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Although the majority of North Korea does not have much in way of electricity at night, Kim Jong-il has no problem navigating the Internet.  (Source: Global Security)
Kim Jong-il claims to be the world's Internet expert; Al Gore jealous

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun this week in the North Korean city of Kaesong. This meeting is only the second ever meeting between North and South Korean leaders.

One topic of conversation during the meeting put forth by Roh was a request that South Korean companies operating in an industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong be allowed the use of the Internet.

The response from the Dear Leader, according to Yahoo! News, was, “I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired.”

Kim went on to say, “If that problem is addressed, there is no reason not to open [web access].” Kim did not elaborate on the "many problems" caused by opening Internet access to all of North Korea, though clearly the intention of Roh's suggestion is to increase North Korean exposure to South Korean and Western influence.

North Korea explicitly prohibits its 23 million citizens from accessing the Internet and mobile phones outside of government research groups. South Korea, by comparison, is one of the world's most digitally connected countries.

However, given the secretive nature of just about everything in North Korea, it's been difficult to even ascertain just how "connected" Kim actually is. Satellite photographs of North Korea at night reveal very few lights, indicating the country does not have a very high capacity for electricity, let alone computers or Internet.

What is known, is that Kim and the ruling party has a definitive taste for all things Western. Kim's son, Jong-nam, was arrested and expelled from Japan while trying to enter Disney Land in 2001.  Late last year, the U.S. imposed a ban on all luxuries originating from the U.S. destined for North Korea, including the Great Leader's beloved iPods.


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RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/5/2007 10:12:09 PM , Rating: -1
quote:
ya he should be proud about imprisoning thousands of people in what basically amounts to concentration camps.
Concentration camps, you mean like what Israel does to the Palestinians, or what the US does to drug users? Perhaps you mean both. When the US or Canada are free countries, let me know.

You can't measure a person's happiness by whether or not they have electricity. If you rolled back to about 200 years ago, you'd discover many happy people without electricity. In fact, it might be of interest to you to note that no one in the US had electricity then either.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By jedisoulfly on 10/5/2007 11:02:28 PM , Rating: 1
I get that it was sarcasm but its not something anyone should be sarcastic about. yes its exactly the same as putting terrorist in a camp or putting someone who breaks the law in jail. I mean all those people did was try to think freely. I don't see family's raised and babys born in jails or prison camps for terrorist. I mean all they did to get thrown in the camps was think or say something that kim didn't like. exactly the same


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/6/07, Rating: -1
RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By clovell on 10/6/2007 1:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
I've been able to hear some pretty convincing arguements about pot, but to make such a statement about drugs in general is irresponsible at best.

Human rights violations are, in general, different from drug violations - very different. You have a point somewhere in that generalization, I'm sure.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Ringold on 10/6/2007 2:56:54 PM , Rating: 3
I've heard NORML guys, smelling of pot, make better arguments than that. If you think there's anything similar between an American prison and a foreign slave camp then you're a real tool. Here's a hint: Free food, limited entertainment, and often no expectation of labor at all, all on tax payer dime. Some even have libraries and internet access. Any argument for or against Gitmo ought to be based on which is more important: Maintaining liberties even if it means potential American and European lives, or allowing our constitution to lapse in pursuing freedom.

If the whole drug decriminalization movement was smart they'd try to join the Libertian Party, which has a similar goal but based purely on the idea the government has no business with what you do to your own body. Thank god, though, since the LP already has a weak enough image.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By SavagePotato on 10/6/2007 5:27:20 PM , Rating: 5
Generaly I don't think I've ever seen the local catholic church do a drive by on the protestant church in a turf war. So comparing religion to drug trafficking, um yeah, kinda dumb, at least if your talking about American soil. Foreign religious conflict is another story, but then thats not what you were talking about.

I think the war on drugs is stupid as well in some respects, in that same sentence I doubt very much that theres any southern California hemp shop owners being beaten right now in Guantanamo bay.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By derwin on 10/8/2007 1:25:31 AM , Rating: 1
Thousands of people have died for being protestant, im not sure what part of history you are trying to erase, but just because we finally got over that problem, doesn't make these two disimilar.
Infact, arguments could be made that a large portion of the problems occuring in the mid east are due to people fighitng over religious differences, not far from a drug dealer protecting a territory at all.

