May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

OK fine, I'll talk about swine flu. Everybody else is doing it.
Pigs are actually very clean animals. It's not their fault you feed them trash.

When I heard a few days ago that Egypt ordered a mass cull of their 300,000 pigs in response to the swine flu pandemic I thought, is swine flu even in Egypt? 


So, if there are no cases of swine flu in Egypt and the disease is spread from human to human, not by pigs, why did Egypt go crazy with the cull?

The answer lies somewhere between politics and religion. Egypt, a mostly Muslim country, decided that since pigs are filthy creatures it would be in the country's best interest to get rid of pigs altogether.

Here's how Egyptian pig farms work: the farmers (the small Coptic Christian minority) collect the trash from city streets. They separate out the organic material and feed it to the pigs. They sell the pigs one or two at a time to butchers. The "farms" are nothing more than tiny fenced areas in the slums where whole families live among the pigs and trash and whatever other animals are around. They have no means to slaughter, package or store the meat themselves, which is why they can only sell pigs by butchers' demand. 

When the government decided to kill all the pigs in Egypt they promised compensation. But at the last second the government not only took back that promise, they charged the farmers for the slaughter, saying they could have the meat to sell as compensation. Problems with this:
  1. Muslims don't eat pork. These farmers would have to sell to the Coptic Christians, who make up less than 10% of the population.
  2. The Coptic Christians are the ones who keep the pigs. They'd just be selling to their neighbors, who already have a bunch of pork from their own dead pigs.
  3. Since they don't have freezers or other means to store the meat the vast majority will go rancid in the Egyptian heat before they can sell it.
  4. A whole segment of the population is now out of work with no other means for survival.
  5. They could continue to collect trash, but they did that for free to feed their pigs.
What does the Egyptian government have to say? Killing the pigs is "a general health measure, it is good to restructure this kind of breeding in good farms, not on rubbish." What does the World Health Organization say? Big mistake. Dumbasses. Egypt plans to "restructure" the garbage collection by signing contracts with corporations, who will charge a fee, and will build new farms specifically for pig rearing. Muslims see pigs as dirty, and pretty much everyone sees trash as dirty, so you can see why the Egyptian Muslims associate the Coptic Christians with "dirty," since they do the trash collecting and the pig raising. 

My thoughts on swine flu? You're not going to die from it so calm the f down and go about your business. Don't travel to Mexico not because of the swine flu pandemic but because the police will kill you and stash your body in a shallow, mass grave.

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