between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the government. And, with due respect to these gentlemen, I advise you, as long as the capitalist system lasts, to vote for gold.”
And it is also what makes me say, “Buy gold, silver and oil stocks when your stupid government is allowing the evil Federal Reserve to keep creating staggering amounts of money, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade!”
And so while both Mr. Shaw and I agree that buying gold is the way to go, there is, alas, no evidence of Mr. Shaw saying, “Whee! This investing stuff is easy!” although I think that he would at least agree with it being easy! Whee!
The Mogambo Guru
for The Daily Reckoning
Richard Daughty (Mogambo Guru) is general partner and COO for Smith Consultant Group, serving the financial and medical communities, and the writer/publisher of the Mogambo Guru economic newsletter, an avocational exercise to better heap disrespect on those who desperately deserve it. The Mogambo Guru is quoted frequently in Barron’s, The Daily Reckoning , and other fine publications.
Who’s Really Affected By Rising Food Prices http://dailyreckoning.com/whos-really-affected-by-rising-food-prices/#ixzz1GcwnRSG7
Gerald Celente: “There is no recovery — it’s a coverup!”
Sic Semper Tyrannis
March 1, 2011
Trends forecaster Gerald Celente appeared on RT February 28, 2011, explaining how the circus called the U.S. government is running America – right into disaster.
Current predictions circulating among economists are that oil prices may soon hit $200 a barrel. Lindsey Williams, a well known Chaplain and close associate with oil company elites has revealed that the globalists in charge behind the scenes are planning to push oil prices as high as $150- 200 a barrel before 2012.
Gerald Celente states the only possible way for oil prices to jump so high would be for “an outbreak” to occur in a major oil-producing country such as Saudi Arabia, or in Iran. The “outbreak” he refers to would be open revolution, rioting, and chaos that is currently happening along the northern part of Africa, and in parts of the Middle East.
One of the other scenarios he brings out, would be the closing of the Suez Canal.
“… But what we’re looking at really, is very reminiscent of the late 1970?s, 1979 when the Iranian crisis broke out. Because there’s another element in this that’s important. It’s inflation. And what we’re looking at.. as we look back in the 70?s, it was high inflation – plus the Iranian crisis, an oil spike.
You have the same thing going on now….”
Gerald argues the oil prices have been going up before the recent chaos in the Middle East, and it’s due to the de-valuing of the U.S. dollar, and that the only reason the “ponzi scheme” continues is due to the control by the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates at 0%.
He argues that as inflation increases, the Fed will push interest rates up eventually, in order to keep oil and other commodity prices down since they are tied to the dollar. As the interest rates start to increase, the economy here in the U.S. will go even further into tailspin.
One other point brought out by Gerald Celente is the fact that the current puppet regime in the White House is “cooking the books” on the unemployment numbers and current inflation rates. They are making their own rules on how to determine inflation rates by leaving out essential information such as food and fuel prices. The same is being done with White House unemployment numbers by simply leaving out those who have given up looking for jobs, as well as other deceptive “carnie” tricks (in reference to White House spokesperson Carnie) in which he compares the administration to a traveling carnival act.
In closing, Celente states:
“… There is no recovery, it’s a coverup. It’s only being boosted by these low interest rates, which again, when inflation skyrockets- they’re gonna have to raise them, and that crashes the economy…”
Again, I am reminded of the words of Maurice Strong, who stated that essentially, it would be necessary for a collapse of industrialized nations economically, to further the agenda of carbon taxes, UN dominance, and ultimately – Global Governance aka, A NEW WORLD ORDER.
Celente: “When the money stops flowing down to the man in the street, the blood starts flowing in the streets.”
Author: Mac Slavo
– February 25th, 2011
Trend forecaster Gerald Celente, of the Trends Research Institute, says that the further expansion of government austerity measures and impoverishment of the majority of the world’s populace will lead to more violence, riots and revolutions.
In his latest Trend Alert® to subscribers, Celente discusses the revolutions breaking out in the middle east and provides a different reasoning than mainstream pundits and politicians for why it is happening and why it will spread to Europe and the US:
As we wrote before Tunisia and Egypt erupted, the outbreaks would go global and the reasons behind the unrest would be more about bread and butter issues than politics. As economies decline, unemployment rises, taxes are raised and services cut – while those at the top get richer and most everyone else gets poorer – revolutions will continue to spread.