There are no "hemp shop owners" in gitmo, but they are still in jail somewhere else.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/11/2007 7:30:37 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Generaly I don't think I've ever seen the local catholic church do a drive by on the protestant church in a turf war
They happen in Ireland. There have been inquisitions, and crusades.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By B on 10/6/2007 5:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
Quote
I haven't been to N. Korea, so I really can't honestly say if the people believe in Kim or if they don't.

No need to state the obvious, I'd be surprised if one person that visits this website has been to North Korea.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By jedisoulfly on 10/6/2007 8:14:52 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see anyone getting thrown in prison for life along with their entire family for using drugs. (at least not anymore) ya I get caught smoking a joint and my mom dad grandma and the rest of my family are all thrown in prison for life. sorry but drugs are illegal. (at least in the USA) hey I like a good fatty myself but I know the consequences for using or possessing it. there is a reason hard drugs (cocaine meth heroin) are illegal. hard drugs are a forerunner to violent crimes and crimes against property like burglary and robbery to mention 2. people and their entire family's are not thrown in prison for life in the USA for saying something our government dose not like.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By jedisoulfly on 10/7/2007 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
sorry but political speech is illegal. (at least in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) hey I like a good debate myself but I know the consequences for talking about it. there is a reason free speech (marches, protests, sit-ins) are illegal. free speech is a forerunner to violent crimes and crimes against property like burglary and robbery to mention 2. people and their entire family's are not thrown in prison for life in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for saying something our government dose not like.


democratic would imply a free election with more than one person on the ballet. you state political speech is illegal yet no one is thrown in jail for doing it. you are probably right they are probably just executed. I could be wrong but I never heard of the "free speech defense" for murder or carjacking someone. (or any other crime for that matter) oh ya btw if no one in north Korea has internet access and you (sorry if I am misinterpreting you) are from north Korea we must be chatting with kim himself lmao


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By derwin on 10/8/2007 1:36:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
democratic would imply a free election with more than one person on the ballet

Lol, yeah, you missed his point.

And yes, people are still serving extremely long sentences for drug use (ever hear of the 3 strikes policty in cali?)... Drug use

Drug use is not a precursor to violent crime, prohibition is a precursor to violent crime. Hard drugs are a precursor to early death, physical disability and addiction. Only one of those (addiction) leads to crimes seeking money (drug dealer v drug dealer or addict v citizen), and without prohibition, costs drop dramatically, rehabilitation takes a public turn, and drug dealers at least get a corporate umbrealla and have to follow the law and file taxes now. Crime is not the issue to be discussed in regards to drug use, only drug prohibition. If you really want to address the legality of drugs, try considering what harm they cause, what benefit the bring, and what balance of the two exists and what balance of the two would be acceptable, and lastely, what poliies would create this desired balance.

And lastly, the final step that Americans seem to have completely forgotten - the feasability (sp?) of such policies. "Just say no" doesn't quite cut it, if you know what I mean. The biggest issue I have with drug prohibition (as did most americans eventually aquire with alcohol prohibition) is that it just can never work. Drugs are too easy to grow, make, or find, and thus, buy. Without an orwellian style of surveilance, we will never catch even a majority of drug users, and without being able to prosecute somebody for a crime, the law criminalizing it becomes useless (see illegal imigration).


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By geddarkstorm on 10/8/2007 1:51:48 PM , Rating: 1
"Drug use is not a precursor to violent crime, prohibition is a precursor to violent crime."

Actually, that is totally wrong. Plenty of studies show direct correlation of drug use with violent crimes. See http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_n12...
http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/dr...
http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/f...
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleUR...
and http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/phe/soduia06/s... (to show this is not just something in the USA only. Go down to section 9 for the crime section if the rest doesn't interest you)

This is only to be expected. Anything that impairs mental functions and rational judgment will obviously lead to an increase in criminal tendencies and accidents. Pay close attention to the statistics in the third link relating violent crime to attempts to get money for drugs--you'll notice the percentages there are lower (especially in the homicide/murder and sexual assaults catagories) than the overall violent crimes due to drug use showing that this is a drug use induced event not a prohibition induced event.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By elgoliath on 10/8/2007 4:52:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, imo you are wrong. The problem is that you are trying to find correlations between the wrong things. History on the other hand speaks for itself- when was alcohol related violent crime at it's worse? During prohibition. The problem is as has been stated above me- the few select in government overstepping their bounds and making us criminals for doing something to our bodies that is inherently private. Will violent crime stop if we legalize drugs? No (I'll bet you it will go down). Will some of the violent criminals also be drug users? Yes (so what?). It appears you seem to think that they are violent BECAUSE they use drugs (there are exceptions to every rule, I know). Have you ever thought that these people have something else in common?

