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Whose Food Crisis?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Dr.Who, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Here are a few paragraphs from an article called "The World Food Crisis."

    "Most Americans take food for granted. Even the poorest fifth of households in the United States spend only 16 percent of their budget on food. In many other countries, it is less of a given. Nigerian families spend 73 percent of their budgets to eat, Vietnamese 65 percent, Indonesians half. They are in trouble.

    Last week, the president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, warned that 33 nations are at risk of social unrest because of the rising prices of food. “For countries where food comprises from half to three-quarters of consumption, there is no margin for survival,” he said.

    The United States and other developed countries need to step up to the plate. The rise in food prices is partly because of uncontrollable forces — including rising energy costs and the growth of the middle class in China and India. This has increased demand for animal protein, which requires large amounts of grain.

    Industrial nations are not generous, unfortunately. Overseas aid by rich countries fell 8.4 percent last year from 2006. Developed nations would have to increase their aid budgets by 35 percent over the next three years just to meet the commitments they made in 2005."
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/opinion/10thu1.html?ref=opinion

    As I read the whole article I felt compassion for the people who would be facing hardships and a desire to do something about it.

    But then I started questioning the underlying assumptions: "The US is guilty for the hardships they will face so we need to give them food or change our policies."

    Do those governments have no responsiblity or control over what happens over there? Did they contribute nothing to this mess? Just because we buy ethanol does that make us guilty? What about the people who grow the stuff at the expense of their own rain forests?

    Is it the place of the US government to extend benevolence to citizens of another country? Certainly individual citizens can, but should the government?

    We have set a goal as members of the UN to provide a tiny amount of aid and we have consistently fallen short (as has just about every other country that agreed to the same goal). Since we made that promise we should at least live up to it.

    Nevertheless, when one combines the giving that the US government provides with the giving that individuals provide we as a nation are one of the most generous in the world.

    And still that is not enough to stop the hardships over there. I wonder if just giving food to them ever could help. It doesn't build infrastructure. It doesn't teach skills people could use to survive. It might even enable people and governments to make no improvements. This may not be true for donations that go through private organizations but it is most likely true for food that comes through the UN. And changing policies to be "green" is just as likely to hurt as to help. This mess is in small part the unintended consequence of green policies.

    How about this for a new strategy:

    Let the government do what is best for our citizens while being good stewards of the planet. Let our government not act unjustly toward other nations or peoples. Let our government live up to the promise we have made. Let our individual citizens do whatever they think is best to help - like drilling wells instead of shipping bottled water.

    Let's trade the food we have and they want for the things they have and we want. That sounds like the best win-win for all. They learn to be industrous and productive and they get lasting benefits not only in terms of food but in their infrastructure and systems for continued survival. They develop industries which can trade with other countries besides us too. We get oil, or labor, or electronics, or widgets or whatever in a fair return.

    True compassion helps them to do for themselves what they can and does not enable them to do less than all they can.
     
  2. Pandora

    Pandora Well-Known Member

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    I am posting a site that talks about cannibalism in North Korea. I am not sure how lagit. the website is, but there are other pages from washington post that say simluar stuff.

    Its strange, I was complaining today about the cost of food. We have not been buying fresh fruit the past month or so, or much meat and really watching our pennys at the store when buying our food. We dont go hungry but we dont buy like we used to either. Times are tighter than they have been in a long while. Then.... I read about what is going on there, and I feel really really foolish. Times are still hard, compared to my normal standards but I am living the good life when I see what is going on there. Why do we let this happen. I wish we could save them from their nightmares.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/06/08/wkor08.xml

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/w...node=&contentId=A41966-2003Oct3&notFound=true
     
  3. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    There's nothing like a creative screen name to let everyone know who you don't want to win in November. LOL.

    I, too wish we could save the rest of the world from their nightmares, but we can't.

    It is not the role of the government of the United States, which represents about 5% of the population of the Earth, to save the other 95%. It is the role of the federal government to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

    It would be great if we could ensure those blessings to the rest of the world as well, but we can't.

    That is not to say that we, as a people, should simply turn our backs on the hardships of other nations, but the governemnt is a darned inefficient instrument to accomplish the decidedly Christian goal of giving charity to those in need. The various churches can and do give willingly.

    Dr. Who has the best solution:

    Getting rid the subsidies for ethanol production would be a good start, and would actually save money rather than spend it.
     