But that’s not the way it’s being represented by the same people who didn’t see it coming. The media, pundits and politicians have misrepresented the historic geopolitical events that have occupied the news since the onset of the New Year. Virtually overnight, the revolutions have been glorified as courageous fights for freedom and liberty by democracy-hungry-masses.
But it is not hunger for democracy that drives them. Democracy, autocracy, theocracy, monarchy – right, center, left – it is mostly a gut issue…an empty gut issue. When the money stops flowing down to the man in the street, the blood starts flowing in the streets. It’s a simple equation. A few at the top have too much, and too many others have too little.
In response to the current Middle East uprisings, gold has broken above $1400 an ounce and Brent Crude climbed to $113 a barrel. There is no end in sight to market volatility. As the violence escalates and expands, the fallout will be felt around the world.
From the onset of the financial crisis that began in August 2007, and through the ensuing Panic of ’08, Washington, the Federal Reserve and central banks have managed to forestall a Great Depression-grade meltdown by way of a variety of multi-trillion dollar rescue packages, bailouts and stimulus programs. For three years the programs were able to induce an illusory and superficial recovery that, barring a major external geopolitical jolt, might have continued to run its course until the inevitable denouement.
But now the jolt felt around the world is in the process of shattering the recovery illusion. Whether deliberately (as calculated policy) or as fallout from fear-based denial, the pieces are not being put together. The current unrest is not confined to the Middle East and North Africa, and as we had forecast, it will spread to Europe and other parts of the world. The more volatile and widespread the insurrections, the greater the probability that some combination of events (e.g., oil shock, terror attack, cyber wars and regional wars) will crash already fragile economies, and roil sound ones.
Conditions are spinning out of control. In some countries, bank and stock market closures are real possibilities, as is the imposition of martial law. We reiterate our forecast for gold $2000. We recommend keeping cash and necessities on hand to help weather emergency situations. If the worst does not happen, nothing is lost. If the worst happens and you are not prepared, you are lost.
Source: The Trends Journal Subscriber Trend Alert (February 24, 2011)
Politics is playing a small role. For 30 years Egyptians lived under the rule of President Mubarak. For 30 years we heard how great Egypt was from the people that lived there, as well as our own media. Then, from one day to the next, everything changed and Mubarak was a dictator. A similar story was presented in other parts of the middle east that are now in turmoil.
This is not about deposing leaders for political reasons, though it may seem like it based on how it’s being presented in the media.
Consider the latest union protests in Wisconsin. It was portrayed by the media as a partisan issue – a fight between republicans and democrats. But had a democrat governor been forced to take similar action, the unions would have been in the streets protesting anyway.
This is happening because the flow of easy money is being systematically withdrawn from Main Street (the world over).
This is happening to public and private sector workers alike. No one is immune.
Keeping the arguments in a political space diverts the focus of the masses so that they hate each other, as opposed to targeting the fundamental reasons for why we’re in the position we are in the first place.
We’ve suggested it before, and we will yet again: As the people get broker and hungrier, and they lose their jobs, their homes and finally realize there will be no return to the boom times of the 80?s, 90?s and early 2000?s, the unrest will foment and spread.
Author: Mac Slavo
Date: February 25th, 2011
Visit the Author’s Website: http://www.SHTFplan.com/
Beginning in North Africa, now unfolding in the Middle East and Iran, and soon to spread to Eastern Europe and Asia, the globalist fueled color revolutions are attempting to profoundly transform entire regions of the planet in one sweeping move. It is an ambitious gambit, perhaps even one born of desperation, with the globalists’ depravity and betrayal on full display to the world with no opportunity to turn back now.
To understand the globalists’ reasoning behind such a bold move, it helps to understand their ultimate end game and the obstacles standing between them and their achieving it.
The End Game
The end game of course is a world spanning system of global governance. Global governance is a system controlled by Anglo-American financiers and their network of global institutions ensuring the world’s consolidated nations conform to a singular system they can then perpetually fleece. As megalomaniacal oligarchs, their singular obsession is the consolidation and preservation of their power. This will be achieved through a system of population control, industrial control, and monetary control, which together form the foundation of their Malthusian policies.
These policies are on full display in the UN’s “Agenda 21,” and by policy wonks like the current White House Science Adviser John Holdren in his book titled “Ecoscience.”
Malthusian as their policies may be, they surely do not believe the world is in danger due to over-population or the environmental hazards posed by industrial progress. Instead, like all tyrants in history, they are establishing a convincing narrative to defend the immense concentration of undue power within their elitist hands and the implementation of measures to ensure such power stays in their hands indefinitely.