Let me ask you this: would violent crime related to drugs go down or up if it was legalized? If it were legalized and the local Rite Aid started selling marijuana and cocaine, do you think the Rite Aid employees are going to hope in a car and do a drive by of the nearest Walgreens?

Drugs are expensive (relatively speaking) BECAUSE they are illegal. Make them legal, tax them a bit (to pay for rehab when necessary- or just reroute the millions and millions we have/are spending to fund the war on drugs) and you would probably be surprised at how drug related violent crime goes down. Hell if it's more affordable, then those people pretty far gone would have to do less violent crime to pay for them even. Win/win if you ask me.

My biggest question tho is how is it legal for the government to police our bodies and private lives? Whomever can give me an acceptable answer to that wins a cookie-


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By rcc on 10/8/2007 7:23:52 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
My biggest question tho is how is it legal for the government to police our bodies and private lives? Whomever can give me an acceptable answer to that wins a cookie-


Because your right to do drugs ends at other people's realities. All the class act druggies on the way home from Rite Aid causing accidents, etc. If all they did was sit at home and not bother anyone, it probably wouldn't be an issue. As soon as something comes to the publics attention in a negative manner, someone will legislate restrictions.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By elgoliath on 10/8/2007 8:11:24 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure I get what you mean by other peoples realities, but I understand and agree that my rights end when they infringe upon other peoples rights. Regarding your second sentence, oh jeez- you do realize how ridiculous that comment is, right?


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Myrandex on 10/12/2007 1:09:35 PM , Rating: 1
fuck no, I don't want to pay taxes for stupid a$$ drug users doing rehab. I want the drugs to be legal, and I want to tax the hell out of them to make up for deficites later, and if some junkie gets all screwed up because he decided to do drugs in the first place, then it is his own fault and I wouldn't want any "free" health care being waste on him.

In fact my whole problem with "free" health care is that people that I feel don't deserve free health care would be getting it. I have no problem if someone who can barely make a living working at a walmart falls and breaks her arm and gets fre helth care to cover it, but if that same person decided to smoke 3 packs a day, gets lung cancer, and suddenly free health care has to cover that, hell no. It wasn't like she accidentally smoked all of those cigs all of her life. I don't care what people do to their own bodies, just as long as it doesn't affect someone else (whether financially, or medically like 2nd hand smoke, or other methods).


By jedisoulfly on 10/6/2007 8:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I haven't been to N. Korea, so I really can't honestly say if the people believe in Kim or if they don't. I can't honestly say if they're happy or not.


they don't have a choice in liking him. if they say they are against him or are even displeased with any part of the government they are either executed or thrown in a camp. (not just them but their entire family) remember no one voted for him he took power only cause his father died. I cant say if they are happy or not either but at least most people in the world have the right to free thinking.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By porkpie on 10/6/2007 11:05:11 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
You can't measure a person's happiness by whether or not they have electricity. If you rolled back to about 200 years ago, you'd discover many happy people without electricity.
Posting on your handy-dandy electric-free computer again, eh?

Truly amazing how many hypocrites there are in the world.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/6/07, Rating: -1
RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By clovell on 10/6/2007 1:38:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think Bush would be much happier if Roh decided to attack Pyongyang.
Why? That doesn't seem to make much sense.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/6/2007 1:47:11 PM , Rating: 5
> "you cannot judge Kim's character because of the shortage of electricity"

You can judge the standard of living in the nation by its lack of electricity. Access to electricity is one of the strongest civilizing agents there is. Without it, people have no labor-saving electric motors, no refrigeration, no electric heating or cooling, and no lighting...a lack particularly troublesome in winter months, when light is available only a few hours per day.

Kim Jong-il himself has electricity, a fleet of Mercedes, and (apparently) Internet access, while his people forage for roots and berries to avoid starving to death...quite often unsuccesfully. He's spent tens of billions to develop nuclear weapons, yet can't even provide electricity to his people? They're trapped in the worst 19th century Dickensonian nightmare one can imagine, while their leader lives the life of a 21st century tycoon.

I think we very well can judge his character by that.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By B on 10/6/2007 6:04:50 PM , Rating: 3
You forgot to mention that he has one of the world's largest collections of porn, Looney Toons Movies and DVDs. [Not sarcasm, this is a documented fact.]

Clearly, he leads a life of luxury while his people worry about their next meal.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By vortmax on 10/8/2007 12:54:12 PM , Rating: 2
So, what is the world to do about this massive humanitarian catastrophy?