  4. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it the US runs a massive balance of payments deficit thus you import more than you export - you will end up starving to death but at least you'll have a few naff Chinese CD players to send you off!

    You mentioned getting oil - to get oil you need to secure supplies by invading countries e.g. Iraq for starters!

    I think the best thing is not to waste the resources you have, I read somewhere that the US in 2007 threw away $31Billion worth of food! That's a truckload by anyones estimates even the UK chucks away 3.3 million tons which is pretty scandalous really.
     
  5. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    We do not import food (for the most part). We import products that are produced in cheaper labor markets.

    We don't need to secure supplies or invade other countries. We have purchased oil from Canada, Russia and Saudi Arabia without invading or securing. All we have to do to secure oil is pay the bill when we go to the pump.

    Perhaps, but in a free market, logically, we will always produce more food than we need. So if you suggest we do something with it, go and do it. Most food sent across the world will not be in good condition to eat by the time it gets there, and refrigeration across oceans is very expensive. So, feel free to purchase the food, and purchase it's shipping to send it to where ever.

    Btw, if we are tossing out billions in food, I doubt we are going to starve.
     
  6. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    ...agreed but others are which is a shame!

    BBC NEWS
    IMF head gives food price warning

    The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that hundreds of thousands of people will face starvation if food prices keep rising. Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that social unrest from continuing food price inflation could cause conflict.

    There have been food riots recently in a number of countries, including Haiti, the Philippines and Egypt. Meeting in Washington, the IMF called for strong action on food prices and the international financial crisis.

    Although the problems in global credit markets were the main focus of the meeting of the IMF's steering committee of finance ministers from 24 countries, Mr Strauss-Kahn warned of dire consequences from continued food price rises. "Thousands, hundreds of thousands of people will be starving. Children will be suffering from malnutrition, with consequences for all their lives," he told reporters.

    He said the problem could lead to trade imbalances that may eventually affect developed nations, "so it is not only a humanitarian question". Food prices have risen sharply in recent months, driven by increased demand, poor weather in some countries and an increase in the use of land to grow crops for transport fuels.

    The steering committee also called for "strong action" among its 185 members to deal with "the still unfolding financial market turmoil and... the potential worsening" of housing markets and the credit crunch. The finance ministers did not dissent from the IMF's previous forecast that only a moderate slowdown in world economic growth is the most likely outcome over the next year or two.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7344892.stm
     
  7. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    Feel free to purchase the food yourself and ship it where ever. Btw, part of the reason, as listed in your link, is due to subsides. Who's fault is that? (psst: liberals)
     
  8. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Aaaggghhhh pleeze not ze gallic shrug :D

    As a society don't you think that being wantonly wasteful of resources be it food or otherwise ain't a exactly great way to go through life? I mean like you I don't get pangs of guilt when I chuck a bit of food away or grass-up my neigbours to greenpeace if their bins are overflowing but I don't generally buy stuff I don't need. Maybe its time to start being a bit more responsible?
     
  9. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, I doubt that will get much traction. Most of the tossed food is due to food not purchased. Like stock that sits on the shelf too long, become spoiled or risk of food poisoning, and is tossed. I for one, rarely ever throw food away. If I do, I normally don't buy that food again. I work to hard to buy something that ends up in the trash.

    So what would you suggest? Taking all our spoiled garbage, freezing it, and shipping it to Africa?

    See even if we did succeed in reducing wasted food... that still does nothing for other people in the world.

    This to me, is a typical liberal ploy. Use other peoples suffering as a political football to kick at something here in the US, that if fixed would do nothing for the people whose suffering you used to support the action.
     
  10. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Well there are plenty of programs that allow us to donate food to people who do not have enough. And there is nothing stopping us from participating.

    I don't think it is all that relevant but it has been on my mind: My church is doing a program right now in which we are focusing on the plight of the hungry, packing 3.5 million meals in May, and as an excercise in solidarity some of us ( my family as one) will be eating what the poorest eat for a week and sending the savings to them. I am both looking forward to and dreading eating unsweetened oatmeal as my primary source of nutrition for a week. On
    April 20 through 25 we will spend less than $2 per day on food and I estimate at least $70 can be sent out. More importantly after eating so little and so unpleasantly I don't think I will ever forget about their plight.

    You are welcome to participate in one way or another:
    http://www.willowcreek.org/COH08/
     
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