The immediate dangers posed to their plans are numerous, including an alternative media increasingly exposing the true nature of their agenda, and thus awakening a vast number of people who simply refuse to go along with it. There is also national sovereignty, where nations are openly challenging this Anglo-American centric world order and refusing to implement the conditions of their own enslavement.
These sweeping color revolutions, and coordinated military operations, both overt and covert, are dealing with the latter of these two challenges, while censorship, cognitive infiltration, and a tightening police state spanning the Western world under the very false premise of a “War on Terror” confronts the former.
The Middle East
With the globalist fueled destabilization in progress, concessions and regime changes are being made from Jordan to Egypt, all in the name of “democratization.” The protesters’ calls are verbatim repeats of the their local US funded NGOs’ mission statements. Skeptical as many may be that all of this is being orchestrated by the West, one needs only read the RAND Corporation’s 2007 report titled “Building Moderate Muslim Networks” where breathtaking confessions are made to not only reorder the Muslim world according to the West’s interests, but how they would follow the same model of “civil society networks” they have already used for decades during the Cold War.
Egypt’s recent “transition” played out as a direct translation of RAND’s blueprint for meddling in the Muslim world. From the protest organizers and NGOs to the protest leaders, to the behind-the-scenes meddling by America’s military leadership, the Egyptian uprising was entirely a US production. Even the drafting of the new Egyptian Constitution is being carried out by organizations funded by George Soros and the US National Endowment for Democracy.
The regional destabilization is resetting the geopolitical board in favor for a renewed effort to affect regime change in Iran. It has been extensively covered that the globalists have intricate and extensive plans, in the form of Brookings Institute’s “Which Path to Persia?” report, to fund color revolutions, support terrorism inside of the Islamic Republic and even provoke war with a nation they concede would rather avoid conflict. No sooner did North African and Arab regimes begin to crumble did the “Green Revolution” in Iran start up again. As if reiterating the summation of Brookings’ report, the globalist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has recently and overtly called on the US to back the “Green Revolution.”
Iran’s fall to the globalists, the extraction of its wealth, and the end of its support for Chinese and Russian economic and military ambitions would isolate the so-called Shanghai Cooperative Organization further.
Russia, along with China appear to be the two biggest blocs of opposition to the Anglo-American establishment. Indeed there are plenty of people and organizations within each nation gladly working hand-in-hand with the globalists, who in turn, are overtly trying to tempt and coerce the two nations to integrate themselves into their global world order.
Men like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who rose to power in Russia amongst an era of immense corruption, began building networks of NGOs modeled directly after those of the Anglo-Americans in the West, even naming this network the “Open Russian Foundation” after George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. According to geopolitical researcher William Engdahl, this Open Russian Foundation included Henry Kissinger and Lord Jacob Rothschild on its board of directors and its goal was to transform Russia from a sovereign state and into something more palatable for globalist consumption.
Whatever Khdorkovsky’s early successes may have been, they were cut short by Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin, who has safely confined Khodorkovsky behind the bars of a Siberian prison. Today, Khdorkovsky receives lobbying and legal services from notorious globalist lawyer Robert Amsterdam who leads international efforts to vilify Russia and justify the nation’s encirclement by NATO.
After Tunisia fell and protests began brewing in Egypt, Foreign Policy magazine published the Freedom House’s list of “Who’s Next?” On the list was Belarus’ Aleksandr Lukashenko, leader of a European nation directly bordering Russia’s western border, staring Moscow in the face. NATO itself admits the reluctance of Belarus to join its now unjustified organization, while the mainstream media berates the Belarusian government for putting down protests launched after the results of recent elections that saw the Western-backed opposition defeated.
Looking at a map of Russia, not a nation touching its borders has been spared the globalist treatment, from the Ukraine and their US-backed Orange Revolution, to Georgia and its US-backed invasion of South Ossetia. For Russia, they seem more than prepared to fight back, humiliating the US-trained and equipped Georgian military on the battlefield and overseeing the results of the US-funded Orange Revolution overturned, with Ukrainian talks to join NATO halted.
By targeting the Middle East, and in particular Iran, which both China and Russia have been using to check the West’s world domineering ambitions, the globalists’ hope is to renew political unrest in Russia’s satellite regions and complete its campaign of encircling Russia, thus forcing it to concede to its place amongst the new global order.