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Gibby82 on 10/9/2007 6:28:23 AM , Rating: 3
One strategically placed bullet would help.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/11/2007 7:26:24 AM , Rating: 2

quote:
by Gibby82 on October 9, 2007 at 6:28 AM

Spoken like a true American.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By sinful on 10/6/2007 2:15:55 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
A few of my students mentioned that a unified Korea would make S. Korea stronger. Its entire military might is basically held by the US. So, if the US leaves, it would leave S. Korea virtually helpless. Unified with N. Korea, it would have fairly impressive defenses. This opinion came from 3 S. Koreans.


I hope your students are in gradeschool, because their reasoning skills are pretty poor.

North Korea is strong militarily because they devote nearly every resource they have into defense, much like the the old soviet union. Yes, they have tanks, but food is in short supply, medicine is non-existant, and even basics like running water and electricity are scarce.

Unifying South Korea would make S. Korea stronger militarily, but the cost would be to divide all S. Korea's resources in half.
In other words, if the government stepped in, took 1/2 of all your assets, and spent that on your military, you'd be FAR better off than unifying with a country with zero resources but a strong military.

So either way you look at it, basically if you crippled your economy you'd have great military!

Of course, your military would eventually become backwards and 3rd rate because of a crippled economy, but who needs food when you have tanks, right?


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By B on 10/6/2007 6:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
By the way North Korea recently reduced the heigth requirement for its soldiers. It turns out nutrition is important to the developement of children.

Foreigners who get the chance to visit North Korea — perhaps the most isolated country in the world — are often confused about the age of children. Nine-year-olds are mistaken for kindergartners and soldiers for Boy Scouts.

“They all looked like dwarfs,” said Kim Dong Kyu, a South Korean academic who has made two trips to North Korea. “When I saw those soldiers, they looked like middle-school students. I thought if they had to sling an M-1 rifle over their shoulders, it would drag to the ground.”
Source www.dprkstudies.org

The North Korean military had so much difficulty finding tall-enough recruits that it had to revoke its minimum height requirement of 5-feet-3. Many soldiers today are less than 5 feet tall, defectors say.
Source www.dprkstudies.org


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By 1078feba on 10/9/2007 11:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
I have been to S. Korea numerous times, and done quite a few joint exercises with them. What they may in fact lack in terms of sheer numbers vis-a-vis the N. Koreans, they more than make up for in terms of esprit-de-corps and full-on nails hardness. Their Marines are, by any measure, complete badasses.

Jong knows this, and it scares the piss out him.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By wordsworm on 10/11/2007 7:36:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What they may in fact lack in terms of sheer numbers vis-a-vis the N. Koreans
S. Korea has a population approaching 50,000,000 with every able bodied male trained for combat in compulsory 2 year stints. N. Korea has about 23,000,000. I don't see how it could possibly have numbers over S. Korea.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Ringold on 10/6/2007 3:04:10 PM , Rating: 2
Since nobody else noted it, you can also examine the standard of living by how much a person is able to eat.

In North Korea's case, they've had famines where millions have died before and it's logical that due to flooding this year, which we know of only by satellite photos, North Korea is playing nice because it's aware if it doesn't draw food donations it's facing another multi-million dead toll from a famine if it does not.

When was the last time America had a famine, eh? Considering we're feeding 80-100 million people a year on donated food, it probably hasn't occured this century save for the Depression.. which was more an issue of affording food rather than a lack of it..

I'd suggest, teacher, googling the Human Development Index, noting its components, and then looking at the rankings. Apologists like you almost make me want to take up teaching just to provide a counter balance in childrens minds so they don't think only pacifism and appeasement is the only valid line of thinking for the adult mind.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/6/2007 3:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
ALL famines are issues of affording food.

It's been pretty conclusively shown (to the effect of winning the Nobel prize for economics a few years ago) that famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people.

The rulers never have problems acquiring all the food they want, famine or not, because they are rich. So they are immune to the short-term consequences of famine unless there is another force, like a free press or a real election. So, being immune they don't take it seriously enough to fix the problems until the long-term consequences finally come around an affect their standard of living.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Ringold on 10/6/2007 9:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm.. I'd have to look but if I had to guess I would say that their was sufficient food for the population in the 30s in America if it were distributed differently such that none would be hungry through the depression. However, North Korea would physically not have sufficient food stocks for the population under any distribution method if not for food donations.

