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"Let Them Eat Cake"

Friday, January 28, 2011, 10:19 AM
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There are great moments in history, critical turning points that seemingly hang upon a single phrase. In response to news that the peasants had no bread, Marie Antoinette allegedly said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche." (A brioche is a luxury bread enriched with eggs and butter).

At the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700's, the staple food of the peasants was bread, which absorbed 50% of their income, in contrast to fuel, which consumed only 5%. The obliviousness and selfishness of the ruling class sparked the violence that led to its downfall.

Fast forward to today, where food and fuel consume up to 50% of the income of people in developing nations, such as Tunisia and Egypt, as well as China and India. In an increasing number of these places, violence is breaking out, as the modern-day peasants grow increasingly restive at the burden of merely trying to stay fed.

 

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