Milking the cow


Algeria seems to be back in the 80s, the period before the East Block collapsed. People cannot find milk anywhere and are queuing early in the morning to have a chance to buy one or two litres. This reminds me of when I was a kid and had to wake up at 5am to queue at the baker’s in order to buy some bread, or when we all queued to buy oil, sugar or coffee. The minister says we shouldn’t worry as there is no milk shortage at all (lovely 80s propaganda), that it’s just a matter of organisation which will be solved very soon (he didn’t add that fakhamatouh Bouteflika would be the solver).

Milk is not the only thing missing in Algeria nowadays. Money is lacking too, and I don’t mean that people are poor or anything but that the people cannot find enough bank notes. It is indeed almost impossible for them to withdraw their salaries from the post-offices. The Algerian minister (another one but they all deliver the same message) says it’s the people’s fault (of course!) who apparently are doing things wrong. According to him, they shouldn’t use cash all the time and should pay by cheques or bank cards. What he forgot to say is that we’ve always done that way, that nobody uses cheques in Algeria, that bank cards cannot be used in most places and that our banking system is just archaic.

The funny thing is that it seems the milk we’ve been drinking for years wasn’t 100% milk, not even 50% milk. Specialists say that the producers changed the composition and decided to use less milk powder and more water. So we should be happy that milk has disappeared.
Another funny thing is that the Algerian dinar is the preferred currency of smugglers, and billions cross the Algerian borders every year. Other billions do arrive in containers coming from China where they’re manufactured. Yes, the Chinese not only build our roads, prisons and houses, they also manufacture our clothes and games, and now they import our own money. Of course, this is counterfeit money but why would we care!

Sonatrach and Gazprom announced yesterday the discovery of a new hydrocarbons reservoir. I thought what a curse! Why the hell do we have oil? Exploiting oil is so boring, we need to sell it and make calculations and all and then buy the stuff we need. This is really bothersome. Can’t we just discover reservoirs of money, milk, meat and vegetables? Can’t we discover reservoirs of intelligent rulers or are we going to keep milking Algeria until its milk dries up?

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2 thoughts on “Milking the cow

  1. What a superb idea! Gazprom finding reserves of petrol. Shell discovering reserves of gaz. Texaco discovering…. How boring! Like you put it so well, why can’t we discover reserves of talent? Why can’t we find a well ot honest directors. Why can’t we locate a field of competent leaders? Well we have the tools and the men to do it. Yes who and more efficient the the Chinese. So let’s use them while they are stil in Algeria. Yes Japan then The Asian Tigers (Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan) followed by Indonesia and more recently China and India have all shown us that you can effect Economic take off and achieve high rate of Economic Development without having any natural resources.
    The only resources they had in abondance was discipline, poverty (yes it’s a very strong incentive), a will to do and most of all a big pool of honest, competent and hardworking leaders a the head of their companies. Yes no amount of gaz or petrol reseves can replace that.
    No milk? A lack of money? No tomatoe?… Where did I hear that? Oh, sorry it was early 80’s I think… Our minister at the time (agriculture? trade? can’t remember) went on TV to tell people “why are complaining? Friges are not essentiel. They are just luxuries. In my mother used to store tomatoes in jars and we used to driink milk straight from her chest. So you see fridges are just luxuries…”. The same week end a friend of mine told me he was invited to Hotel Aurassi for the birthday party of the son of that same minister.
    So nothing has changed much and the penuries will still be there as long as we have incompetent ministers who never made it through the ranks but being parachuted from the top.
    So MnarviDZ can I ask you something? Can we blame the Algerian public and workers for the qualities of goods in our shops? Yes we can. Can we blame them for not complaining too much? Yes we can. Can we blame them for the lack of money in our banks? Yes it’s been done already. Can we blame the minister for the quality of goods in our shops? Of course not. It’s not his remit. Can we blame him for the lack of money in our banks? Of course not. It’s the fault of the worker like he pointed it. What sinecure…

    • Welcome RanaLabass and thanks for your comment.

      Malek Bennabi wrote that we only need the triplet (Man, time, “soil”) in order to achieve civilisation and development. I believe we’ve already wasted too much time but we still have it in hand, soil is also available and the problem lies in the Man and that’s what makes the difference with the countries you mentioned above.

      You cannot get the Man to work towards civilisation if you (and that’s the government’s job) do not define a clear target which he shares with you because it would help achieve his own ambitions and keep his hopes for the future ongoing. You cannot get the Man to work if he doesn’t trust you. You cannot get the Man to work if he’s hungry. And you cannot get the Man to work if he doesn’t have a minimum of education (and I am not talking about the academic one).

      Today we’ve got riots in Algeria. I blame the rioters because they’re destroying (and looting) public and private amenities and properties, and this is certainly not a move forward. Many of the rioters are too young, too criminals and too drug-addicts to be able to do something useful; they have nothing to lose and that’s why they act that way.

      The real change would come when others, those I mentioned here as apathetic and who have things to lose but still believe a change is needed, make the move and then it would be done in a more organised and effective way.
      But I doubt this category of the population would move any time soon because they still think Rana Labass, just like in your name.

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