Though I won't dispute anything you said really, since you covered yourself beautifully by saying it occurs when the rules are not answerable to the people.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 3:13:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'd have to look but if I had to guess I would say that their was sufficient food for the population in the 30s in America if it were distributed differently such that none would be hungry through the depression.
Indeed and that is why the great depression was not a time of real famine.

quote:
However, North Korea would physically not have sufficient food stocks for the population under any distribution method if not for food donations.
I'm pretty confident that North Korea would have enough food stocks for the population if they invested in agriculture rather than their self-serving military-industrial-complex.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 1:22:03 AM , Rating: 3
> "ALL famines are issues of affording food..famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people.."

Nonsense. The Great Irish Potato Famine occurred due to a mold that decimated the staple food for the nation. It killed at least a million people...and it had nothing to do with economic cycles or rulers "not being answerable to the people".

Contrast it with the Great Depression, in which food was not only abundant, but actually being physically destroyed to buoy prices, while millions of people tightened their belts due to the inability to afford full rations.

It doesn't take a Nobel prize in economics to see the world of difference between these two situations.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 3:05:46 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Nonsense. The Great Irish Potato Famine occurred due to a mold that decimated the staple food for the nation. It killed at least a million people...and it had nothing to do with economic cycles or rulers "not being answerable to the people".


Really? On what basis do you draw that conclusion? The effects of the mold were first seen in Belgium not Ireland. In fact, potato crops all across Europe were affected in the same proportion. Why then was Ireland the only one to experience famine? According to you, it had nothing to do with Imperial England's self-serving rule of the country at the time. You'll find little support for your opinion among modern historians and economists.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 1:23:58 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The effects of the mold were first seen in Belgium not Ireland. In fact, potato crops all across Europe were affected in the same proportion. Why then was Ireland the only one to experience famine?
Ireland was not "the only one" to experience hardship, but it was struck much harder than the rest of Europe, for the simple reason that in 1845, Ireland was primarily a one-crop nation, depending upon potatoes not only to feed its own people, but as its primary cash export crop.

Irish tenant farmers grew potatoes, period. Other European nations were agriculturally much more diversified. Furthermore, that diversification allowed them to destroy diseased plants when first noted. Irish farmers, on the other hand, used stricken plants from the 1845 harvest as planters for 1846. That, culminated with an unseasonably wet spring (ideal conditions for the spread of the disease) meant nearly the entire 1846 crop was destroyed, to a degree far worse than the rest of Europe.

Could Britain have done much more to alleviate the results? Of course. But blaming the famine itself on British rule is sophomoric ignorance.

> "You'll find little support for your opinion among modern historians and economists. "

On the contrary, while many propound British complicity in exacerbating An Gorta Mor, you'll be hard-pressed to find a single historian who doesn't recognize the root cause was the blight itself.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Jellodyne on 10/7/2007 2:30:22 PM , Rating: 2
> Could Britain have done much more to alleviate the results? Of course.

Way to lose the arguement -- This is a situation where the Brittish gobernment was not answerable to the Irish people, and as you say, could have done more to help.

> you'll be hard-pressed to find a single historian who doesn't recognize the root cause was the blight itself.

'Root' cause, I get it. In good times there is no need for the government to help. If there was no blight, there would have been no famine, duh. The issue here is whether the Irish people could have worked out some relief if they were in charge of their own government.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 3:08:35 PM , Rating: 3
> "Way to lose the arguement -- This is a situation where the Brittish gobernment was not answerable to the Irish people"

I don't think you understand what the argument is. Answerable to the people or not, anytime a nation loses 90% of its primary food staple, there's going to be a humanitarian disaster. This isn't the 21st century we're talking about, with fast shipping, abundant food stocks, and a population eating a rich and varied diet. This is 1845, with 3 million peasants subsisting on potatoes as their only food source, a crop that, year after year, continued to suffer the effects of the worst blight then recorded in history.

The claim was made that this famine was no more than a conspiracy of British rule. That is false. A larger, better-coordinated relief effort from Britain certainly would have reduced the death toll...but people would have died regardless. This was a natural disaster, and a very large one.

There is a clear and distinct difference between initiating a disaster, and exacerbating a pre-existing one. One can argue, with a good deal of success, that British rule contributed to the effects of the potato famine. But blaming it entirely upon government action is foolishness.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 6:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The claim was made that this famine was no more than a conspiracy of British rule.
Really? The only person I see making that claim is yourself.