China’s String of Pearls
It is no secret China depends on oil imports to not only keep its economy growing, but to keep its vast population busy and prosperous, thus keeping the ruling government in power. This has been a long known realism by both China and the West. For China’s part, they have begun building a presence on continental Africa, especially in Sudan where they have established a 1,000 mile oil pipeline from the vast nation’s heartland to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. They have also provided relief to the country from UN sanctions and buys the majority of Sudan’s oil exports.
China also imports an immense amount of oil from Iran. In fact, the Islamic Republic represents the world’s second largest exporter of oil to China, behind Saudi Arabia.
From Sudan and Iran, across the Indian Ocean, and back to China’s shores in the South China Sea, represents a “String of Pearls,” or a series of geopolitical assets China is developing to protect this vital logistical route. This “String” includes a Chinese port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan region, another facility in Myanmar (Burma), and expanded facilities in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam. China is also building up the size and capabilities of its fleet, including submarines which now shadow America’s carrier groups, and the outfitting of their first aircraft carrier which is nearing completion.
The term “String of Pearls” was used as the title of the US Strategic Studies Institute’s (SSI) 2006 report “String of Pearls: Meeting the challenge of China’s rising power across the Asian littoral.” In this report, China’s ambitions to project its power along this route is viewed as a direct challenge to American supremacy as well as a threat to the West’s unipolar vision of a “new world order.”
While China may not be a champion of human freedom, they do appear to favor a multipolar world where sovereign nations coexist instead of the Anglo-American unipolar world where, unsurprisingly, the British and American oligarchs dominate the planet.
To prevent such a multipolar world from coming into existence, the SSI report suggests several strategies regarding China, from engaging and enticing it to become what globalist pusher Robert Zoellick calls a “responsible stakeholder” in the “international system,” to outright military confrontation and containment.
Of course this report was written in July 2006, and the ink hadn’t even dried before Israel suffered a humiliating defeat in its war with Lebanon, the war with Iran stalled, and globalist minion Thaksin Shinawtra was ousted from power in Thailand in a display of jealously defended sovereignty in Southeast Asia.
It appears that the globalists, over the following years, would present China with a flattering role to play in their global order while simultaneously destabilizing nearly every nation along the “String of Pearls.” The US has expanded its war in Afghanistan and is attempting to balkanize Pakistan in the process, specifically the Baluchistan region where China is establishing a naval presence. Pakistan’s Baluchistan region is also the seaside starting point of an energy and logistical conduit running northward through the Himalayas and into Chinese territory. The US is also heavily involved in destabilizing Myanmar (Burma) to affect regime change and subsequently establishing a Washington dependent government.
Thailand neighbors Myanmar to the east and possesses the narrow Kra Isthmus China would like to develop into a Suez/Panama Canal-like project to shorten trips for its oil laden, China-bound tankers. Thailand also serves as an overland conduit, running north and south as in Pakistan, with a developed rail system connecting Singapore’s shipping yards to Laos’ capital of Vientiane. China has begun the development of a rail system through Laos and the upgrading of Thailand’s rail system. Thailand also is one of the world’s largest rice exporters, which makes the nation vital to China’s future growth.
It is no surprise then, that Thailand, like Myanmar, has suffered multiple attempts by the US to affect regime change. Their man, Thaksin Shinawatra is an overt globalist, having formally served as an adviser to the Carlyle Group, and since his ousting from power in 2006, has been lobbied for by everyone from James Baker’s Baker Botts, to ICG’s Kenneth Adelman and the Edelman PR firm, to his current lobbyist and lawyer, Robert Amsterdam.
It is quite clear that Washington is using its control of the Middle East and its control of the seas, albeit challenged control, to check China’s vastly superior financial and economic position. It is also clear that Washington is investing a great amount of military resources and intelligence assets to destabilize the entire “String of Pearls” to confound, contain, and leverage concessions from China, with the ultimate goal of folding the emerging Asian giant into the unipolar Anglo-American global order.
How well this strategy is working is debatable, however, the US military is politically hobbled, strategically stretched, and led by vastly incompetent leaders in Washington who have lost the faith and trust of their own population, not to mention the world. The bold and perhaps desperate gambit the US is playing out in the Middle East could be a bid to rectify years of failure against China and the Shanghai Cooperative since the SSI wrote their report in 2006. Regime change in Iran is still the linchpin in making this latest bid a success.
Even South America is not spared. There has been a lull in overt American meddling, allowing South America to become a bastion of sorts against the agents of globalization, however, covert operations and staging has been ongoing.
