Egypt’s population problem

Glen Fergus writes: Re. “Crikey says: this is not a problem for Egypt alone ” (yesterday). Egypt is a politico-religious problem exacerbated by great power bastardry. But is it also a microcosm of something else, something the Crikey house line likes to reject: too many people crammed onto a fertile little oasis surrounded by desolate, uninhabitable space. There’s nearly 100 million, half under 20, educated, aspirational, and with nowhere to go.

Once the cradle of great civilisations, overpopulation long ago took it past the point where it could feed itself. (It’s the world’s largest wheat importer.) That didn’t matter much to an oil exporter with lots of cash to grease the wheels and fund the kleptocracy. But in 2010 declining oil output fell below rising domestic consumption. Now a net oil importer, it has precious little foreign income (from a canal business and moribund tourism) and rapidly diminishing hard currency reserves. The police state has already arrived. Currency collapse comes next, followed eventually by failed state anarchy. If there’s a way out it lies with that educated youth, but optimism does not seem reasonable.

Science journalism needed

Andrew Davison writes: Re. “What Rudd’s $125m could mean for regenerative medicine research” (yesterday). Thank you for including Ernst Wolvetang’s article on stem cell science. It calmed me down after reading Guy Rundle’s piece, which includes the phrase “I have no idea what I’m talking about, I just scribbled down words”. Would this sentiment be acceptable in a discussion on costings for paid parental leave, tax reform, or any of the political issues Rundle feels so strongly about and writes so well about? This is another example of the “science is too hard” sentiment, which brings us (among other things) “boffins”, the “climate change is unproven” meme and the current brain drain, which Wolvetang notes.

Perhaps you should employ a full-time science journo; there are plenty unemployed at present. Leave Rundle to do what he does best, which is politics (or something).

Had it up to here with how-to-votes

Colin Smith writes: Re. “Labor outrage as Greens HTVs pulped after ‘admin error’” (yesterday). I am co-ordinating the handing out Greens how-to-vote cards at the early voting booth in the marginal electorate of Melbourne Ports.

As the only party other than Labor and Coalition able to find enough workers to cover the first week of early voting, we Greens have always found it impossible to produce final HTVs over the weekend between the draw and the start of early voting. However, we did rather better this time by producing “provisional” open tickets before we knew all the names of our opponents and their order on the ballot paper. (The truth of this may be inferred from the failure of the ticket to tell the voter to choose box “S” to vote Greens for the Senate — this being something not known when we designed the ticket.)

We have done similar things less well in the past without it becoming an issue. This time, however, we have Labor making a fuss, claiming we had agreed to recommend a preference for Michael Danby ahead of the Liberal in exchange for Labor’s preferences to us ahead of the Liberals on its Senate Group Voting Ticket.

The first enormity about this is a so-called Labor Party requiring an inducement to prefer a Green-Left pro-union egalitarian pro-multicultural party for the Senate ahead of a neo-liberal anti-union anti-environmental pro-corporate party that appears to be on the brink of taking power — possibly in both houses.

And the second enormity is that we are being stood over to show our pro-Labor preferences and hurry up about it by the so-called “Labor” candidate for Melbourne Ports — whose own how-to-vote card has us not only below the so-called “Liberal” candidate but also below the candidates of the fundamentalist Family First party and the “Rise Up Australia” crank fundamentalist anti-Islamic party.

Kim Jong ill

Harry Goldsmith writes: Re. “Rundle: the Dear Leader, in a sea of lab-coated nerds, looks lost” (yesterday). Why does Guy Rundle go out of his way to alienate readers, and therefore make Crikey less worthwhile? Why does he refer to Rudd as “Dear Leader”? Is he just trying to be an unbearable smart-alec?

For the life of me, I could not be bothered reading his article to find out. He is just a turn-off.

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Peter Fray
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