The claim I made was that famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people.

quote:
Ireland was struck much harder than the rest of Europe, for the simple reason that in 1845, Ireland was primarily a one-crop nation,
They became a one-crop nation under British rule, in large part due to British-imposed laws forcing the subdivision of lands over the generations to the point where potato farming was the only viable option for most farmers.

quote:
There is a clear and distinct difference between initiating a disaster, and exacerbating a pre-existing one. One can argue, with a good deal of success, that British rule contributed to the effects of the potato famine. But blaming it entirely upon government action is foolishness.
Foolishness that only you would attempt because no one else has made that argument. Easy for you to joust at windmills, fun for us to watch.

British indifference is what built the dependency on potatoes in the first place and British indifference is what prevented alleviation of the effects when that crop went sour. In other words, British indifference is what turned an otherwise mild agricultural problem -- as demonstrated by the effect on the rest of Europe -- into a catastrophic event.


By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 8:02:41 PM , Rating: 3
> "The claim I made was that famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people."

That's pretty much the same statement, now isn't it? You blame the famine on British rule, and dismiss the actual cause.

If you're trying to now argue that, had British policies been such that the Irish never developed a dependence on potatoes in the first place, then yes, quite obviously the famine would have been averted. That, however, is a statement so fatuously facile as to be utterly meaningless. It also ignores the fact that potatoes were not a randomly chosen crop. Acre for acre, they provide much more calories than other crops. Poor Irishmen could not afford to cultivate other foods, not without having access to a much larger land base.

Had Ireland been self-governed at the time, the famine still would have ocurred. It may have been somewhat less severe...it very well may have been worse (Britain did, after all, send at least some relief measures). But it still would have happened.

The truth is that in contemporary times, most famines are driven by politics and economics, not natural causes. That's simply because modern technology allows us to grow many times the food we actually need, and to avoid most agricultural disasters.

However, this wasn't true throughout most of human history. Nearly all famines were the result of crop failures, driven by changes in weather, insect infestations or plant diseases, or other natural causes.

And don't think we're immune to that today. A large meteor strike or other calamity could easily disrupt weather patterns for months or years, causing billions to starve. If that happens, it won't be because governments are not "answerable to the people". It'll be the simple fact of too few calories harvested for too many mouths.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By sinful on 10/7/2007 3:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
The potatoe famine WAS all about economics.
Potatoes were the "cash crop" of Ireland at the time.

The main issue was the country's main export was suddenly non-existant and, in the absence of any exportable goods, they could not afford to import goods (such as food).

This should be obvious - you can't live off of just potatoes, they're just starch.

The equivalent for the US would be if the tobacco crop had failed when it was the big cash crop in the southern US.
A crop failure would have meant farmers wouldn't have tobacco to trade/sell/barter for other food staples, such as corn, wheat, etc. or ANY product for that matter.


By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 4:41:56 PM , Rating: 3
> "This should be obvious - you can't live off of just potatoes, they're just starch."

Wrong. Three million peasants in Ireland can and did subside on nothing but potatoes. They're not just starch; they also contain protein and Vitamin C. They're one of the few monocultures one can live off of indefinitely. Combined with an occasional bit of milk for calcium, one can live off them your entire life...and many people did.

In fact, that was one of the primary problems...the relief grains that England shipped to Ireland were *not* foods one could live off entirely, and the starving peasants fed nothing but those grains soon developed scurvy and other health defects.


By AlmostExAMD on 10/9/2007 4:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
"you can't live off of just potatoes", ummm your wrong, that's pretty much all i eat.
In terms of human nutrition, starch is by far the most important of the polysaccharides. It constitutes more than half the carbohydrates even in many affluent diets, and much more in poorer diets.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By RjBass on 10/8/2007 10:32:34 PM , Rating: 1
It should be noted that the United States has more people in it's prisons then any other nation on the planet.

Those of us who live in the US live under the illusion of freedom, but we are not actually free.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Gibby82 on 10/9/2007 6:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
Ahhh come on RJ...you know better than that. This country has more freedom than any other country in the world. You can do just about anything and get away with it here.

If the US is so horribly "unfree" then why do many of the surrounding nations (Cuba, Mexico, etc.) have so many of their people risking their lives to come here?


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Topweasel on 10/11/2007 4:06:51 PM , Rating: 3
Lets see we have a population of over 300 million people. Only two countries(china and India) have more and only Indonesia even comes close to us. Of course we a going to be a world leader in the amount of people who are in our jail system.

The fact that execution has almost completely been removed from our system along with the few places who still have the death penalty taking decades before anything thing is done means unlike most countries we keep more un-reformable people in our prison system.


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