Troubling reports coming from South America’s Argentina, no stranger to the ire of Anglo-American ambitions, indicate that tension is building up between Buenos Aires and Washington. It has culminated in a diplomatic row over a recently seized US C-17 transport chalk full of suspicious equipment and an even more suspicious explanation. This is leading many, including the government of Argentina, to believe the US is staging another round of destabilization efforts in South America.
Venezuela and Bolivia have been overtly targeted by the West in recent years by efforts to undermine and even overthrow their respective governments. The muted-confused response over the coup in Honduras also raises suspicions that America has begun striking back against the wave of regional nationalism sweeping South America. A visit over to Movements.org reveals that the US State Department/corporate funded organization is backing dissidents in Venezuela and encouraging the spread of “civil society,” gleefully noting the insidious effects it is having on bolstering the anti-Chavez opposition.
The recent US-backed wave of revolution sweeping the Middle East is just the beginning of a greater move to dislodge Iran and begin regaining ground against Russia and China after several years of disappointing results geopolitically. The ultimate goal in mind is to force Russia and China to accept their role as “responsible stakeholders” in the unipolar Anglo-American “new world order.” The unipolar world of Anglo-American financier domination requires that all competition be eliminated, all nations become interdependent, and most importantly, all governments conform to the globalists’ model of “civil society” which in turn answers to centralized global institutions.
Understanding the overarching plan reveals the danger of being apathetic or complacent about the current unrest in the Middle East. It will surely spread, and depending on the Shanghai Cooperative’s response and their determination to remain the masters of their own destiny, greater confrontation may ensue. For the United States and its dwindling power, its meaningless offers to the world’s nations to join their bankrupt, one-sided model of world governance, and their growing economic mire, there is no telling what their desperation may transform into. This unpredictability and desperation may be perhaps the only card they have left in their hand worth playing, and one that should trouble us all.
Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at Land Destroyer
Last week’s mass protests in Tunisia were less a symptom of economic malaise than of a society fed up with its broken dictatorship. Should the other autocratic regimes in the Middle East and North Africa be afraid?
The year 2010 was a tough one for the global food system. Wildfires, fueled by record temperatures and a summer drought, burned away much of Russia’s wheat harvest, spurring the Kremlin to halt exports. Throughout the fall, commodities prices skyrocketed. The United Nations panicked and called an emergency summit in September. World food prices rose to a record high in December 2010. So far, 2011 has not been much better: in January, food prices were identified as one trigger for Tunisia’s unrest as well as for riots across much of northern Africa, including Egypt, a country that depends heavily on Russian grain.It seems that a food crisis along the lines of the one in 2008, when rioters in dozens of countries furiously protested the price of grain, might again be in the works.
Assuming a connection among rising prices, hunger, and violent civic unrest seems logical. Many commentators have emphasized it, including Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, who warned of mass starvation and other “dire consequences” if food prices were allowed to rise too high: “As we know . . . those kinds of questions sometimes end in war.” For its part, the UN emergency summit last fall concluded with a reminder of the pledge taken during the 2009 World Food Summit: Countries must “refrain from taking measures that are inconsistent with the [World Trade Organization] rules.” In other words, the UN reaffirmed that free trade and increased agricultural production are the best means to achieve food security.
But for all the noisy media coverage and declarations by senior policymakers, few people have remarked on the actual motives of those who, in 2008, destroyed property in Argentina, Egypt, India, Indonesia, and Peru and brought down Haiti’s government and are currently causing havoc in Tunisia and across the Middle East. After all, food riots have occurred throughout history but have not usually correlated with hunger or food prices. For the most part, the planet’s 700 million-900 million hungry people have suffered in silence. And price volatility does not necessarily lead to screaming crowds, either. There are many more examples of people accepting volatile prices than rioting over them. So there is more to the protests than the logic of the pocketbook. A key psychological element — a sense of injustice that arises between seeing food prices rise and pouring a Molotov cocktail — is missing.
It is not yet clear how big a role food riots played in the toppling of the Tunisian government. But if history is any guide, Tunisians’ feelings of being cheated were more important than actual food prices. Take Cameroon’s experience in 2008, for example. That year, this West African nation suffered one of the most serious and protracted food riots in the world, and scores were left dead after the crowds eventually dispersed. Remembering the crisis, Alexander Legwegoh, a Cameroonian academic and an expert on urban poverty and food security, and Bernard Motuba, an accountant who left Cameroon for Canada, said that it was not just bills that caused the violence: expensive fuel drove taxi drivers to strike and then, anger over merchants’ profiteering on staple products broadened the protest. “The government knew a group of merchants was taking advantage of everyone and that this would grow to a political crisis.” Yet, according to Legwegoh and Motuba, as the protesters’ numbers swelled, the size of loaves of bread for sale in the markets shrank while their price tags remained the same.
