Black Beans And Bread

The stomach is more powerful than the brain.

Hungry people are desperate people. The leader who can give the people black beans and bread, that leader¬†RULES. It’s something to keep in mind as you watch the political-economic turmoil in Egypt, and other troubled lands.

My high school “Problems of Democracy” teacher, Mr. Thomas, repeated the words “black beans and bread” often, as he explained the iron grip of oppressive regimes, particularly Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe in the 1960s.

When people are starving, a dictator promises black beans and bread, said Mr. Thomas. If the dictator delivers black beans and bread to hungry people, that dictator rules.

Food inflation is often emphasized, when pundits list the grievances of the Egyptian people. Oppression, poverty, food shortages. There you have a recipe for revolution.

An arrogant answer like “Let them eat cake,” is a ticket to the guillotine. In the 21st Century, an arrogant answer of austerity, unemployment, and inflation might result in a one-way ticket out of the country.

Then there’s the short-sighted folly of using agricultural land to grow fuel, instead of food. I can hardly wait until some arrogant politician says, “Let them eat ethanol.”

I’ve heard that food shortages and inflation will likely worsen. Water shortages will soon be even more dangerous than food shortages. The food and water wars are only beginning.

— John Hayden