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Dough and Democracy

bboyd blogs about it in Uzbekistan:


If dough is being shipped rather than flour, this points to a standard recipe which has a similar quality throughout the distribution area (and is not a good sign for quality, actually). It reflects a command economy. It means that regional centers are able, non-transparently, to change the quality of the flour or introduce other binders and fillers. In the U.S. before the advent of the 1880's muckraking journalists, this was quite common also. Plaster, for instance, was used to extend flour and create profits: the bread of the pioneers.

Transparency means quality-and so does competition. If dough is arriving pre-mixed at each bakery, then no one can compete in terms of flavor, nutrition, or price. The elements of production are the same. The profit also never comes to the locality, but stays in the regional center where the allocations are decided. But that's a dough of a different color.

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Elections in the midst of starvation aren't usually a good idea in nominally democratic countries: they tend to create upset, upheaval, revolutions. Ruling parties generally try to provide at least basic welfare at the advent of the electoral moment. Uh, that isn't happening, at least in the provinces. President Karimov has introduced a system of food coupons, but if a bread ration is so much smaller, its value is only partial. Which leads one to suspect that the election is in the bag, and that the attitude of leader impunity has reached a new altitude.

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