For the most part, the planet’s 700 million-900 million hungry people have suffered in silence.
The real culprits, then, were retailers who stockpiled grain in hopes that prices would continue to go up. This speculation spun Cameroon’s food system further out of control and bred hatred. Motuba describes the food merchants as “cutthroat business guys who don’t give a damn about people.” When the government sent inspectors to grocery stores and warehouses to auction off any illicit surpluses, the public cheered. Prices had not returned to their earlier levels, but a seeming restoration of justice helped calm the rioters’ tempers, whose fury, according to Motuba and Legwegoh, had been rooted more in a feeling of exploitation than a fear of starvation.
Moral outrage is a common theme in the history of food riots. In fact, the story of the food riots in Cameroon aligns neatly with that of the 1917 food riots in New York City, which managed to bring commerce and retail to a standstill in February and March. That year, Marie Ganz, a New York housewife organized food protests, storming the Waldorf-Astoria and launching a citywide boycott of grocery stores. In her memoirs, Ganz painted a vivid scene: “Cart after cart [of produce] was overturned and the pavements were covered with trampled goods. . . . Onions, potatoes, cabbages flew through the air, and in each instance the target was a ducking, wailing peddler, whose stock had been ruined beyond hope of recovery.” The reason for the excitement was a sudden jump in grocery prices — 30 percent in a matter of weeks. But what kept Ganz and her contemporaries on the streets was the perception of wrongdoing. “The day of the profiteer had come,” Ganz wrote. “Surely a thousand women, perhaps twice that many were in that mad struggle, long-enduring wives and mothers who had resolved to bear the oppression of the profiteer no longer.”
Ganz’s anger, too, echoes events from the early eighteenth century, when hundreds of food riots caused tremendous commercial and social damage across England and France. Until then, an ancient law called the Assize of Bread had set the price of wheat, determined the quality of flour, fixed bakers’ fees, and obliged farmers to sell grain in easily accessible markets rather than at their farms, where merchants would have had a buyers’ advantage over the urban poor who could not travel.
As a food system, however, the Assize of Bread was expensive, and although it kept grain prices stable, it also squashed the energies of enterprising middlemen and entrepreneurial bakers. As such, it ran counter to the logic of Adam Smith and his fellow economic rationalists, one of whom argued, “Let corn flow like water, and it will find its own level.” Smith, in particular, believed that instead of helping the poor, such interference with the market damaged food security. If during a bad harvest year, for example, the government kept prices artificially low by preventing merchants from stockpiling food, then there would be no incentive to store grain or reduce consumption. This would only lead to greater hardship later in the year when food grew even scarcer. In a free market, prices would rise and merchants with surpluses would retain their stores. Hoarding would be considered a virtue when the merchants eventually released their surplus into the shopping bags of a needy public (for the right price).
Theoretically, this made sense. But rioting mobs are not economically rational. England’s and France’s slow shift from the protection offered by the Assize of Bread to the market-driven efficiency of laissez faire economics in the late 1600s and early 1700s coincided with the tail end of the Little Ice Age, which was spoiling harvests worldwide. The combination of volatile production and the replacement of welfare policy with free-market principles convinced many that unscrupulous merchants were profiting from hunger. In his description of the large-scale food riots that erupted across England and France at this time, the historian E. P. Thompson cited contemporary correspondence to show that the object of the crowds’ anger was not high food prices so much as the ethical wrong of profiteering.
In 1768, an anonymous country gentleman wrote a letter to the British Parliament commenting on this moral factor. While denouncing the rioters for causing havoc, he argued that food, coming from God through the sun, rain, and soil, is ontologically different from money. Merchants, he asserted, must be wary of profiting too greedily from the trade of food abroad while the English were suffering. His message and that of Ganz’s housewives, the Cameroonian mobs, and likely that of the Tunisian and Egyptian protesters is that food riots are ultimately caused more by the perception of profiteering and less by the actual prices on the shelves.
Policymakers today must be mindful of the psychological causes of food riots when they discuss the correct mix of trade and protectionism that will safeguard our food security. If they simply embrace the efficiency of the market, public feelings of injustice may cause more trouble than the volatile price of food itself.