Let them eat bread
Mary Antoinette’s famous words were “let them eat cake”, in response to protests that people had no bread to eat. In Jordan, this has been reformulated by the government, who only think that they should subsidize bread.
If you have ever been to a bakery in Jordan, you probably have noticed people carrying out LARGE bags containing various sweet and salty cookies. It is sad to think that many families actually live on dunking these cookies in sweet tea. A meager diet that nobody should envy.
It turns out that having people eating like this is a luxury the government can’t afford. After lifting subsidies on cattle feed a couple of months ago, the market was in an awkward position where flour is cheaper than animal fodder. Obviously, this was an invitation to feed livestock bread.
So, the government partially lifted subsidies on wheat flour, thus allowing subsidies on the basic large loaves of bread. Other bakery products went up between 20 and 60%. So the alternative for poor people comes from the government “let them eat bread”.
What better timing than when people are immersed in an election campaign that is totally divorced from the needs to people? In any other country, this timing would have been studiously avoided for such a move. Not in Jordan. Here, the disconnect between politics and the welfare of people is too painful to discuss.
Of course, distortions beget distortions, and subsidies cause distortions. I would submit that a teacher working for JD 220 per month is subsidizing the government. When will this subsidy be lifted?